Finnland ist eines meiner Lieblings-Reiseländer, vor allem die Stadt Helsinki hat es mir angetan (auch wenn ich bisher leider erst 2x dort war, aber vielleicht kommt ja im Januar 2023 ein dritter Besuch hinzu, wenn dort die Eiskunstlauf-EM stattfindet), weswegen ich sofort auf das Buch „Finne dein Glück“ von Bernd Gieseking aufmerksam wurde. Der Autor hat bereits 2 weitere Bücher über Finnland geschrieben, die ich aber noch nicht gelesen habe. Der Aufhänger für „Finne dein Glück“ ist der jährliche „World Happiness Report“ in dem Finnland jetzt schon einige Mal in Folge den ersten Platz belegt hat. Bernd Gieseking machte sich also auf eine ca 1-monatige Reise durch Finnland auf (erst alleine, dann begleitet von seiner dazugestoßenen Lebensgefährtin), auf der er sich durch mehrere Interviews unter Unterhaltungen mit der Frage beschäftigen wollte, ob und warum die Finnen wirklich so viel glücklicher sind als der Rest der Welt.
Das Buch ist dadurch eine abwechslungsreiche Mischung aus Reiseführer (so ist z.B. am Ende jedes Kapitels ein kleiner Tipp abgedruckt, entweder für eine Sehenswürdigkeit, ein Museum oder irgendetwas anderes das man unbedingt ausprobieren sollte), persönlichem Erfahrungsbericht, Liebeserklärung und Gesprächen mit verschiedenen Menschen aus Finnland oder mit Menschen, die einen besonderen Bezug zu Finnland haben oder dorthin ausgewandert sind. Bei den Tipps haben mir vor allem die Berichte über die vielen verschiedenen Museen gefallen, der Teil über Lappland (so weit in den Norden habe ich es leider noch nie geschafft) und natürlich alles über Helsinki, da ich dort selbst schon 2x war.
Ein paar kleinere Schwächen hat das Buch meiner Meinung nach allerdings auch, erstens ist die Finnland-Liebe des Autors selbst vielleicht manchmal doch selbst für einen Liebhaber ein bisschen sehr verklärt (auch wenn zugegebermaßen auch einige Schattenseiten Finnlands wie die Diskriminierung der Samen angesprochen werden), was aber durchaus auch liebenswert rüberkommt. Zweitens gab es ein bisschen viele Gespräche mit Menschen, mit denen der Autor langjährig befreundet ist, zu denen man als Leser aber nicht den gleichen Bezug hat. Davon abgesehen ist es aber ein sehr amüsantes (sehr unterhaltsam fand ich z.B. die Beschreibung der kulturellen Unterschiede zwischen einem finnischen und typisch Deutschen Saunagang), abwechslungsreiches und informatives Buch.
Mir hat das Buch auf jeden Fall Lust auf einen weiteren Finnland Besuch gemacht (und Lust auf den Kauf einer Mumin-Tasse 😉 ) und ich denke für jeden Finnland-Liebhaber oder -Interessenten ist es eine definitive Leseempfehlung.
„So also endet die Welt“ von Philip Teir ist ein finnischer Familien- und Gesellschaftsroman. Im Mittelpunkt der Geschichte steht eine ganz normale finnische Familie, die eigentlich nur ihren verlängerten Sommerurlaub am Meer verbringen möchte. Julia ist Schriftstellerin, die mit ihrem ersten Roman einen Achtungserfolg in Finnland erreichte, aber im Moment an einer Schreibblockade leidet. Außerdem hat sie manchmal das vage Gefühl, das ihr Leben ohne ihren Ehemann schöner sein könnte, ohne wirklich einen Grund dafür nennen zu können. Erik, ihr Ehemann, arbeitet als IT-Angestellter in einem großen Warenhaus, dass unter wirtschaftlichen Schwierigkeiten leidet. Er hadert damit, dass er nicht wie sein früherer Kumpel mit einem IT-Startup zum Millionär wurde. Kurz nach Urlaubsbeginn erfährt Erik dann auch noch, dass er seinen Job verloren hat, verbirgt die Situation aber vor seiner Familie. Die 13-jährige Alice schlägt sich in der Zwischenzeit mit eher normalen Teenagerproblemen und -freuden rum und Anton, der sensible 10-jährige Sohn ist damit beschäftigt sich Sorgen um alles möglich zu machen.
