Following the journey of a young figure skater - Jorik Hendrickx

January 21, 2012
By Mireille Geurts aided by Joy & Titia Tolsma
Photos © Joy, MG, EMJO

Part 3

Firsts, but also lasts

Junior Worlds happened before Worlds, and here Jorik ended in 13th spot. This presents Belgium with five (!) spots for upcoming year. And there are no Junior guys to fill them up.

"It was my last Junior competition; too bad it was over already. A lot of people have five years in Juniors, which I didn't have. I only had two. And it really bugs me that there are five empty spots there. Five! It is such a shame that there will be that many spots left available this year. And I only did two Junior Grand Prix events and two Junior Worlds and no more. I didn't have the best results (because I suddenly came up) and now I have the feeling I could really be there and be competitive. But I am not a Junior anymore..."

One would think that being too old for the junior Grand Prix, means he can participate in the senior version.

"I had to indicate if I wanted to do the Senior Grand Prix, and if I had said yes, I perhaps would have gotten one, or perhaps not. But I decided to not do it this year, I feel I am not mentally ready for that yet and perhaps skating-wise, I'm not ready either. "

When we met on a sunny day in August, we had expected a somewhat more rested Jorik, but the opposite was true. The entire "off season" has been busy.

"After Worlds I arrived home on Saturday evening, had an interview on national TV on Sunday morning. On Monday coach Karel Pfeiffer came, for a camp here in Turnhout. This was already arranged before Worlds got postponed and moved to Russia. Then I trained in the area.

The two last weekend's of June I went to Jaca, to a camp with Mishin. I never trained with him, my coach and I thought it may be a good thing to try; gain technical tips for the triple Axel and maybe careful preparation for the quadruple. After that we had ice here in Leuven, for the national team. Then two weeks in Oberstdorf, I did a show in Italy, and then 2 weeks here at home again. I will stay here in the area till the Nebelhorn Trophy."

Our heads would be spinning.

The World's top skaters had planned to compete at Nebelhorn. Did Jorik expect a top 10 place?

"Expect... I used to have a lot of expectations; I wanted this and that. But I need to learn to put it aside and just skate to my ability. And I think that became my strongest point at Worlds, where there was no pressure. I didn't have to achieve anything, just skate, and that gave me 2 good results. I think that is Ira's (Vannut - ed) strongest point. She just skates and does her thing no matter what happens, and I think I need to create that for myself too and not set so many goals."

Sounds like a good starting point, and he ended up 8th overall.



Blade Phobia

He had "a few" more plans for this season.

"The Coupe de Nice (result 4th), the Crystal Skate, if I can get there (2nd), the Belgian Nats (2nd), the Istanbul and the NRW Trophy. If I haven't died by then, I might add another competition."

Laughs all around. Of course he didn't die, but after the Belgian Nationals he had to break in new skates. He had been struggling with his skates and blades for a while.

"I have a lot of issues with attaching the blades to my boots. I do it myself, but for me, I can feel when it isn't right. And it is a difference of millimeters. The moment I need new blades is always a scary moment for me. I call it my blade phobia.

I did it right before the Coup de Nice and then the problems with my triple Axel were over. Now I have trouble with my Lutz. Will try the technique that the dad of Sasha Majorov uses, to find the exact middle with lasers."

We saw an extremely focused Jorik at Belgian Nationals. He came second, behind Kevin Van Der Perren, but the difference wasn't that big now that he has a triple Axel in his repertoire.

"I prefer longer competitions where I can train all week and prepare and be in my own world, while still being around other guys my level or higher. At the Belgian Nationals, there isn't any training time so that is harder for me."

He puts a lot of effort (together with his coach) to apply the rules and all the changes every season to his program to make as effective use of them as possible.

"The rules for spins got more complicated this season. We really had to puzzle; every difficult position and variation can only be performed once per program. And you can only do the same spin once, as well as an entry, including a difficult flying entry. Last year I had all level 4 spins, but I still have to improve the speed.

I try to pay attention to details like spins and steps, to get high levels, and that is probably why I got so far at Euros."

Speaking of Kevin, he decided to continue skating this season - once again - but very likely only until the Europeans. Does this make a big difference for Jorik?

"Well, I place a spot lower. *laughs* As for the rest, no. Well, it is nice that there are other people who speak Dutch, you are more with a group. I do like to see familiar faces before a competition. It is his decision and at Euros we have two spots so why not!"

Soon it will be time for these European Championships in Sheffield, UK, Jorik's third already. Time goes fast.


The Bruce Lee Story

He mentioned before that it was hard for him to pick music for his programs, and a new season means new program(s).

"I've kept my short program, but the free is new. And it was really difficult to find music. I was already looking for it before Worlds, as I like to have my program ready in time. And then we found the music, "Dragon, the Bruce Lee story". At first I wasn't 100% sure, but I got positive comments, so I guessed it was good. But then I found out it had been skated to before, by Elvis Stojko. At least it was awhile ago, luckily.

A lot of people said I should skate to "Crouching tiger, hidden dragon", because the Asian theme was what I was looking for. Even a lot of the samples from "Studio Unisons" in Canada where they cut my music, contained pieces of the music. But I didn't want to, because Tomas Verner became the European Champion with it 3 years ago, and then people compare. Not that we are comparable, because between us there is so much difference in level, but people do it anyway.
I wanted something original, but it is really hard to find something nobody has skated to.
At first I didn't find the music special enough. We combined it with a bit of classical for the slower part, because free programs are often very 'rushed'. I hope I wasn't too difficult for the studio!"

If all of this he plans isn't enough, like many other young athletes, he also has to go to school and fit in his exams in the schedule.

"I started new studies, in Tilburg in the Netherlands, at the Johan Kruijf University; sport marketing and management. There is a special department for top sports people, so you can plan it with your competitions and training etc. What's fun and convenient about this is that I will learn the other side of a sport; being the product, finding sponsors management etc. I even could use an assignment from school by sitting in as guest commentator at one of the Grand Prix events of this season. Jeroen Prins (international judge and commentator for Dutch Eurosport) was so nice to arrange this for me. We had to take a look behind the scenes of a sport organization. Perfect, right?"

Indeed it is.

This is Jorik's story so far. Following the path of a young skater at the start of his career is very interesting, and we will surely keep following him. First stop that is coming up are the European Championships, where his main goal is to land that triple Axel, and preferably end in top 15.
See you in Sheffield, Jorik!

To be continued...

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