Sarah Meier: "It was a good feeling
just to be here"
By Nadin Vernon
Photos © Jeannine Bourdiau
Sarah Meier claimed her 8th title at the National Championships in Lugano last weekend, her first competition of the season.
While Sarah had planned to kick off the season at the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf back in September and was also invited to two Grand Prix events, injuries kept her from attending these assignments.
I caught up with Sarah after her free skate on Saturday to find out how things are going now.
Congratulations Sarah. It’s so nice to have you back. Are you happy with your performances?
Yes, overall I am. It was the first time in many months that I was able to get through a competition. Even though I’m still not feeling that great it was a good feeling just to be here and I really needed that.
You cancelled so many competitions, one after the other.
Yes, that’s right. And even though I’ve been skating for so many years now, each year it takes time to get into the new programmes.
Here, it was mainly about going on the ice without constantly thinking 'how am I going to survive’, 'I hope it’s over soon’. And I really enjoyed myself on the ice.
Today you premiered your free skate. It’s a beautiful programme.
While we have only seen it here for the first time, does it feel quite familiar to you already?
Yes, it feels pretty familiar. Of course there were some mistakes in there today and I need to look into ironing them out. We will also take the feedback from the judges into account and make some changes here and there.
I think today I was saving my energy a little at the beginning, just to make sure that I would get through it ok. And now that I know it’s possible, I can give everything from the beginning.
So it was a good experience after Japan where you had to withdraw half-way through the competition. What was going through your mind during the warm-up for the free skate there?
I had already cancelled two competitions and I just wanted to skate there. I probably deluded myself a little because for example at the World Championships in LA I was very badly prepared yet I skated well. So I thought I’d somehow survive this too, but that doesn’t always work out. So I went to Japan, but I already saw in training that things weren’t going that well and the short programme wasn’t good. And then during the warm-up, I noticed that I was too focused on my foot. I kept thinking ‘how can I jump properly without putting too much pressure on my toe pick on the Flip and the Lutz’. And then I realized it wouldn’t go well. I couldn’t use my toe pick, and how can I jump if I can’t properly use my toe pick?
In the end it cost quite a bit of courage to admit that it wouldn’t work. I really wanted to skate there and it was a bit silly to withdraw half-way through, also because I especially flew to Japan for it.
Would you say in hindsight that it was a mistake to go there in the first place?
Yes, it probably was.
So it’s the toe pick jumps that are affected the most by your injury, the Flip and the Lutz?
Yes, that’s right. I’ve also been having some trouble with the loop though.
I noticed there was no loop in your free programme today. Are you planning to include it at a later date?
Yes. The loop is probably my worst jump and when I can’t train it properly, it’s not secure enough to do in the free programme.
How are things now, are you able to train properly again?
Well, almost, probably about 90%. In the last couple of weeks I was able to train every day, sometimes just once a day, but still.
And what does a normal training day look like?
If everything goes well, I do two sessions on the ice and two sessions off ice. I’ll also do a longer warm-up, strengthening exercises and a cool-down. So probably around four hours a day.
And then you do run-throughs each day?
Yes. What we’ve been doing recently is do the free programme in one session and then the short in the next. And when I only do the one session, we first do the free and then the short. The short usually doesn’t go that well then, but when I’m completely fit, it works out ok. And we may start trying to do run-throughs of both programmes in once session soon.
At the end of the 07/08 season you were on a real high and you mentioned that your next focus would be to work on a triple triple combination. Obviously with the injuries, things didn’t go as planned. Are you still looking to get a triple triple combination into your programme or are you mainly thinking about just getting back to where you were before the injuries?
Right now I’m very far away from that and at the moment it’s all about reaching the level I was on. I think once I’m able to skate my programmes without mistakes again, even without a triple triple combination, I’ll probably be quite happy with that. I really can’t think about anything else yet because I’m so far away from it. Of course it would still be a goal for the future, but right now it’s completely unrealistic. I just have to take things slowly because otherwise I’ll stretch myself too far and will then only be disappointed. So I have to focus my energy on building things step by step.
I’m interested in your music choice for this year’s free skate which is Romeo & Juliet. It’s quite unusual for you to choose something that is quite so well known.
Yes, that’s right. I used to always think that people would immediately compare me to other skaters who have used the same music and then decide who did it better and measure against that. Therefore I thought that maybe I wasn’t ready yet to skate to this music which is so well known. But I wanted to do it at some point because I like it. And the audience knows it which can evoke big emotions when it goes well. So I thought I don’t have that many years left, I’m already quite old in skating terms, and if not now then when? So I just decided to go for it.
It’s interesting because you are using two different versions, Prokofiev’s ballet and then the soundtrack by Nino Rota and I thought they both worked really well together.
Oh thanks. Yes, I asked my choreographer Salomé if it would be a good idea to mix the two pieces and she didn’t think it would be a problem because the majority of people probably wouldn’t even notice. And those in the audience who’d recognize the two pieces, wouldn’t mind.
Have you already got an exhibition programme for this season?
Actually I’ve got a few different ones. We’ve just finished working on something quite special, it’s a Samba called ‘Para una nota’ and it’s a bit different.
I’ve also got a hip hop piece which isn’t that new, but since I’ve hardly skated it, I might use that as well. And then of course I’ll be working on some new programmes for Art on Ice.
Have you thought about your plans beyond this season at all?
Right now I’m fully concentrated on this season. But since I missed so much of this season, I think it is an option in the back of my mind to possibly carry on for another year.
Especially with the European Championships being held in Bern in 2011.
Yes, exactly. But then there are also times when I think that my body can’t cope with another season and I’m not sure if I have enough energy for it. But I think I won’t really decide on that until this season is over.
Thanks very much for this interview Sarah and best of luck for the rest of the season.