Last Updated on January 30, 2023
The recent European Figure Skating Championships in Espoo, near Helsinki, Finland, made headlines over the weekend as the event featured the world’s first transgender figure skater. A 59-year-old biological male dressed as a woman made the historic debut only to slip and fall on the ice mid-performance. Many have since questioned why the skater was able to take a position away from a qualified female figure skater, while others have praised the “historic” debut.
Speaking to reporters ahead of the opening ceremony, 59-year-old Minna-Maaria Antikainen said it was a “childhood dream” to represent Finland on the ice, Newsweek reported.
A few seconds into the opening ceremony, Antikainen slipped and fell on the ice. Antikainen remained down for a few seconds as cameras panned away, at which point another Finland player came over and helped him to his feet.
Clips of the routine have since been viewed millions of times on social media.
Outi Wuorenheimo, executive director of the Finnish Figure Skating Association and secretary general of the ISU European Figure Skating Championships, had promised that skaters from all “backgrounds and abilities” would be featured in the opening ceremony.
“The spectacular opening ceremony praises equality and diversity.” Wuorenheimo said in her opening statement. “The theme, ‘Just be you,’ will be a visible part of the opening ceremony with performers from various backgrounds.”
“Often, only the top skaters in the country are seen in figure skating shows. With this diverse group of performers, we want to show that the ice has space for everyone. Especially in uncertain and difficult times like these, it is meaningful to create an accepting and positive experience for all,” she continued.