Ice Network

Amodio on path to redemption after clean short?

Embattled French skater hoping to regain form at European championships
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
A three-time medalist at this competition, Florent Amodio placed seventh in the short with a segment total of 74.06. -Getty Images

The European championships have usually been good to France's Florent Amodio. He won the gold medal in 2011, the bronze in 2012 and the silver in 2013. He entered the 2013-14 season as an Olympic favorite, with renewed programs and a new coaching team. His Olympic campaign turned out to be a disaster, however, as he finished 13th at the Europeans and 18th at the Olympic Games. He nonetheless decided to resume his career and try to recapture his championship form from the not-too-distant past. The short program he skated in Stockholm at the 2015 European Figure Skating Championships, although far from his best, was the first clean program he skated in almost two years. It may prove that he has hit rock bottom and started to rebound.

Amodio changed coaches again in the middle of the season, joining the Paris-Bercy team where he is now coached by Claude Péri and practices alongside three other French gold medalists (and good friends of his): Maé-Bérénice Méité, and Vanessa James and Morgan Ciprès. During competitions, Amodio is also coached by Fabian Bourzat, his former teammate who is now a coach at the Detroit Skating Club alongside Igor Shpilband.

"Florent came to ask me to help him this season," Bourzat explained. "As he was the one who requested [the help], he followed my suggestions quite naturally. I coach him as I trained myself as an ice dancer. I explained to him that his reconstruction would require a lot of work on choreography, on skating and on the reliability of his spins, where he lost so many points last season. We also worked extensively on his physical condition: When you feel good in your body, when you are well prepared physically, you are already much better in your head."

"My mental condition is good and my physical condition is good as well. My fighting spirit is there, too," Amodio confirmed after his skate. "I was quite serene when I entered the ice. Anyway, when you tell yourself that these European championships may be a turning point into your career, it doesn't make things easier. I don't need the extra pressure! This has launched me back into my competitive career, and I hope I can start building up again from there."

"Florent knows that I don't want a genius on the ice who can recover from every situation or circumstance," Bourzat continued. "I want a real worker, who can skate in competition the very way he skates in practice."

"The mistake I made on the quad Salchow was not planned, of course (Amodio landed a triple Salchow instead)," Amodio said. "I was a bit late on the timing into the curve, and I was not feeling in the proper axis. But I landed my quad Salchow in practice yesterday, and it was smooth. I will need it Friday in the free program! My spins are starting to be back where they should be, so it proves that the work we've been doing is starting to pay off.

"I am so happy to have skated a clean program," Amodio said. "So relieved, actually. I did not skate anything extraordinary today, but believe me, coming from where I am coming, I am quite happy with it."

Amodio's program, which he skated to the Le Concert soundtrack, was particularly emotional.

"I had not felt such an emotion for a very long time," Amodio conceded. "It feels good to be in control of my body and of my mind. My short program in itself is rather beautiful, I think. The image I gave the audience today was certainly much better than everything I did in the last year and a half. I held on to my program from start to finish. Last year at the same time, my program had been terrible. This year, at least I have controlled it from start to end."

This program was also very different from all those he has been skating to before.

"There is a lot of emotion in this program, for sure, especially when I skate up to my standard. I hope I may say that I am a skater who can transmit emotions on the ice. I actually enjoy skating with emotion and a message to deliver," he said rather humbly.

"There is a lot of my life I am ready to express, actually, with all I lived through last season -- from sadness to a lot of passion, too. It's not a question of just making the show, as it may have been at one point in my career. I have a lot more to say.

"Also, I have always wanted to skate different facets of skating, and I think this is a different one again. I tell a story on the ice, and it is a thrill when I skate well to it. I enjoy skating with all my heart -- and this has not changed in previous seasons. It feels good to skate a good and beautiful program in a great competition like a European championship."

One of Amodio's lowest points certainly happened when he lost everything in front of his home audience, just two months ago.

"Finishing last at the Trophée Eric Bompard was a strange feeling for me. On the one hand, I hated it. On the other, I said to myself that it was OK, and that I should concentrate on the future rather than the past. I told myself that I did not have any more time to lose, and I was on the ice the next day. I really wanted to keep my fighting spirit throughout. I would like to avoid the mistakes I made last season."

Amodio went on to win his fourth French championship a few weeks later.

"I want to thank wholeheartedly all those who have supported me in the last year. I had never imagined that I would live through such a difficult period as I have during these last months," he said. "I am well aware that I have the responsibility to keep the French level as high as possible, now that Brian [Joubert] has retired. The French need to keep skating at the top! 

"Of course, I still need to fight harder for the free program, because 74 points (Amodio's total entering into the free skate) are still very far from the best. But I am on my way back. Finally, I am giving myself some great memories again!"

Could these European championships mark Amodio's comeback into the elite?

"Of course I believe in it. Otherwise, I would not be on this ice!" Amodio concluded, with a broad smile.