Barbara Fusar Poli: "Now everything is more difficult, more precise in ice dancing!"
She is one of the busiest ice dance coaches, and her students are convinced she has special eyes because she sees everything - even what's going on behind her back. Barbara Fusar Poli had five couples competing at the European championships, but she found some time to answer questions for Absolute Skating, too.
There was a warm-up group in which you had three couples skating back to back. How can you handle such situations?
It's hard. Normally you have time, but if they skate back to back, I have to rush between the kiss and cry and the boards [where the next couple is preparing], just to be there for the kids. It is not easy also because the tension is very high. But we did it, we managed.
One of your competitors, Lukáš Csölley, said that you have lots of energy on the ice, and you seem to have very special eyes, because you see everything that's going on on the ice, with every single couple. How do you do it?
I just try to be very focused in what I'm doing, and I'm trying to give all my kids the same effort. Normally I'm watching one team, but if I notice something with the other team, I'm telling them. I already have developed this way of work. At the beginning they were a little bit scared, because they saw me being really focused, but now they are fine. They know me.
It's because you seem very strict! Are you so?
No! It looks like that, but I'm not. I'm also sweet. But of course, sometimes I need to be strict.
Do you feel more tension now, when you follow your students at competitions, or was the tension greater in the past when you were competing yourself?
It's completely different. It's nice to be at the boards with my kids, and it's nice to be not always the same. I have to push one team, I need to be softer with another team, and when I know them, it's nice to manage all the situations. It's great to see them and how they compete.
How has ice dancing changed since you competed?
It has changed a lot. Now we have different rules, and the skating skills are also completely different. The improvement is amazing. Actually I'm happy about this, because the quality of the skating is much better now. Before we had lots of speed, and of course some qualities, but now everything is more difficult, more precise. You should spend many hours working on really small details, because they will give you points. This is our job every single day.
For fans it is sometimes hard to understand ice dancing, because there are no jumps, and very small details can decide the medals.
It's right, but we also have our rules. We have to do some particular steps and key points that are recognized by the panel. For us it's like a jump. We have lifts, spins, twizzles, we have many elements and we have to work on them to get better grades of execution.
It often happens that if someone is not good enough as a single skater, they switch to ice dance. But doesn't ice dance require even better skating skills and use of edges than single skating?
Yes, but when you skate as a single skater, you are very confident, because you never skated in a team, you never used your partner to be in balance. And when you are so confident by yourself, it is a good base to start with dance. Than you can refine your skating skills and become a good dancer.
Do you have any favourite programs this year?
I like the best teams, there are the French [Papadakis/Cizeron], the Canadian [Virtue/Moir], we have our Italian couple Anna [Capellini] and Luca [Lanotte]. Of course I'm Italian, so I support them, but I think it will be a very nice competition, as every time at the Olympics, because the level is huge. It's impossible to predict now who will win. In dance you can never know.