Ice Network

Březina hopes Arutunian gives him push he needs

Czech skater draws inspiration from sharing ice with Rippon, Wagner
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In search of more consistency in his skating, Michal Březina made the move to California and coach Rafael Arutunian. -Getty Images

Inconsistent performances have become the norm for Michal Březina in recent years. Being born in the former Czechoslovakia, the 26-year-old skater hoped to show better form in his second homeland of Bratislava at the 2016 European Championships -- and he almost succeeded. But almost was not enough.

In Bratislava, Březina skated one of his best short programs, sitting in third place after that phase of the competition, but he fell apart in the free skate and wound up finishing 10th. He did a little better at the 2016 World Championships in Boston, where he placed ninth.

Last season marked a big turning point for Březina. After much thought and soul-searching, he decided to move to the United States in the spring to train with Rafael Arutunian. His choice of coach was not surprising: Arutunian has taken on such skaters as Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon and helped them restore their confidence and, in turn, improve their results.

Icenetwork spoke with Březina about his move to California, the challenges he faces in his "new" life and his work with his new coach.

Icenetwork: Tell us about your decision to move to California to work with Rafael Arutunian.

Březina: I moved mostly because I needed a new push in my skating and, in my opinion, I found it here with Rafael.

Icenetwork: What aspects of your skating would you like to improve under his coaching?

Březina: I would like to improve every aspect, if it's possible, but mostly I want to get my skating stable again and be able to perform as I used to.

Icenetwork: Moving to a new place is almost always a challenge. How was it in your case?

Březina: There was a big challenge with finding the finances for living and training here.

Icenetwork: What, specifically, is new about your life and training process in California?

Březina: Definitely the weather. Waking up to the sunshine is much better than waking up to rain or snow, as it was in Oberstdorf (Germany). I love the training environment here, and I love the California living.

Icenetwork: How do you feel working on the same ice as other renowned skaters like Ashley Wagner and Adam Rippon?

Březina: We have known each other since we competed in junior categories. Adam and I always strongly challenged each other on competitions, so having that on the ice every day is very helpful.

Icenetwork: Can you tell us about your new programs?

Březina: I only changed one of my programs. This year, I kept my short program from last season, and we created a new long program with Tom Dickson in Colorado Springs. It's to the music from Once Upon a Time.

Icenetwork: This past summer, you also started your own fundraising campaign in order to continue your training in California and preparation for the Olympic Games in Korea. Could you tell us more about this and how it's going?

Březina: I started that in the summer, when I wasn't sure how my finances would be. Now, thanks to our skating federation, I have my training covered, but things like massages, off-ice training, etc., I have to pay myself. The assistance I got from my fans and people that donated is helping me tremendously.

Icenetwork: Why are the next Olympics so important to you personally?

Březina: I'm going to be 28 years old at the time of the 2018 Olympics, and it most likely will be my last Olympic Games that I will attend, so I want them to be the best one for me. I want to be able to enjoy them and, at the same time, achieve a great result.

Icenetwork: The 2017 European Championships will be held in your home country. Does that fact make the event carry more importance for you?

Březina: You know, people ask me all the time how I feel about competing in my home country. I always answer that it is a competition like every other and the fact that it is home doesn't change anything. However, it brings much more fun.

Icenetwork: What do you think about your prospects in the new season, and what are your main goals for it?

Březina: I hope that it will go better than the last season. I worked very hard this summer, and we keep working harder and harder toward the competitions, so I hope all of the work will pay off.