Michelle Karvinen is a Danish/Finnish citizen who plays for University of North Dakota and the Finnish national team. She answered these questions via email for WINIH in Feb. 2012.
Q: How did you get involved in hockey and when?
MK: When I was around 3 years old. My brother was playing and my dad was coach, so I was influenced by that.
Q: Your father played professionally and your brother still plays; how did they help with hockey now?
MK: It has of course influenced me a lot, but there has never been a pressure on me to play hockey. My dad has been teaching me all I know about stick handling and skating. He has also been my coach for couple of years, I still use my summers with my dad to improve myself. My brother and I are best friends and we always talk about hockey and try to help each other to become better players. For the last couple of summers I have been working out with my brother where we help each other to prepare for the season.
Q: Describe your history with the game; you played on boy’s teams as well as girls teams.
MK: I have always been playing with boys, so it was more trying out for the women's team when I was 8 years old. I think over the years playing with boys it was important for me as girl on a guy’s team not just to be as good as them but also better than them most of them, show them and my coaches that it didn't matter that I was a girl, that I earned my spot on the team.
EE: You have played for club teams in Denmark; when did you start playing in Finland?
MK: I moved to Finland so I could play for the Finish national team, I moved in 2007 and came back to Denmark 2009.
EE: Have you lived in both countries as you were growing up?
MK: I have only lived in Finland for 2 years, so I pretty much only Denmark.
EE: You are a dual citizen; why did you choose to play for Finland instead of Denmark?
MK: It’s pretty simple, the opportunities I could get playing for Finland was bigger, I would be able to play WC, OL. There is sadly no support to women’s national team in Denmark. I have been around team Finland for almost 9 years and it has given me so much and is the whole reason that I am in USA now.
EE: Your UND team has Swedish, Danish and Norwegian players; how has it been getting to know these players- any funny stories about them?
MK: I knew Josefine Jakobsen (Denmark) but not Andrea Dalen (Norway). I don't know if there are any funny stories - hee hee, we are such good friends and we help each other with lots of different things and it nice to have someone that just understands you and that you can relate to.
EE: How does playing at UND compare with competition in Finland?
MK: The level of the tournament, every game in USA is tough and close, there is always a chance that you lose if you have a bad day. There are not as many good teams in Finnish league.
EE: You are taking pre commercial aviation; what do you hope to do when you graduate?
MK: I changed my major because it was too expensive, I still would love to do it, but it is just too much money.
EE: Is your plan to play hockey after university with Finland? And go to the Sochi Games?
MK: My plan is to take one year of the university, so I can prepare with Finnish national team for Sochi. After the Olympics I will come back to UND and play one more year.
EE: How does hockey in Denmark compare with Finland for girls or women playing the game?
MK: Much faster and you allowed to use your body a lot more than in Finland.
EE: What would be your dream for hockey in your home country, Denmark?
MK: To play professional for the men’s team, but I don't know if that is going to happen.
EE: Anything else to add about the state of the women’s game in 2012…changes you would like to see.
MK: When I play with girls I miss body checking, so I hope that we are allowed use our body a bit more, because I think that is a part of hockey.