Stéphane Lambiel: “Do it. Show us your colours!”

This wonderfully talented skater turned into a great coach has always been a joy to interview. And 2020 Europeans were no exception – we talked to Stéphane Lambiel the day after the men’s free skate in Graz.

The central point of our lengthy, detailed talk has been his most recent student, Japan’s Shoma Uno – and so this is a journey both into Shoma’s season and Stéphane’s season, until they decided to be just that, a student-coach team for the future.

And one thing that you’ll notice, among so many other little stories, is that Stéphane felt the urgent need to change the imagery associated with Shoma’s Kiss and Cry in Grenoble, so he made all efforts to stand by him, or find solutions for Shoma not to be alone in the Kiss and Cry anymore.

“Kiss and Cry needs to happen, it needs to happen”, the coach mumbled to himself, more like a leit-motif, during the season. And we can all agree that Shoma has been very well surrounded after 2019 Internationaux de France and that his overall attitude changed into a sunnier, more relaxed one.

His coach will tell you how this happened.

Pay attention to the metaphors as well – Stéphane loves them and there are many in our conversation – and one of them connects the title with the kind of skater that Shoma Uno is.

And don’t miss the part where Stéphane Lambiel talks about Deniss Vasiljevs – “I love to watch this kind of skating. This is what I defend. This is what I work for”, which is, in fact, the very essence of his coaching philosophy.

And his thoughts on the ladies skating at the moment show a coach who is very much devoted to the sport, the way he sees it and envisions it, the way he lives it.

interview by Florentina Tone/Graz

Stéphane, I would like our conversation to be about that – the journey this season has been for you, for Shoma, for both of you as a team, but I will start from a different point, I will start from the very beginning. When did you first notice Shoma, what do you remember?

I do believe the first memory [of Shoma] is Innsbruck, the Youth Olympic Games, back in 2012. So that’s eight years ago. He was probably 14… but he looked like 10 [smiling]. 9 or 10 [continues to smile], he looked super, super, super, super cute.

He could not speak any English, but he came to the conference that I was giving as an Athlete Role Model – and what I can remember is that he already had this kind of magic while he was skating, something that he was not aware of. There was something in his performance, there’s something happening that you’re not able to describe…

So it’s actually there that I found this amazing athlete – and, from there, I started working for the Japanese Federation, I was doing the summer camps for them, so each summer I would be able to see the evolution of Shoma.

So you watched him grow, in a way…

I watched him grow, through competitions and through camps, and, of course, once he was quite successful, he started to do shows – so we also spent a little bit more time together doing shows.

It was for one of these shows that you choreographed an exhibition program to “La vie en rose” for him, right?

A few years ago, yes.

I cannot remember exactly how it went, but I think I was at Chukyo University and they asked me to choreograph – and we set up that program, with a light feeling of “La vie en rose”…

At the end of Japanese Nationals, last December, Shoma came back to that “La vie en rose” program, skating it during the exhibition and closing a circle, in a way…. And I was wondering if there was a meaning to that, to him choosing to skate the first program that you did together…

[Smiling] Yeah, probably.

I think for him it was important to… It felt like: Ok, now we are a team, and back then we started to put things together, and now we kind of, like you said, close that circle. And now we can actually open the door to some new ideas for the programs – we are already thinking about next season’s programs, and Olympic season’s programs…

So it feels quite encouraging to have this bond that has been growing for some years.

Watching him develop over the years, and actually working with him during summer camps, during shows, are there any programs, any moments that stayed in your mind more than others? That’s me here trying to extract all the memories that you might have of Shoma…

He had an Argentine program and I really loved the step sequence in that one – we worked on the step sequence. And I remember that I was asking him to be quite sharp in some parts, and hold his edges – so that was one of the programs that I probably remember the most, and that I really appreciate…

…having an input in it.

Yes. Exactly.

And then, of course, it was the “Nessun Dorma” that I also enjoyed a lot – and he has this kind of… Even though he is rather short, he has this majestic posture – and, with his speed and with his projection, he’s able to skate big. So it actually fits that program very well.

And also Shoma’s Vivaldi – when we were able to connect my “Four Seasons” with his. And that was a very, very special moment. It was probably for “Friends on Ice”, when they asked us to make a combination of both of the Vivaldi-s, mine and his, and we had just two or three hours to put all this together.

So he was starting with his part, then I was doing my part, then they asked me to create a new part for a parallel skating.

