June 24, 2010
By Céline Oreiller
Photos © Céline Oreiller
Fascinating. Watching two World Champions work together is fascinating, especially when both of them are incredibly talented artists on the ice. When the moves suggested by Stéphane Lambiel are performed by Daisuke Takahashi, the result is nothing short of beautiful – a blend of freedom and control, of spontaneity and smoothness. And if the announcement of their collaboration took everyone by surprise, when you actually see them at work, it looks like it was always meant to be.
How did you two get to work together?
Stéphane: When I was in Japan for some exhibitions in April, I told Daisuke that I would help him if he needed me. So he thought about it, and then we organized his trip to Switzerland to create a new short program.
Who chose the music?
Daisuke: Stéphane did.
Stéphane: Yes, I picked two pieces of music and asked Daisuke which one he wanted to skate to. He liked both, so in the end we chose the one that was more different from what he had already done, more original… Daisuke learns very quickly and we actually finished the short program in just two days. So we decided to create an exhibition program with the other piece of music.
Considering how close you two have been in many competitions over the past few years, including at the Olympics just four months ago, nobody expected you to work together.
Stéphane: I never considered Daisuke to be a rival, there was absolutely no rivalry with him. I never thought “oh, I’m ahead of him” or “oh, I’m behind him”. All that mattered were my own performances, not where we placed.
I saw you practice together, mirroring each other, and it was captivating, because you look very alike on the ice…
Stéphane: …until we start spinning, right?! (laughs) But I’m also helping him with the spins, they’re already getting better. Spins aren’t easy. They require finding the right balance between flexibility and strength. You have to let your body go and then lock it in the correct position. And of course you might be a bit dizzy at the end of a spin, but you still have to go straight into the next element.
The conversation then drifted to combination and camel spins, and eventually to jumps. Daisuke wished he could land the quad toeloop as easily as Stéphane, who in turn explained his struggles with the triple axel and how his injury prevented him from practicing it this past year.
Daisuke, when you returned to Japan after the World Championships in March, the whole country was crazy about figure skating – you and Mao Asada were everywhere! Have things slowed down now? What have you been doing in the last few weeks?
Daisuke: Yes, we had to do many exhibitions and TV shows, but I also got to take holidays. I went to Hawaii, which was great. And now I’ve already created a new free program with Pasquale Camerlengo, and these two programs with Stéphane. This summer, in between shows in Japan, I will also work on another short program with Shae-Lynn Bourne.
Why two short programs, and how will you decide which one to skate in competitions?
Daisuke: I don’t know how long I will keep skating and I want to try as many different things as possible. I really admire Shae-Lynn, Stéphane and Pasquale, I like their style and it’s nice to work with them. I don’t know yet which short program I will use, I hope both of them. Maybe I’ll change for each competition.
And how is your knee now?
Daisuke: It’s fine, back to normal. But I’ll have to have another surgery after the World Championships next year, because there’s still a screw in it.
Last year, you had problems with your skates throughout the season. Have you finally found a pair that fits?
Daisuke: I hope so. I just went to the Graf factory here in Switzerland and explained exactly what was wrong. I think we found the solution. So I hope it will go well and if not, I know that I can always come back here.
Yes, Daisuke, you’ll always be welcome in Switzerland!
But for now, let’s just wish both Stéphane and Daisuke all the very, very best for the coming months and a great time at this week’s “Dreams on Ice” shows in Japan, where Daisuke might perform his new exhibition program. Watch out for videos to pop up on the internet soon!