In focus: Julia Sauter and Ana Sofia Beschea, Romania’s skaters at 2024 Europeans

December 2023, Romania: Julia Sauter and Ana Sofia Beschea sharing a photo and a smile at the end of EduSport Trophy; the international competition also included the National Championships of Romania – Julia won the title, while Ana Sofia came second

This will be Julia Sauter’s 7th Europeans – and Ana Sofia Beschea’s first.

The 26-year old and the 19-year old are representing Romania at this year’s edition of the Europeans, in Kaunas, Lithuania – and their stories couldn’t be more different.

story, interviews, photos by Florentina Tone



Born in a small town in Germany, Julia Franziska Sauter started skating at the age of 4, learned all double jumps by the age of 8, looked up to Kiira Korpi, Yuna Kim, Carolina Kostner, Kaetlyn Osmond – and remembers being particularly fascinated by Romania’s Roxana Luca, who was training in the same rink in Ravensburg.

Fast-forward a few years – and Julia started working with Roxana’s coach, the Romanian Marius Negrea, and not only that: realizing she might not have the skating opportunities she wanted for herself, in 2012 she decided to switch countries and represent Romania instead.

“The move opened so many doors for me. I think… if I kept skating for Germany, I wouldn’t be skating at that point, if that makes sense”, Julia would say, in retrospect, a decade after the move that defined her career.

“Because I know I wouldn’t have had any chance or opportunity for Junior Worlds, like I had, and make all those experiences and memories, see what it could be like, and go to competitions, and skate at Europeans, and then, obviously, way further ahead, finally making it to Worlds. I wouldn’t have had that journey. Because they do expect a lot more in Germany, and quicker – and Romania gave me the time I needed”.

She made the move, alright – but the costs of it, of Julia Sauter’s skating journey, have largely been on her.

On her family, on Julia’s working more than one job (she had three for quite a while) to finance her career.

[Get to know her better – if you haven’t already – in our feature story: Julia Sauter. A strong-willed, self-made skater]

Only recently, from the spring of 2023, Julia has been getting support from her new club in Romania, CSM Corona Brasov, being hired as a professional athlete – and that really lifted a large weight off her shoulders.

Romania’s Julia Sauter, getting ready to take the ice at EduSport Trophy in Otopeni, in December 2023

In the decade that passed, Julia Sauter won eight national titles (including the junior ones) and made slices of history for Romania through her perseverance, grit, resilience.

She placed 18th and 20th respectively at two editions of the World Championships (2022 and 2023), finished 14th at 2019 Europeans and 10th at 2023 Europeans, the best results in the history of Romanian women’s skating.


Julia’s Top 10 placement at 2023 Europeans in Espoo, Finland, opened an additional spot for a Romanian woman at Europeans.

Taking advantage of that opportunity is Ana Sofia Beschea (Romanian: Beşchea; read: Béshkea), a fresh senior on the international stage. Ana had taken part in four editions of Junior Worlds, her last one being last season, in Calgary, Canada.

Born in 2004, in Bucharest, Romania, now balancing study and skating (she’s in her first year of university), Ana Sofia Beschea is part of a generation that tried its best to keep on skating and following competitive dreams in spite of giant struggles and chronically difficult training conditions.

Ana Sofia Beschea alongside coach Maria Balea at EduSport Trophy, in Otopeni

Ana is one of those kids who started skating in the old rink of Bucharest, “Mihai Flamaropol” (closed for a decade now, and demolished in the meantime), she is one of those young Romanian athletes that, pursuing a career in skating, continued to train in the crowded, inadequate rinks of commercial centers in Bucharest – or travelled now and then to the fewest (competitive) rinks in Romania, like the one in Brasov, for example.

Only in recent years, Ana and her fellow teammates, Bucharest-based skaters, resumed training in a proper ice rink which opened in Otopeni, near Bucharest, in December 2016, under the name of Telekom Arena, now Allianz-Tiriac Arena.

But to do that, she had/has to wake up in the wee hours of the day, travel by car to Otopeni, be there for the training session that starts at 7:30 am, and then come back to Bucharest for school. Being also used for hockey, for public skating sessions and for other different events, the rink only provides figure skaters two to three hours per day for their training – so the ice hours remain an issue for competitive skaters.

[In the meantime, some of the other skaters of Bucharest gave up the sport entirely, or moved to other cities – part of a group that saw its skating dreams and hopes and journeys shattered when “Mihai Flamaropol” rink closed, in March 2013.]


This week, in Kaunas, Lithuania, two women representing Romania – each with her own story of hardships in pursuing their passion for skating – will take the ice of 2024 Europeans.

Hear them talk about their season so far, about their struggles, about their thoughts and goals coming to Europeans, and past that.

Hear them talk about their skating journey and then watch them perform on Thursday, January 11th, the day when women’s short program is scheduled.