Trotzdem beginnt der Urlaub recht entspannt. Julia freut sich darauf Zeit im ehemaligen Haus ihrer Eltern zu verbringen, wo sie viele unbeschwerte Sommer am Meer verbrachte. Erik versucht sich von seinem Jobverlust nicht die Laune verderben zu lassen. Anton wagt sich zumindest mit seiner Schwester Alice alleine in die Natur…nach einigen Tagen trifft Julia auch noch ihre alte Kindheitsfreundin Marika. Die lebt inzwischen mit ihrem neuen Freund Chris und dem 14-jährigen Sohn in einer Art Aussteigerkommune. Chris hat eine Bewegung gegründet, die primär aus fatalistischen ehemaligen Umweltschützern besteht und überzeugt ist, dass der Klimawandel sowieso nicht mehr aufzuhalten ist und es mehr Sinn macht sich einfach darauf vorzubereiten. Was die Bewegung zu einer Bewegung macht deren Hauptbeschäftigung aus dem Schreiben von Blogs, Reden schwingen, Sex und Drogenkonsum besteht. Julia und Erik finden die neuen Nachbarn aber zunächst ganz unterhaltsam und charmant. Doch mit der Zeit zeigen sich im familiären Zusammenleben Risse, so dass nicht nur die ganze Welt den Bach hinunter zu gehen scheint, sondern auch die Beziehungen. Und sogar das idyllische Ferienhaus scheint so langsam vor sich zu vermodern…
Das Buch schildert die Ereignisse dabei aus Sicht vieler verschiedener Familienmitglieder, die alle irgendwie mit sich selbst und den Beziehungen zu ihren Mitmenschen beschäftigt sind. Der Ton ist dabei eher sachlich und nüchtern, aber auch mit einer feinen Ironie, die dem Buch zusätzlichen Charme verleiht. Mir hat das Buch, das zu beschreiben versucht wie die Welt im ganz großen und ganz kleinen gleichermaßen zu enden scheint, aber trotzdem nie düster ist, wirklich gut gefallen. Definitiv eines meiner Lesehighlights im Jahr 2020 bisher.
Saturday was the last competition day and S. and I had not been to pleased when we noticed that the final event of the competition would be the Free Dance. Now I used to be a big ice dance fan as mentioned before, but I think even back in the days when I really loved ice dancing I wouldn’t necessarily have wanted it to be the final competition, since it’s just the discipline with the most subjective judging. Maybe it used to have the most entertainment factor, but I don’t really see that anymore today either, so I’m not sure why the schedule in Helsinki was adjusted to have dance last. It’s not as if Finland has a great couple with medal chances anymore. I personally would have prefered the men as the final competition.
The weather on Saturday was still a bit rainy/snowy, so it was a good day to spend it nearly completely at the rink. I was quite excited about the mens final and we did arrive in time for the first group, which didn’t really have big highlights, but nonetheless some rather strong skates. In the second group there definitely was a first big highlight, Misha Ge from Uzbekistan had a very clean and very emotional skate, that really was wonderful to watch. He has been having problems with injuries and announced that this World Championships were probably going to be his last competition, which explains the emotional reaction. By now I’ve read conflicting reports on whether he REALLY has decided whether he quits already, but I’m glad to hear that he is concentrating on choreographing for the moment, because he certainly has a good talent for it and it would be a pity if his creative potential wasn’t used for figure skating anymore.
For the third group I mainly noted down that there was lots of heavy music, so I suppose that wasn’t one of my favorite groups 😉 Another expected highlight of the event was Jason Brown again, who wasn’t 100% clean, but still had a strong skate and I as usually admired his beautiful lines. Kevin Reynolds landed a lot of quads, but due to his deficits in skating still and jump technique that leads to him getting good results, but still not being able to compete with the absolute top skaters. Still I thought this was a very good competition for him and I did find him ok to watch, since his choreographies have improved from earlier years .
