by Matteo Morelli

Finland welcomes the 2022 Grand Prix of Espoo, the last event of the series that replaces Rostelecom Cup and that will close all qualifying podiums, confirming the full list of skaters that will be competing at the Grand Prix Final in Turin, Italy. 

The event will take place at Espoo Metro Arena, the rink used for the Challenger Series Finlandia Trophy taking place in September and that this season will also host the European Figure Skating Championship. 

The Medal Hunt: Canada’s Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier will try to double their success and get another gold medal after earning the highest spot at the Grand Prix in Canada, where they first presented their new programmes, including their free based on music from the movie Evita.

USA’s Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker will also aim at a high podium finish, having earned a silver medal at Skate America and hoping to qualify for their second Grand Prix Final. Also from Team USA, Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko will aim to improve their results following their fourth place finish in Sheffield and hope for a medal. 

Finland’s Juulia Turkkila and Matthias Versluis will try to make up for their mistakes at Grand Prix de France and show what they are capable of, skating in front of their home audiences and in a rink that they know quite well.

After competing in Sheffield at their first senior Grand Prix, both Czech Republic’s Natálie Taschlerová and Filip Taschler and USA’s Oona Brown and Gage Brown will come back for their second event of the series, trying to better their results and gain even more senior experience. 

Current expected qualifications for the Grand Prix final: With five out of six events completed, four teams are certain to make their way to the final in early December: safely qualified and currently the only team with two gold medals and a total of 30 points are Italy’s Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri; also qualified with a silver and a gold medal and 28 points each are USA’s Madison Chock and Evan Bates and Canada’s Laurence Fournier Beaudry and Nikolaj Sørensen; two silver medals and 26 points allow Great Britain’s Lilah Fear and Lewis Gibson to secure their place in the event’s final. 

With only two spots left, Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier and Kaitlin Hawayek and Jean-Luc Baker are in a strong place to qualify, going into Grand Prix Espoo with respectively a gold and silver medal.

Event info: Teams have official practices on Thursday, November 24. The rhythm dance kicks off at 7:40pm (EET) on Friday, November 25, with the free dance occurring on Saturday, November 26 at 8:25pm (EET).