Thursday, October 5, 2023

Virpi Saraswoo finds a new passion: “I was really excited”


The former skier who won Dancing with the Stars continues his dancing hobby with partner Sami Helenius.

Old Student House on April Fools’ Day 2023.

There are 90 dance duos twerking during Saturdays on the pricey building’s ballroom floor. One of them is Virpi Sarasvuo-Sami Helenius.

Does it sound familiar? In Autumn 2020, the same couple performed to an audience of millions on the Dancing With the Stars competition. Sarasvuo and Helenius finally celebrate TTK’s victory.

In the past, he participated in the so-called prom program, where one dancer is a professional and his partner is an amateur. A clichéd expression can be used about the first race of Saracevo and Helenius: it was like a dance. Eventually, he won his class and received accolades from the other competitors.

– This prom community was crazy. Everyone was saying it’s a little nicer when you come along, Sarasvu says of the competition’s atmosphere.

The outfit worn by Virpi Sarasvuo in the Old Student Hall competitions is a stunning creation.

The outfit worn by Virpi Sarasvuo in the Old Student Hall competitions is a stunning creation. Photo: Paula Cascima / IS

Although the 46-year-old Saraswoo has been through rough spots in his skiing career, he says he was more excited about his dance debut than the competitive debut of his former sport.

Especially the first dance was very exciting.

She had never danced on the floor with the other couples. When training in an empty gym, you won’t have to dodge or collide.

It was such an amazing experience for TTK Saraswuo that he didn’t want it to end.

Sarasvuo says – We promised to continue dancing together and we did.

He wanted goal-oriented training, and participating in competitions was a natural way of “serious” training.

– The decision had a great meaning: I noticed that the responsibility for learning has changed significantly, says Sarasvuo.

It was no longer enough to go to dance, you had to master the subtleties of the sport.

– I don’t miss race day, but aiming for it brings meaning to training, Saraswuz reasons.

During TTK, the couple underwent intense training for 4-5 hours every day. After that, the training speed decreased significantly. Sarasvuo has met his coach only once a week.

– We practiced three dances, so we only have 20 minutes of training per dance per week, says Helenius.

On the other hand, training is significantly more effective than in autumn 2020.

– At that time I did not know how to dance yet and I did not have the same strength as now, says Sarasvuo.

When the skill is accumulated, even a short training session seems to be effective.

– To relieve physical tension you need to know the technique, says Sarasvuo.

Prom competitions are essentially different from TV appearances. In TTK, three judges followed a couple for full 1.5 minutes. In competitions, there are six pairs on the floor and five judges try to judge them all.

– Judges form their opinions in quick flashes, says Helenius.

The judges gave oral feedback and suggestions for growth in TTK. In competitions, the couple only gets to know the ranking and nothing else. Prom differs from other series in that the judges only evaluate the student.

Music is a conundrum for couples. The tempo is familiar, but the songs are not as foretold.

– We only know the tempo, the music can be anything, says Helenius.

Complete success is extremely rare. Sarasvuo compares it to its former species.

– During my skiing career, I had two competitions that went perfectly. And I skied quite a few races.

In the training hall, Sami Helenius is leading and Virpi Sarasvu is smiling.

In the training hall, Sami Helenius is leading and Virpi Sarasvu is smiling. Photo: Paula Cascima / IS

According to Helenius, the parquet has some similar logic.

– It rarely happens that unexpected things happen during the dance, say experienced dancers.

It is rare to run a completely error free program. “Dodging” the other pairs increases the level of difficulty.

Not everyone considers dance as a real sport, but this sport requires a good physique and stamina. It is also an excellent lateral exercise for other sports.

Paavo Nurmi, the king of sprinters, was an avid dancer and hence the “Nurmi of the Ice Fields” or speed skater Klas Thunberg.

How about the other way. Should the Dancer Run or Skate?

Good physical condition is certainly beneficial when dancing, but range of motion is so versatile that good dance condition can only be achieved by dancing, says Helenius.

In TTK, Sarasvuo and Helenius were at the limit of their physical endurance during creature week.

– At the end of the week, I had to give up training because I had a lot of pain in my calves.

During the collapse of TTK, Sarasvuo and Helenius trained for 4–5 hours every day.

During the collapse of TTK, Sarasvuo and Helenius trained for 4–5 hours every day. Photo: Seppo Karki

After the first competition, the pair will consider extending the training session. I’m already thinking about the next show, which definitely has a lot of time. In Finland, the prom race is only offered in December.

– But there are competitions all over the world, says Helenius.

Sarasvuo is used to moving forward in an international environment, so a spin to the world would be no surprise.

Sarasvuo ended his skiing career in the spring of 2010 and joined the dance show Ten Years Later.

– Fortunately, some time had passed since my top sports career, and some movement directions or models were no longer so strong.

While in skiing the direction was always forward, in dance the motion goes in several different directions at the same time. On the runway, you had to avoid the diagonals which are an essential part of the dance.

The Sami Helenius on the other hand are addicted to spinning. However, the movements must serve the choreography.

In dance, you need to be able to present yourself effectively, says Virpi Sarasvuo.

In dance, you need to be able to present yourself effectively, says Virpi Sarasvuo. Photo: Paula Cascima / IS

Thanks to his elite sports background, Sarasvuo knows his body.

– Then it becomes easier to implement the essential elements in the dance, says Helenius.

Sarasvuo has taken care of his physique and is in superb shape.

– Maybe I look in top shape, but we’re not talking about body density, laughs the former skier.

Fortunately, you no longer have as many shoulder muscles as you did during your skiing years, says Helenius.

During TTK, Sarasvuo looked at the effect of dance on posture and body support. A lofty posture is needed to persuade the judges. Saraswokhin has learned to live under the spotlight.

You should be able to present yourself effectively in dance. No matter how you feel, you have to assure yourself that I will take care of it.

Virpi Saraswooo’s competition outfit: Sarah Hedman Design

Green Dress: Cafelet Lifestyle

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