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Korpi battles flu to continue fine season at Final

Three-time Finnish champion delighted by 2012-13 results so far

Finland's Kiira Korpi captured bronze at Cup of China and the gold at Rostelecom Cup.
Finland's Kiira Korpi captured bronze at Cup of China and the gold at Rostelecom Cup. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(12/06/2012) - Kiira Korpi of Finland, the 2012 European silver medalist, arrived at the Grand Prix Final in a very good mood, but not in her best sporting shape. Just a week ago, the skater was considering withdrawing from the event because of unexpected health problems. However, those obstacles could not stop her from fulfilling her great desire to perform in Sochi, on the same ice that will host the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

This season began very well for Korpi. It started out with her winning the silver medal at the 2012 Finlandia Trophy. On the Grand Prix circuit, she won gold at the 2012 Rostelecom Cup, which was the second Grand Prix title of her career, and took bronze at the 2012 Cup of China. Korpi became the first figure skater from Finland ever to qualify for the Grand Prix Final.

In recent years, Korpi has managed a good balance of high artistic levels and challenging technique in her programs. This allows her to be among the favorites for the podium at various competitions. The Grand Prix Final in Sochi will be no exception, despite the fact that Korpi is not ranked among the indisputable favorites. But, as we all know, the "dark horses" can always provide a surprise.

Icenetwork.com talked with Korpi about her thoughts on the first half of the season, about the upcoming Grand Prix Final and about her future plans.

Icenetwork.com: What are your thoughts about your successes over the first half of this season?

Korpi: Of course, I'm really happy with the way the season has started. Making it to the Grand Prix Final is a huge achievement for me and my team but also for the Finnish figure skating.

Icenetwork.com: After the Rostelecom Cup, you said that you were feeling the effects of having competed far away just a week before at Cup of China. How are your present conditions?

Korpi: Well, to be honest, the preparation for the Grand Prix Final has been far from optimal because after the Rostelecom Cup, I got some back cramps and had to be off from the ice for one week. And, as I started training again, I got a bad stomach flu. My physical condition is OK now, but, naturally, I'm not in my highest top form.

Icenetwork.com: Could you tell us about your goals for the Grand Prix Final?

Korpi: After the setbacks I have had in my training, I'm actually just really happy I made it to the Final, and, hopefully, can give my best effort on the ice. It will be so exciting to perform at the future Olympic arena and also to get to know the city of Sochi, too. Even last week, I wasn't sure if I [would be] able to participate in the Final because of the stomach flu.

Icenetwork.com: In 2011, you were third at the European championships, and last year you took the silver medal. Do you have a golden goal for the next one?

Korpi: Sure. I would like to win the European title, but my main goal is just to show my best performances there. The level of the competition will be very high [there], for sure.

Icenetwork.com: Kiira, how do you keep the balance in skating performance and components after performing something as physically demanding as a cascade of triples?

Korpi: Figure skating is so difficult nowadays because you really don't have any "free time" to just breathe during the programs. I mean that all the steps, spins and transitions have to be the highest level of difficulty, and they are physically demanding.

My choreographers David Wilson and Shae-Lynn Bourne have helped me a lot to get the patterns for the jumps as natural and flowing as possible. Also, when the choreography is made to suit the music, it helps me to keep the flow. I also think that the program is a complete performance, where the movements of the body flow with the music without any stops.

Icenetwork.com: Your programs are always very artistic. What do you draw your inspiration from? What motivates you to keep on going for so many years?

Korpi: Skating is my true passion, and I think the older I get, the more I can explore and enjoy the artistic side of skating. My biggest motivator is my will to improve as a skater and to become the best skater in the world. I like the hard work and training.

Icenetwork.com: What would you like to portray in some of your future programs?

Korpi: I don't have any specific ideas, but sometimes I've been thinking it would be really nice to perform to the famous Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius', music.

Icenetwork.com: And what are your thoughts on the new generation of young and strong ladies, who came in the last two years?

Korpi: There are some really amazing young skaters who are technically great but can also skate well. I always try to learn something from them.

Icenetwork.com: Kiira, tell us, please, about the present figure skating in Finland. Is it popular among young people?

Korpi: Yes, ladies figure skating is really popular in Finland, but we need more boys. Most of the boys prefer to go to ice hockey or soccer, but, hopefully, we will get some talented boys, too!