Figure skating is a way to express yourself!

By Helga Dobor
Photos by K. "bird" N.

How did you come to skating?

Nathalie: I started ice skating in Rouen, when I was 7 years old - with my brother and my sisters. It was just for pleasure at that time and little by little my sisters and me learnt more and more. We did "sport-studies". My brother had a problem with his leg, so he couldn't skate but he does a lot of other sports like water poloÂ… Now my sister skates in the Rouen synchronized teamÂ…

Fabian: I started in 1987 - however I tried lots of other sports too, to find the best one for me.

Did you start with ice dance straight away or did you skate singles at first?

Nathalie: I began with singles and at age ten I switched to ice dance with Anne Sophie Druet, in Rouen. She told me then that I had some good skills for ice dance and her son Julien was searching for a partner. When I was young I didn't like to fall so I thought ice dance would be better for me!?

Fabian: I started with ice dancing.

How did you team up?

Nathalie: In March 2000 my previous partner chose a foreign skater to skate with and left me. Then Muriel Boucher told me that she had a partner for me – it was Fabian! At first, it was very strange because before our partnership we didn't like each other. But we tried and it worked well, moreover we soon became very good friends and now everything is clearer!

Fabian: Yes, we teamed up 5 years ago, really was the decision of Muriel Boucher.

What was your most memorable competition?

Nathalie: It was the Junior World Championships in Sofia, perhaps because it was such a big competition we never did before. And our first year together was memorable too - it was so exciting for us, moreover, we skated so well and had very good results too.

Fabian: For me maybe it was the European Championships last year, in Torino.

Where you placed very well, like later at the Worlds Championship in Moscow.

Nathalie: Yes, and we were very happy after the Europeans, we skated well and had good results. At the Worlds it was a bit more difficultÂ… I felt in the Compulsory Dance and that's why our results weren't too good.

Fabian: I am also not satisfied, and we know that we still have a lot of work to do.

Your free skating program, Cats by Andrew L. Webber seemed to be a good choice in the last season...

Nathalie: It was a real pleasure for us to skate to Cats! We liked everything about this program: the music, the costume, the choreography – how could we regret it… And anyway, the audience adored our free dance.

Fabian: I think our program was the most original free dance of the season. The opinion of the audience is very important because if they like us we will also be able to charm the judges and last but not least it is easier to skate in front of a cheerful audience.

And how much input do you have in your choreography, for example in Cats?

Nathalie: Fabian had that idea long time ago and he also knew which choreographer could make the program of his ideas. I chose the music. We decided about the costumes together with the stylist. And last but not least Laurie May worked on the choreography for a week, at least 8 hours a day. After this she came to Lyon to work together.

Fabian: I wanted to create a free dance two years ago, but then Nathalie and our coaches didn't want to try my ideas. We chose the music together with Nathalie and we started to work with a former dancer from the musical "Cats". Our ideas were used and now we have "our own" free dance.

Is Cats your favourite program or do you have other ones too?

Nathalie: Yes, I loved "Cats" very much, "Che Guevara" too and the new free dance this season (Les Miserables by Claude-Michel Schönberg) ... It's so complicated!

Fabian: I don't have a favourite.

What is your daily work like with your coach and other people around you?

Nathalie: We work not only with our coach together but really with more people, it's real team work with a coach, choreographer and stylist and we learn a lot from all of them.

What are your goals for this season? Is it more difficult because of the Olympics?

Nathalie: We absolutely want to go to the Olympic Games!!! It's our biggest goal. We should be in the top six during the two Grand Prixs: France and Russia. We train similarly like in the last season, but we try to be more efficient.

Where did you practice in the summer?

Nathalie: In Lyon. We practised three times on a week, and had four hours on the ice, one hour of physical practice, one hour of dance practise every day. And moreover we had 30 minutes of Tai Chi exercises every day. And we will practice also in Lyon during the season.

What are your strengths as skaters?

Nathalie: Our strengths are our originality and that we are young but we have to improve in everything.

Nathalie, how would you describe Fabian?

Nathalie: Fabian is a very good skater and partner. I'm so happy that I skate with him. However he's so different from meÂ…

And Fabian, what do you think of Nathalie?

