Matilda Algotsson has her eyes on the Olympics
The Nebelhorn Trophy, held September 27 – 30, was once again an Olympic qualifier, and for some skaters it was the first time they competed at this very special, emotional event. Sweden had to qualify for both the men and the ladies. At the beginning of the season Joshi Helgesson was mentioned as the one to try to get the spot and represent Sweden, but that changed right before the competition and Matilda Algotsson was chosen to do the job (Joshi has since announced her retirement). Matilda had in fact placed higher than Joshi, not only at the Lombardia Trophy, which supposedly made the Swedish federation change its mind, but at the two latest European Championships as well. A very happy and relieved Matilda met up for a short talk after the ladies free at the Nebelhorn Trophy in beautiful Oberstdorf, Germany.
Congratulations to the silver medal and Olympic spot for Sweden!
Your name was added to this competition rather late. When did you find out you were going instead of Joshi Helgesson?
I found out a week before the competition, so it happened quite quickly.
With such short notice, how did you reload for this important event?
Well, I had just competed in Italy (the Lombardia Trophy) and it felt really good, so I wanted to stay in that good feeling and carry it over to this competition. It's exciting to compete for an Olympic spot.
You look like a great competitor with no nerves!
I can get really nervous; for example about a week before a competition it's like everything [I have learned] disappears and I rush things, do them too fast. It usually happens before every competition and it's something I have to work on. But once I'm in the opening pose I'm capable of really focusing on doing my best and just go for it. How the skate actually went I'll think about afterwards; like what went well and what didn't. So I worry afterwards, not right while I'm skating.
During the warm up sessions you sometimes look a bit so so; you might miss some jumps. But once you start on your program the jumps are back, so it's hard to say if you're having a good or a bad day by watching your warm up.
I just skate to get into the rotations, so it's just warming up, nothing else. Like today, I felt I could really enjoy my free program.
Today you actually won the free skate with a new Personal Best: 110,10 points!
Yes, I was a bit nervous before the skate, my legs were shaking, but I was able to handle it. And I felt I could really enjoy my free program while performing, not just afterwards. I was secure and trusted my training and just went for it.
You also made a new Personal Best in the short program: 56,91 points!
I tried not to make too big of a deal out of it. I just tried to do what I can do, and do my best. That worked out in both the short and in the free program.
You have been part of the successful skating club of Solna, the club that won the most medals at Swedish Nationals last season. But at the Swedish test skate in August a coach change was noticed, and you are now training in Tibrå with Regina Jensen and Christina Helgesson.
Well, I trained for Cecilia (Willberg, Solna skating club) for six or seven years. The big difference is actually that I moved away from home and live by myself now. Training wise it's a little different than before, but it's nice with some changes, new impressions and opinions. I have new eyes on me from people (coaches). It's fun!
So now you share training sessions with Joshi Helgesson?
Yes, I do, and I really like it. I feel like we are there to support each other, but to push each other too. It's very inspiring to train with Joshi. She is way more experienced than I am. We learn from each other.
How many skaters train in Tibrå?
How many are on the ice varies, but we have some luxury ice time where there are just a few of us. And we have really good hours, lots of hours when we can train.
You have new programs this season, tell me about them.
Yes, they were made by both Regina (Jensen) and Kicki (Helgesson). The short program (Turn To Stone by Ingrid Michaelson) was Kicki's suggestion and the free (Minnie the Mocher by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, At last performed by Mack Gordon, Harry Warren and Jumpin Jack performed by Big Bad Voodoo Daddy) was created by Regina. Of course I had my say about the music choices too. I liked the idea and it was exciting since both of them are new styles for me. It felt really great and fun to try something new. I had had my old programs for two seasons, so it was good to get new ones. I was involved in the choice of dress too. Manette Olsson has made my dresses the past four years. I sent her the music and told her that for the free program I definitely wanted a bright color, like red. She showed me some sketches and gave me suggestions for a look. I think she does it really well so I feel safe in letting her make these for me.
Which camps did you go to this past summer?
I went to Stéphane Lambiel's camp in Switzerland and it was so much fun! It's a very inspiring camp to attend, I really like it. This was my third summer there.
What did you learn?
Stéphane often skates with us when we train. So like when he has skating skill sessions it's not like he just tells us what to do, and then we do it ourselves. We skate after him and he really shows us how to skate, how to do the moves. Even though he retired from elite skating some time ago, he is still in extraordinary good shape and can teach us endlessly by showing. He jumps so well, it's truly a very inspiring camp! Every year I learn so much, I believe he can give you advice about everything actually.
It will be interesting to find out who will represent Sweden at the Olympics. Do you have any requirements set by Swedish Olympic Committee?
I haven't gotten any yet, but I guess it could be the results at The European Championships in Moscow in January that determine who will go. It will be so exciting to see what happens, but most of all I really do hope we will be allowed to send one lady, and of course I hope that lady will be me.
How many competitions do you have planned for this season?
There has been so much focus on this competition, that I have to look up where I will be competing next, but I think it's Zagreb (she ended in 3th place), Innsbruck (changed to the Tallin Trophy, where she became 18th) and of course the Swedish Nationals in Skellefteå in December.
We wish Matilda the best of luck this Olympic season!