An experienced skater, Julia Sauter, and a skater taking part in her first Europeans, Ana Sofia Beschea, in the pursuit of competition thrills, excitement, satisfaction.

All in all, a much-deserved reward for their past, present and future efforts for the sport.


The short interviews that follow took place in December 2023, at Allianz-Tiriac Arena in Otopeni, at the end of the international competition EduSport Trophy.

This season, the competition also included the National Championships in Romania: Julia Sauter won once again the national title, while Ana Sofia Beschea finished second.

Top 3 women at 2023-2024 National Championships of Romania: Julia Sauter (gold), Ana Sofia Beschea (silver), Andreea Ramona Voicu (bronze)

But not just that: in view of Europeans, Ana Sofia also managed to get her TES-minimum for the short program which she was missing; having the confirmation she’ll go to Kaunas, for her first Europeans, the 19-yer-old was a happy, happy interviewee.

As for Julia Sauter, she is definitely in a better place financially than the last time we talked: receiving a monthly salary from her new club in Romania made her journey a little easier, and she can now focus on being who she is: a professional athlete, constantly seeking to improve.


Julia, how would you say your season has been so far [December 2023]?

Actually, really good. I’m really happy how I have my progress made so far. I mean, last year, my average [total score] was probably around 150-155, and now I can say it’s over 165.

So I like where I’m going – but I’m not there yet [smiling].

My free skate is way harder now, so I feel it’s gonna take a little longer, physically, until I’m there. I can do it slowly in practice, it’s just gonna take some time.

But I just enjoy what I’m doing – it’s all about staying healthy from now on and then try to get better.

What about your preparation this season, compared to the last one?

Oh, it was much better. Compared to last season, I feel I have so much more energy. And I have a lot more time to recover now and that’s really, really nice.

Corona Brasov hired me as an athlete, and it’s so nice to have this time to recover and get ready. I didn’t even know just how much stress last season was on my body until October…

Did you cut all of your other jobs or maybe just some…?

I’m still coaching and choreographing at my rink, I kept that.

I actually saw some posts on instagram, skaters mentioning you as their choreographer…

Yes, I choreographed 20 programs! It was a lot of joy, and I’m really grateful to have gotten the experience. That happened in the off-season and also in the beginning of the season, a lot of work, and I did it, obviously, in the hours I wasn’t practicing…

And I want to coach too, I need this for myself – because I had so many other things to do in the last years than just skating…

Tell me a bit about your programs this season, the short and the free: your short is set to “Ah My God” by Adele and your free skate to “Inspiration” by Florian Christl & The Modern String Quintet. You choreographed them both with Roxana [Luca, now Hartmann]?

The short program I choreographed pretty much myself, and I got a little help from Roxana, but for the most part that was me.

And the free skate, I did it with Dasa [Grm].

We did it at the end of the season and I know this free skate has a lot of potential and I feel like I have not been skating up to it yet. Maybe I put a little bit of pressure on myself because of that, because I also want to make Dasa proud. And I feel like I need a lot more work getting the free skate done nice.

Going into 2024 Europeans, have you set some goals for yourself?

So far, I have really tried not to think too much about it.

I think that European countries have really strong women coming into this competition, especially the younger ones, they’re really strong, but I know that if I skate clean I can be just in the mix for the Top 10 again.

But I just want to enjoy it, you know? I want to skate clean and I want to try my best.

Obviously, if you ask me where do you want to go in terms of placement, I want to be in the Top 5, obviously – who doesn’t? But I also want to be realistic, and if I can show what I have been practicing before, than I’m grateful and happy, and it’s meant to be the way it’s meant to be.

You being in the Top 10 at last Europeans qualified one more spot for Romania in the women’s event in Kaunas. And, luckily, we are going to fill that spot, as it turned out here, in Otopeni, at EduSport Trophy. How is it for you to have given that chance to another Romanian woman, through your performance?

I’m happy the federation fulfilled their needs – we represent Romania and coming with two people in Kaunas is obviously really nice.

Julia Sauter and Marina Beschea, Ana Sofia’s mom, at EduSport Trophy in Otopeni, Romania, in December: a smile that goes a long way. In Romania there’s this wave of love and appreciation towards Julia, who has made so much, and given so much of herself to represent the country for the past 11 years.

What about your skating journey, how you envision it in the future years? Are you taking it season by season or…?

Well, right now, I want to skate until Boston 2025, for the qualification for the Olympics, and I think after that I will decide for how long I’ll be skating.

Boston might be my last competition if I don’t qualify for the Olympics.

And if I qualify for the Olympics I think… There’s no I think! [laughing] – it’s going to be until the Olympics for sure.

But I don’t want to think too far ahead, I just want to get better in the moment.

Did you apply for citizenship yet? After all, you need to be ready for the Olympic possibility…

Yes, it’s in the works: we really try to get the passport, which will be obviously great. After all these years I think the opportunity to get the Romanian passport is pretty high.


Ana, did you sleep well after the short program yesterday, when you got your TES-minimum needed for Europeans?

