Ice Network

Amodio wants to say goodbye the best way he can

Former European champion admits leaving Morozov was big mistake
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Being unable to keep up with the technical demands of the sport is one of the main reasons why Florent Amodio is hanging up his skates. -Getty Images

Florent Amodio announced two months ago that the 2016 European Championships in Bratislava would be his last competition. Amodio, who was considered an up-and-coming star after he won the European title in 2011 in Bern, Switzerland, lost ground after he and his then coach, Nikoli Morozov, decided to part ways in the spring of 2013, just before the start of the Olympic season. The skater agreed to talk to icenetwork about his last competitive outing.

Icenetwork: You were a huge hit with the audience during your short program!

Amodio: The audience here was just amazing. They started cheering for me even before I started my program. And the final ovation I received was great. It drew a lot of emotion. The audience had a good time with that program, and I had one, too. I am grateful that I was able to pull out this program here. It was clean, emotionally packed, and the audience may keep something from it. That has been the main goal of my whole career, as you know: I skate to live such incredible moments.

Icenetwork: Your program was perfect from start to finish, with the exception of that quad.

Amodio: This short program was a good one, but it included no quad. Things would obviously have been different with a quad in my program. My salchow remained a triple, and I'm sorry about that. The quad will have been the main problem of my career. With a quad, everyone knows where I could have gone. That's why it will be my last competition.

The main question I tried to answer these two last years was whether I could come back to fight for a medal at the 2018 Olympics; the answer is no. The gap is too big now. I don't feel I can land four quads in one program. I can't lose two years of my life trying for something that I feel is out of my reach. I need these two years to build my future.

Icenetwork: Is your decision to leave competitive skating a final one?

Amodio: Everybody keeps asking me if it's true! So I am explaining that a page is turning for me. I am honestly proud to have done all I've done. I feel I have put too much on myself these last (few) years. I don't feel strong enough anymore to fight as a titan every day.

Icenetwork: Are technical limits the main reason for your retirement?

Amodio: Skating technique has sent me down to hell, because I failed to master it; I have had so many problems because of that. You can't attempt to go farther if you can't master the technique. I have to say that in the past I have also won thanks to an irreproachable technique.

Icenetwork: And yet you have remained a true artist…

Amodio: I have kept skating these last years for my love of music and dance. If it were only for technique, of course I would have stopped much earlier.

I felt that I lost my artistic emotion when I left Nikoli Morozov. It's rather easy for me to express an emotion like I do in my short program instead of a feeling that makes crowds cheer and stand up. I have picked musical pieces I like for that reason: to feel inspired again on the ice. Here I'm skating two programs I really enjoy. Tonight I will skate my long program to Sébastien Damiani's "Memories of Sobral" (Amodio's birth city, in Brazil), music I have skated to since 2012. I have kept skating to it in exhibitions ever since, and Sergio Mendes' soundtrack of Rio.

My goal is to live each one of my programs completely, intensely and genuinely. I am aware that I have some artistic qualities that may be beyond average -- which may not be the case anymore in (my) technique. It's been very hard to accept that some other skaters fared better than I did, even though their artistry was not as good (as mine).

Icenetwork: Do you also see yourself as a creator?

Amodio: I take pleasure (in) creating. That's something I had also lost in the process. Creating is so important in skating. My objective has always been to move the sport forward and bring something new each time.

That's why I skated my short program to Pharell Williams' "Happy," which is a great modern tune. As soon as I heard it, I thought I had something to create to it. I have always thought that it was possible to skate to something popular in today's world. That program appeals to people, as far as I can see -- even to people who don't know anything about skating. I don't feel like sticking to tunes from the past but to open skating to new kinds of music, albeit in a consistent way.

Icenetwork: Your relatives made the trip to Bratislava.

Amodio: Yes! My parents are here, and also my girlfriend. And Nikoli is here, too.

Icenetwork: How do you cope with your emotions?

Amodio: I experienced it full-on in Epinal, at French nationals. That experience allowed me to remain focused on my competition here, rather than feel the emotion (of the moment). I don't want to spoil this last opportunity I have. I remain very focused, as I always have. I know this is the last one, but this morning I just woke up as I do before any competition. I know it will be special, but it's competition first!

Icenetwork: You made it back to Nikoli for this last outing.

Amodio: Yes, this was a part of the dream. I decided to go back to New York and work with him again. There, I found that same atmosphere of tireless, yet quiet, work I like.

There was so much emotion between him and me before my short program, and throughout. I am happy to finish my career with him, as I have lived my biggest competitions with him.

It was an enormous mistake for me to leave Nikoli's school. So much of my life was connected to him. I always felt a little voice in my head telling me: "Call him back." I had to wait. I wanted to master myself completely and feel cured of anything I had to overcome since.

Nikoli was like a member of my own family. He guided me in the best way possible. I discovered everything through and thanks to him, starting with my first medals.

In fact, I may have had two careers. One was like a fairy tale, of course, with its highs and lows. It was brilliant, and it ended in a catastrophe. The second one will be just the opposite: It started in the worst possible way, and...we'll see how it will end. It's been a fierce battle: I've taken many kicks in my face; I had to fall and come back. I feel I can't spoil everything I was given. It's not easy, but it's also more 'spicy' than my first career, for sure!

Icenetwork: What do you intend to do now?

Amodio: I'll start journalism school, something I really like. I like the world of the press. The press moves a lot. I like to keep myself informed all the time. When I started thinking of my future, some time ago, and of which job I would like to do, I thought of journalism right away. At first, I wanted to start working for television, but I may opt for radio instead. You have a great freedom to create there. I like challenges, and I love to learn. That job should please me. I started working in immersion this year, and it proved I was right.

And, of course, I'll keep skating exhibitions. Skating does remain a huge thing in my life!

Icenetwork: What do you expect from these championships?

Amodio: I'd like to feel the same connection with the audience as I felt during the short program -- and then leave the ice, proud of what I've done

I've always been lucky at the European championships (Amodio won the gold in 2011, the bronze in 2012 and the silver in 2013). That's where it all started for me. Beyond any medal, I'd like this last outing to be beautiful. That would allow me to say thank you, and goodbye, in the best possible way.