A trip to the Finnish national team camp in Jyväskylä in August left no doubt that Kiira Korpi is skating better than ever. Watching her execute clean triple-triple combinations one after another was proof positive that she is approaching this season with a newfound confidence.
Like many other elite skaters, Korpi stepped out of her comfort zone last summer to find a new direction for her skating.
While in Korea for Yu-Na Kim’s “Festa on Ice” shows last spring, Korpi had the opportunity to speak with Canadian choreographers Shae-Lynn Bourne and David Wilson about developing new programs for her. “It immediately felt like they were both sincerely interested,” Korpi recalled.
Maaret Siromaa, who has coached Korpi for more than a decade, said that after two difficult seasons, the decision to make a change was easy. “We wanted to start over and look for a new way,” Siromaa said.
Korpi spent three weeks working with Bourne and Wilson in Toronto last June. Though she has always played a major role in the musical selections for her programs, she decided to leave that in the hands of the talented duo this time. It turned out to be a wise decision.
Both Bourne and Wilson respected her opinion right from the start. “They both wanted to build programs based on my own style of movement and body language,” Korpi said. “It felt really good immediately, and the jumps fit very smoothly into the choreography of the programs. They are both wonderful and extremely talented at what they do.”
Bourne fell in love with an adaptation of the classic “Over the Rainbow” that she found. “Shae-Lynn practically demanded that I listen to it,” Korpi recalled. “So I did, and after hearing it I was convinced that we definitely had to use this music.”
While Korpi’s short program is tender, smooth and playful, her long program is the direct opposite.
This season she will take on the role of Evita. “It was David’s idea,” Korpi said with a smile. “He worked very hard to develop the perfect music. The choreography is demanding and dramatic, and it will be a pleasant challenge for me throughout the season.”
Siromaa agreed. “You can easily see Kiira really enjoys performing these programs. She is extremely motivated. Working with Shae-Lynn and David has brought her new energy. I have to say that we’ve been training hard mornings and evenings, but it’s all worth it.”
Korpi acknowledged a deep respect for her coach. “She’s a clever and warm-hearted coach, and I respect her very much,” she said.
Korpi debuted her new programs at Nelbelhorn Trophy at the end of September, winning the competition by almost 17 points ahead of her nearest rival. A week later she placed second at Finlandia Trophy.
Korpi said her goals this season are to medal at Europeans and rank top six at Worlds.
As for the future, she is keeping her options open and has made no firm decision about how long she will continue competing. “I’ve made a deal with my coaches, that we will take it one season at a time,” the 2009 Finnish national champion said. “Of course at the same time my goal is to compete in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
“We have started to make particular plans for the next Olympics, and we are all very motivated in working hard to make that happen.”
Originally published in December 2010