And, like I said, we didn’t have that much time, and I was not sure, because he has this kind of very, very… elastic skating, and I am rather a nervous skater, so I was wondering if we were going to be able to match [smiling]and it was so natural!

While he was skating, he was kind of reading my movements. He’s able to anticipate a lot, so he could read from my shoulder, or hip position what I was going to do next – so from the trainings and, immediately from the shows, it was kind of Boom! Mind reading from each other.

So, yes, probably Vivaldi, “Nessun Dorma” and the tango, those are my strongest memories.

And, this year, the short program I immediately loved it – already when he was doing it as an exhibition and now, when I see it during the competition. Such an impactful program, with so much energy.

And the free, I was not completely convinced at the beginning, but the more I see it in practice, the more it grows on me. And now that we worked with David [Wilson], and we made some adjustments, now that I understand what David wanted, with all these coming together, it totally fits what we need.

Shoma Uno: short and long program this season

Stéphane, I will come back to the moment when, in a somehow courageous, mature move, Shoma left his long time coaches, last spring – and then, some time after, he named your training facility among those he wanted to try, in order to maybe find another coach at some point… How did that happen? Lead me into the very core of things…

For me, it was not so much about trying, because already, in the past, even when he was with Mihoko [Higuchi], he would actually ask to come, and we were not able to match the schedules. And, actually, Mihoko came to the school with her students, so we had this connection before.

So it was not so much about Shoma trying at my rink, it was more like: We are planning to work together and we couldn’t match the schedules, and then, in September, he came for ten days.

I don’t have the exact dates in mind, but he came for ten days, then he went back, then he got ready for Finlandia…

And was he supposed to come back to Champéry right after Internationaux de France, exactly as it happened?

Yes, he wanted to come after Grenoble, because he didn’t want to go back to Japan, then go to Russia. He wanted to stay in Europe, and so he asked me if he was welcome to stay in between – and, because I was going with Deniss to Russia, he asked me if I would be Ok to be there for him.

So, of course, after Grenoble…

…Grenoble, let’s talk about that. Because he looked so vulnerable without a coach in Grenoble – and, in the Kiss and Cry, there was a lot of cry, and that was so heartbreaking to see…

Yes, I think Shoma has this… He is very conscious about what he can, and what he wants, and what he needs – he is a very, very responsible skater. He feels when it works, and what should be done.

I actually imagine him as a painter. And he has this great idea of a painting – and, of course, the idea and the work and the way he paints are amazing, but you need a frame. And the coach is kind of preparing or guiding you to have this frame: Ok, this is the frame you’re gonna work on, and then you put your ideas and your energy into it.

And I think that’s what was probably missing – he had no frame to show his work. He had all these in him, and he was not able to put them on the ice.

Did you watch the skate?

Not live and… I don’t even know. I think I saw the protocol and I didn’t want to… I think I didn’t even see the skate, I don’t have the memory of that. Or if I had it, I already erased it.

But what I did is that, as soon as he came, I focused on having him in training, peacefully working on what he needs – and that was immediate.

And what could you do in the two weeks going into Rostelecom Cup? You knew it was this very short amount of time till his second Grand Prix…

What we did is that we didn’t go into something too emotional. Of course, the Grenoble story was very emotional, but once he arrived in Champéry, I put him down to earth and tried to keep him peacefully working.

Because it was not a problem of technique, it was not a problem of preparation – he was in good condition, he arrived and I was able to see that the content is there!

So he hadn’t suddenly forgot…

…how to skate! No, exactly!

And so we just gave him the peace and the environment to do what he wants to do. And that was already a big step – like I wasn’t trying to change the way he skates, or trying to change the way he jumps. He knows how to skate! He knows how to jump!

It was more like: Put the pieces together, go for your run-throughs, if something doesn’t work, it’s fine, you fight for the rest, and, yes, he was ready for Rostelecom.

His change of mindset was already obvious in Moscow…


Shoma Uno, skating his short program in Moscow

Receiving encouragement from Stéphane Lambiel before his free skate in Moscow, at 2019 Rostelecom Cup

The audience in Moscow cheers for Shoma at the end of his free skate

Stéphane, greeting Shoma when the skate has ended

How was Rostelecom Cup – how was it for you?

From my perspective, it was a big challenge. It was the first time also for Deniss to share the coaching team.

