Interview of Vanessa Gusmeroli
This interview was made on the 28th of April in Paris, during the
day of the Miko Masters (www.mastersmiko.com).
Vanessa had just finished her practice of the afternoon and kindly gave
me a bit of her time before getting ready for the gala. In fact the
lasted about half an hour !
During the first day of the competition Vanessa skated two clean programs : "Oh when the saints go marching in" , her usual short program with clean triple lutz, triple flip and double axel, and a whole new program on "Lara Croft", with clean triple lutz, triple loop and double axel. She finished first, ahead of Olga Markova and Maria Butyrskaya of Russia.
What is your overview of this season ?
Well, my overview.... it's a complete transformation. This season has been very agitated : at the beginning of the season i decided to change coach, i had problems with my feet. Leaving for Paris created a lot of stir in the skating world.
That changes everything...
No, for me it was extremely clear, but my former coach did not accept that i leave, he did not accept my choice.
I heard "some" wanted you to go skate abroad...
Yes, the federation particularly insisted on that point. I was told "to become an Olympic Champion, you have to train with a coach who formed Olympic Champions"; but i didn't want to leave France. While leaving for Paris i managed to say that from now on it's me who decides, I take my decisions, I do what i want; i didn't leave Annecy to let someone tell me "Go there."
I gave them back my skating licence once or twice telling them "If you oblige me to leave, i stop skating"; i didn't want to invest myself in something i knew it wouldn't work. Leaving for Paris, being far from my family was hard enough... When i'm in Paris i can be back at home for the week-end in an 1-hour flight. Leaving for the States is not the same... At first i don't speak english very well, and then, that's another way of life. And to go there OK, but with who, i don't know anybody... so no, for me it was clear : I wanted to leave but i wanted to stay in France to train. And in France there's not a lot of different places... Bercy it's where the rink is the nicest, it's warm inside, and i have the opportunity to work with Stanislas, and everything goes very well.
Ranking 4th twice, both at Euros and Worlds, is it for you
positive regarding your season, for example the french nationals where
your programs were not really clean, or do you feel disappointed as
so close of medalling ?
No, it's hyper positive. Disappointing... it's for France that's it's disappointing. Personally, i've never been disappointed, never.
To come back to French Nationals : at french nationals my short program was not bad, but then i suffered from food poisoning. I did not eat before the long program, i felt really nauseous, everytime i stood up my leg were wobbling and i had to sit down. During the 6 minutes of warm-up i only skated around a little, but i didn't do anything actually.
So that was a big achievement then...
What i did in the long program that day was really an achievement, because i could not stand up at all.
But it's true it was like everything was falling on my head : I thought that if i skate well at nationals, all the problems around me due to the fact i was changing coach would disappear, but i was completely sick and it didn't improve things.
And then, to answer your question, i never did two competitions like that in my entire life ! If you only look at the short program, i have included triple lutz and triple flip, whereas i used to do triple lutz and triple loop... we had never tried such a thing with my previous coach ! And in the long program, i had never tried to put two triple lutz before. Anyway, i had never done a flawless program in my all life, even in practice, so really, it's unbelievable.
What's really amazing too, is that you do two clean programs at Euros, but you do two clean programs again at Worlds, that proves it was not only by chance.
That's right, that was not by chance, it's because i found someone who trust me and help me to go up.
What was your motivation through all these troubles, all these
The motivation, i had it all the time. Before, some were saying i'm lazy, i don't attack my programs, i don't train a lot.... but now the coaches and everyone in France have seen me training, and they realized that all that was said was peanuts. Things were said and done in my back, people gave an image of me that was not me at all. But i have been motivated all the time.
The reason why i started to do good programs at the beginning / in the middle of the season is for the first time in my life i was skating for me. And it's me that wanted to succeed, i wanted to do it for me and for nobody else. Not because i was afraid, if i fail ... and so on, no, it was for me. It's like if i was erasing all that happened before, and i started from scratch. If i fail, i accept it, but it's not a big deal. It's not the end of the world, nobody will say bad things of me. Because it's me, it's me now.
