The spectacular opening ceremony praises equality and diversity
The ISU European Figure Skating Championships® at Espoo Metro Areena will begin on Wednesday, 25 January, with a spectacular opening ceremony drawing its inspiration from the event’s theme, “Just be you”. The Finnish Figure Skating Association promotes the importance of equality and diversity and develops skating according to its values.
The theme, “Just be you”, will be a visible part of the opening ceremony with performers from various backgrounds. The half-hour opening ceremony was designed by synchronized skating coach Helena Tienhaara together with choreographer and coach Beata Leppilampi.
“With the diverse group of performers, we want to show that the ice has space for everyone.”
“The opening ceremony will present skaters at various levels from non-professionals to top athletes. On the ice, we will see Single Skaters, Synchronized Skaters, and Pairs. Included among the performers are Figure Skater Minna-Maaria Antikainen, who defines herself as a gender-neutral woman, adaptive skating performers, and a male synchronized skating team”, Tienhaara said.
“Often, only the top skaters in the country are seen in figure skating shows. With this diverse group of performers, we want to show that the ice has space for everyone. Especially in uncertain and difficult times like these, it is meaningful to create an accepting and positive experience for all”, Leppilampi said.
Tienhaara promises that skating spectators will see an impressive opening ceremony. It will include various lighting elements as well as nostalgic and legendary Finnish music that will surely uplift the audience. On the ice, we will see Finland’s most successful single skater, Laura Lepistö, who recently starred in the Snow Queen ice ballet in Tampere, along with the Pairs Milania Väänänen and Filippo Clerici, competing in their first season together. The show will include charming circus artists, meaning that diversity will be highlighted also in the stands and up in the air.
“When single skating and synchronized skating join forces, a magnificent show is created. Many of the performers probably could not have imagined performing in the European Championships opening ceremony. The energy bursting from the ice will be thrilling”, Leppilampi enthused.
Equality and diversity
According to Outi Wuorenheimo, Executive Director of the Finnish Figure Skating Association and Secretary General of the ISU European Figure Skating Championships®, the championships’ main slogan, “Just be you”, is a welcome message for both the audience and the skaters. Wuorenheimo said that the figure skating audience and skaters may often be assumed as elitist. That is why she considers it important that everyone can arrive at the arena as they are.
“Figure skating is a very conservative sport with various strict rules. In international competitions, same-sex skating pairs are not allowed, and there is no category for non-binary skaters. I hope that every country will start working for equality and diversity in the field”, Wuorenheimo stated.
“We want to change the figure skating world by showing that talking about a skater’s weight is not the top priority, but muscular, healthy athletes may also succeed at the top level. It is important that we have different-looking skaters of various sizes in the competitions”, Wuorenheimo continued.
The Finnish Figure Skating Association is a pioneer: beginning in 2019, it is the first to host the Special Olympics category for disabled skaters at the ISU CS Finlandia Trophy Espoo -competition. According to the Executive Director, the Finnish Figure Skating Association will continue with the “Just be you” theme after the European Championships.
“If we want to change the world, we have to actively and visibly work for it and create rules that match our values. This is just the beginning of the journey, but we have the possibility to go on and lead the way”, Wuorenheimo summarised.
Get your tickets for the ISU European Figure Skating Championships® at Espoo Metro Areena on 25–29 January 2023 from Ticketmaster.