Fabian: She is nice and works very hard. And she is really open-minded.

Why is it easy to work with Fabien? Why is it hard?

Nathalie: It is hard because he speaks a lot. And it is easy because he knows what he wants to reach!

And Fabien, why is it easy and hard to work with Nathalie?

It's easy to work with Nathalie because we have the same goals and we can support each other! It's hard because she is a little bit too stubborn sometimes!

Are you friends off-ice?

Nathalie: We get on very well but we haven't got lots of time off the ice, and there are our studies also. So we can't spend too much time together. But I think it is better, because we see each other every day of every week, it's enough and it is relaxing to see other friends after practice. :)

Fabian: Earlier we were closer friends, but of course we both have our private lives and we need it very much.

In the French Team there are more great skaters. What is it like to skate with them?

Nathalie: We don't admire each other, it is just rivalry...

What is the connection like?

Nathalie: Quite good.

Do you work or study?

Nathalie: I have sport management qualification, and I coach ice skating for handicapped person, and I also work as a hostess and study at the Management School of Lyon.

Fabian: I am still studying ostheopathy.

What are your hobbies?

Nathalie: I like French movies, diving, holidays, being with my friends, reading and going to restaurants and theatres!

Fabian: I like dancing, computers and shopping.

When you were children who did you want to be? Figure skaters?

Nathalie: No, it was just for fun at that timeÂ… I wanted to do a "petit rat" to become a great classical dancer star in Paris. Now, I have changed and I would like to become a great ice dancer! :)

Fabian: I don't remember having a dream about being a figure skater or anything similar... I started to think about my future when I was 16 years old.

What is your connection like with the audience?

Nathalie: Oh.. I have a story of the audience we met in China. When we went to the ice to skate our free dance, Cats, before we would start it, the whole audience in the full arena started to whisper something that sounded like "Oh they are so cute"!

And how do you get on with other skaters?

We are almost friendly with everybody, but we don't need their friendship as well as our friends' at school. :)

Do you have favourites?

Nathalie: I love the skating of Marie France Dubreuil and Patrice Lauzon and their lifts!!! And the vividness and creativity of Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto, but I like Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov too!

Fabian: I don't have any favourites, because I always looked at both their good and bad sides.

Did you have vacation in the summer?

Nathalie: Yes, I spent two weeks in Egypt with my boyfriend. We did sightseeing, diving and I thought a lot. After that we trained very hard, and I had to prepare for my new school - the Management School of Lyon...

Fabian: I spent this summer on the ice, and after the practices I studied.

What is the biggest treasure of your life?

Nathalie: I have a little cigarette box made of silver with a couple of porcelain skaters. It's my biggest treasure because my parents gave it to me when I became the national junior champion, but I know they bought the box in Paris when I was ten years old. This box reminds me of so many moments from my skating life. And is also a memoir of the life my parents offered me, and also the people I met!

Fabian: The biggest treasure in my life are all the persons I can rely on!

How could you live without skates?

Nathalie: I love to skate but I know one day I will finish my career. I prepare my life for the future and today. It's very IMPORTANT for me, like the ice dancing but these aren't all the things in my life. I want to have another life after my skating career, so I study.

Fabian: And I think the same.

Without sport?

Nathalie: Sport is health!

Fabian: I can't live without sport.

Without music?

Nathalie: Sometimes the silence is so good!

Fabian: Music is nice sometimes but I like calm and silence.

Without credit cards?

Nathalie: It's easy.

Fabian: Easily, I only use them if I need them.

Without computers?

Nathalie: Not possible, as I have my computer always with me because of my studies...

Fabian: With internet. :) Without it I would lose lots of friends.

Without friends?

Nathalie: I need them, they are like my balance!

Fabian: Not possible.

Without dreams?

Nathalie: Never!

Fabian: Nothing can be done without dreams!

Which of the above would be the worst?

Fabian: without dreams!

Please say what you associate with these words:

Please say what you associate with these words:

Figure skating is... pleasure and a way to express ourselves

Family is... far from us, but the first to give us support

Friends are... close to us, like a balance

Money is... meaningless

Sport… healthy

Love... a drug

Peace... not enough, developed

Belief... unbreakable

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