Ice Network

Reborn Amodio to test new habits at Cup of China

French champion buckles down under rigorous new coaches
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The new and improved Florent Amodio is much more grounded and focused. -Getty Images

Just two months after he started working in Paris with his new coaching team, Florent Amodio feels "more than well," as he puts it with his usual enthusiasm. Prior to flying to his first Grand Prix event, Cup of China, Amodio and his permanent coach in Paris, Katia Krier, agreed to answer icenetwork's questions about Amodio's new skating life.

 "You know, I am just starting to learn what I am doing, really," Amodio emphasized after his disastrous showing at French Masters in early October. "Now, everything has to be calculated millimeter by millimeter, each preparation of a jump, each step. I am still learning my lesson, and I have not said it right yet. Still, I am working like hell, and after this is over, I will understand each one of my jumps rather than simply feeling them."

Three weeks have passed since then. Shanetta Folle, Amodio's new head coach, has joined him in the newly built rink of Vaujany, high in the French Alps, for an intensive two-week training session. Stéphane Lambiel, the 2005-06 world gold medalist, came to help Amodio refine the short program they devised together during last summer. Amodio and Folle are now heading to China for Amodio's first Grand Prix of the season.

Icenetwork: How do you feel now?

Amodio: I feel better than well! I am magnificently coached. It was a dream for me to be coached both mentally and effectively. My body is now well above my feet.

We are like a magic team, with Katia, Shanetta, my physical preparator, my parents. … Everyone has one's own role. This is especially important in such an important season. I have dreamt of the Olympic Games since I started skating. I know that if I am coached the way I am now, I will skate up to my best. I will make a big "coup" at the Games.

Icenetwork: How is your coaching team working together, given that Shanetta cannot always be with you?

Amodio: The whole team works as one. Katia is also my full-time coach; she does not merely repeat what Shanetta says. We have agreed upon a line of work, and everything runs smoothly. I worked for two weeks with Shanetta and then a full month with Katia, and then Shanetta came back two weeks before Cup of China. She should stay with me until the Trophée Eric Bompard.

Krier: As a matter of fact, Florent does not interact with Shanetta when she is not in France, but I do every night. She is Florent's head coach, so when she is not in France, I write everything Florent does during the day and I email to her at night. So, she may be far physically, but she remains close to him day after day. We keep Florent away from this process, however.

When you fight for a medal at the Olympic Games, you need a coach who has experienced Olympic medals. Shanetta has. The Games are not like worlds. It's like a war! Shanetta's experience is irreplaceable also in that respect.

Icenetwork: Would you say then that Shanetta and Katia have a similar style of coaching?

Amodio: I am working with two square persons, and they coach me in an almost military way. You know, I am rather foolish at times and still a little bit of an artist. I need to be given some limits. Now, I feel free on my skates. I have found a freedom I was missing both on the ice and in my life, because everything is taken care of around me. I do not need to think of this or that: I just need to think of skating.

Krier: Last summer, Florent told me: "I need someone who confronts me and does not let me get lost." He needs rigor and precision. You need a clear referential to progress. Florent misses that referential if he does not have it.

As in any human binomial, you need a great trust and complicity. Florent and I had seen one another many times at competitions, but I really did not know him. We took the time to discuss last summer, and I explained to him that I am really meticulous and organized. I am a methodical and Cartesian person -- I need perfection.

It is the same with Shanetta. I hold her in great esteem. To me, she is the Igor Shpilband of figure skating! She thinks of everything for her pupils; she embodies perfection. Florent is right when he says that he needs security and limits. When he steps on the ice now, he knows exactly what he needs to do. He is never lost, even when, at times, he can't find his usual sensations 100 percent.

Amodio: It is like a new birth to me. I have lived through wonderful things, for which I do thank Bernard [Glesser] and Nikoli [Morozov] (his former coaches). But, I can see the work I am doing now. The strict frame I have now is really what I needed.

My line of work is now well defined up to the Games. Even though everything is still far from perfect at this time of the season, I know what I am able to do, and things will go from one milestone to the next. 

Icenetwork: What about your new programs?

Amodio: Those two programs do reflect both my personality and the class and elegance I strive at achieving. It's the case with my new short program, for instance. I had always been willing to skate to tango music. I had tried several times before, but I was never really satisfied. I think I was just not ready for it.

I have chosen to skate this short program to "La Cumparsita." It is a very powerful tango. I was simply too young to skate to such a music before. It has the refined character and elegance I need.

I am just starting to understand what I am doing. I still have so much to learn, you know. This is actually what I am doing at the moment. I feel like a child because I am learning so much!

It is the same with Louis Armstrong's "La Vie en Rose," which I use in the long program (along with C to C's music). It is a fun program, but it also needs a lot of emotion and interpretation. I tried to skate to jazzy music right after my Black Eyed Peas program, back in 2011, but again, I felt I was not ready for it. I always thought that there would be something for me in that direction, but I needed some more time. Maybe I needed a great season to come up with it. I think the time has come!

Icenetwork: You have always behaved like a "citizen of the world," flying from one place to the next with your team. Now, you are skating in the heart of Paris, close to home. How do you cope with such a difference?

Amodio: Believe it or not, it was really my dream to skate at home. Traveling has taught me a lot, but at the end of the day, I still am who I am, with my growing maturity and the enthusiasm to do things. I always thought that it would be possible to train completely at home. I deeply wanted to come back and find myself closer to my federation and my parents. It has not been easy at all, but in the end, it is a big success.

Krier: This is right. For sure, Nikoli has brought Florent a dimension he would never have had otherwise. But Florent really suffers when planning is missing. He strives at a simpler way of life. Now, he has come from the life of a globetrotter to an almost sedentary one. He came back with his two feet on the ground. We can feel every day that he is far less tense than he used to be; he is happy. And he gives everything every day on the ice. His soul is still completely there, but his mind has calmed down!

Amodio: I have achieved that dream with Katia, and also with Shanetta, who worked extensively with Tatiana Tarasova. These two forces will take me to the top. I did not know Shanetta before.

Amodio's two Grand Prix events, first in China and then in his home training base in Paris, will tell how well his new lesson is mastered.

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