And… aaaaah! [Stéphane smiles – he just remembered something]

So the only image that I have from Grenoble, that remained so strong in my head, was the Kiss and Cry moment. So that was kind of my… [making a hmmmmm noise, like it was a disturbing memory]

And then, at Rostelecom Cup, I think it was in the short or in the free, Shoma was skating before Deniss. So Deniss was in the dressing room while Shoma was skating – and, usually, I’m with Deniss once the 6-minutes are done, I go back with Deniss and we have our little routine…

And there I was with Shoma… and, of course, once Shoma was done, I immediately thought: Ok, now next is Deniss! But there was the Kiss and Cry moment, so I had this kind of [internal negotiation]: Ok, the Kiss and Cry needs to happen…

So that was actually the first time I experienced that – and then it happened again at Nationals.

At Japanese Nationals, in the short, Shoma was skating before Koshiro – it was Shoma and then Koshiro, right after! And I thought again about the Kiss and Cry, like: How am I gonna do this by myself, with Shoma being in the Kiss and Cry, and Koshiro being on the ice to go and skate…?

And how did you solve that?

So what we did is that we organized a person that actually works at the rink where Shoma skates – he’s an administrator of the rink – and he was able to actually support him [in the Kiss and Cry] as a team official.

But it’s funny how Grenoble story influenced us on such a level… Like: Kiss and Cry has nothing to do with the performance, but just the image of the Kiss and Cry in Grenoble has given us the rest.

Because you needed to erase that, replace that image with a new one…

Yes – good or bad, in the Kiss and Cry you don’t want to see that.

Kiss, or Cry, it must be a nice Kiss and Cry.

Shoma with Stéphane before the short program in Moscow


And when did you decide you would work together, with you being Shoma’s coach from that moment on? Because at the Japanese Nationals the decision seemed to have already been taken for a while…

It was really an evolution… After Rostelecom, there were still discussions on how we will proceed, and there were many questions that needed to be answered. It wasn’t like: Ok, you’re my student, here’s the deal, these are the conditions.

No, it was more like gradual questions, like: How do you want to proceed for this competition, for this camp, for this period of time, for Christmas time? It was more to solve all these – and: Ok, knowing those pieces, my position is this position. By answering the questions, it answered the questions of the coaching.

Japanese Nationals were a wonderful competition for Shoma, it was obvious even for those watching it from afar. Not only because he managed to defend his title, this time in the presence of Yuzuru Hanyu, but mostly because of his attitude: he seemed relaxed, at ease, carefree, as if he had found a new passion for the sport… How was it, how did you feel it?

[Smiling] Exactly like that! Exactly like you described it.

He was at ease, he was happy… in practice and during the performances. Happy to challenge himself, happy to go out there and share what he does best. Nothing was stopping him.

He was well prepared and he benefited from this peace that he has earned, probably, from having a hard time, then from finding himself, and trusting all those thoughts that we were describing: I have this great energy, I have these great thoughts, and finally it was kind of getting in one direction.

I think it was kind of: Ssshhhhhhhhh! [Stéphane imitates a breeze, a breath of wind].

The train went! You know? [smiling again]

You’re at the train station, and you don’t know when the train is leaving, everything is ready, the suitcases are on the train and, suddenly, the train goes – and you’re like: Ok! [feeling relieved]

Coming back to the images of the Japanese Nationals again, Shoma seems to have a great bond with Koshiro already: they cheer for one another, they support each other… And so this is obvious, but I am going to ask it either way: does it help them both to have one another at your rink in Champéry?

Of course. And of course they are rivals – Koshiro and Shoma compete at the same events against each other, and Deniss and Shoma competed in Rostelecom against each other – but in this rivalry there are many advantages.

And the first one is, once you step on the ice at your practice, of course you’re centered on your needs and on your work, but, at the same time, you learn from the great things that you are able to see.

And those things, first of all, help you visualize and make the image clearer for your technique – but they also encourage you to push yourself, to see that it’s not easy for someone like Shoma either, it is not! It looks easy – but he has days where it’s not.

So to give a perspective to all my skaters… For all skaters, for each of them, [the situation] has many advantages.


Onto the next thing: on the day the decision to skip Four Continents was announced, we saw a picture of you and Shoma and David Wilson at a rink in Austria. Fine tuning of the free skate, what was that? And did you feel that it was necessary?

Like I said, I didn’t have the responsibility when the program was created, so I didn’t have a special connection with it. But the fact to have David coming, giving me inputs about what he wants, the musicality, the timing, the intensity, where he wants it, and everything…

But did you ask for him to come, or…?

Shoma wanted him to come – and I immediately loved the idea.

