This interview took place on
the 5th September 2003 in Villenave d'Ornon.
Did you prepare in any special
way for the 2002-2003 season ?
No, I did not do anything special for last season, the
only change was that I had a different choreographer,
Nikolaï Morozov. It was the Federation's idea, but
I liked it. Besides, I want to continue to improve my
technique and my ability, as much as the quality and consistency
of my performance. Another aim of mine is to improve my
interpretation mark, so that it is at least as high as
the technical one.
Did you have specific goals for
this season, keeping in mind the Olympics in 2006 ?
One of my goals was to become French Champion. I also
wanted to have good results in the Grand Prix Series,
and to win another European medal. To obtain a good result
in the Olympics one must prepare well in advance...
How were your new programs received
by the Federation and the judges at the Masters ?
People welcomed my new programs and the Federation really
liked the work we had done on the choreography with Morozov.
Of course there was still a lot to do regarding my expression,
my gestures, but it was only the beginning of the season,
and it takes several months to fully exploit a program.
Were you surprised by the withdrawal
of Yagudin at Skate America ? Were you expecting to defeat
Abt and to finish first ?
Alexei Yagudin seemed to me less consistent during the
practices. He was also limping off ice. The surprise came
during the short program when I beat Abt... and with another
judge in my favour I would have been first, ahead of Yagudin
! For the long program I skated first... I performed my
program and I defeated Abt again, so at the very worst
I would have been second. Then Yagudin announced his withdrawal,
so I was first !
To win a GP event is really great, but it's even better
in the States where the audience is really supportive.
They really appreciate the sport. After the short program,
people came up to me when I was walking in the stands,
and told me I should have beaten Yagudin as well.
What happened next at the Lalique
Trophy ? Did you feel like a lack of motivation after
your victory at Skate America ?
In fact I learnt a lot from the Lalique Trophy. First
I won the short program ahead of Takeshi Honda ! However
I drew the last place in the long program, and after the
warm-up I made the mistake of staying too close to the
camera, the rink, and the audience. I became really stressed
and couldn't handle the pressure. But the experience taught
me a lot and helped me for the World Championships. There
was no lack of motivation after my victory at Skate America,
in the other hand it was a real boost.
How did you feel after your victory
at the French Nationals ? Did it feel like you had achieved
one of your goals ?
Clearly, the technical level at the French Nationals is
lower than at a GP event, but regarding the pressure,
nothing can compare to that, it's really intense. You
skate in front of your home crowd. You want to skate as
well as you can, and it's the qualification for the Europeans.
But it's true, it felt like a big achievement. I skated
after Stanick and Frédéric, but this time
I remained calm.
European Championships in Malmö
I had already won the bronze medal at Euros in 2002, so
I wanted the same medal or better this time, and I knew
silver was within reach. There were no qualifications,
which was a good thing. I made a small mistake during
the short program, but Plushenko did as well so I was
still on track. The long program went well, even though
the 6 minutes of warm-up were horrible and I was skating
first in the group. Fortunately Véronique was there
and she told me what I needed to hear, so I could remain
focussed and win the silver medal overall.
How did you manage your practices
during the Euros and the Worlds ?
Due to the good results I had had in the GP series, I
qualified for the GP Final in Saint Petersburg. To skate
two long programs and one short program was physically
demanding, but it went OK. I think that I should have
finished second overall, because Klimkin made 5 mistakes
during his second free program. However the event was
taking place in Russia, and the Russian skaters had the
advantage of skating at home. But the audience appreciates
the sport a lot and it was fabulous to skate in front
of such a crowd.
World Championships ?
My objective for these World Championships was to get
as close to the podium as possible. But the alarm in the
hotel I was staying in started to ring during the night.
I woke up but couldn't get back to sleep. I slept something
like one and a half, two hours... and the practice was
early in the morning ! Thinking about it I should have
phoned Véronique and told her about the situation,
but I didn't wanted to wake her up. So I got up early
for the practice, and when qualifications started I just
wanted to one thing : to be back in my bed !
Did you feel less pressure for
the rest of the competition after you had nothing to lose
No, I really wanted proved to the judges that
I had only had a bad day. I wanted to show them my true
ability. I still managed to climb up 11 places, not bad
! Without the qualifications...
