Florent Amodio: Latin spirit, quads and strong personality
The 2011 European Champion and current Euros silver medalist Florent Amodio had a short "show break" between Euros and Worlds at "Art on Ice", with shows in Switzerland, Helsinki and Stockholm. He was asked to replace Evgeni Plushenko who had to withdraw due to health problems. It's not easy to replace a big star but Florent Amodio was able to fill his shoes very well. He gave brilliant performances and was one of the biggest crowd pleasers of the whole "Art on Ice" tour.
This year, the European Championships had an extraordinary quality of male skaters competing. The three medalists, Javier Fernandez, Florent Amodio and Michal Březina, all had programs with two different types of quads, quad toeloop and quad salchow. Javier Fernandez hit three quads in his free program to win, which was unprecedented even in technically high-level men's skating. Florent Amodio won the short program and placed second with two quads in his free program.
This year the European Championships in Zagreb were extraordinary. Men showed amazing technique and artistically brilliant skating.
I am very, very happy about the way the championships went. It was a great competition, at a very high level. Javier won, good for him, I was first in short program and hit two quads in my free program. I'm very happy with it! I think we did show the world that European skating is very good and at a very high level! I'm proud of my fellow skaters and proud of myself that I was able to compete with them at the same level.
Now I am very much looking forward to Worlds!
Before Europeans you changed your short program. What made you change it?
At first I had a flamenco program for my short but I didn't feel very good doing it because I didn't have a good connection with the program. It was kind of hard for me to express myself and I didn't enjoy it. I spoke about it with my coach Nikolai Morozov and he said OK, it was maybe not so good of a choice for you. So we changed it and I think it was a good idea. I took back my Brazilian program, which was last year's long and tested it for the first time at Europeans. I got 89.82 points for it, so I think the change was a good idea. Now I feel the audience again when I am skating and there is a real connection, which is something I need when I do a program.
So the feelings and emotions are important for you when you are doing your program. Doesn't it prevent you from focusing on technique in a stressful competition situation?
Sure, we must be quite focused when we compete, but personally I live in my program and want to share emotions with the audience. I can be good technically and jump two quads but that's not enough for me whenever I am on the ice. I want people to enjoy what they see. That's most important to me.
What is your favorite program?
I love my current programs but I think my favorite was my Michael Jackson routine.
You use quite a lot French pianist and composer Sébastien Damiani's music in your programs. Is he your personal favorite?
He has written music for me. We met two years ago, he liked what I do on the ice and he said he could maybe express it in his music. He is a great composer and a great pianist. I thought it would be a good collaboration to work with him. He feels the energy I want to show, feels how the music should be, I worked with him and he created some excellent music for my programs.
His music is often in a Latin style, with Latin rhythms.
He is a gypsy, so he is very good in the Latin style and really feels Brazilian music. He helped me in my free program, he helps me every time. When I'm choosing music I always ask: what do you think of this or that? And when he's composing for me we try lots of things, he plays them for me on the piano and we test and search for the best outcome.
Do you propose music ideas to your coach Nikolai Morozov when you start to look music for your new program or does he have a concept already ready for you?
He has ideas ready but in the beginning I give my ideas too. Then he tells me maybe not this or I prefer that one. Then we work together on the choreography. Nikolai is amazing on the ice! He can create and show lots of things. I also work with dancers on Broadway, we always get help there. We also do lots of work off the ice, create many moves on the floor and then Nikolai puts them to the ice.
Which dance styles you like?
I love hip-hop! Of course, I do many dance styles, like contemporary dance and classical dance. We try everything because I want to do everything, every kind of dance, every kind of move to express myself the best way I can. Yeah, but my biggest love is hip-hop.
Did you also do classical ballet?
Oh yes, a lot. I started with it when I was seven years old. Now I do not so much, but before yes.
Do you feel that the ballet base helps you in your skating?
For sure! And when I think of becoming a coach one day, my pupils should learn classical dance. It helps you to grow, gives good movements, we figure skaters have to do it.
You rose to the top with Nikolai Morozov. Do you feel he is a perfect coach for you?
Oh yes, I feel he is a perfect coach! For me it's like - we have a unique connection.
Did he choose you or did you want to go to him?
I was at the point in my career where I needed to change my coach. The French skating union started to look for a new coach for me. They wanted me to go to Nikolai and I wanted too.
Morozov stayed with you even when a year ago there was a law that Russian coaches aren't allowed to train anybody else than only Russian skaters.
Yes, he kept me. I'm like his skater son. It's an emotional bond we have between us. My career is with him!
He is a great coach and I also got an impression that he is very good at how to prepare skaters mentally for big competitions.
He is, yes! That's a thing I learned when I went to Russia - how to be strong, be focused, go to the ice with no doubts. With no fear. I mean - there is always a risk that you can make some mistakes but still - go boldly, without fear! That's what I learned in Russia.
You have trained quite often in Russia. What more can you say about training there - is it different compared to what you have experienced before?
It is different although I must say I was always very happy to train in France. My previous coaches have taught me everything. We have very good schools and good traditions in France. I have trained in America and Canada, but in Russia I always get a special feeling. I like how it goes there.
You had a chance to train your jumps, especially quads with Alexei Yagudin.
Yes, I worked a few times with Alexei and I hope my federation makes it even more possible. He can help me a lot. My coach Nikolai is very good technically too; we work every day on jumps, on quads but it was good to get some additional advice.
I'd like to know more about your costumes - are they based mostly on your own ideas?
Oh yes. It's the same as how I choose my music. It's important for me to show my personality with my costumes. I have ideas about the music, I have ideas and then I go to my coach and he says - maybe not this, maybe not like that and helps me to choose but it's me at the beginning.
Which skaters have inspired you in your skating?
I've gotten a lot of inspiration of Plushenko, Yagudin, Lambiel. And Daisuke. I have big respect of what they did and still do and what they did for figure skating in general. There are a lot of very good skaters but my admiration belongs to them.
Now you have a short break between the European and World Championships and your participation in "Art on Ice". Tell me a little about your programs there.
I did my Brazilian exhibition number and then the organizers gave me another piece, a very good one with 2Cellos. That's totally new. I came here a day before for rehearsals and choreographed it during practice. I am very happy that people liked it and said - you did well yesterday.
What general impressions do you have about "Art on Ice"?
When I'm thinking about all the big shows I was able to do â€“ Yu-Na Kim's "All That Skate", shows in Japan, in France - "Art on Ice" is one of the best! An amazing show, for sure.