Valentina Marchei: "Never give up,
at least try"
By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © 2010 Absolute Skating
Valentina Marchei lost her fight for the Olympic spot against Carolina Kostner at the Europeans in Tallinn. It was the second time she couldn’t make the Olympic team (four years ago she was denied the Olympics because of Silvia Fontana’s comeback) but she wasn’t devastated. She loves skating and her motto is to fight until the end.
How do you feel about your performance at the Europeans?
It’s okay. I just came here to skate well. Last year I didn’t compete so I didn’t even have the points. I just feel okay. It was not perfect in the free program, but the pressure to manage was big. So I’m happy because I didn’t give up. I just fought on for all the performance, so I feel like I’ve come a step up. So, I’m happy. (smiles)
How hard was it to handle the situation that Italy has just one Olympic spot and two skaters were fighting for it?
I can’t say anything, because last year I was injured, so I couldn’t even fight for my own spot. It happened and it was nice to have this battle. It’s nice to see Carolina back like this, in shape. Her class is amazing, so I’m happy that finally we can defend our Italian spot in a good way at the Olympics. I live with it in a good way, because we made Italy see that there is not just one skater but a whole world behind her that is growing. It’s important for skating in Italy what I achieved.
How hard was it to come back after your injury?
It was pretty hard. I started to skate in April after four months without doing anything. I couldn’t even run. So it was pretty hard because I had to start with skates, work for the double jumps. I couldn’t even do my strongest jump because it was too tiring for my ankles. I could do just single jumps, so seeing me fighting for spots and the top at the Europeans is amazing after a year like that. I couldn’t even believe I could be here at the Europeans, so I’m happy.
Were you worried that the ankle injury could end your career?
No, because I’ve never been thinking about ending my career. It just put me in a really bad situation where you say: ok, now let’s think about what I really want in my life. And I can’t see my life without skating. It’s important for me because it gives me joy and happiness. I can’t think of – even after losing the Olympic spot for the second time – losing the happiness and the joy of skating.
Your fighting spirit is amazing. Where does it come from?
My dad did two Olympic Games and he always encouraged me to do sports. He didn’t push me, never pushed me, but he always told me to do what I felt like doing. And he always tells me not to give up. At least try, until the end. That’s what he told me exactly before this competition: at least try, nothing is impossible. I couldn’t believe I could win Nationals and it happened. For me the Olympic Games were already over in Los Angeles last year, but I still fought for the spot. I had such a big improvement that I’m so proud of myself and the few people who stayed around me, because I lost everybody. I did it for me first, and then for them, because they made me believe that it was possible. And it really was. So I’m really happy and I think the next four years will be my four years, for myself and also at a high level.
Even though you fell at the beginning of your free program twice, you still gave it all and your last step sequence was really breathtaking, you skated with amazing power.
Even the specialist told me that I fought until the end. You know, to fall, to make a mistake is a part of our sport. And I had a really good season with a really good long program so far. A fall can happen, it happened here, but I just said that I will skate for pleasure and I did so. I did this step sequence in front of Nikolai Morozov so many times and he told me repeatedly that I wouldn’t go anywhere if I skated like this, so I just pushed myself. I love this step sequence. If I think about changing this program I’m even a bit sad, but I have to because now it’s two years old. Even if I was injured I did work on my programs, so I was working on these programs for two years and well, that’s enough.
Your compatriots Federica Faiella and Massimo Scali told their story in their free dance about leaving the country for a better future. How did it feel for you to leave Italy for the US?
Actually I left Italy for the US and for France because when Nikolai is not there I have an agreement with a French coach who loves me, and who helped me a lot. Nikolai is constantly with me because we call each other a lot, I’m sending him videos and he sends me back feedback and stuff. It was nice to know another country because I see another face of skating I didn’t know, because I was always in Italy. I took the best from every coach and I’m still taking, so I think it’s a positive, that I can adapt myself to every kind of situation. That’s why I can speak French although I never studied French, I just travelled so much. Travelling helped me to know people and cultures and I’m pretty happy about it because I know I’m in a good place to be one of the best. At the beginning it was hard of course. Nikolai didn’t allow me to go back home for five months. So my mum came for a few days but I didn’t see my dad and my brothers for five months which is a huge time if you have two younger brothers who rise so fast and so much. But now it’s easy. I’m just skating for all the pain I had before. I know he did it for a reason and if I’m like this now it’s because of them. It was a great opportunity and I’m taking the best from it.
In your biography reading is also listed as your hobby. What types of books do you like reading?
I like romantic books, they make me dream and even if it’s not a love story, I like fairy tales. They make me fly with my fantasy and they take me out from the skating world.
Do you bring books to competitions?
I used to do because of the travel but I don’t read during the competitions because I’m too nervous. But whenever I travel my mum gives me a new book. It’s like with pajamas, she also always gives me new pajamas when I’m leaving.