Male figure-skaters irked by Laura Lepistö's "feminine" barbs
"Just as attitudes were starting to change"
Finland's male figure-skaters are not best pleased with the remarks by the 2009 European Ladies Figure-Skating Champion Laura Lepistö to the effect that they are rather feminine.
The six-time Finnish men's national champion Ari-Pekka Nurmenkari, encountered during a session where he was training young ice hockey players on how to use the different figure-skating skates, pulled a copy of the April edition of Cosmopolitan from his bag to show off an interview that Lepistö gave after her recent win.
She described her Finnish male colleagues as very feminine, and "a bit that way".
In Lepistö's view, things are quite different elsewhere in Europe, for example in France.
Does it seem that there would still be too much of the attitude going around that men shouldn't be getting involved in figure-skating?
"Well, it certainly does after Laura's comments", replied a narked Nurmenkari.
The way he sees it, the male skaters have for some time now been pleased to note that attitudes are changing at long last. In this context, Lepistö's surprising branding of the men annoys and puzzles Nurmenkari quite a bit.
"Laura brought quite a lot of anger down on her head with her remarks", said Nurmenkari, who at 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) is one of the tallest male skaters on the European circuit.
Laura Lepistö herself is completely puzzled. She says the magazine article in the Finnish Cosmopolitan was a misunderstanding and she has not been directing her comments at Finnish skaters.
"I meant that generally - on the world stage - male skaters are a bit more feminine. In Europe the men are in my view all very masculine", she said in her defence.
"I have been speaking on behalf of the Finnish men, and not against them", she commented.
The remarks do come at a slightly awkward time, as efforts are being made to encourage more boys to take up the sport, for example by introducing it to junior hockey players.
Previously in HS International Edition:
Laura Lepistö wins European title in front of ecstatic home audience (26.1.2009)
Joubert regains European title; Nurmenkari 14th (23.1.2009)
Laura Lepistö (Wikipedia)