Catching up with Olivier & Isabelle

By Susanne Kempf
Photos by Susanne Kempf

It's barely one week left until the European Championships will take place in Lyon which means a "homegame" for Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder. Absolute Skating had the chance to catch up with them in Paris after their last Grand Prix event. Read what the 4-time French National Champions have to say about the current season and the pressure of skating in their hometown.

How did you come up with the idea of your free dance this year?

Isabelle: Well, as the Olympics are in Italy we wanted to do something involving Italy. We wanted to create something original again. Muriel already had the concept of Carnival in Venice and created everything from there.

Did you immediately like her idea when she told you about it?

Olivier: Yes, we were very impressed. We have a lot of ideas and right now we still have more ideas and want to improve the choreography and change some things. But we are not sure yet if we change the voice within the music. Some people said that they are disturbed by the vocals but it makes the program special for us.

At Skate America the text was spoken in English and here at TEB in French - I have to say I preferred it in French because in English the accent was a bit distracting for me but here in Paris it just fitted perfectly into the music and I wasn't disturbed at allÂ… I heard that in Italy the text will be Italian?

Isabelle: Yes, if we decide to go with an Italian version, we will ask Pasquale to speak the text. We will ask him to look at the dance again.

For the Original Dance you wanted to do something differently but the typical ballroom dance. How did that happen?

Isabelle: The music is Latin music and we knew right away that we didn't want to have the typical ballrom music. Pasquale choreographed the program and we worked with Latin dancer André Cabot who is very competent in his field and helped us a lot with choosing the right music. He also worked with us at the Charleston last year. He knows so many music pieces for Cha-Cha, Charleston or Samba…! The music we liked was not easy to find: it only existed on vinyl and we had to edit out all the scratches when we converted it on CD.

Pasquale now works in the USAÂ…

Isabelle: Yes. After Skate America we stayed with him for a week and re-worked our programmes a bit. That went really well. In the summer we created the programs with him in America. He will also come to Lyon from time to time. I don't know yet how we will organise all this and divide the time but we want to work with him and he with us so we will certainly find a way... (laughs)

What is your resumée of the first half of the season and after your two Grand prix events?

Olivier: In Paris we weren't completely satisfied, also because we got two deductions for a lift. We skated better than in Skate America even if the marks were maybe a bit too low for our taste in the compulsory dance (laughs). But we are not disappointed with how we have skated here even though we didn't skate the Free Dance the best that we could. But the Compulsory Dance was very good.

Isabelle: The practices in Lyon prior to our Grand Prix events went really well and we felt very good with the programs, everything simply came together perfectly and was very fluid. We couldn't repeat that 100% here at the competition but that's also because we have constantly changed the programmes.

What are you plans now for the next time?

Olivier: We will make sure to change the lifts we got a deduction for (laughs)... Also we might change some steps, the serpentine, the circular step sequenceÂ… we try to make something very hard.

Isabelle: We "only" got level 3 in the serpentine but we take a lot of risk with it and so far it is not paying. We need to slow down the technical steps a bit and we will probably still get the same level. We need to do that to get more fluidity and speed in the steps as the technical difficulties slow us downÂ…

Europeans will be held in LyonÂ… are you looking forward to it or do you also feel any pressure?

Isabelle: No, we don't feel any pressure. For us it is a gift that Europeans will take place in our hometown and we are going into it with great confidence because we did so well last season in Turin. Our goal is to medal of course and to do even better than in Italy. It's possible!

Olivier: Yes, the goal is definitely to be on the podium. We don't know yet which colour butÂ… (smiles)

What do you think of the other free dances - do you think the level is good for an Olympic season or what are your thoughts on this?

Olivier: I think the programs are generally on a good level but unfortunately not so originalÂ…

Thank you very much and good luck for the next competitions!!

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