The Gjersem family tries to revive Sonja Henie traditions in Norway
By Vladislav Luchianov
If I’m not mistaken, the last time our online magazine put its attention to Norway’s skating was in April 2012, when Olga Fluegge wrote an article dedicated to the 100th anniversary of famous Sonja Henie.
But the Sochi Olympics showed that Norwegian figure skating is reviving again.
The 20-year-old Anne Line Gjersem is the first Norwegian to qualify for figure skating in the Olympics since 1964. Despite the fact that this skater is not yet among the tops, she has attracted the attention from the audience in Sochi by her elegant, artistic and musical performances.
I know that after her short program at the Iceberg arena many people, including TV commentators and other media, cheered for her, wishing Anne to qualify for the free skating event, which was the main goal of the skater. She did it. With a placement of 24th in the short program, she qualified for the free skate, where she placed 22nd, and finished 23rd overall – a very good result, taking into account the absence of Norway’s Olympic skating since the middle of last century.
Gjersem’s another big success of this season was at the Nebelhorn Trophy, which was an Olympic qualifying competition this season, and where Anne finished 7th and earned a ladies’ entry for Norway.
Anne has a twin sister, Camilla, who is also a competitive skater. These girls are so similar that they could successfully substitute each other in competitions. Speaking seriously, Anne and Camilla are constantly helping and support one another in everyday’s life and on the ice.
Anne Line Gjersem with her twin sister Camilla
We decided to talk with Anne about her impressions on Sochi Olympics, about thoughts on this season and about the state of figure skating in the motherland of Sonja Henie.
WFS: Anne, first of all I would like to ask you to share with us your thoughts, impressions and emotions on Sochi Olympics.
Anne Line Gjersem: It was a dream come true. I have dreamt about skating at the Olympics since I was a child. I was so excited to be there. I was proud of representing my country and to be part of the Norwegian team. I really enjoyed skating in Sochi. There were so many good impressions and a lot of emotions. I’m so grateful to experience such an amazing event.
– Despite the fact that we don’t so often see the Norwegian skaters, your elegant performances were remembered by the audience and many specialists. Did you expect this?
– No, I didn’t expect that, but I’m happy with the positive feedback.
– You’ve earned an Olympic spot by placing 7th at the Nebelhorn Trophy. This year you also improved your positions at the European stage by finishing 19th in Budapest. How would you evaluate your progress in this season?
– I feel like I have had good progress this season. I was competed with both of my programs at the Nebelhorn Trophy where I got personal best score. Qualifying for the Olympics was the main goal of the season. At the Europeans I am satisfied with the short program but my free program needs many improvements. The main goal at the Olympics was to qualify for the free program so I am very happy I achieved my goals.
Anne is performing her long program at Sochi Olympics
- Artistry plays a big role in your programs. At the same time we see a constantly rising technical level in ladies skating. In your vision, how not to lose artistic idea of a program in this, let’s say, technical age?
– Well, I think it’s very important to focus on the artistry in the program as well as on the technical part. Artistry makes figure skating interesting to watch. I like that there are so many ways to improve in figure skating. As an athlete I have to work a lot on technical improvements and developing my artistry into the programs.
– As I know, at the age of eight years you, together with your twin sister Camilla, decided to devote yourself to figure skating. What was the main reason for that?
– The main reason for devoting myself to figure skating was because I enjoyed being on the ice. When I first started I got inspired by watching other girls skating. I wanted to be able to do the same.
– In one YouTube’s video I saw you both skating at a big outdoor ice rink. It seems like you don’t have any problem with ice time, especially taking into account the Nordic climate of your country.
– Well, in Norway we have a lot of outdoor ice rinks but it can be very cold to practice outside in – 10 degrees with wind and snow. When we were small we did that. The ice rinks (outdoor) in Norway are only open from August until May. There are 41 ice rinks in Norway and we have to share ice time with hockey. In Sweden, where I live now, there are more ice rinks.
A training day with Anne Line and Camilla Marie Gjersem at the outdoor ice rink
– You have very nice spins. There is an American skater Alissa Czisny, whose spins are considered as the best in the world and who also has a twin sister. She explains her great spins as a result of sisters’ “competition”. Is there something similar in your case?
– Yeah, we have a similar case. We like to compete with each other. Camilla and I have always competed in every area of skating and off the ice trainings. We always wanted to beat each other by running faster or jumping higher. I would say because of that I have developed a lot more. The competition is good for the both of us. My sister has other qualities than me. She has better spins and the artistry comes more natural for her while jumping is my strong side. We could learn from each other and now we have developed in both fields.
– Do you think your skating family inspired other girls in Norway to begin skating?
– Recently I had a lot of media attention in Norway because of the Olympics. People can now see that it is possible to do figure skating in Norway. I hope that it will inspire girls to start with this sport.
Norwegian TV puts high attention to the country’s first Olympic skater since 1964
- Figure skating is not only a very beautiful sport but a very expensive too. How do Norwegian skaters solve this issue?
– My family prioritizes (skating) when it comes to spending money. My mom and dad spend a lot of money on our skating and I am very grateful for that.
– And what can you say about general development of figure skating in Norway? Is there any chance to see new Sonja Henie?
– Even though we are not competing so much internationally, the level is getting better. Sonja Henie was one of a kind. It’s hard to get that kind of success in this period of time when the level in figure skating is so high.
– As I know she is your favorite skater. What do you like the most in her skating and her personality?
– She was innovative in her time. What I like the most is her great charisma on the ice.
– Tell us, please about your next goals.
– My next goal is to do more difficult jumps in my programs. I want to work more on the artistic part as well, so I can develop more as a skater.
Photos: Celebzz, Anne’s FB page, NRK