How was the French Tour "Les
Etoiles de la Glace" ? What are your best and worst
I really appreciate the French Tour, because
there is no stress. The season is over, and everybody
is more relaxed. The best moment I have had this year
was in Marseille where the audience was terrific. The
worst gala for me was Clermont-Ferrand, not because of
the audience, but because of the way I skated. I had lots
of troubles with the ice, I tried a toe assisted jump
in practice, and ended up leaving a big hole in the ice
and almost spraining my ankle, it was quite scary. During
my program I only did a single toe loop and a single Axel,
my best jump of the evening was a triple Salchow. The
other skaters elected me the 'weakest link' of the day
! It's a funny game we started in Clermont-Ferrand : after
each gala the worst skater is elected by the other skaters,
and after three nominations you have to do something silly,
like cleaning the tour bus for example. Had we started
the game before, Stanick would have been nominated in
Lyon as he kept falling during his program. Gwendal was
the most nominated skater, but Alban managed to be the
weakest link twice in the same day. The guest skaters,
like Stéphane Lambiel, also had their share.
After having been awarded the weakest link, the other
skaters decided that a bit of water would do me good.
We were in a restaurant, on the second floor. They siezed
me and threw me in the swimming pool that was 3 meters
below. I was obviously completely drenched and had to
take my clothes off and cross the restaurant in underwear
to go back to my room...
How were your practices this
After the French Tour, I took three weeks of vacation.
I had some rest, and some thalassotherapy in Vendée.
The last week of June I was back in Villenave d'Ornon
to resume training. On the first of July I left for the
States to work with Morozov. I had a first choice of music
for my long program with me, based on the 'Moulin Rouge',
but Morozov thought it was not my style. We tried something
based on the 'Cirque du Soleil', but that was still not
it. Finally we agreed on the 'Matrix'. I've wanted to
use this music for ages. We worked on the choreography
for a week, I recorded everything in my head. It's not
always easy because Nikolaï listens to the music,
tries some steps, changes the parts that don't work, tries
again, and finally tells you : 'OK, your turn'. But this
year was the second time that I worked with him, so we
knew each other better and things were easier.
Do you have new elements in your
This year there will be two quadruple toe and one quadruple
Salchow in my free program. I also worked hard to improve
my artistic impression.
Then in July I came back to France and went to train with
Véronique in Courchevel. It's the place where the
Champigny team trains, as well as international skaters
like the Italians. Every day I had three 50 minute practices,
and 30 extra minutes where I was working on the spins
with Mrs Bullman. She helped me understand several things
about the spins. During my free time I went hiking a bit,
but there are not a lot of great things to do in Courchevel
in the summertime.
In August I was back in Poitiers. It was the first time
the rink was open during the summer. Vincent Restencourt
and Jean-Michel Debay also came to train there. The first
week the ice was not perfect because of the heat wave,
but afterwards it was great. On the other hand it was
really difficult for me to wake up in the morning, because
it was so hot I could only get to sleep around 3am, and
I had to get up at 6h30 to close the window to prevent
the sun from coming in...
You are keeping your short program
from last year, is it to focus mainly on your free program
I decided to keep last year's short program because it's
a program I like. I have had lots of good response with
it. Even though most of the work I 've done this summer
was on the long program, I also worked on the artistry
of the short program. To change it completely would have
mean too much work. Next year I 'll change both programs.
Did you work the other quadruples
I now have a quadruple Salchow in my free program. I may
not be doing it at the beginning of the season, but I
will add it later on. The quad toe is really consistent,
about 90-95% of the time. The quad flip and quad Lutz
are doing great, I land them backward on one foot, sometimes
with one quarter of turn short, but they will come if
I keep working on them.
What are your goals this year
I 'd like to keep my French title and have good results
during the GP series to qualify for the GP Final. We'll
see then what happens...
How are your studies going ?
This year I should have done my 'baccalauréat de
français', but it was too much with my skating.
For now I'm focussing on my skating only, and do my bac
later. In addition, as an athlete I can still enter the
sports university, even without my bac.
Do you have a message for
you fans ?
I would like to thank them all for their support, it's
really great to receive their letters and their emails.
I would like to apologise if it sometimes takes me some
time to answer them due to my schedule.