Ice Network

Karelian hot pot: Peltonen sees name immortalized

Parents travel to watch children compete; White excels as broadcaster
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Finnish skater Emmi Peltonen took some time to pose for a picture under the rafters inside Hartwall Arena, where her father and former NHL star Ville Peltonen's jersey hangs in honor of his outstanding professional career. -Jyrki Pirkkalainen

Skaters' parents and journalists alike continued to arrive Wednesday morning in Helsinki. Among them was Corinne Le Gac, the mother of ice dancer Romain Le Gac, who skates with Marie-Jade Lauriault. As every parent would be, Le Gac was worried about how her son's outing would go.

"He and Marie wanted to arrive Monday, so they flew from Montreal (where the team trains) to Frankfurt and endured a six-hour connection before heading to Helsinki," Corinne said. "That was a long day, and they had an early practice session early the next morning. As a skater, you really need to be flexible with your sleeping time and take it as it comes and whenever you can."

Meagan Duhamel's maternal grandmother, Raili Koski, 84, who emigrated from Finland to Northern Ontario in the 1950's, made the trip to her homeland for the first time in nearly two decades. She not only wanted to watch her granddaughter defend her world title but also to meet her extended family. 

"Mummu (grandma) is having the time of her life in Helsinki," Duhamel said. "She is so excited to hear young people speak Finnish on the streets."

There is also one more Canadian pairs skater who calls Northern Ontario home. Matthew Penasse, a first-timer at this event who is representing Finland, had his mother come all the way to Helsinki to watch her son skate. An especially exciting moment for him since it's his mother's first time overseas!

Skater's name placed above the rafters

How many skaters have a jersey with their name hanging from the rafters at the venue where they made their debut at the world championships?

Not many, but Finland's Emmi Peltonen does. Or, at least, she had one two weeks ago when the Finnish team arrived for its pre-worlds media day. The reason for the displaying of the jersey was that Peltonen's father is hockey star Ville Peltonen, who had his number retired by the Finnish national team in December 2015.

His sweater was put on display inside Hartwall Arena in Helsinki -- the very same rink where his daughter, Emmi, took the ice in Wednesday's ladies short program at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships.

"I was at the ceremony, and it was a great experience," said Emmi Peltonen, who recalled the events with a glowing smile on her face.

For the duration of these world championships, the retired numbers will be temporarily replaced with the International Skating Union flag as well as the Finnish flag.

Emmi Peltonen was born in Nashville, Tennessee, when her father was playing for the Nashville Predators of the NHL. Later on, the family moved to Florida, where Emmi was coached by Evgeny Artemov and Richard Callaghan. Currently, Peltonen splits her time between Finland and California, where she works with Rafael Arutunian.

Toys or flowers?

Evgenia Medvedeva, Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman -- who own the top three ladies spots entering the free skate -- have clarified what may have been the hottest issue in figure skating.

Do skaters prefer to receive flowers after their exhibition or plush toys?

In the old days, spectators used to send fresh flowers to their favorite competitors after they completed a performance, but in recent time, fans have started to send plush toys instead of flowers.

The answer was a unanimous one: "Plush toys!" the three ladies answered while laughing. "But small ones, so that we can bring them back home!"

An opening ceremony to remember

Speed skaters with capes skating circles on the ice. An aerial acrobat clad in a costume with LED lights. A pianist descending from the roof down onto the ice. These interesting moments -- along with the crowd joining in the festivities -- helped mark a truly memorable opening ceremony in Helsinki.

Did I miss something? Perhaps, but that just goes to show how incredibly pieced together this moment was. Wednesday's opening ceremony included basically anything you can think of -- and more.

The year 2017 marks the centenary of Finland's independence, and with the world championships being one of the main events for the "Suomi 100" celebrations, the show was nothing short of spectacular.

Medvedeva, the musical muse

Evgenia Medmedeva was asked about what kind of music she listens to when she warms up for competition.

"Now I have adapted my routine," the reigning world champion explained. "When I wake up, I listen to music. During the day, I listen to music. When I go to bed, I listen to music. My whole life is surrounded by music. And when I go to competitions, I am listening to music! It's usually the same kind of music."

The musical selections? K-pop, of course!

Disconnected from the world

The wireless network inside the arena was giving the media and the organizers gray hairs throughout most of the ladies short program. The connection was on and off, and at some point, event workers were forced to reboot the system to restore the network, which left hundreds of journalists and photographers without internet connection for a while.

It seems that the Hartwall Arena has an exclusive deal with one network operator, and the organizers have no power to change it. The winners in the situation were those who paid extra money for a cable connection -- as well as yours truly -- who used their own private Finnish mobile data connection.

With so many live video streams, social media channels and photos being transferred all around the globe, it seems there is no such thing as enough bandwidth! Luckily, a return to normalcy was achieved by the time the pairs short program began.

White's new talent

Team USA's Charlie White, the 2014 Olympic gold medalist, is in Helsinki doing interviews for the ISU. We know him as one of the best ice dancers in history and a most charming character. In Helsinki, he is displaying a knack for not only interviewing skaters as they leave the ice but as a strong ambassador for public relations.

White conducts his interviews in front of the mixed zone, which is busier than the center of Tokyo at dawn! And at the ladies short program press conference, he forwarded a question he had received from a fan to Evgenia Medmedeva.

His questions are great, and the answers he gets are just as entertaining. People stop to watch and listen as his skills surely shed even more light on the overall greatness of figure skating.

Canadian spin

Right next to the scene of the post-event press conference room, you'll find two green rotating armchairs with a high back. After the event was over, Canadians Osmond and Daleman laid down with their arms wide open and started rotating at the same time, showing the small medal they had just been awarded to their team officials with a pairs-like unison.

Is another routine on the horizon? Perhaps after the ladies free skate?

We'll just have to wait and see!