SHORT PROGRAM

Laura Lepistö Overcoming Injuries

Lepistoa_span3
Susan D. Russell
“i really want to compete again. i miss competing so much.”

It has been a frustrating year for Laura Lepistö. Plagued by a variety of injuries over the past 12 months, Lepistö, the 2009 European champion and 2010 World bronze medalist, was forced to sit out last season.

In August 2010, after recovering from an injured Achilles tendon that kept her off the ice for months, Lepistö fell while attempting a jump and injured her hip.

Shortly after returning to training, she hurt her back. That put paid to a season that had not even begun. “At first I got really angry, then I began to fear that the upcoming season would start as bad as the last one,” Lepistö said.

And then in June, Lepistö, who had skated in a few exhibitions in the spring, felt pain in her right foot during a practice session at the Finnish national team camp in Vierumäki.

A month later while training in Toronto with Brian Orser, the pain became so unbearable she could not even put her skates on. Lepistö was forced to return home for treatment. “Which causes which? It’s hard to say. There is repeated stress to the same landing foot and this time one of the nerves in my foot was provoked and it became very painful,” Lepistö explained.

Finding the right skates has always been an issue for Lepistö, but this time it was more challenging than ever. “It’s a real love-hate relationship,” the 23-year-old said with a laugh. “I’ve got closets full of skates. I tested five or six pairs during the summer and even more during last season. Luckily I have experts I can turn to.

"The people at Riedell have been doing everything to help me find a pair of skates that fit, and now I have finally found some.” Lepistö returned to the ice in mid-August with a pair of custom-made skates.

Neither she nor her longtime coach Virpi Horttana know when Lepistö will return to competition. She was forced to skip the Nebelhorn Trophy and though she was hoping to be ready to skate in front of a home audience at Finlandia Trophy that was not to be. In mid-September Lepistö withdrew from that event and her first Grand Prix event, Skate America.

“I miss competing, but it is smarter to focus first on dealing with my injury and then my training,” Lepistö said. “When I do return to competition again, it will be with the same goals I always have. I will fight for a medal at every single competition.”

Lepistö has two new programs ready. Her short, a flamenco version of “Bésame Mucho,” has been ready for over a year. Her new free program to the music from “Miss Saigon” was crafted by choreographer Maria McLean. “It has the same tricks as the old program, but we’ve added a new level of difficulty and versatility to the transitions,” Lepistö explained.

“I can tell you that in this program there is movement both up and down and in every possible direction. We wanted to take advantage of one of my strengths, which is my speed."

At a press conference in early November, Lepistö announced that her injury has not healed and she will not compete this season.


Originally published in December 2011

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