After Yuzuru Hanyu had made a mistake in the SP, he finally delivered one his incredibly strong skates in the LP and I feel really privileged to have gotten the opportunity to see him live AND such a good skate, since I think that he’s most definitely one of the best male figure skaters ever. And he does have the rare but important combination of being a great jumper, a great technician AND still being an artistically strong skater. For me he was by far the highlight of the long program:
Boyang Jin of China had a „La Strada“ program that was a bit empty choreographically, but still quite nice to watch. He is not the most artistic skater, but he makes up for it by choosing very audience friendly programs. Another positive surprise in the LP was Shomo Uno, for me he had the best choreography in the LP, skating to a Tango, but not one the typical overused choices that one has heard a thousand times over the years, but an interesting rarely used Tango and I found the choreography very intricate and well interpreted. Patrick Chan and Javier Fernandez didn’t do much for me, Fernandez also had a very bad skate that cost him a medal in the end.
Overall I really liked the men competition in Helsinki and mens skating is a discipline that I definitely like better now than in the past, when I usually had 1 or 2 favorites that I really liked and a few top skaters that were very interesting (like Plushenko or Yagudin), but where I found the overall competition often rather dragging and bland. Nowadays, I tend to like more skaters, even if I don’t have big favorites.
We went to a Mexican restaurant in the break, that had an interesting mixture of self service and regular service that I haven’t encountered in Germany, you have to get your drinks at the bar, order meals at the bar, but then they are delivered to your table.
I didn’t take any notes on the Free Dance, which sort of summarizes my excitement…I had hoped it would have a bit more mixed and entertaining music choices than the Original Dance, but somehow everybody seemed to skate to some contemporary classical music, with the exception of the Polish team, who skated to „Dirty Dancing“ and Chock & Bates, who skated to a remix of „Under Pressure“ from David Bowie and Queen. If I had to choose a favorite, it would again be that program from Chock & Bates, but unfortunately they skated not so well and fell from 4th to 7th place.
I found the finale of the Free Dance a bit strange, Virtue & Moir managed to hang on to the victory despite a small stumble, the French skated very strongly, but somehow their programs always look the same to me, like S. said like „contemporary dancing on ice“. Hubbell & Donohue skated last and were in an excellent 3rd position after the SD and they also started well (fast and with big movements) into their FD, but then he fell quite specularily on the Twizzle sequence and that so badly that I think the whole sequence probably didn’t count anything at all, which led to them falling from 3rd place to 9th.
When they showed the Top 3 winners in the waiting area, everybody sort of looked not that happy, which was a bit weird and when they were interviewed, Virtue & Moir somehow managed to sound so diplomatic, that they gave off the impression of being a bit sorry for having beaten their training mates for Gold. I mean that might be „nice“, but it’s a sport competition after all and if you think of ice dance rivalries of the past, one certainly wouldn’t have gotten such an impression from the likes of Grishuk, Usova, Fusar Poli or Anissina 😀
Overall I wasn’t crazy about the Free Dance, but I’m sure that for people who enjoy the current style of ice dancing, it was an entertaining competition with lots of good skate. That sort of ice dancing is just not so much my taste.
Friday the weather had suddenly changed from „cold, but wonderfully sunny“ to a mixture of snow and rain (luckily turning more into snow most of the time), so we didn’t mind that there wasn’t time for any sightseeing, since the competition started relatively early on Friday. In order to prepare for a weather like today, I had bought a brand new umbrella directly before Worlds, which I put to his first and only use today, because I immediately forgot it inside the rink when we left for the break between afternoon and evening event 😛 Of course it was gone when we came back to the rink in the evening (I always lose all my umbrellas, but losing it on the first ever usage is still a new record).
This morning we accidently found the tram number 7 that we had searched for 2 days earlier, so we took this instead of a train and therefor got a few more impressions from the city.
The afternoon competition was the Short Dance (which is a sort of combination of the former Compulsory Dances and former Original Dance), which S. and I had had mixed feelings about. Ice Dance has been my favorite discipline in the past (with my favorites having been Teams like Grishuk & Platov, Bestemianova & Bukin, Klimova & Ponomarenko, Rahkamo & Kokko, Fusar Poli & Margaglio, Chait & Sakhnovsky, Navka & Kostomarov, Lobacheva & Averbukh and many more). I used to love the costumes, the drama, the personalities of the top stars, the rivalries, the spectacular dramatic programs and much more. But over the last few years, for me ice dance has become a rather technical and formalized discipline and somehow together with that also the programs, music choices and skater personalities seem to have morphed into a bland „competent and technically strong normalcy“ that leads to everbody sort of looking and skating the same to me. Also for me the „dancing“ aspect seems to be getting smaller.
