Bianka P√°d√°r: "I will do all I can to make it to the free skating"


By Titanilla Bod
Photos © Rita Szoboszlai, Mireille Geurts

After a disastrous year she realised she should work harder and although she couldn't go to the Europeans, she will be at the Worlds. Bianka P√°d√°r, representing Hungary (J√ļlia Sebesty√©n is injured), will try to do her best in Los Angeles.

You placed 2nd at the Hungarian Nationals, so you were supposed to go to the Europeans, but in the end, the federation decided to have a test skate between you and Katherine Hadford (3rd at Nationals). You lost the test and it was Hadford who went to Helsinki along with J√ļlia Sebesty√©n, while you were chosen as substitute for Worlds. How did you feel about this decision?
It felt quite bad. There was a similar scandal at the Nationals last year, too, just I wasn't involved back then. It was between Kati and Viktória Pavuk. It was Viki who felt the results at the Nationals weren't fair and she wanted to have a test to decide who would go to the Europeans. However, the federation refused this. Now it was Kati who applied for this test, and she got it. Physically I wasn't completely ready for the Nationals, but I still managed to grab the silver. I was better than Kati in the technical score. As for components, she beat me, but overall I had a better score. At the test skate, I still had better technical score, but in the components she beat me on points, so she was the overall winner. The difference in the components increased by seven points in those few weeks, which is quite a lot in figure skating.

Do you consider this to be the biggest disappointment in your career so far?
I had some disappointments at Nationals earlier. Once, in my junior years, I landed a triple lutz. My rival didn't have a triple lutz but the judges said mine was also just a double! There were no cameras and slow-motions back then, so I was only second. There are such moments, when you just stand, shake your head and can't do anything. But this is life, you have to move on. I admit that my last season was terrible, maybe that's the reason why the federation didn't trust me. I don't think their decision was ethical, but I see the reasons why they were afraid to send me to the Europeans. But I think if I can keep up the good work I started last year, this attitude will change.

What helps you to keep on going after a disappointment?
Time, and also that I think sooner or later things will be as they should. There are maybe unfair decisions, but in the end, the one who suffered will have redemption from the destiny!

What does it mean to you that you can skate at Worlds?
I'm really happy that I got the chance to skate at Worlds, the biggest event in my life so far, in such an important pre-Olympic year. But the Europeans still hurt a little bit, because Hungary had two spots there and I was second at Nationals, while as for Worlds, J√ļlia Sebesty√©n was supposed to go, and only an unfortunate injury put me into this situation.

What do you think you have a chance to make it to the free skating and earn an Olympic spot for Hungary?
I will try to do my best, but all the other ladies will do so. I just hope for the best. I don't think it's impossible to make it to the free program, but it's a pre-Olympic event which is always tougher, moreover I was injured earlier in this season. But I will do all I can to make it to the free skating!

What kind of an injury did you have?
It was something like a clot near my ankle, because my boots constantly pushed a vein. It is not a big injury, it doesn't bother me when I'm running, but it hurts when it is pushed. I got new boots, they were very hard and they totally ruined my foot.

What are your goals as a skater? What dream do you work for at practices?
I'd like to compete at the Olympics, and regularly skate at Europeans and Worlds. So far I've been to one Europeans, Torino 2005, along with J√ļlia Sebesty√©n and Di√°na P√≥th and I made it to the free skate. I was so happy about this result, but then, unfortunately some problems occurred: I had troubles with motivation, practice morale, and many other things ¬Ė I was in my teens. Some people can deal with it, but I got lazy and it had an effect on my skating.
But last year I realised it couldn't go on like that. I started to work as I should and I can see the result. In 2008 I was fifth at Nationals, but this year I finished second.

What made you realise you were doing something wrong?
I thought about how many years of my life I dedicated to figure skating and what opportunities I had. I've always loved skating, I never wanted to quit, but I didn't work as hard as I ought to. I don't want to seem haughty but I know where I've got with this amount of work and I know that if I had worked properly, I could have been at a much higher level now. I realised that this is kind of a selfish-ness towards me - that I didn't maximize my talent. I realised that I take it out of myself. If I work a little bit harder, I have bigger successes, which is good for my own life.

