14NEBT-SD-ZG-6617 595Photo by Robin Ritoss

The 19th Finlandia Trophy will take place this week at the Espoo, Finland. With the exception of 2005, it has been contested annually since 1995, although on four occasions an ice dancing event has not been included.   

Finlandia Trophy is considered as one of the major ‘Senior B’ competitions and in 2014, it was selected to be the fifth of 11 events to be part of the inaugural ISU Challenger Series.   The Series provides additional opportunities for skaters to earn World Standing Points.  Nine teams representing 7 countries will take the ice in Espoo. 

Nelli Zhiganshina & Alexander Gazsi (pictured, right) of Germany won the bronze medal at Nebelhorn just two weeks ago and their free dance to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake has been met with positive feedback.  Although they have skated together since 2005 and competed at many other Fall senior internationals, this will be the first time the duo is skating at Finlandia Trophy. 

Russia’s Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin are making their season debut in Finland and entering their second year at the senior level.  After winning the JGP Final and World Junior Championships during the 2012-13 season, they finished eighth in their Grand Prix debut last season.  A medal at Finlandia Trophy would be a great start to their season.

U.S. Figure Skating assigned Anastasia Cannuscio & Colin McManus to this event as a replacement for Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue who withdrew several weeks ago.  Cannuscio & McManus already have a bronze medal this season from the U.S. International Figure Skating Classic in September.  Their free dance to Dance Macabre is a different direction for the team, but low levels in the short dance have held them back this season. 

What better way to start a season than to debut on home ice with the chance to win a medal.  Finland’s Henna Lindholm & Ossi Kanervo had their strongest season to-date in 2013-14, including winning their first international medal.  Working with 2002 Olympic bronze medalist Maurizio Margaglio and with choreography from Marina Zoueva, the duo have continued to improve each year.   Olesia Karmi & Max Lindholm and Cecilia Torn & Jussiville Partanen round out team Finland’s ice dance roster.

Allison Reed & Vasili Rogov are competing in their second event after finishing sixth at Nebelhorn Trophy where they set a personal best with their free dance to music from Romeo and Juliet.  Siblings Pilar & Leonardo Maekawa of Mexico and Ukraine’s Anastasia Galyeta & Avidan Brown round out the roster.

The short dance will take place on Saturday with the free dance on Sunday.