Even though S. and I had been to Nebelhorn Trophy earlier in the season, we had managed to forget what the mandatory music of the Short Dance was going to be and I joked to S. that probably it would be some really weird and unlikely combination, like „Blues and Hip Hop“. When we saw the first pair on the ice, I realized that this probably hadn’t been a random idea of myself, but a memory from Nebelhorn coming out of my subconsciousness 😀 , since the first couple directly skated to a combination of Blues and … Hip Hop (and they weren’t going to be the only ones). I concluded after some couples that the mandatory music was „Blues, in combination with anything to wake up the audience“. Now I don’t have anything against Blues (I even bought a Blues album from Melissa Etheridge recently and enjoyed it), but it is a music genre that I only can listen to in small doses usually. And it’s a music that I’ve never liked much when it’s used for skating programs (male skaters tend to like to use it especially for exhibitions). So sitting through 32 or something Short Dances that all consisted of 50% Blues music was a bit … dragging 😀 Most of the teams started with Blues and then chose some upbeat music in the 2nd half (usually something like Swing), the ambitious top skaters brought some variety into that by skating to the upbeat music first and finishing with Blues.
After the Short Dance I really had some difficulties to name any favorites, except for that S. and I both liked the Short Dances from Gilles & Poirier and Chock & Bates, which were exactly the same 2 couples we had already liked at Nebelhorn Trophy.
For me the most exciting thing about the Short Dance was that I found an exhibition of original costumes from Rahkamo & Kokko during a walk around the rink during a break:
In the break between afternoon and evening we went to an Italian Restaurant with good food, but a bit chaotic service, where I had a pizza with chicken, garlic, blue cheese and rucola (having decided against the alternative of „Pizza Finlandia“ with the odd seeming combination of „reindeer, pineapple & salami“).
After a bit of missing enthusiasm for the Short Dance, I was looking forward to the evening event even more, the Ladies LP!
Similarily to the Pairs event, the Long program wasn’t as clean overall as the short program, but nonetheless a very good competition. Of the earlier groups the absolute highlight was Mai Miharas skate to „Cinderella“, which was absolutely perfect and engaging and brought her from 15th place to 5th place overall.
I also liked the music choice of Xiangning Li from China, who skated to „Princess Mononoke“ (another lady did as well, but I forgot who it was). Ivett Toth from Hungary actually made some mistakes and had a rough skate, but her program was so good, that I still managed to enjoy the choreography a lot.
Another cute program choice was Laurine Lecaveliers skate to a „Grease“ Medley. She’s a very talented skater from France, who has an engaging individual style.
Unfortunately in the LP Anna Pogorilaya managed to bomb in a quite spectactular way, with several hard falls, which left her completely desperate after the LP (and brought her from 4th place to 13th overall). But at least she even manages to bomb with more entertainment and drama than any other skater I’ve seen before 😉 and she got a lot of support from the audience.
Evgenia Medvedeva on the other hand was completely perfect and seems pretty invincible, also her LP to „Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close“ (I’ve read the book, which is REALLY recommendable) was wonderfully choreographed and she managed to interpret the very serious topic (the book and movie is about the terror attacks on the World Trade Center) very convincingly. She pretty much was in a class of her own.
The two Canadian Girls managed to hang on to silver and bronze, which was a really nice surprise. I especially like Gabrille Daleman, who might not be the most spectacular skater ever, but she has a lovely style and did deliver so well at this World Championships. Carolina Kostner also had a rather good skate again and managed to end up on a very respectable 6th place.
If I had to choose a favorite from the LP, I’d probably go with Mai Mihara:
On Thursday the competition began relatively late, so we had a little time for sightseeing. We used the opportunity to walk towards the harbour again and visit two of the biggest churches of Helsinki, the white cathedral and the Uspenski cathedral. The weather and the early morning light were just awesome.