It's quite rare to realise one's faults so clearly.
I needed some failures to do this. It wasn't like I was lazy for a few months and then all at once I realised it was wrong. And I still think I could be more hard-working. But if you mess up the short program so much that you have to skate in the free skate with the girls you had already beaten when you were 10 years old, then you feel very ashamed, asking how could this happen. I was shocked at last year's Nationals, seeing which skaters beat me. So I said to myself: okay, so I now should quit skating or should continue properly, because there is no reason in practicing twice a day if I just feel ashamed after the competition.

Are you a competitive type or do you skate better at the practice?
I think I do exactly the same in the competition and on practice. I do what I'm able to do, not better or worse. Of course, there are some days when I positively surprise myself, everyone has days when everything goes well, but I can't say I'm a good competitor or a bad competitor. I do according to my practices.

What kind of a coach do you need?
For a long time I thought I needed a strict coach, because I have to be "haunted". But now I have grown to a point that I'm thinking like an adult and I'm training properly even if there is no coach present at the session. When I was younger, I had a very severe coach and thanks to him I improved a lot. Then I got to more relaxed coaches, and I was also easy-going¬Ö But now there is no need to scream at me at practice. Now I know what is important, what I want to reach, and what I have to do in order to reach my goals. When I was seventeen, I didn't know this, some other things were more important.

How much do you practice now?
Twice a day - in the morning and in the afternoon.

Every day?
Except the weekends.

What is your favourite element?
I love jumping, but I'm not so fond of spinning, which is quite obvious. But I will have to work on it, because under the current scoring system a good spin is almost as valuable as a jump. I don't think it is good, because if someone skates for a certain time, they can learn a level four spin, while you might skate for ages but never be able to land a triple lutz. So I don't think it's fair there is such a small difference in the points.

There was some judging controversy also at the Europeans - Hungarian ladies were also involved¬Ö
I didn't watch the Europeans. I wasn't in that mood. Maybe it's not nice of me, that I didn't devote any time for such an important competition, but it still felt quite bad because of the situation at the Nationals.

What do you think about the figure skating in Hungary? J√ļlia Sebesty√©n won the Europeans in 2004, but there isn't anyone with her qualities amongst the young skaters. What is the reason for this?
There are only a few kids skating right now and even some other competitors have quit. They don't push each other towards better performances and there isn't such a basis you could select from. I'm the last skater who got to the highest level according to a test skate. There used to be limits - that skaters younger than 16 must have two triples, skaters older than 16 must have three triples. There were strict rules how to get into the NB I level (something like first league), and it meant a lot back then. Now these limits are much easier and they are not so important any more.

If you had to convince the young kids that they should skate, what would you tell them?
Nothing, because it is not good if they have to be forced by someone else. If they don't want to skate then they'd better not skate. There are only two ways of becoming a figure skater: you immediately fall in love with the ice or your parents force you.

What was your case?
It all started with the typical story: I got skates for Christmas and my parents took me to the rink. I was skating round and round and a coach came to my parents: "This girl is talented, but it won't be good that she is just skating around but doesn't know how to stop, you'd better take her to skating classes." After a week I was better than all the other little kids, so that's how it started.

How old were you?
Five or six. And in the first two years my parents tried to talk me out of skating, because we lived quite far from the rink and I had practices at six in the morning. My mum always kept asking me: "Are you sure you want to do this?" And I said I'm sure. So in our case it wasn't a parent's dream to be realised by the child, although such things are often seen in the skating world.

Who were the first skaters you admired?
Tamara Dorofejev, Krisztina Czakó…

What about the current ones?
There are some skaters I look up to but I don't worship any of the current skaters. But I admire Katarina Witt, Irina Slutskaya and Surya Bonaly, especially for her back-flip. I like their style.

Have you ever tried the back-flip?
No, but I always wanted to. This was my obsession that I wanted to learn it, but in the end I haven't. I attended fitness practice as well, though and I learned the flick there, but in figure skating the back-flip is not allowed, you would get a deduction for it.

But you could show it at a gala.
If I ever get there, I promise, I will think about this again!


Update: Bianka Pádár finished 39th in the short programme earning 32.10 points - the last skater who qualified for the free skate had almost 10 points more.

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