For me, I always admired David’s work, and I’ve been working with him in shows – unfortunately, I was never able to work with him [personally], but we have already discussed it and, in the future, we will collaborate, because he really does something magical.

So the fact that we had those days actually gave me a better understanding of what David wants for Shoma.

With Worlds getting near, do you have a specific plan for Shoma? I might have seen pictures of him training in a rink in Austria, at Telfs, in January…

Well, my rink was closed because of the Youth Olympic Games – we were hosting the curling events – and so, to prepare for Europeans with Deniss, we had to find a rink, so we came to Telfs, where we had a camp last spring, and we stayed there for three weeks. And Shoma joined us there.

Now he’s back in Japan [January 24, when the interview took place] and he will be back very soon in Champéry to prepare for Worlds. We have decided to compete at Challenge Cup as well – so we have a competition in between to kind of test what needs to be tested and go through the preparation the most efficient way until Worlds.

Shoma Uno and Stéphane Lambiel: the “anatomy” of a practice session at 2019 Rostelecom Cup

How do you two get along? Do you know a lot of Japanese, does Shoma know any English?

Like I said, when we were skating the Vivaldi he was really good at reading my body language.

But he understands some English, and what is actually important is that one word connects with all his knowledge. So for me it’s important to activate his knowledge. So with one word, like Direction, it will connect for his technique with what he knows, when he does his jump. Or: Speed.

These are universal, yes…

Exactly. So words like that, specific words that will connect with his knowledge. After all, he’s not a kid where you need to teach him exactly the pattern, the rhythm.

So, yes, the power of the word, and I can still show him a lot, and he is also very good at observing – all those things are part of the communication. And it’s pretty smooth, I have to say, up to now.

And if we have something more specific to talk about, I will get help from his manager. He’s not all the time there, but nowadays it’s easy to contact each other. And, if it’s something that’s professional, Koshiro is also happy to translate.

So, yes, the communication so far is not a big issue, and he is for sure going to improve his English. He’s fast so, by listening, he’ll come along.


You mentioned earlier that you’re already thinking about the Olympic season’s programs, and I wanted to ask you if you had a conversation with Shoma about Olympic goals. I mean, did he verbalize (yet) that he wanted the gold in Beijing or…?

Well, that’s obvious. [Stéphane is smiling]

I mean, I was in that position back then, being silver medalist at the Torino Olympics, so I know the pattern. And it’s quite obvious – and I don’t expect anything less than that for him.

He’s a big challenger, he pushes himself everyday at practice, there is nothing to hold him back. We’re gonna move on, and we’re gonna work on increasing and putting a nice concept for his programs. With David we already discussed music, so for me it’s really to bring the best of Shoma on the ice.

Talking about that, what do you consider to be his biggest qualities, his biggest assets – and what are the areas where you feel he needs to improve, to work on? From a coach’s point of view now…

He’s one of the few that has a real package: his spins are amazing, his skating is very smooth, his edges are beautiful, his jumps are amazing, he has explosivity, and he has intensity in his interpretation.

And that’s since he was a kid – I mean, I met him in Innsbruck, but then I watched videos of him when he was young, and it was obvious, this presence on the ice.

I remember seeing him in Sofia, at 2014 Junior Worlds, and that was the year before he won the Junior Worlds: he was this tiny skater, but with such a huge presence already, and the ability to catch the audience…

Yeah, the presence. His presence.

And then… the weak point…?

Not really the weak point, but where you feel he needs to improve somehow…

Something to work on… Probably to learn the vocabulary [smiling].

Because sometimes you ask him to do a backward inside rocker, and he looks at you like you just spoke a foreign language. And so I think he needs to improve the vocabulary. He’s really good at doing them, but if you don’t show him he’s struggling right now.

I have a lot of exercises, and, to my skaters, when I say: the backward inside rocker with a mohawk and a twizzle, they know what I’m talking about. And if I tell that to Shoma today, he will look at me, like: Is it a spin? Or a jump? Or a step? Or what is it?

[Contagious smile from Stéphane – and then he’s speaking slowly, word by word, as if he would talk to Shoma]: It’s-a-backward-inside-rocker-with-a-mohawk-and-with-a-twizzle. And No, still No.

So I will show him, or Koshiro would already start the step and Shoma would be like loooooking, and: Ok, I see what you’re talking about.

But he knows what to do – and once he does it, he’s fine.