[Smiling] I didn’t have the most restful sleep, let’s put it like that – I was still at full stretch, as if a big day were coming…

Would you share what went into your mind before taking the ice for your short program, and right after, when you saw the scores and got the confirmation that TES-minimum was finally achieved?

Well, this season I felt the most prepared – I was constantly skating a good short program in practice. But it was also the hardest season of my career: I went to three competitions [prior to EduSport Trophy] and, each time, I couldn’t handle the pressure on the short program day, while in the free everything went really well.

So, given how the practices went, I knew it wasn’t difficult for me to get the TES for the short program done – yet I couldn’t do it at those three events…

Why do you think that happens? It happened to Julia Sauter as well, in recent years, when she chased the short program TES-minimum for Worlds, it happens to so many other skaters…

When you enter the ice for the free skate, you know you have more jumps, more elements ahead of you, and you don’t think as much before each of them, you don’t put so much pressure on yourself.

In the short, you know: I have three jumping passes – and you’re surrounding yourself with too much thinking, you’re much more tense, you don’t just go there on autopilot…

Here, at EduSport Trophy, I tried to tell myself: I’m relaxed, I’m confident – I noticed at previous competitions that, if I’m tense, things don’t go well for me – but still, I felt a huge pressure going into the short program, I just couldn’t fool myself and say: OK, I’ve got this, because in the back of my mind I knew it was my last chance to get my TES done.

But I somehow manage to focus and push through – and, afterwards, I had this emotional reaction not just because I knew I got the scores I needed, but because I felt so much pressure coming into this event and I knew that it was finally over!

Your dad was telling me the other day that you started working with a sports psychologist, the same one the swimmer David Popovici works with…

I’ve only been to three sessions until now – but I do think it’s helpful for an athlete to work with a psychologist. Especially when you start competing at a certain level, Europeans, Worlds, you start having goals and expectations, the pressure gets really high, and you risk on falling apart. So, yes, I think a sports psychologist is needed.

Ana, you’ll be one of the two women representing Romania at this year’s edition of the Europeans and I don’t think that’s ever happened in the history of Romanian figure skating. Can I just ask what goes into your mind realizing this actually happens? After all, for many Romanian skaters, given the scarcity of your training conditions, taking part in a major event feels like a dream, and, in most cases, it stays a dream…

Well, I had previously gone to four editions of the Junior Worlds – and this is a huge competition already, even more complicated than the Europeans, I’d say. But being a junior event, surely, the experience is different.

When it comes to Europeans, I didn’t even get to process that fact that I am actually going – I was too stressed out with getting the TES-minimum done. But I want to thank Julia that she managed to get into Top 10 last year at Europeans, so I can now have this opportunity of going there myself.

And, in a way, I’m happy that, having this goal of achieving the minimum score for Europeans, I already worked so much on the short program. I focused on the technical part up until now, knowing that without it I can’t make it, but I am now planning on working on the artistic side a bit more…

Is there a goal on our mind when it comes to Europeans, or it hasn’t yet solidified?

Well, to qualify for the free skate, that would be it. I mean, the main goal is to skate two good programs at Europeans, and that would include qualifying for the free.

Talking about that, about previous competitions that you went in your junior years, is there one in particular, or more, that stayed on your mind?

Well, going to Junior Worlds is already a great experience – and I have been to four of them since I started competing on junior level, at 13… And every girl that you surpass there is, all in all, the best in her country, and she had a minimum score to achieve, so…

What I mean to say is that every step you take, every place that you climb in the rankings is, in fact, an accomplishment – and the fact that you got there in the first place is pretty big.

Last season I mainly focused on finishing high-school and getting to university, but I was the only skater with the minimum needed for the Junior Worlds, and I went one more time. Because going there means so much to Romania as well: we get an additional Grand Prix event, we get to have a judge at next season’s Junior Worlds and so on…

Listen: because EduSport Trophy happened at the same time with the Grand Prix Final in Beijing this season, did you get to see the women’s event, or hear anything about it? I’ll put it differently: is there a skater that you particularly admire in the women’s event?

Honestly, I was way too focused on this competition, so I haven’t watched the Final, but I saw some replays on the internet from Loena Hendrickx’ programs.

Loena is a skater that I really, really like – especially because she looks like a woman out there. She’s not 1.45, with 40 kg – she has a certain age, she looks a certain way, and she inspires me so much. I mean, I’m really bothered when this sport is promoted as one where you can only skate until you’re 15 and then you retire…

It goes without saying but I’m asking it still: do you want to keep skating competitively?

Yes, definitely. Last year was a bit different, because I really wanted to have a good result at my [baccalaureate] exam and enter university – but the plan is to continue to skate.

I’m well aware that in sports there’s always the risk of an injury, so I don’t want to have all eggs in one basket, as they say, but I’m really passionate about skating, I really love it and I don’t plan on stopping yet.