Article by Ashli Meynert & Melanie Hoyt | Photo by Robin Ritoss

An international contingent of teams will compete at Finlandia Trophy in Espoo, Finland, this weekend. This will be the 18th annual Finlandia Trophy, and it will be held for the second time at in Espoo, a town near Helsinki. Finlandia has not always had a dance event, but the dance event has been held annually since 2007.

The stars of this competition are Tessa Virtue & Scott Moir from Canada. The two-time world champions and 2010 Olympic champions are débuting their free dance to “The Seasons” by Alexander Glazunov. Fans around the world will be waiting for videos from Finlandia to surface. This summer, Virtue & Moir competed at the Québec Summer Championships with their 76.51-point short dance, set to music by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. Virtue & Moir are no strangers to Finlandia Trophy—they are the 2011 champions of this event. In 2012, Virtue & Moir were scheduled to compete at Finlandia, but they had to withdraw due to a muscle strain in Moir’s neck. Although Virtue & Moir are not expected to face a serious competitive challenge at this event, they will certainly bring their A-game, as the feedback that they receive here will set them up for the Grand Prix series.

Virtue & Moir’s former training mates, Madison Chock & Evan Bates of the USA, will also return to this event. Chock & Bates won the bronze medal at this event in 2011. They have not competed yet this season, so they will also be seeking feedback for Grand Prix events. Chock & Bates were seventh at the 2013 World Championships after winning the silver medal at the U.S. Championships. Their early-season competitions will be extra important this year, as they are in a close race for Olympic spots with several other American teams.

Lithuanians Isabella Tobias & Deividas Stagniunas will attempt to rally from their seventh-place finish at the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in September. Their James Bond free dance features some innovative highlights, but their execution was not yet precise at their first outing this season. Tobias is currently attempting an appeal to earn Lithuanian citizenship in time for the Olympics. The couple trains in Novi, Mich., with Igor Shpilband.

Justyna Plutowska & Peter Gerber, training mates of Chock & Bates and Tobias & Stagniunas, represent Poland. They competed at 2012 Finlandia Trophy, placing seventh with a score of 110.08. Already quite busy this season, they are coming off of a 10th-place outing at Nebelhorn Trophy which gave Poland the second alternate spot to the Olympics. For their short dance, they are skating to “Le Jazz Hot.” Their free dance is from the soundtrack to “The Artist.”

Germans Shari Koch & Christian Nüchtern also competed at Nebelhorn last week, where level issues in the free dance left them in 12th place overall. They are in their first year of competing at the senior level and were eighth at the World Junior Championships last season. Their short dance is to the song “You Give A Little Love” and their free dance is to selections from the “Batman Forever” soundtrack.

13finlandia-lindkanSwitzerland’s Ramona Elsener & Florian Roost are also skating at this event after competing at Nebelhorn. Elsener & Roost were hoping to earn an Olympic spot for Switzerland at Nebelhorn and set themselves up well in the short dance, but a fall in the free dance cost them. They will attempt to rebound this week. In 2012, they were sixth at Finlandia. Their short dance this season is “I’m Sitting on Top Of The World” and “Call Me Irresponsible.” For their free dance, they are skating to selections from “Moulin Rouge.”

Estonia has sent Irina Shtork & Taavi Rand. At the 2012 Finlandia Trophy, they placed fifth with a score of 129.41, but are coming off of a weak outing at Nebelhorn this year. They will use music from “Umbrellas of Cherbourg” in their free dance.

The host country will field three teams this week. Henna Lindholm & Ossi Kanervo (pictured, left) have competed at Finlandia every year since 2009, finishing as high as eighth last year. They were 13th at Nebelhorn last week. Olesia Karmi & Max Lindholm have skated twice at this event, with their highest placement (also eighth) coming in 2011. Cecila Törn & Jussiville Partanen are a brand-new team making their international début together. Törn recently switched to ice dance, while Partanen has competed internationally for the past two years with Canadian Sara Aghai. He moved back to Finland this year. All three Finnish teams train with 2001 world champion Maurizio Margaglio.

Russians Ekaterina Bobrova & Dmitri Soloviev, last year’s Finlandia Trophy champions, were slated to begin their international season here, but they withdrew from the competition this week.

The short dance is scheduled for Friday evening, and the free dance is scheduled for Saturday evening.