And, also, in my exercises I integrate some triple jumps, or some double jumps with arms up – some specific things to fix the axis, or to fix the direction – and as soon as he has to do a double jump… [Stéphane laughs heartily – obviously, Shoma is not a fan of double jumps].

And then I ask him, and he just says: I land only quad jumps.

And I’m like: Ok, do the exercise with a quad then.

Maybe he forgot….

How to do doubles, exactly.

Joking here, you shouldn’t be reminding him…

No, no, he’s fine. When he tells me that, I’m like: Ok, do your quad and, at the end of the practice, maybe we will come back to the exercise.


Heading to Deniss now, and you mentioned that a bit – how Shoma joining the group impacted Deniss – but I will still ask: have you had a conversation with him, in which you said: Listen, I will take Shoma as well, does it bother you?

For sure we discussed it, and you might ask him directly [Deniss is in a nearby room, in a traditional meeting with his fans at Europeans]. From my perspective, I gave him what we just said about the fact that there are many advantages of having Shoma around…

I see more advantages than disadvantages, really…

Exactly. And we were three brothers and sisters in my family. And I’ve never had the feeling that my mom was splitting her love in three. She has 100% love for me, 100% love for my sister, and 100% love for my brother. And the same with attention.

So, for me, when I’m giving my attention or my advice to one, it doesn’t mean that I am not giving it to someone else. Like: I’m gonna do the work that you need with this one, and I’m gonna do the work that you need with this one, and it’s a 100% commitment.

Then, of course, the day has only 24 hours and you need to know what’s your limit – but, for now, this fits the plan.

Stéphane Lambiel: 100% commitment – with Deniss Vasiljevs, during practice, at 2019 Rostelecom Cup

Deniss, getting ready for his short program in Moscow, in a “sea” of encouragement and supportive banners

Skating his short program in Graz, at 2020 Europeans

With coach Stéphane Lambiel during the draw (2020 Europeans)

Stéphane, closely watching Deniss during his free skate in Graz

In what areas do you feel Deniss has improved since last season, since the last couple of years – and how do you feel these Europeans have been for him?

I am very satisfied with how the Europeans went.

I feel he’s able to perform stronger than he did, but he was great, he was strong and he fought with two great performances. I regret the mistake on the Flip yesterday [in the free skate in Graz], because the Flip is a very, very good jump, and the Axel also. His standard Axel is the first Axel of the program, and I expect him to do the Axel the way he did the first one.

I think we have worked a lot on having him lift his jumps, and he has now the knowledge of it, so I want him to be more consistent with that. And he’s getting close to landing consistently his [quad] Salchow and his [quad] Toe, so at one point he will need to breakthrough and go with it.

I understand that, psychologically, it’s for sure a barrier, but once he breaks that barrier, he will show it. Because [the quad] is in him, and he has been landing it beautifully – it’s in his body, he knows how to do it, and his time will come.

And that’s for the things that need to be improved, but if we look at the skater himself, when he performs… [Stéphane is making a wide gesture, like he’s impressed and happy at the same time].

And, yes, we can be picky with small mistakes, but, at the end, when the music starts, until the end, what you want is to see the personality, to see the expression…

I love, I love to watch this kind of skating. This is what I defend. This is what I work for.

Especially at the times that we are living…

Exactly. And it’s really important to educate the skater. I mean, some skaters come to me and they are like: Why do I have to do this transition, because if I don’t have my jumps, then I don’t get the transition, and I need to… And I understand this logic because it’s what we see.

Nevertheless, if you’re decreasing the quality in between, at the end, you’re not improving. So a program at the beginning of the season must be difficult, it must be difficult! It must be challenging! And you need to work on it until it becomes yours, until it becomes….


Exactly! So to start the season with a program that is already comfortable – to me, you’re not improving.

I remember, from a skater’s point of view, that every time I would start the season thinking: This program, I will never make it! I will never make it!

And it takes years, it really takes years until you master everything on a movement, because you’re working on automatisms – and those automatisms are not coming right away. And if you don’t put the hours in it, it’s not gonna happen.

Everything considered, are you happy coach?

Yes, I am. I’m very happy, I love what I do, I love figure skating.

I mean, it’s a big challenge, because you’re in the middle of the season and you’re already start planning for the next one, and it kind of feels like it goes on, and on, and on, and on – but, at the same time, I just love when I have a free moment during the competition a little bit.