How many hours do you train a week ?
Each week i don't know, i train about 3 hours on the ice per day, and 2 hours off ice.
More specific trainings during the off season ?
Well, i will see with Stanislas. Of course we work more on the physical condition during the summer, and we have to build the new programs. In fact, i did not train that much this year for Euros and Worlds.
But is seemed to be really efficient !
Your programs are always very original, very interesting, where
all your ideas come from ?
I have a dressmaker who is very artistic, she gives me a lot of ideas and help me realise them. "Lara Croft", the program i did yesterday, is a program i built it in three days with Sandra Garde. Next year, Sandra will be the one who will create my programs.
Otherwise, ideas come when i talk with different people. I try all the time to have a main theme in my program, as then i can express something on the ice, it's like acting. It puts less pressure on the program itself, on the jumps, and then i enjoy myself more.
Do you bring some personnal ideas in your costumes ?
In fact it's Sandra Garde's mother that makes my costumes, she has always made them.
Let's talk about jumps....
-> your favourite jump ?
Well, it depends. At the moment i think it's the triple lutz, it's the one that comes the most easily. Generally it's more the triple loop. But as i still have problems with my feet, some weeks i can focus more on triple Lutz, triple flip, triple loop and less on triple toe and triple Salchow, and some times it's the opposite. So in general when i have no problems with my feet everything is allright, but as soon as my feet are painful i do not put too much effort on the triples that hurt me.
I've seen a practice in Nice on the triple Salchow...
Ok, Ok, but well, once more it went very well in the program. But it's true that my worst jump is the triple Salchow. I'm going to change everything, i have to change all my technique. Actually what i have to do is to erase this jump from my memory and re-start to learn it from scratch; i really have a bad position on the triple Salchow, it's terrible...
-> triple-triples ?
I didn't practice a lot of triple-triples before Nice as my feet were still painful. I stopped doing triple toes, picking with the left foot was really too painful. I practiced them again only 15 days before the beginning of the competition. Before... euh, where were Euros ?
Yes, before Vienna, i was doing triple toe-triple loop everyday, loop jumps are easier for me. I will work on this combination again this summer, as well as on the triple axel, to include either one or the other in my program.
I read that for your long program in Nice you had plan a triple Lutz-double toe or maybe a triple Lutz-triple toe.
No, only triple-double.
-> the triple axel... when i read in "Nice Matin" that you were talking about the triple axel, it was not typing mistake... do you work on it ?
Yes, of course, i've worked on it. Now it's about 6 months i've not worked on it, i didn't have time for that, there was a kind of rush in all the level... But i have already done a triple axel with a fall but landed backward on one foot, or two-footed yet with no fall.
But the three and a half turns were there...
Yes, easily. So that's another challenge ! Maybe not necessarily to do it in competition, but maybe to show it to the judge during practice.
Because on Internet there's a question that comes back every often, it's "who will be the next lady to land a triple axel ?..."
It will be me, you can say that....(laugh).
In your opinion, what are your strong and weak points ? Maybe technique
as a weak point, as you said you have some problems with the triple Salchow...
No, because when i do a triple Salchow, it is perfect. But one problem i have is i sometimes got blocked, and then it's much much harder. Technically, i have the best technique than anybody; it's not to throw me flowers, but it's here : i jump higher, i have bigger jumps.
About choreography, i still have a lot to learn, like the position of my head, of my arms, but i already have something.
Talking about arms, isn't your exhibition program on the butterfly really tiring for your arms ?
Yes, but i got used to it... Having the arms always up in the air, with the weight of the wings, it was very tiring at the beginning.
