From Finnish filmmakers Roope Olenius and Veera W. Vilo, Free Skate is a sports drama with a decidedly female perspective about the abuse that is only now being uncovered in women’s sports. Veera W. Vilo stars as a Russian figure skater (the film has no formal names for its characters) found beaten and frost-bitten on the side of a Finnish highway. The police find a note in her bag from her grandmother (Leena Uotila) and leave the Skater in her care.
From here, our story walks us down two parallel paths as the Skater re-experiences her abusive Russian training while, at the same time, trying to return to the top of her game, living with her grandmother in Finland. During her Russian training sequences, skaters are pushed to their physical and emotional limits, as appearance and success are everything. Their weight is constantly monitored, and their training sessions are harsh and brutal. To pay for new equipment and competition fees, they are paraded in front of “sponsors,” who demand “private meetings” (#MeToo) — failure to comply resorts to stiff consequences.
“…struggles with not only trusting her new coaching team but also regaining her confidence as a competitor.”
The primary structure of Free Skate falls squarely on the Skater’s return to the sport she loves. She is introduced to a new coach (Karolina Blackburn), ballet teacher (Saara Elina), and choreographer (Miikka J. Anttila). Yet, unlike the Russian system, her new team provides a much less stressful environment for training as they favor creativity. Their goal is to restore the Skater’s love and passion once again and somehow bring that back into her routines.
The Skater, in turn, struggles with not only trusting her new coaching team but also regaining her confidence as a competitor. Escaping the constant visions of her former coach berating her and calling her a “fat cow.” She must also work her way through her PTSD and deal with her parents (particularly her father) and why they abandoned her to such a corrupt system.
"…an exposé on the industry that can take advantage of young girls..."