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Amodio banking on quad for gold this season

European champ talks about immersing himself in his programs, his love for hip hop and more

Florent Amodio spent the summer working with coach Nikoli Morozov.
Florent Amodio spent the summer working with coach Nikoli Morozov. (Klaus Reinhold-Kany)

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By Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to icenetwork.com
(10/18/2011) - The 2011-12 season will be a key one for Florent Amodio, the Brazilian-born French skater. Amodio took the skating world by storm in 2011, when he took the European gold medal by surprise, ahead of teammate Brian Joubert. After finishing sixth at worlds, Amodio was quick to identify the quad as the key to joining the truly elite, and he spent his summer working at the jump and preparing his new programs.

Just before leaving for Skate America, he was gracious enough to speak with icenetwork.com.

Icenetwork.com: What did your European gold medal change for you?

Amodio: I have a great new car! No, seriously, it did not change anything. I am still the same, and I work even harder than before. I know I still have a lot of potential, and I want to reach it. I am not 'there' yet!

Icenetwork.com: How did you create your new programs for this season?

Amodio: I wanted to experience new styles this year. One thing has not changed, however: I have chosen my programs to please the audience, as usual. Both programs are light and fun; they kind of explode at the end, and I love it. I take great fun in skating both programs, and I think that they look like me completely, just like last year's programs did.

I had no idea for the short program, but I knew that I would like to skate to jazz music. I had seen several programs skated to jazz before, and I felt that I could bring something more. It is a major change for me after last year's Michael Jackson [program], and it is not the kind of music I listen to all the time, of course. I have some in my iPod, though! I skate the first part to "Summertime." I think we may change this first part after the Grand Prix season; I will need something more fresh by then. I already have some ideas about it. We should keep the second part, though.

Icenetwork.com: You elected to skate to Brazilian music in the free program. Is this a memory from your distant past? (Amodio was adopted by his family as an orphan in Brazil.)

Amodio: Yes, I was born in Brazil, and I wanted to find something that would really reflect my personality. I had the idea of Brazil several years ago. This program is built around the original soundtrack of Rio and Perez Prado's "Besame Mucho."

Every year I wonder how I will be able to keep improving and bring new things. This year I had to go beyond hip-hop music. So, I went back to the same dance studios in New York I had been to, before last season. I learned jive dance, among others. Trying new styles encourages me to learn and improve. I am growing and hopefully it shows. I feel it anyway!

What is most important to me is that I can feel it myself enough, to bring something of me to the audience. It is a new style for me, and it hopefully will convey a new facet of me as well.

Icenetwork.com: It seems that you really like hip hop?

Amodio: Yes, American hip hop is certainly my favorite kind of music. My goal is to have the young identify with my skating and think, 'Whoa, skating can be cool!' We move on thanks to the young, and the world is moving forward at a fast pace. Skating will keep succeeding if we can propose new things to the young. Also, I am young myself, and I want to take advantage of it. We need to excite the audience and make it their wish to dance with us!

Icenetwork.com: Have you kept the same team around you?

Amodio: Absolutely. I am still working with Nikoli Morozov. I spent the whole summer with him, and I work with Annick Dumont whenever I am in France. I have found some stability this way. Actually, it is an 'on the move' kind of stability, as I am travelling quite often. Last summer was very busy as well. We worked a lot, and I had many exhibitions and trips all over the world. Now people are starting to know more about me, and they are expecting a lot each time, rightfully so. I suppose that I need such a pace to feel good!

Icenetwork.com: Your costume for the free program looks like a tiger. Did you choose it yourself?

Amodio: Yes! We have worked a lot on my costumes, actually. The costume for my short program [a sparkling white and pink jazz club outfit] clicked right away. The first costume for the free I found too sober, however. Then they made that special tiger design, which I liked. I think it shows some of my personality as well. I also like it because it is 'haute couture'!

Icenetwork: Is it important for you to be involved in all aspects of your programs? That must take a lot of time and energy from you?

Amodio: I have come to realize all the sacrifices this sport requires if one wants to succeed. I am seldom at home now, and I can hardly hang out with my buddies any more. But I know that the world hierarchy is being built right now, so I give everything I have to skating. I don't want to have any regrets later.

Knowing that I have to sacrifice so much, I do not hesitate to invest myself in every dimension of the sport. It's not only a matter of technique or dance anymore. My personality goes into choreography and music and costumes as well.

Icenetwork.com: You have said that 2011-12 would be your 'quad season.' How is the quad now?

Amodio: I worked a lot on it this past summer. To me, it looked like a huge mountain to scale. Each time I tried it in the past, it required so much concentration and an optimal arch. I would feel exhausted afterward!

Now it still does require a lot of concentration, but I can see that it is quite reachable. Also, when you start working on the quad, the other jumps seem to be going better! I think we will keep the quad Salchow in both the short and the free programs throughout this season.

I have no problems during practice. What I need now is to gain experience and work better in the preparation of the jump. I also need to master it in the atmosphere of a competition. All this should come along as the season goes. I do not make it an obsession. Even when I do not land it, I need to still have fun skating. But I will land it, you'll see!

Those who follow me know that I do not want to peak too early in the season. Last year I had arrived so exhausted in Moscow for worlds. It was a mistake. Now I have to pay more attention, as the skating season is so long.

Icenetwork: How are you feeling as you leave for Skate America?

Amodio: Great! By tactic -- or is it by superstition? (laughter) -- I try to always skate in the first and the last Grand Prix of the season. That leaves me more than a month to improve.

The most important thing for me is that each and every year you can see Florent Amodio at his best.

I really would like to show the best of me each time. The more time passes, the more my programs -- what I skate, what I give -- look like me. This is what I strive for. To give more and more of myself requires that I, myself, am more and more. That is why I am working so hard.

To me, Skate America is the first step to Nice (site of the 2012 world championships) and Sochi (site of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games), so it is quite important for me to succeed there!