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26th February 2018

Tuula Olin, 76

Tuula is a competitive ice skater based in Porvoo, Finland. Bolder photographed her at Myllypuro Ice Hall in Helsinki.

“I’ve skated for my whole life, but when my husband died back in 2009, I decided to start synchronised skating as a way to meet people. Skating really kept me going these first two years, which were quite heavy-going. I made lots of new friends and what’s really nice is that many of them are thirty years or so younger than me.

More recently, I’ve started to skate competitively in the adult competitions organised by the International Skating Union. Last year I came third in my age category for free skating, and the year before I came first in figure skating.

Of course, I fall quite frequently, but there is no problem with that. There is even special padding that you can wear. Perhaps when I am a little bit older, I’ll buy a helmet. The worst part for me is getting back up again. I’ve always been quite fit, though, which helps. The most important thing in skating is balance; even while I am cleaning my teeth, I try to stand on one leg at a time as I look in the mirror. I also swim every morning of the summer in my little outdoor pool – it is freezing, but the best way to wake up.

Sitting still is the worst thing. I feel like there should be some sort of fitness programme on TV aimed at older people. So someone could come onto the screen while we are sitting having our morning coffee – and just encourage us to stand up and do ten minutes of activity. There is a lot of talk about doing these sorts of things, but nobody ever seems to make it happen. It could save a huge amount of government money to keep people moving in their own homes.

As far as food is concerned, I am quite healthy. I have a greenhouse and a vegetable garden where I grow my own ingredients. I grow four types of berries which I’ll put on my porridge or in a smoothie. Of course in Finland, you also get very good, fresh fish. If I am having some company or one of my daughters is coming to visit, I love a glass of cold white wine, too. Pinot Grigio is my favourite and we’ll sit on the terrace and put the world to rights.

I recently reconnected with my first love. We met at school, but after he went into the army we drifted apart. A few years ago, I found this stash of love letters from him and began to wonder if he was still alive. I tracked him down and sent him a text and a couple of weeks later he called me. We speak on the phone a lot not now – we’ll talk about the old days, about our grandchildren or about politics. Now that we have Trump, there is not a day without drama.

I am really happy these days but of course I still miss my husband. He was a good man and very clever. I probably got more from him than I could give back. But I did give him energy – and I made him good food! Little things make me happy now, like when I make a good dinner. Or when I give my friends presents I have made for them.

My life motto? Do things for other people, not for yourself.

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