Ice Network

Folle steps in as Amodio's new coach at Bercy

Three-time European medalist also working with Yagudin, Krier
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Florent Amodio's has moved on from his days with Nikoli Morozov. -Getty Images

After he split with Nikoli Morozov last June, Florent Amodio opened his Olympic season without a coach. It was "a rather strange situation," said Alexei Yagudin, who came to help him over the summer. Shanetta Folle has just been appointed as Amodio's new coach.  Amodio took the time to talk with icenetwork the first day Folle came to what will be his permanent training base, the Paris Bercy Arena, home to the Trophée Eric Bompard. He agreed to look back on the last months of his life and discuss his new programs.

This may have been the most anticipated news French skating has experienced in many years: Who would coach the up-and-coming French skating star, Florent Amodio? The answer is now official. Folle, the German-born technician who was seen alongside Mao Asada at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, will take the job, at least in part.

"New team! I'm thrilled!" Amodio commented on his Twitter account after the news was made official. "One will need strong weapons to catch me. Now I'm heading to the top!"

Folle was in Paris, at the Bercy training arena, last Thursday and is expected to stay there another two weeks to devise Amodio's training plan. Folle will then go back to her Japanese base and come back to work with Amodio on a steady basis.

Amodio's spring had been a rather catastrophic one. He finished a disastrous 12th place at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships after he won his third European medal (a silver, after he won gold and bronze in 2011 and '12, respectively). "My back hurt so badly," he explained afterward.

"I took the time to heal my back," Amodio recalled. "Then I headed full speed into the Olympic season. I did not skate any exhibition; I only focused on polishing my programs and training."

Nonetheless, in early June Amodio decided to part ways with his coach of three years, Morozov, at a time of instability in Morozov's coaching schedule.

"Then, I had to settle for a miserable summer," Amodio admitted. "And finally, it turned out to be the best summer of my life. Can you believe it?"

Amodio started by devising his new free skate program, in which he follows the jazzy track he started exploring two seasons ago.

"I did that one myself, although I received some help," he explained with pride.

He will be skating to Louis Armstrong's rendering of "La vie en Rose," cut and pasted with other pieces.

"I like to have different states of mind [within the] same program," Amodio said. "It gives me some energy throughout the program."

Amodio included some emotional and poetic pantomime elements in his program.

"It's like a tribute to the great actors of the past," he said. "I really admire them so much."

During the summer, Amodio was coached by Katia Krier at her training base in the newly opened rink of Vaujany, in the French Alps. There, Marina Anissina (2002 Olympic ice dance gold medalist with Gwendal Peizerat) and Stéphane Lambiel of Switzerland (2006 and '07 world champion) came to help him.

"Stéphane devised my short program," Amodio said. "I skate it to 'La Cumparsita.' This style suits him quite well. Still, I did not want to 'skate Lambiel's style,' but mine, so he left me with the whole package and I have matured it since then so that it reflects my own personality".

A major event in Amodio's summer was the 10 days he spent with skating icon and 2002 Olympic gold medalist Alexei Yagudin, in Courchevel, also in the French Alps.

"He coached me to be an Olympic champion," Amodio said after a little thought. "He coached me on the way to train and pushed me to strive for difficulty at the highest level all the time. You know, he came just for me, and that was already a dream!"

Amodio's choice to start his training season early is already appearing advantageous. His jumps are steady in training, including the quad, and his choreography is now well rounded.

"Yes, I have [upgraded] myself," he said. "Everything is well danced and mastered and controlled now. I think these programs capture motion and grow my expression."

Coaching situation

Amodio will be based in Bercy for the season, and his permanent coach there will be Katia Krier. In Bercy, he will train alongside fellow French team members Chafik Besseghier, Maé-Bérénice Méité, Yretha Silete, Lena Marrocco and the rising pairs team of Morgan Ciprès and Vanessa James. Apart from Brian Joubert and the ice dancers, the whole French team will now be gathered in Paris-Bercy.

"Now, we are a real training center," Ciprès said. "Florent arrived here last Monday, and we really get along well. It is so motivating!"

This may be quite important for the team, which can fight for a medal in the first Olympic team competition, at the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

Still, who will really coach Amodio in Paris? His regular coach will be Krier, with whom he has been working for the last few months, and his official coach will be Folle. However, these two may not be the only ones to coach Amodio.

In fact, Yagudin has declined to be his coach but has left the door open.

"I would never agree to be his coach," Yagudin told Patinage Magazine before leaving Amodio last month. "Especially half a year before the Olympics. All we can do is add and correct little things, but the main goal really is not to make him worse!"

Yagudin, who has recently purchased a house in France with his family, could agree to come back after the French championships in order to give Amodio a hand before Europeans and the Olympics. And the future remains completely open.

"I was thinking that maybe, if [Amodio] would ask me to work more with him after the Olympics, I might say yes, because then we'll have four years to make bigger changes to his skating," he said.

For the time being, Amodio has reason to be quite thrilled with his coaching team.