Friday, 15 May 2015

Interview With Valtter Virtanen

Sari Niskanen photo

Two time and reigning Finnish Champion Valtter Virtanen may hail from the south of his country, but his career has always been one that has been heading steadily upward. Incredibly, this twenty seven year old has won TWELVE medals at his country's National Championships (including three of them on the junior level) and has represented Finland in numerous international competitions including four European Championships. Fresh off a season that culminated in his best finish yet at Europeans, Virtanen took the time to talk to me about the ups and downs of his skating career, his demanding career path off the ice and much more in this fantastic interview:

Q: You're a two time Finnish Champion and represented your country on some of the world's biggest stages including the European Championships and World Junior Championships. You've also of course won medals internationally at events like the Nordic Games and Hellmut Seibt Memorial in Austria. Of everything you have accomplished so far as a competitive skater, what moments stand out as both the most special and the most difficult?

A: I have had many special moments during my career, but three moments have been somehow the most special. The first one was Junior Worlds in 2005 where I skated the best programs of my life and made it to the top twenty. The competition was in Canada and it was already a big moment to make it there. The second was the first title in Senior Nationals. Before the first title, I landed five times in top three without being the best. So for me, it was a huge proof that I am on the right way in my career. The last moment was the short program in Europeans this year. It was my fourth Europeans and before that, I didn't ever make it to the final. I skated a really nice short program and it surprised me landing in top fifteen. The thing was also that my parents were for the first time watching me skating abroad. Somehow, everything was perfect there on that day. The most difficult moment was in 2010 when I went through a foot operation and had three months of rehabilitation. I also changed coaches at the same time and it was really difficult to get back to the track and start preparing for the next season.


Q: You have trained both in Finland and in Germany. What can you share about your training regimen and current goals?

A: At the moment I'm practicing in Oberstdorf, which is one of the best places in Europe for figure skating. We have ice from eight in the morning until ten in the evening. For me, it makes it possible to combine my medicine studies with practice so that I'm getting progress in both. At the moment, my biggest goal is the 2017 Worlds in Finland. There, it would also be possible to get place for Finland in the 2018 Olympics.

Flavio Valle photo

Q: You started skating when you were five and are now twenty seven. What has kept you passionate about the sport and interested all of these things?

A: I really like all kinds of sports. It's more like a way of life. Of course when you are practicing three to five hours a day, you expect some progress. The last few seasons have been really good and I have showed everybody and especially me that it is still possible to get better in this age.

Q: Describe the ultimate day in your life. What would you eat, what music would you be listening to and where would you go? 

A: I really like nature and all kinds of fish. So on my ultimate day, I would be hiking in the mountains with my fiancée and listening to the sounds of nature and eating fresh fish from the lake or river.


Q: How do you think figure skating needs to change or grow to become more popular with the wider audiences of today and draw in more fans? 

A: I wish I had an answer for this question. In many aspects, figure skating is still really conservative and there should be something done to make it more modern and interesting for everybody.

Q: If you could recommend one book that EVERYONE needs to read, what would it be and why?

A: I don't really read any books other than medical books, so I would recommend human's anatomy books for everybody to get a better understanding how complicated we actually are.


Q: Who are your three favourite skaters of all time and why?

A: Alexei Yagudin was my favourite skater when I was a kid. His skating was really masculine and strong which impressed me back that time. Later, I saw old videos from Kurt Browning and he impressed me with his amazing skating skills. But... Daisuke Takahashi had everything what makes you special in figure skating. Especially in the days when his quads were working, it was just a pleasure to watch his skating.

Q: What's one thing most people don't know about you?

A: I think most of the people who don't know me well don't know that I'll be a doctor by Christmas.

Q: What is the biggest lesson figure skating has taught you in life?

A: Sport is just sport.

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