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Meite to use mixed bag of a season as motivation

French skater suggests audience wants to see changes in programs

Maé Bérénice Méité's involvement in Theatre On Ice has helped her become more expressive in her singles performances.
Maé Bérénice Méité's involvement in Theatre On Ice has helped her become more expressive in her singles performances. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(04/08/2013) - Maé Bérénice Méité can rightly be called the leader of ladies figure skating in France. The results the 18-year-old Parisian has been pulling in lately reflect the improvements she's made, as does the increasing quality of her programs.

The skater has a good combination of innate talent, tenacity and dedication. Her collaborations with such experts as her coach, Katia Krier, and choreographers Muriel Zazoui and Romain Haguenauer have been equally important in her development.

This season, she took sixth place at Skate America, fifth at Trophée Eric Bompard and 11th at the 2013 World Figure Skating Championships. At the 2013 European Figure Skating Championships, she finished 10th but, according to Méité, that was a kind of disappointment, as in 2011 she showed a better result, finishing ninth.

The skater is modest in her evaluation of her results and has set big goals for herself for the upcoming Olympic season.

Icenetwork.com talked with Méité about her progress, dedication to figure skating, plans for the 2013 World Team Trophy and goals for the Olympic year.

Icenetwork.com: How did you start skating and why? Is there someone who inspired you?

Méité: I started skating at the age of 5, in my school. [My parents and I] used to go to the ice rink twice a week, and I really enjoyed it. Then I asked my parents to continue it in the skating club. At the beginning, I didn't know anybody who was doing this sport. I was very little when I started.

Icenetwork.com: At what moment did you realize that figure skating had become one of the most important things in your life?

Méité: Even before the moment I began, I knew that it will be an addiction because I really enjoyed spending time on the ice. I always wanted to go to the ice rink, even when it was closed.

Icenetwork.com: You've shown a lot of progress the past several seasons. Are you satisfied with your performances and results this year?

Méité: I can't say that I'm totally satisfied, but I also can't say that I'm not. In fact, I'm very happy with this season because I progressed, even if I know that I have to work again and again because my skating is far from being perfect. But I'm happy with my performances this year.

A kind of disappointment was the European championships. I could have done something better there, but that also shows me how I can learn from my mistakes.

Icenetwork.com: You've done well at many of this season's events. What was the most memorable competition for you?

Méité: I think the most memorable competitions for me were Trophée Eric Bompard and worlds. At Bompard, I really enjoyed the atmosphere. All my friends, family and skating club were there, so it was, as every year, very amazing. As for worlds ... well, I did good programs, so even though I finished 11th, it was a little victory for me.

Icenetwork.com: You have many training locations: Paris, Lyon, La Roche-sur-Yon, Canillo. Is that difficult for you?

Méité: I am very organized: If I have to move somewhere, then it happens only during vacation. During the rest of the time, I stay in Paris. Sometimes we have French team camps, so we move together to some location, but they always allow us to do our work the right way.

Icenetwork.com: You collaborate with famous French choreographers Muriel Zazoui and Romain Haguenauer. Tell us about your work with them.

Méité: It was a very amazing experience. First of all, working with them, I really learned how to skate. Then I learned how to let my body move. And it was a real pleasure to skate with very good dancers. Thanks to them, my skating grew up, and now I try to use every little tip they gave me when I was working with them.

Icenetwork.com: In addition to your singles skating, you also participate in Theatre On Ice. Tell us about that experience, and what you take from that and use in your competitive performances.

Méité: Theatre On Ice is completely different from singles skating. We have to develop a team spirit, be very close and work together to improve ourselves, and fight together during good and bad moments. And, finally, we have to stay as a team! For me, it's also about having fun and trying to express the feelings and emotions I can feel. It's very good work for skating skills, expression and choreography.

Icenetwork.com: In an interview with me, Florent Amodio said that figure skating's popularity in France is low. He's on the list of top world skaters, along with Brian Joubert and ice dancers Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat. In your estimation, why is that so and what needs to happen for figure skating to regain popularity in your country?

Méité: I think that even if we have top-ranked skaters, figure skating will still have a low popularity because not everybody understands how the judges' scores work. Also, I've heard many people tell me they get bored during competitions because technical elements are so similar in most programs. So, maybe the French audience wants to see more "show" programs, the programs with something new. Maybe they want changes!

Icenetwork.com: The final competition of this skating year for you, the 2013 World Team Trophy, will be held this week in Japan. What does this event mean to you, and what are your expectations for the French team?

Méité: My mottos at this event are "Let our team spirit talk" and "Let's have some fun!"

Unfortunately, Nathalie and Fabian, and Florent have withdrawn due to injuries. We just need to do our job and enjoy doing it, and then we'll see the result we get. Also, it's the last competition of the year, and the Japanese fans are just amazing, so let's do it!

Icenetwork.com: What about your main goals for next season, in the Olympic year?

Méité: For the next season, I want to improve my performances. At Europeans, I want to be in the top five, and then go to the Olympics and worlds trying to reach the top 10. But I have a lot of work to do before that, so the next season will begin right after the World Team Trophy!