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Freshman Represents Finland in Ice Dance

By Diana Cheng

TEAM MEMBER

Jessica R. Huot ’06 and Juha Valkama ’06 represented Finland in the 2003 Washington, D.C., World Figure Skating Championships in ice dance March 25-29, placing 21st out of a field of 29 dance teams. This was an improvement on their 2002 placement of 26th at their first trip to senior Worlds.

The team completed the Austrian Waltz for the Compulsory Dance, placing 21st. On Tuesday, March 11, Huot passed the Austrian Waltz Senior International Dance test at MIT’s United States Figure Skating Association test session. The team placed 23rd in the Original Dance portion of the competition, to the music of “Memories of a Grand Ball.”

Their free dance was to the music of Fantasie Impromptu by Frederic Chopin. The free dance event requires 5 to 7 dance lifts, including a rotational lift of at least three revolutions, and a change-of-edge lift.

During the semester, the team skates at Babson or Walpole ice rinks under the instruction of coach Dimitri Kazarlyga. They have scheduled their academic classes in the afternoons so that they can train from 7 to 10 a.m.

Jessica’s mother points out that Huot is 19 and could have been a sophomore now, but says, “What’s the rush?” Her mother and her brother were supportive of Huot’s decision to take last year off after finishing high school and before beginning studies at MIT.

Last year, Huot and Valkama won the Finnish senior ice dance championships and competed at the 2002 World Championships. This year, in addition to taking classes, they have defended their Finnish ice dance championship title and placed 20th European Championships during IAP, moving up one place from 2002.

Huot’s mother moved with Huot from Western Massachusetts to Delaware to so that Huot could attend high school and train at the University of Delaware with Valkama, who moved to Delaware to skate full-time with Huot after finishing high school in Finland. Huot says that her high school in Delaware was used to having competitive skaters as students and she was able to schedule her classes to end at noon so that she and Valkama could train in the afternoon.

They competed internationally at the junior level in 2000 and 2001, and have competed at the senior level since 2002.

Huot’s official residence is Valkama’s address in Helsinki, Finland, for the purposes of being able to represent Finland in international competition. The pair represents Finland because Valkama is Finnish. Huot is a U.S. citizen, however, and would need to learn one of the Finnish national languages to obtain Finnish citizenship, if the team plans to compete at the Olympics someday. She is beginning to learn a bit of Russian through informal classes held by a member of Russian House, but admits that learning a new language is difficult.

This year, Huot and Valkama have coached the advanced ice dance group lessons and given private lessons at MIT’s Figure Skating Club. Huot has volunteered to be MIT Figure Skating Club’s team captain and ice dance chair, and Valkama will be the club’s workshop coordinator next year.