Tomáš Verner: “My best competitions are yet to come“

 

April 25, 2011
By Titanilla Bod
Photos © Joy & Mireille Geurts

Wednesday the 27th of April, Tomáš Verner will start at the postponed World Championships, but he already has an eventful season behind him. Our talk occured right after one of the highlights. We started to talk around midnight, after a day full of emotions in Bern at the European championships. Tomáš Verner had just won the bronze medal and was eager to comment on his performance, oaching change and new experiences. The interview had to be stopped all of a sudden because he had to leave for the doping control, but luckily Tomáš had already told us many interesting things.

How would you describe your competition in Bern?
Before the free skating I felt fantastic during the warm-up. I was calm, I knew I can use all the time in the warm-up, because I will skate last, if I need, I can do some stretching, have a coffee, anything, because fifty minutes waiting is quite a long time. I heard the crowd, they were fantastic, I admired them that despite that cold they stayed until the end and they were fresh even at the end. So I felt great, and still I made mistakes during the warm-up. I made many mistakes, the most mistakes during one warm-up in my life. I didn’t let it to bother me but when I entered the ice for the free program, I didn’t feel so good. I was a bit tired of waiting, of all these Europeans, as I came here on Monday and the free program was only on Saturday. Now I practice from Monday till Friday and Saturday, Sunday are off days, so my rhythm was a bit disturbed. I felt that this wouldn’t be my best performance and it wasn’t, but I think it was a standard performance. I’m glad about it, because this season I haven’t had a meltdown. It is a big thing, and now I can go to the Worlds knowing that I’m able to deliver a standard performance, even if I don’t feel that good.

Do you plan to change something in your programs for the Worlds?
There will be some changes, there will be a quad in the short program. It will be easier mentally, because when I do a triple flip, there is often an edge call, though I worked on it a lot and if I concentrate, I can jump it perfectly. But this problem will disappear if I have a quad toeloop, triple toeloop combination, a triple axel and a triple lutz in my short program. I hope that I will be able to perform level four spins and then this program will have a content strong enough to challenge the very best skaters. This year Patrick Chan and the Japanese skaters are in a very good shape, but I want Europe to fight for the medals as well.

You say you haven’t had any meltdown this year. Have you reached this consistency because you left Europe and now train in Canada with Bob Emerson?
Definitely. Many people have told me that in the past, if I made a mistake, it ruined my whole program. Now, if I make a mistake, I go ahead as if nothing happened. I use this system at practices and I still have to adapt to this way of practicing and competing. I’m not the best at it so far, I think my best competitions are yet to come, I know still can show something.
I know there are the young skaters, but… I’m not sure if everyone will understand this comparison, because they might not follow horse racing, but there is a Czech jockey, Josef Vána. Last year he won the Velká Pardubická (prestigious Czech horserace), even though at his age (58 years) nobody took him seriously. He has a son who is also a jockey and who was also in the same race. Before the start the son said that he won’t look at his father during the race, because he will be in front and his father will be behind, but in the end the old Vána showed them all how to win. Just as jockey Vána I don’t want to quit the sport, I want to show what I’m capable of and I want to entertain the crowd. My focus and concentration have improved a lot and now I don’t think about the medals, I want the crowd to have fun. As long as they want to see me on the ice, I’ll be there, if once they say they don’t want to look at me anymore, I will probably quit.

It seems this is a very distant future because the crowd goes nuts, when they see you, you
even stole the show at practice in Bern.

Practices at competition are not meant to learn something new, I use them only to make sure
what I can do. I do run-throughs every day, my coach is very strict in this, even though we are
at a competition, I have to do the run-through. So I try to skate my program with all the stuff
and really go for it. I think it is much more pleasant for the spectators, if they can watch the
program at first at practice and then in competition.

Michael Jackson must mean a lot to you – at first you had an exhibition to it, now a free
program.

I don’t consider myself to be a “MJ Ultras”, I’m not his biggest fan in the world whose life was devastated when he died. But when I heard the news, I cried, because he was a man who – despite all the filthy gossips – gave the world something. He had a power and he used it to warn us how we destroy our planet, how we should love each other.
I think this is how the stars should use their power, and he did it. He talked to people and they listened to him, because they loved him. His music is amazing, and he was an awesome dancer.
I would never dare to compare myself to him, but I love his music and I think a part of Michael should stay in everyone of us, because he was a great personality of his era.

 

You mentioned dancing – when you went overseas to find the best way of practicing, you
also visited some dance studios on Broadway. What else did you try until you found what you need?

Firstly, I made a really radical change and not everybody was ready for it. I had my last exam in school in June and a few days later I flew to America for all the summer. I wanted to try everything. I went there without any expectations, with eyes wide open, I wanted to see why are their skaters better, how they practice, because when compared to other guys, I practiced even more then them, but I didn’t have the results. I changed my practicing off-ice, I started to go to the gym more times, I train with dumbbells. Now I don’t run that much, I gain condition on the ice, but I also work with dance coaches. Hip-hop caught my heart. When I was in New Jersey, I had the chance to go to some dance studios on Broadway, and this was a huge inspiration. During the summer I travelled all across the USA and Canada, I was searching what is best for me, I didn’t know if it helps or not, but I wanted to have the chance to try all these things. Then I came home for my final exam and the next day I flew back again.

Aren’t you homesick in Canada?
I’m lucky because I live with a family and they take a good care of me. I have there many
friends as well, because I was there many times earlier there to create my choreographies with
Lori Nichol. I try to be nice with people and I make friends easily. With my friends in Czech
Republic or elsewhere I try to keep in touch, and I think true friends won’t leave you just
because you moved to another place.








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