Spaniards on ice – meet Sara Hurtado and Adriá Díaz┬á
Spanish figure skating has earned a spot on the figure skating map through the likes of Javier Fernadez and Sonia Lafuente, and now also through ice dancers Sara Hurtado/ Adriá Díaz. This promising young team has interesting programs and radiates something that captures the heart of the audience. Sara and Adriá haven't skated that long together but they are making rapid progress. We talked about the past, present and future, including their new life in Montreal training for Patrice Lauzon and Marie-France Dubreuil.
You teamed up in 2008. What did you do before that and how did you end up skating together?
Sara: I was a singles skater competing in juniors, both nationally and internationally, but I never entered the senior circuit.
Adriá: I was also a singles skater; I competed against both Javier Fernandez and Javier Raya. I thought about quitting, but my coach didn't want me to. Instead I was advised to try to find a partner either in Lyon, France, or in Spain to try ice dancing with.
Sara: Adriá's coach was very good friends with Romain Haguenauer, the French ice dance coach in Lyon. But Adriá wanted to skate with somebody Spanish; maybe if he hadn't found me he would have looked for a partner in Lyon. But I'm very glad he found me! Then when we decided to ice dance together we had this idea to maybe go to Lyon to get started, but the Federation wanted to start an ice dance project in Madrid, and for this they found John Dunn to be the coach. Adriá and I have known each other since we were small as figure skating isn't a big sport in Spain. We met at different competitions before we teamed up. At that time there were no ice dancing or ice dance coaches in Spain. Now there are junior couples but we are the only senior couple. In 2008 we started training in Madrid with John Dunn. He was later offered a job in England, so we moved to London and stayed there for 4 months.
Where in Spain are you from?
Sara: I come from Madrid and Adriá is from Barcelona.
At competitions the Spanish team is always sitting together cheering for each other. How come you have such great team spirit?
Sara: There are not so many figure skaters in Spain so we meet at competitions and me, Sonia, Javier Fernandez and Javier Raya, are all from Madrid, so we have known each other since we were kids, and we have met Adriá at competitions. Sonia's coaches used to be my coaches as well.
Sara and Adriá changed coaches in the middle of the 2011 season and started training with 2006 and 2007 World silver medalists, Canadians Patrice Lauzon and Marie-France Dubreuil, who got married in 2008, and now coach in Montreal. When asking about who does the choreography, Patrice joined us and explained that he does it together with Marie, but that other coaches are involved too.
Patrice, how many teams are you coaching?
Patrice: I have 7 teams right now.
Sara: Having so many teams around you is also very good and inspiring. That is what we needed. When we started skating (in Spain) we were the only team there and we had a lot of time with our coach. It was really intense and we were able to get the basics down in that amount of time. But then we needed a different kind of training and I think we found it in Montreal, Canada.
When did you decide to switch coaches and how did you find Patrice and Marie?
Sara: While we were still training in Madrid, we went to Montreal to train for a few weeks during the summer, and there we met Marie and Patrice. When our move to London with John didn't work out so well we knew we needed a change, so we spoke to the Federation and decided that going to Montreal was our best choice. We really liked it when we were there that summer, so it was a pretty easy choice and we are very happy we made it. Marie and Patrice are really good coaches and great people; we learn from their experience every day. Of course we'll never forget what we learned from John Dunn, he taught us everything from scratch.
In what area do you think you have progressed the most?
Sara: We have improved technically. And for example the step sequences are much better; we were really weak there before. But we need to do much more. Since we have not learned the compulsories much we need to learn a new dance every year and we need to improve our edges, steps…
Your presentation, however, has always been strong, why do you think that is?
Sara: We like the music and the programs so that makes it easier for us to work on the interpretation and making a good presentation. Artistically we know what to do when we like our programs and know how we want to express them.
Did you learn this years' Polka on the floor first, or directly on the ice?
Patrice: Directly on the ice since this compulsory dance was all about edges. We also have a lot of ice time available to us, and when you have that option, you spend the time on the ice.
Which do you prefer: the old way with a compulsory dance, or the way it is now with only a short dance and a free dance?
Sara: I like the short dance since we never much learned the compulsories.
Adriá: I like the old system better since the compulsories are the basics of ice dance. We have competed with that system.
Sara: I understand his point of view, but I still like the new way better. Being on Patrices' team means you are never alone, and we can correct and support each other; it is really good!
Have you made any changes to you programs?
Sara: We adjusted a lot of things, such as steps sequences and also the lifts in the free dance. It is very difficult for us to keep changing stuff in the programs because we have only been doing ice dance for a few years now and we need more consistency in the practice. If we keep making changes nothing ends up working. But this is something Marie and Patrice are aware of so we made a good plan for the season together with them, and it's working very well. Choosing the music for this season was difficult. We had some thoughts but then Patrice and Marie came up with the free dance music which is Stevie Ray Vaughan. It was also difficult to find the polka and waltz music and to try to mix them. We finally managed. The music is: Jane's Waltz and Modern Times for the Polka.
You have very beautiful costumes, who designs them?
Sara: We have ideas on what we want to express with our music and dance, and Marie is involved in the costume design as well as our designer Gloria Estefanell. She makes the sketches which we choose from.
What are your goals for this season and how are they coming?
Sara: First of all our goal was to get the minimum technical score that we need in the short dance to get to Europeans and Worlds. We are happy with what we have done so far, because we are still making progress. We had a little complication at the beginning of November because I had a small injury in my left knee. We decided to take it easy so I could recover, and therefore we didn't do some international competitions we had planned. Then we did the International Ice Dance Cup in Lyon (and earned a silver medal!) and we finally got the technical score for Worlds, so our season is going in the right direction! Now our next goal is to perform well at Europeans and of course to qualify for the Olympics at Worlds.
Now that you are living in Montreal, are you going to learn French?
We are going to! (both smile) Montreal is an international city with both French and English and many nationalities. Life in Canada is good! In the summer it is very nice but the winters… brr, it's very cold for us.
Sara, you study journalism, will you continue your studies in Canada?
Sara: For now I have quit school because as a foreign student in Canada it is really expensive to study. But I like my journalism studies and want to continue as soon as possible.
With Europeans coming up we wish Sara and Adriá the best of luck and look forward to seeing them on the ice!