When you’re at home, and you’re working through the day, it’s really busy, you have no time to plan and think about next season – so, during the competition, I start listening, start thinking about all ideas, and I’m like: Ok, this music would be good for this one, Ok, this would be good for this one…

And I was also able to see Liza here [Elizaveta Tuktamysheva was in Graz, commentating the Europeans for a Russian television], with who I would love to re-collaborate.

She mentioned a while ago she would want a program choreographed by you…

I am a big admirer of her skating and of her personality, I think she has much more to show. And I am sorry she doesn’t have a chance to show it at the big ISU events. But she’s gonna do it, she will.

And so things like that make me so happy. It makes me happy to see that there are skaters who want to challenge themselves – not only by landing quads, but by sharing who they are.

A happy Stéphane Lambiel watching his skaters during practice at 2019 Rostelecom Cup


And this brings me to an additional set of questions, actually… Is there a lady that you coach right now?

Yes, I have Matilda Algotsson from Sweden.

So you must be paying attention to what is happening in the ladies skating at the moment, with the quad-revolution and everything… But if you don’t want to get into this, like if you feel these are shifting sands…

No, no – for me there are no secrets, no tabus, I will answer.

Ok then: do you feel that’s almost mandatory now for a lady to win, or stay competitive even, to have a quad? How do you feel about that?

Nowadays, especially this season, to win you probably need a very strong performance with either two triple Axels or a quad. I understand that, I am facing this reality as a coach.

But there are two things I wanna say.

First thing, quads have been on the circuit since Jozef Sabovčík – that was 40 years ago. So we’ve seen quads 40 years ago. They call it a revolution, I don’t call it a revolution. I’ve been doing quads, and it was 20 years ago. And girls, Miki Ando was doing quads, also 15 years ago – so the quads existed, people have seen them.

And my second point is: at the end of the day, what do you want from skating, or from the competition?

From my perspective, I want to go to see the live performance – and go home with a strong image in my mind. To have a feeling. And this feeling will make me want to rewatch it.

I will rewatch it, and rewatch it, and rewatch it, and not get bored of it. You know?

This is how I live figure skating.

And I will name her because I’m a big fan of her: I watched Satoko at [2019] Worlds in Saitama – I actually watched her in many, many, many competitions, and I watched her in Saitama as well – and, during her performance, I could feel her intensity, her devotion…

This is something that I go home and I want to re-watch.

I want to rewatch and I’m looking for programs like this – and I just feed myself with this kind of programs.

And, yes, she’s not the strongest technician out there, but she gives me something to live with.

Embed from Getty Images

And I’m not saying like it’s nothing what we see [now]. It’s not that! I admire the athleticism! It’s just that I see a lot of programs on youtube, and I see the programs where I never fast-forward, and I see programs where I only fast-forward to the jumps.

And what programs are more interesting? The ones that you fast-forward just to watch the jumps? Or the ones where you’re stuck – and you don’t even see that the program is happening? Like you don’t even realize: Oh, my God, the program has finished!

So finding the balance, finding the balance is the key.

Is the key to work your technique, to work your interpretation, the musicality, the performance – and then, once this is at the same level, then this is your aim, this is the target!

But listen, if I were a young skater and if I were watching how this season has gone so far, I would be in a fog: What am I going to do now? Learn a quad… or? It might even get frustrating…

[Stéphane is nodding, smiling, understanding] I know.

For me, if you are a skater and you come to me asking for an advice, I would say: There is a balance to find.

Of course, if you are able to land jumps, it’s a great start. But it’s a balance. Bring your skating to a certain level. And don’t do it to get the scores, but do it because it’s for you. Because once you’re out there, you need to be proud of what you deliver. And… it depends on the person, what makes you proud, what you want to deliver.

It’s a hard question – because you work every day, you go to the rink, and you skate, and you practice, and… what is you focus? And there are so many things to work on.

I see a lot of ballet performances, and I see the ballet dancers – they are real athletes. And they need every cell of their body to be conscious, to be spot on. And it’s not only about the tricks, it’s really about every single move – and you don’t lie when you are on stage. Every judge, every crowd, every person will see it, will see you – there is no way to hide. No way.

You’re out there, the spotlights are on you – it’s a big, big pressure. But it’s beautiful. I love it, and I love the process – and the skaters should own the process.

We are there as coaches, we are there to guide them, to educate them, to give them as much vocabulary as possible, so once they are out there, they’re free. Free to express themselves.

So do it. Do it. Show us your colours.

[interview by Florentina Tone, Graz/photos by Julia Komarova, Natasha Ponarina, Alberto Ponti, Florentina Tone]


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