When you hear the word "Rockettes," what comes to mind -- Radio City Music Hall? High-kicking dancers? How about Finland's own Rockettes, the reigning world champions in synchronized skating? The Rockettes are one of the most long-established synchronized skating teams in Finland and are going into their 24th year! During a recent trip to Helsinki, we visited with the team and their coach, Kaisa Nieminen, to find out the secret to their success.
Kaisa took over as the main coach of the Rockettes during the 1997-1998 season and has never looked back. The Rockettes are perennial favorites to medal at the World Synchronized Skating Championships and have collected a number of silver and bronze medals. Until last season that is, when they upset Sweden's Team Surprise to capture the world title in Budapest, Hungary. (YouTube link to Rockettes' free skate) But the Rockettes are hardly resting on their victory and are busily preparing for the Finnish national championships and the 2009 World Championships in Zagrab, Croatia. As team captain Tiia Tupala puts it, "They say it's hard to get to the top, but it's even harder to stay there."
Kaisa said that her 24 talented and dedicated ladies are a tight-knit group and that synchronized skaters need to have some additional skillsets than singles skaters.
Well put Kaisa! And the ladies certainly have the will -- the team practices two hours a day, six days a week, and in addition, work with mental training coaches, dance instructors and fitness coaches. Oh, did I mention that most are full-time university students? So for them, being a Rockette is definitely a part of who they are. Good luck to the Rockettes and I'll be checking back with them as the season progresses!
(Photo below, the Rockettes with their gold medals at the 2008 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary)