As you can imagine, ice skating is deep in Finnish culture. My colleague, Matti, invited me to see his daughter's end-of-season show yesterday. (By the way, the new season starts today.) This is a club of what seem to be many dozens of children, ages 2 or 3 to about 15 or 16 years. To showcase each group and each level, they built a show loosely around the story of Eemeli. Eemeli was written by Astrid Lindgren, who also wrote Pippi Longstocking.
I thought the skating was excellent and the efforts to put it all together in something like a narrative made it all more coherent and allowed for different levels of skating to be showcased. The event was very relaxed and the crowd amazingly quiet--they did applaud ALOT, but with mittens on, the sound isn't overwhelming! (Thank goodness, they didn't yelp and yell out things to their friends on the ice like, "Whoo hoo! Mari, you rock! Whoo, hoo! Totally awesome!) These are my kind of folks.
Here are some samples to show where they start as little skaters, and where they end up.
Here's what they do a few years later...