Dundee Olympic hopeful Natasha McKay kicks off her quest for Beijing 2022 figure skating selection in Finland this weekend.
The four-time British champion leads a city contingent hoping for success in the Finlandia Trophy Challenger Series event.
It is being staged in Espoo, just outside Helsinki.
Natasha and teammate Karly Robertson are joined by up and coming pair skaters Anastasia Vaipan-Law and Luke Digby in what is their international debut.
World class field
The event has attracted a truly world class field, with top Russian and American skaters being favourites for glory.
Natasha’s Winter Olympics selection quest begins in earnest on Saturday.
She qualified an Olympic spot for the UK at the World Championships earlier this year, and now has to secure it for herself.
Selection is based on a combination of international scores and performance at the British championships in December.
Sea Lion Woman
She said: “This is my first international competition this season and I am really looking forward to it.
“I can’t wait to perform my new short program.
Natasha will skate to the music of Bob Sinclar’s Sea Lion Woman.
“It has been choreographed by leading Canadian choreographer Mark Pillay in the summer,” she said.
But Covid made the building the routine a little trickier than usual for the Dundee star.
“The process was a bit different than normal through Zoom sessions, due to travel restrictions,” said Natasha.
Pair’s major competition debut
The Helsinki competition is the first major event for Anastasia and Luke since they began their partnership as a pair team just over a year ago.
Anastasia said: “I am so excited for our first international competition.
“We have worked hard and all our elements are coming together nicely.
“We are looking to get good scores to be able to represent GB at European and World Championships in the future.”
The dedicated athletes put in hours of practice at Dundee Ice Arena.
GB Olympic coach Simon Briggs said: “The international season is starting for team Dundee in Finland with four of our skaters competing.
“For Natasha it is an important competition to get her closer to her goal to compete at the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“As for the pair skaters, it is their first time competing internationally and only their second time competing at all.
“Their goal will be a solid skate and getting the qualification score for the European and World Championships.”