Stéphane Lambiel: "I cannot hide my feelings"

 

By Reut Golinsky
Photo © Silvia Ulenberg

Stéphane Lambiel is always very busy and in great demand by journalists. "This year it's been really crazy," – he admits. "Why is it always Stéphane? Why only Stéphane? There are so many other skaters!" – exclaims his agent. And he is right. Since our talk at Art On Ice more than a year ago, Absolute Skating has published interviews with Stéphane about every two months. But to Stéphane's fans… it's never enough, is it?
I appreciate enormously that in his very tight schedule, being tired and a bit affected by a cold, Stéphane still finds time to talk to me before the first show in his home town, Lausanne. We start with the "special form" Stéphane filled out, and which by now you have already read. He mentioned "expression" among his other strong qualities and we continue from there...

You wrote "expression" and I agree; you have this very special talent to make people feel what you feel.
I like to share my passion for figure skating with people. I know that I can spread my feelings. Maybe there are people who never express the things they want to express but then feel them through me. What amazes me the most is that this connection has no boarders, it works all over the world; it's a language everybody can speak.

Understand maybe, but I don't think everybody can speak that language. But you certainly can and it's a rare quality, though sometimes the words you speak in this language are not happy, but sad.
Well, I think it's impossible to always be happy.

Of course it's impossible. But when you were sad after you'd finished your free skate in Vancouver, it was the worst moment in many people lives. Not so much because of your skate but because of your face.
But is that good or not? I don't know. It happens because I just cannot hide my feelings. For me it's impossible; you can watch my face and tell if I'm OK or not.

But you know how to act too, don't you? Like when you're skating your "Ne me quitte pas" program...
That's me! I'm not acting.

But a second after you finish you're already smiling.
Yes, because it's the next minute. It's different. For me the story is finished when the music is over. It's like with a book, when you close it the story is finished.

I always wondered how you enter the mood when you start "Ne me quitte pas"?
I think I mentioned it somewhere that I hate to wait for the music to start. But as soon as the music starts I feel that there is only the music and me. Maybe I don't feel sad at that moment and would prefer to skate to something funny. But I go on the ice to skate "Ne me quitte pas", and as soon as I hear that music I feel what I need to do. So it's not like I have to concentrate on the moves, it's not like I need to tell my arm to go up. It's the music which makes me move.

I noticed that music always makes you move; when you hear the music you start dancing. How does it work to drive your car and listen to music?
Oh my God, very badly! (laughs) Maybe it's because there are too many emotions altogether; to drive the car also brings out emotions. But then life is very interesting like thatÂ…

You said you got over Vancouver. Did you check the protocols, try to re-skate your program in your mind and find what went wrong and what could have been corrected?
No. I cannot change anything. Maybe later I will watch this program and enjoy it. But right now there is no point for me to check the program or the protocols. Why would I do that anyway? I did everything possible then, but cannot change the past. Right now I can focus on doing my job as well as I can. I'm busy with my shows and it's great.

So we won't be seeing you in Bern next year? (at the European Championships 2011)
No. For me Vancouver was the main goal. I'm happy I took this road but I know I'm done with it now. My goal was to get the gold medal in Vancouver, but I don't have it. I have to accept it and move on with my life.

That road was great, with or without a medalÂ…
Exactly! For me it would have been nicer with a medal. Maybe not even nicer but it would have been a concrete satisfaction and I could have said: "My road to Vancouver resulted in this!". But I got the satisfaction within me: I worked, my body feels healthy and that's already the best satisfaction I can get.

What's next on your agenda; shows?
Yes.

Without you, advice me on who I should cheer for next season. Do you see some young skaters now who follow in your footsteps and have your vision of figure skating?
I wish I would be able to work with skaters. I don't know if I should ask someone who I think has potential to work with me. Or if I need to wait until someone comes to me and asks for my help and then decide if I should accept or not. I really wish that someone would ask me and then I'd be able to decide. Because when you're competing you cannot really concentrate on what's happening on the ice. But I didn't watch anyone skating in Vancouver, so I didn't see who has potential or not. I know there are good skaters, Michal [Brezina] for example is very good. And Javier [Fernandez] is very good too, with a lot of passion. I would love to work for skaters; I would love to help them.

But when you're touring with shows you can't come and help someone, because you're always busy.
I don't think it would be impossible. You cannot be with the skater 100% of the time and work with him every day. But for the choreography you'd need to "put the blood into the body", to "inject" something into the skater and then he'd have to react to the program in his own way. That would not mean doing exactly what I say and what I want to see, but for him to work it his way and then maybe add new things. I cannot tell someone who doesn't have my body and can't do my things: "Now do it like this!" I've never worked with Salomé like that. Choreography is about freedom, about what you have inside and what you wish to express. It should come from the skater; it's not a cheap copy. We've never watched a video of a dancer and then said: "Oh, that's a move we want to use in the program". It's more spontaneous and it has to come from you. But if I work with a skater, of course I will add my touch. Of course I would love him to be as passionate as I am, but in his or her own way.

I'm looking forward to seeing the competition programs with your "touch" in them, Stéphane. And good luck on the road you've chosen!

Go to Part II

 

 






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