The Uspenski catherdral is a catholic church with a sort of Russian looking design:
The white cathedral is a protestant church, that looks very impressive from the outside, but has a rather typical (for protestant churches) simple design on the inside
After our walk around Helsinki, it was time for the second day of skating. Today it was time for the Men SP and the final of the pairs. Generally I’ve never been too much of a fan of men’s skating (due to them having a tendency to skate to bombastic action movie soundtracks while wearing boring costumes), but currently there are a lot of many strong men and I have to say overall I think the presentation aspect of skating has improved a little bit in men Skating, despite the technical difficulties still dominating everything (S. and I remembered that back when we were big skating fans, Michael Weiss was always talking about trying a quad lutz and now there’s actually skaters doing it , along with other men landing tons of quads all over the programs. Of course a development that does not only have advantages…
In the earlier groups S. and I were a bit amused to see Kevin Reynolds, since he still looks exactly like the last time we saw him (which is an awful lot like Ron Weasley 😉 , plus a very individual hairstyle). As some years ago, he has some deficiencies in skating and jump technique and isn’t the most artistic skater, but he delivered a very strong skate in the SP, that kept him in the lead for a very long time and gained him a good place before the LP. Also Brendan Kerry from Australia was surprisingly strong. I also really enjoyed the SP from Mikhail Kolyada from Russia, who skated to a folkloristic Tango music and had very clean jumps. Boyang Jin from China had a very entertaining and crowd-pleasing program to a music called „Spiderman“ AND a quad lutz. Nathan Chen even had 2 quads (in the short program! that is something one definitely wouldn’t have seen 10 years ago), but fell on the 3axel. Alexei Bychenko from Israel is not the most exciting or elegant skater, but at least he’s usually a guarantee for rather solid skates.
During Yuzuru Hanyus skate it suddenly felt as if we were in Japan, because so many spectators were from Japan and also because as it seems Hanyu is something like a rock star there. Which one could also see from the look of the ice after his skate 😉
Hanyu is my favorite male skater at the moment as well, but he made an uncharacteristic mistake in his rather psychedelic short program and only managed to get 5th place in the SP. I wasn’t too crazy about any of the top 3 of the SP, Patrick Chan has never been my taste (but his music choice to obscure Beatles songs wasn’t that bad), neither is Javier Fernandez (somehow his skating always looks the same to me, no matter what music he chooses, which might explain my subjective impression that he’s always wearing a black costume while skating to Spanish music –> in this SP he REALLY was wearing a black costume and skating to Spanish music). My absolute favorite of the SP was as usually Jason Brown, who just is such an engaging and artistic skater, who can always connect to the music and the audience that I totally prefer him to any male skater with quads. Since Jasons technique is so strong and his other elements are as well, he can compete rather well with the men who have more difficult jumps, which makes me very happy.
After a break it was time for the Pairs LP, which unfortunately wasn’t as strong as the SP, but still good. Of the earlier pairs, I was the most impressed with Marchei & Hotarek and Seguin & Bilodeou, who had the only really clean skates of the earlier groups. Overall the competition was a bit „mixed“ in terms of clean performances and mistakes, but it was an enjoyable evening nonetheless. Savchenko & Massot had a very very good skate and I really enjoyed their big movements and I also like the LP (even if the SP is a bit more fun) as a program. Overall I think they are a good pair, even if Aljona in both her pairings so far has a bit the problem that she is so dominant (in terms of personality and skating skills) that her partners never seem to be able to be her „equal“. In pairs skating that of course always leads to the effect that you are not going to see a real „unity“ on ice like with some exceptional pairs of the past. But considering all that, her successes with both Robin Szolkowy and Bruno Massot of course still were incredible and it’s lovely to see her having so much more fun now in her career with Bruno (even if they were a bit disappointed about „only“ winning silver here in Helsinki). Still one can’t help but wonder what Aljona might have achieved if she had once found a partner who is equally ambitious and technically strong (I suppose it would either have led to incredible brilliance or to „blood and thunder“ 😉 ) or if Savchenko & Szolkowy hadn’t been hindered by the complicated and conflicted coaching and private situation with Ingo Steuer.
Even if Savchenko & Massot had a very good LP skate, I was very happy that Sui & Han managed to hang on to the victory with an also very good skate. I just love their skating style and they are very harmonic as a pair. I find it quite funny, that now that I’m not such a big skating fan anymore, suddenly my favorites are winning in many disciplines 😛 Back when I was a passionate fan, my favorites seemed to hang around 4th to 6th place or bomb at most important competitions (maybe with the exception of Sale & Pelletier in pairs).