Adam Siao Him Fa: "Each second of my program is important"

March 19, 2024
By Iana Saveleva
Photo © International Skating Union (ISU), Iana Saveleva

This season has been especially busy and significant for Adam. By winning both of his Grand Prix assignments, qualifying for the Grand Prix Final and defending the European Champion title, he established himself as one of the World podium contenders. We caught up with him during his preparations towards the most important competition of the season to talk about his approach to his programs, competitions, training process and more.

First of all, congratulations on winning the ISU Award for the "Most Entertaining Program" for your free skate. How do you feel about it? What does it mean to you?

Thank you! It means a lot to me. Most importantly, it means that people loved my program. I'm really grateful to my fans, as well as to my coaches and choreographer. I think it's awesome that the ISU created this kind of event.

In various interviews, you've discussed the idea behind this program, but I wonder: what do you feel while performing it? Do your expressions come from the story or the music?

It's about how I experience the story through the music. It helps me to feel the story and fully immerse myself into my choreography and emotions. Sometimes, I stop thinking and let my body skate to the music. It varies, but I always strive to find the balance.

When you say that you stop thinking, do you mean you don't think about jumps and other elements, and just let your body execute them like in practice?

Yeah, kind of! Sometimes yes, sometimes no... It's not always the same. There are times when I don't think at all and it goes well. It can also happen that I don't think enough, so it doesn't go well. (laughs) I try to find the right balance every time.

How difficult is it for you to focus on elements while expressing emotions? How do you manage to do that?

I think I manage it pretty well, because I've been working on it a lot. It's not just about doing one element. It's about the full package. Each second of my program is important. Even if jumps are not going well - it's not a big deal. I just continue skating my program. I can still focus on my interpretation and emotions. It's not always easy, but I work on it.

Among all your programs, which one is the most entertaining or enjoyable for you? You can choose the top three if you want!

Hmm, it's really hard to choose even the top three because I enjoyed all my programs! Well, I would probably place this season's free skate first, last season's short program ("Rain in Your Black Eyes") second, and then I would put "Star Wars" and "Daft Punk" (short and free for the 2021/22 season - ed) at the same level. Actually, at first, I didn't expect I would love my free program this season so much. But after some time and work, I started really enjoying it.

You also have several exhibition programs this season. How do you choose which one to perform? And which one will we see at Worlds?

It depends on many things! First, I take into account my energy level. If I'm tired, I would go for something slower. It also depends on my mood and what I actually want to skate at a particular gala. I consider which program the audience in different countries wants to see. So this season, I decided to have multiple exhibition programs because I wanted to do something different every time and have the possibility to choose. But I don't know yet which one I want to perform at Worlds! (laughs)

Your programs feature difficult choreography and contain complex moves that demand a great amount of balance control and flexibility. How do you practice them? Do you engage in any additional off-ice training for your choreography?

I mainly focus on practicing them on ice. Of course, it takes time to get used to those difficult moves so they don't drain too much energy. Therefore, I practice them through numerous repetitions. Once I get used to them, it becomes easier.

In January you won your second European title. Did it feel any different from winning your first?

It didn't really affect my life. It's just a title, and it's not the last competition in my career. I perceive it more as a step forward. It's certainly an accomplishment, but it's not the end.

Does it give you additional confidence or add more pressure? Or both?

It gives me confidence and helps me think about how to manage myself in competition. Each competition is an experience for me, and I try to use all of them to improve for my next events.

Are you satisfied with how you skated in Kaunas? Or do you think you could do better?

I wanted to do better, and I believe I could have. However, sometimes things don't go as planned. I had terrible official practices at the Europeans, which was really stressful. Nevertheless, I'm content that I still managed to perform to the best of my ability at the time. As I've mentioned before, it's all part of the learning experience that will help me in the future.

What is more important for you - to skate cleanly or to achieve a certain placement?

For me, it's more important to have fun when I skate. As long as I'm enjoying my performance, I can perform well. Placement is determined by judges and depends on other skaters too. Therefore, I'm not thinking about that at all.

You mentioned you had difficulties in practices at the Europeans. Could you tell us what happened there? Were you injured?