Have you got an idea of what could improve your marks ? Work, work,
No, because i need a work of quality, with a lot of confidence in myself. I can't miss jumps, or if i miss some it must be only a few. When i go for a jump i really have to go for it, i musn't make stupid little mistakes. I must be confident, i have to know i go for it at 100%. I am very critical towards myself : I'm upset when i miss something, but even when it's very well done i'm not fully happy. I would say i have to work on the regularity, to do clean programs like those i had the chance to do here. Then the judges will remember me more, and start to think "Yes, she is really strong, she is there".
And then, I always have to find good programs, with a lot of comedy.
I should shorten the jump preparation too : to do a movement and a jump immediately afterwards.
Do you plan new innovations, like the spins in the two directions
you did in your long program this year ?
We'll see, i will work with Sandra Garde.
And it's true that for originality, you asked the right person...
Yes, that's right !
More generally, now you're in Paris... what do you think about the
city ? It rains...
Yes, the weather is rainy most of the time, it's not often nice. But it's a very important part of my life, for the evolution of skating for sure, but also for my studies, i would like to pass my diploma at the beginning of next year. I will build all my future here, what i couldn't do in Annecy because the city is not developped enough.
Don't you miss the mountains, the fresh air, the lake ?
Yes of course, but what i miss the most is my friends. During the week-end i miss them a lot, it's difficult.
You manage to come back home quite often ?
At the beginning i used to come back in Annecy very often, almost every week-end, but now my boyfriend came to work in Paris, so we go home a bit less, from time to time.
So now you train with Sarah and Stephane, and i guess it all goes
very well, but didn't the agression of Stephane in Nice destabilize you
a little ?
Yes.... Really, i think they show a lot of courage. Stephane of course, but Sarah too, she is maybe a little less stronger than him psychologically. What she did, to overcome the shock, to forget the fear and to give the maximum in the long program... For me it was clear, if i had been at her place i wouldn't have skated ! During the evening i couldn't stop crying... and having a lot of bodyguards around us created an extra pressure, it proved there were some risks. I couldn't sleep at all the day before the qualifications, and the following day i was scared everytime i heard a noise, it was awful. I congratulate them a lot, because for me it was impossible they could do something, i thougt they would blow a fuse.
The worst in this affair is there are still persons who do not believe him, who say he injured himself...
Well, it's the same thing everytime something happen, there are always pros and cons. There will always be people to say it's fake, it's only to attract the attention of the media. But now everyone is free to have his own belief... the thing is the scar is here, with no doubt.
Do you consider the Masters Miko and the french team tour like something
recreationnal, where you can relax, or does it still represent a lot of
It's the first year we're so close to each other in the french team, it has never been like that before.
During Euros, Worlds, or the french tour, we are always together, we get along very well, we laugh together. Nobody does something by his own. It's the first year there are no separate groups, we are a real team, we're very strong. We stand by each other in everything we do, there is always someone on the side of the rink when you skate, that's fabulous.
Otherwise, it is really a lot of work... It's very hard to keep traveling as we do : we have shows every night ! At the moment, for the Miko, i'm in a terrible shape... so tired, and tomorrow we go on tour again !
I had to build my "Lara Croft" program this week while i have been doing only shows for three weeks, where we don't have more than 30 minutes of warm-up. Thus we can't do a lot of things, just a triple of each, a bit of spins, a bit of footwork... Then we stop, and for two days we train on a short program... We can't breathe anymore, we're really out of shape. So i'm very proud of the clean short program i made yesterday ! I trained really hard... and now i am completely exhausted. The only thing i want to do is go to bed and sleep for three days... But once more i will take a shower, wake up completely, and go back to my exercices to be in good shape.
This summer will be dedicated to vacations ?
This summer.... well, most of the skater will take their vacations just after the tour... but not me. Sandra does not stay long in France, she has to leave to Japan for a tour, so i will build my new program right after the tour, in Bercy. And then, i'll see... but first the situation must calm down, and i have to sleep...
I won't ask you what will be your programs next year...
No, i won't tell... Suprise ! They will be very nice.
OK, thanks a lot !
You're welcome !