Zsuzsanna Nagy and Máté Fejes Love Dancing Together

November 21, 2012
By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © poggi, Johanna Welnicki - JOLUSKATING

Zsuzsanna Nagy and Máté Fejes, of Hungary, teamed up three years ago. They were a couple off-ice, so they thought they might try it together on the ice as well. They are trying to reach their goals step by step; injuries and other drawbacks can’t stop them.

Happy to Qualify

Last season they were 17th at the Europeans and 23rd at Worlds. When the season ended under the palm trees of Nice, they were happy and satisfied with their accomplishments. “Nice is amazing! The palm trees, the sea… It is more than a competition, also kind of a holiday,” Zsuzsi said and her partner added, “There the skaters were really focused.” Zsuzsi explained, “We felt honoured and respected in Nice. We had to sign many photographs; I was surprised how many people know us!”

The couple was really happy because they managed to qualify for the short dance. It was the first time that a Hungarian ice dancing duo did so at the Worlds. “We believed that we would make it to the short dance. We worked a lot since Europeans and we wanted to improve the programs, mainly the free dance, because we knew we had to qualify. We believe that we’ve earned some respect at the Europeans,” Zsuzsi said.

Direct Entries vs. The Others

A year before in Bern at Europeans, Zsuzsi and Máté complained that the skaters who don’t have to go through qualification act a bit disdainfully to the rest of the field. In Sheffield, Zsuzsi and Máté were direct entries, but they tried to be friendly and respectful with their rivals who had to take part in the preliminary round. “I really tried to change it,” Zsuzsi explained. “We tried to be nice to the couples who weren’t direct entries. Many of them are very good friends of ours because we compete at the same events during the season. We supported them because we know how hard it is to start with the free program.”

In Nice they also had to start with the free, as there was no direct entry for Hungary. “The perception of the qualifying round has totally changed. Now, when a European bronze medalist [Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov] also has to qualify, the other skaters realize how hard it is. They do not pity us, but they support us. In Nice, most of the direct entries were present at the qualification round to cheer on the others,” Zsuzsi said.

Zsuzsi and Máté agreed that it might be better to organize a separate qualification event. “Maybe they should set up a separate competition, where the skaters would have to skate both programs. It is not easy and not fair to skate three competitive programs in one week,” Zsuzsi suggested at the Europeans in Sheffield.

High and low

In the end, the qualification criteria was changed, but in a different way. Now there is a minimum total technical score – it is 18 points for the short dance and 28 for the free dance for Europeans. For Worlds, the point totals are 29 for the short dance and 39 for the free dance. “I’m glad that there is not a more preliminary round anymore. Luckily, we have earned the points needed for the upcoming Worlds, so now we are trying to earn the points for 2014 Worlds. There was a minimum technical score before, but now it is set higher. For Europeans it is too low; for Worlds it is too high.”

Relieved in Sheffield, Satisfied in Nice

The skaters admit that it gives them extra confidence if they know all the couples proceed from the short dance to the free – as it was the case in Sheffield at Europeans. “We were very relieved, because we knew in advance that we would be able to compete also in the free program. It is so different to start with free skating, so I sympathized with the other Hungarian couple [Dóra Turóczi and Balázs Major] who had to skate in the qualification [round]. Unfortunately we couldn’t support them from the stands because we had a scheduled practice [at the same time]… We almost missed our men’s competitor [Márton Markó] due to this as well, so the schedule was not ideal. For us it was completely different to know that nobody gets eliminated after the short dance,” Zsuzsi emphasized.

In Nice, at Worlds, it was not the case; they missed the free program by a small margin. They would have needed 2.5 more points to qualify, but overall they were satisfied. “We could have earned a few more points for technique; there were some little details. I stumbled at the very end. Somehow I was too excited to skate in front of this amazing crowd,” Máté admitted. “Luckily he didn’t fall. It would have been very annoying,” Zsuzsi added.

The Dangerous Ice Dancing

The couple don’t have it easy. Last November, Zsuzsi broke her skull-bone. “It happened when doing a lift. With the new rules, ice dancing has become quite dangerous. We have to do very special, acrobatic elements,” she said. “We couldn’t skate at all for two weeks. The doctors said I should have had more rest, but I didn’t want to miss Europeans. I felt okay in Sheffield, but I didn’t want to mention the injury. I didn’t want to seem as if [I was] making excuses,” Zsuzsi said. She also spoke about other circumstances influencing their practices. “The other couples train in much better circumstances; many of them move abroad. This is not an option for us, but we try to use the summer camps very wisely. Otherwise, we both work and study. We both teach young children to skate and I also work sometimes as a hostess. We coach a recreational ice dance couple which placed third at the Hungarian nationals. I’m so proud of them!”

Zsuzsi and Máté also make people proud – for example former ice dancing world champion Krisztina Regőczy, who hugged the dancers warmly after their good performance in Nice. “She gives us so much energy. She was there with us at the Europeans, she helped us during Nationals via phone, and she was present also in Nice. She is like our mother; she takes care of us and shows where everything is. This is such great motivation. She also gives us advice when choosing music and she also tells us which elements she likes and which does not,” Zsuzsi said about their relationship.

A Reverse Lift

The new season didn’t start too well for the Hungarian couple – Máté caught a cold so they had to withdraw from the Nebelhorn Trophy after the short dance. However, a week later they competed in Bratislava at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial, where they placed 7th. “We are satisfied with our performances. We felt good on the ice and this is just the start of the season. We feel more prepared than last year, and we hope that we can see it also in our score later on,” Zsuzsi said. In the couple’s new free dance, there is also a reverse lift where Zsuzsi holds her partner. “It was my idea,” she admitted, “I took over a little bit of his responsibility. It’s a great feeling and we try to be a little bit unique.” Máté admits that this new element was a bit hard to get used to. “It’s strange,” he said. “When learning it, we had many falls,” Zsuzsi added. “But I really love this element.”

We hope that the audience and the judges will also love it and we wish the couple good luck for the new season!


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