No, it wasn't an injury, it was just stress. I knew I was a favorite since I was the reigning champion. Even though I tried not to think about it all season, when I arrived in Kaunas, I started feeling this pressure. The beginning of that week was hard for me; I was struggling with my jumps. But then I finally found a way to relax and stop overthinking.

Hopefully you won't feel that kind of stress and rather feel confident at Worlds!

There will still be some stress! I always feel it even in small competitions where I don't have important goals. But it's a good kind of stress, I just need to manage it well.

Looking back at this season, you participated in so many competitions! What was the reason behind attending so many events?

My Grand Prix assignments were back-to-back, so I thought it would be a good idea to participate in several competitions beforehand to prepare myself. Therefore, I competed in the Nebelhorn Trophy, Masters, and Shanghai Trophy consecutively, which provided excellent practice. The last time I did multiple competitions in a row was during the Olympic season, so I thought I needed to repeat this experience.

Did it prove effective in the end?

Yes, it did! My team and I were able to manage and adjust my training and recovery process during that time.

And when you are already in good shape, how do you manage to maintain it throughout the season?

I'm not always in good shape. I have ups and downs; it's normal. It's a part of the sport, and we just need to make sure that the 'ups' are at the right time.

You did a quad flip at Nationals, but not at the Grand Prix Final, which was just a week before. And I didn't see you practicing it during the official practices in Beijing either.

Actually, I wanted to include a quad flip in my program for the Grand Prix Final, but I wasn't ready for it yet. I talked to my coaches, and we thought it would be too early to include it as it wasn't consistent enough. Since the Grand Prix Final was more important than Nationals, we decided to try it out at Nationals instead.

I practiced a quad flip before the Grand Prix Final. I knew that if I wanted to include it in my program, I would simply replace Axel with it. The pattern was the same, it wasn't a big change. I did run throughs with and without a quad flip, so I knew how to adjust my energy for these two different layouts.

You have previously mentioned that you wanted to keep pushing your limits. How do you ensure that you stay healthy and avoid injuries though?

I simply listen to my body. I know that when I'm tired or not feeling well, I have to stop. When I was younger, I didn't listen to it enough, and that's how I got injured many times. As I matured, I realized that you can lose a lot of time or even your entire career because of an injury. Therefore, it's important to be careful. I can really feel when I can push more and when it's too much.

How do you manage your time during practices to ensure you have enough time to work on everything?

Sometimes it's hard, but I still try to work on everything. (laughs) Figure skating isn't just about jumps or choreography; I need to practice all aspects of it. When I don't have enough training hours to cover everything, I create training schedules and discuss them with my team.

How many hours per day do you train?

I have around three hours of on-ice sessions per day. Additionally, I have four gym practices and two ballet sessions per week.

Do you have a day off, and if so, how do you usually spend it?

Yes, essentially, it's on the weekend. Sometimes I have two days off, sometimes it's just one. Usually, I spend my weekend at home. However, I've been quite busy this season as I've traveled a lot. But when I stay at home, normally I just chill, play guitar, or video games.

When did you start playing guitar?

I started when I was 13 or 14 years old, but then I stopped. Only last year did I resume. It really helps me relax my mind and just have fun.

What type of music do you like listening to in your spare time?

I listen to all types of music; it depends on my mood. Mostly, I listen to rock music because I play the guitar, so I often search for pieces I want to play myself.

Is there any piece of music you would like to skate to?

Yes, of course! There are plenty of them! Sometimes it can even be a problem because every season I have too many ideas, so it's hard to make the right decision.

And who makes the final decision?

Actually, I make the final decision. However, it comes from a long discussion with Benoît, who creates choreography, and Cedric, who arranges the music. We usually have many options, but once we all agree on one piece, we choose it.

Lastly, how are you preparing for Worlds? Are you making any changes in your programs?

I'm staying and practicing in Nice for the whole month. I'm working really hard on my programs. I don't think I'll change my program layout because I want to skate cleanly. I believe Worlds is not the right time for changes.

What are your goals for Worlds?

They are the same as they were at the beginning of the season - just to perform clean programs and have fun. And then I will see what place I achieve. As I said before, it doesn't only depend on me. Everything is possible, but we will see!

Thank you for your time and best of luck at Worlds!

Thank you!

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