Interview with Filip Stiller

by Helga Dobor
Photos ©
Helga Dobor

Filip Stiller is the three times National Champion of Sweden. Although he is very tall, 189 cm, he makes the jumps look as easy as though he does it a million times a day, or as if he was born with skates on his feet! One minute, he’s reaching the stars with a jump, and in the next minute almost touching the ice in a low "doughnut" spin, while his head touches his foot – a move hard to imagine even possible for such a tall skater. How can he do it? And how does he divide his time between skating, commentating for Eurosport and studying political sciences? How can he do all these things in such a perfect way?

I first met this always smiling and funny guy at the Karl Schaefer Memorial competition in Vienna last October. He finished 8th there but the next time I met him, at the Golden Spin of Zagreb a month later, he came very close to the podium, placing 4th.

Filip, when and why did you get into skating and who has inspired you?
I started skating in Gothenburg, Sweden, when I was three years old (1985) because my older sister started and my parents didn't have anything better to do with me. So I started to skate just like her. She skated until 1999, but no other family member was in figure skating before us. Many skaters have inspired me, but I can't say if their style is at all reflected in my skating.

What do you remember from your first time on the ice?
I do not remember the first time at all, but I do remember some of the really early sessions I had. I was a tiny toddler who couldn't do much right. But I really enjoyed eating the ice! *laughs*

What was your first competition like?
It was a so-called series competition where I was up against eleven girls. The competition was divided into three parts. In the first two we were supposed to do skating moves like forward and backward crossovers, forward and backward spirals, upright spins, etc. You know basic things, but no jumps. The judges then evaluated the quality of everything we did and since I was quite unpolished, I was in last and second to last place after the first two parts of the competition. The last part was a free program, in which I came second! *smiles* So overall, I finished fifth. Needless to say, as a child the jumps were what I liked doing the most.

What has been your most memorable competition?
That one’s easy; my most memorable competition was the Golden Spin of Zagreb 2001, which served as an Olympic qualifier. Kristoffer Berntsson had been assigned to go, but just two days before the competitions he had to pull out because of an injury. So the Swedish federation called me since I was the substitute, and told me I could go. The roster was impressive. There were 24 guys competing and at that time I hadn’t had any big senior international successes. So my task to grab a spot among the top six non-Olympics-qualified countries seemed almost impossible. But after two clean programs I ended up in seventh place, and Sweden got the Olympic spot! (I was fifth of those who competed for the Olympic spot.)

What are your short term and long term goals in skating?
My short-term goals are to land the triple Axel in competition, and to qualify for a championship. Once I do that my goal is to be in the top ten at Euros, Worlds, and the Olympics.

What keeps you motivated?
The fact that I love skating! I have a drive and an urge to be at the top.

What do you like the most about figure skating - the jumps, like when you were a child?
Yes, I still like the jumping the best! * smiles*

And what are your favorite jumps?
I love them! Well, all of them except the Axel… *grins* I like doing combinations of different jumps.

What do you consider your strengths as a skater?
I am consistent, my lowest level is high. I rarely "bomb" in any programs, I rarely miss my jumps. I skate with a lot of expressions and I think I have some charisma and personal charm. *smiles*

Which competitions will you skate in this season?
I already competed in Vienna, Zagreb, and at the Nationals. Now I will do the Winter Universiade, the Nordics and either Worlds or a competition in Sweden.

You placed 8th in Vienna. Are you satisfied with this result?
Well, you should know by now that the actual result is rarely what the skater considers after a competition! *laughs* I was very satisfied after Vienna. I was pleased with my skating - both the short and free programs went really well - and, since you ask, I’m happy with the result too. I finished ahead of a couple of really good guys there. Moreover, it was my first competition after a year of absence due to a groin injury, and that made me feel even better!

How do you prepare a new program and how much input do you have in the choreography?
I prepare the same way everybody else does - by looking for music in March/April, and then trying to compile it. Then my choreographer Galina Loutkova and I put the program together in April/May so it’s ready to work on during summer. But the program always changes a lot during the year…

Which program do you like most and why is it your favorite?
I really don't know, they are all nicer to watch for the audience than for me to skate. Performing a program really exhaust me as I want to give everything I have. *smiles* I liked my Austin Powers free program a lot -I had it from January 2002 to April 2003. It fits my personality and was the first long program I could really enjoy skating to.

Tell us about your coach, Evgeni Loutkov, and your work together?
I really like working with him; we’ve had five good years together. Thanks to him I think I have improved immensely. Not only are my jumps better, but also the spins, the choreography, the speed, and everything really. He knows me quite well by now and we think a lot alike. In Sweden we have group lessons all the time, but I also buy extra ice time during the day. Then I can work alone with my coach or together with only one or two other skaters. In the afternoon the ice is significantly more crowded and I won't get the same attention as during the private sessions.We usually work on technique and jumps in the morning and programs in the afternoon, but not always. When we work on quads and triple Axels, my coach usually gives me advice after almost every jump. Sometimes he wants me to work on a special part of the jump and then we do some exercises before or after.

How does the reaction of the audience affect you?
A lot! I am one of those skaters who likes to interact with the audience. Sometimes I can hear them quite well! *smiles* Most of the time the reaction is very positive and I get a lot of energy from the crowd.

Do people recognize you?
Swedish skaters might know who I am, but that's about it.

What is your relationship to the other skaters in Sweden?
It’s a really good one; some of them are my best friends. On New Year’s Eve they all came to my house and we celebrated the New Year together with dinner and a night out. Kristoffer Berntsson was here as was Åsa Persson, Niklas Hogner who is now a pair skater and a couple of other skater friends as well.

Tell us about your commentator job for Swedish Eurosport. What is it like and what do you prefer, skating or commentating?
I love commentating since I love figure skating and have watched it since I was a little boy. It’s a lot of fun, and I could imagine doing it even more than I do. However, I prefer skating in championships to commentating them!

Do you still study?
I am studying political science at the university. It is a lot of work too, but I like having other things than figure skating to think about. I was always very ambitious in school and I still am

When you were a child, how did you imagine yourself in your dreams about the future?
Well, as a world champion of course, like every skate! *smiles*

Tell us about your hobbies. Do you like to read? What is your favorite book?
My hobbies are watching TV, surfing the Internet, hanging out with friends, learning languages… I don't like to read at all actually, because there’s so much literature in my studies and I don't have the time or energy to read beyond that. *grins* My favorite book however, must be "the Hitch-hikers Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams. And I like the Lord of the Rings trilogy too.

If you could make a wish, what would it be?
It would be for a consistent triple Axel, two quad jumps, no injuries, more sunny weather in Sweden and an end to all the misery in the world.

Do you use the computer much?
Yes, of course! I use it for my school work, for surfing the net and other things! *laughs*


Thank you for taking the time to answer our questions! We wish you a successful rest of the season and good luck at the Innsbruck, Winter Universiade!

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