Vantaa, Finland

The 14th Finlandia Trophy will be contested from October 8-11, 2009. Traditionally held in Vantaa, Finland, about 20 kilometers from Helsinki, Finlandia Trophy is a chance for established teams to test their programs before the Grand Prix season begins, as well as an opportunity for newer and less-experienced teams to vie for valuable ISU points. 

Last year’s Finlandia Trophy champions, Sinead Kerr and John Kerr of Great Britain, will return to Vantaa once again. Known for pushing the envelope, this year’s free dance to Linkin Park music has already raised some eyebrows — and this is only its competitive debut! Since they have already skated to traditional Scottish music twice, the sibling duo has chosen to take on Dolly Parton this year for their original dance. 

British teammates Philippa Towler-Green & Phillip Poole will join them. Great Britain can send two teams to the 2010 Olympic Games, and with one spot presumably going to the Kerrs, several British teams will be battling for the remaining berth. Towler-Green & Poole, four-time and reigning British silver medalists, can begin staking their claim on that spot with a strong finish here. 

Anastasia Platonova & Alexander Grachev of Russia won the silver medal at last year’s Finlandia Trophy and will aim to repeat their podium finish. Strong finishes at last year’s “Senior B” international events, including Finlandia, led to their Grand Prix debut at Cup of Russia. They are ranked 33rd on last year’s Season Best list and are, therefore, eligible to be selected as a substitute for the Grand Prix this season in the event of injuries or withdrawals. 

Jane Summersett & Todd Gilles of the United States will also fight for a medal at Finlandia. Last year, the duo won a bronze medal at Nebelhorn Trophy and went on to finish seventh at Skate America, their first Grand Prix event. This year, they can use Finlandia as a warm-up for NHK Trophy. Summersett & Gilles moved to Michigan just a few weeks ago and are now training at the Detroit Skating Club with Elizabeth Punsalan Swallow and Pasquale Camerlengo. 

Ukraine’s Alla Beknazarova & Vladimir Zuev have become fixtures in European autumn competitions, having won Golden Spin three times. This will be their first appearance at Finlandia Trophy. The duo was recently assigned to Cup of Russia on the Grand Prix circuit. 

Nadezhda Frolenkova & Mikail Kasalo will also represent Team Ukraine. Frolenkova & Kasalo were fairly successful as juniors, medaling twice on the JGP circuit but have not yet broken through as seniors. Last year, they were fifth at Finlandia Trophy and went on to finish 10th at the Winter Universiade. 

After taking a year off in their partnership, siblings Christina Beier & William Beier are once again skating together for Germany. Last year, Christina skated with Tim Giesen, but the duo failed to medal at the German Championships. As a team, the Beiers have plenty of international experience, with several Grand Prix appearances, as well as top-15 finishes at the European and World Championships. 

Kira Geil & Dmitri Matsjuk are a new team this year, skating for Austria. They finished 13th at Nebelhorn Trophy, which gave Austria first-alternate status for a berth to the 2010 Olympic Games. However, since Geil is a British citizen and Austria has no other senior-level dance teams, they have withdrawn their alternate status. 

Henna Lindholm & Ossi Kanervo, Finland’s home team, are currently ranked second in their country. They also competed at Nebelhorn Trophy and finished 16th. 

Hungary will send the new team of Zsuzsanna Nagy & Mate Fejes to make their international debut. Nagy’s last international competition, with Gyorgy Elek, was the 2007 World Championships, where they finished 26th. Fejes finished 28th at the 2009 World Championships with Emese Laszlo. 

Competition begins Friday with the Golden Waltz.