Chafik Besseghier: "I want to be the first!"

October 9, 2015
By Oxana Shkrebtienko
Photos © Oxana Shkrebtienko, Chafik Besseghier

Chafik Besseghier is well known to the public thanks to his lively programs. For many years he stayed in the shadow of his more famous teammates, but at the post-Olympic World Championships in Japan, he suddenly made headlines as he ranked 9th, a very high placement for a debutant. Thanks to him the two spots for France were maintained. But the following season was not the most successful in his career. Errors at the main competitions led to a marked decline in results. But for Chafik this was an opportunity to review his approach, change the workout and strive for progress. This brought him to Moscow in late August, to the Russian coach Elena Buyanova. We met with him at the end of his stay, and talked about the upcoming season.

Chafik, is this your first visit to Moscow?

This is my first visit! I've never been to Moscow before, or to Russia. I really like the city; there are so many historical sites here! Of course, I went to see the Red Square and the Kremlin. At the same time, this is a very modern city, and I am impressed with the fast pace of life. I’ve spent two weeks here, and the days have been very intense.

What have you focused on while here, and why did you decide to come to Elena Buyanova?

I have trained twice a day, and we’ve focused on technique. The technical aspects are the main purpose of my visit. Last season, I had problems with my jumps. Therefore my coach, Annick Dumont, referred me to Elena Buyanova, whose student Maxim Kovtun trained on the ice with me at one of the events. We immediately found a common language, and Elena gave me some tips. Then they invited me to come to Moscow to train in the same group as her athletes, and to spend more time working on my techniques. Annick and I gladly accepted this opportunity to learn from the Russian figure skating school, famous for its traditions.

Are there any differences in the methods of a Russian trainer and those with whom you have worked before?

Yes, there are some rather big differences. Russian coaches pay a lot more attention to details. We dismantle all the jumps, approaches, landings, steps and twists, down to the smallest details. Then it becomes much clearer for me what to do, and it’s easier to perform. After all, as you know, the strength lies in the details. I very much hope it will help me to succeed. I also like the Russian coaches’ methods during the training process; I’ve been under scrutiny the whole time! This is very different from the coaches of the American school and closer to the French coaches. In America, you are given a task and time to work it through. You are on your own; no one will watch you over. But here, like in France, the coach makes sure you perform your tasks, notices errors and immediately tells you how to fix them. There is also, here like in France, much more communication and discussions.

You have worked with the Buyanova group. How is your communication with other skaters, have you made friends with someone?

Yes, we trained in a group, with a lot of talking and joking. I am impressed with the positive and professional attitude here. I have made friends with Maxim (Kovtun). I’ve watched him working hard and executing his programs. He has two wonderful programs for this season. I also like the programs of Adelina Sotnikova. She really wants to make a comeback after the injury and missing last season. I only met Arthur Gachinsky in the locker room. We made small talk, but that's all. He trained in the other group.

How would you assess the results of this visit?

I notice that I am much better prepared than before, I can see the progress. Annick is also pleased with the results. She and I were always in touch, she watched my sessions. We did not know how things would develop, so it was like a trial run coming here for only two weeks. But now it is clear that all went well, this internship has helped me a lot. We plan to train with Elena again during the season, maybe I'll be a frequent visitor of Moscow! And I am already invited to a summer camp next year, together with the entire group. I will go!

What are your goals?

First of all, I want to get back to my own level. My last season did not end in the best way, so I need to recapture my lost position. I need to focus on the things I can do and not to repeat my previous mistakes. I worked a lot this summer, so I hope to be able to show good results at competitions. Well, my main goal, of course, is to participate in the Olympic Games. But I'm approaching it step by step.

The competition among the men in the French team is very intense, and you only have 2 spots for Europeans and Worlds.

My task is not to think about the pressure, but just to go out there and to do my job! But my aim is not simply to qualify for Europeans and Worlds, but to become number one. I want to be the first on the team! I understand that it will be hard, but I want to do it. So I will start the season early with the Lombardia Trophy in Italy, it’s my first competition, and then the Master's de Patinage in Orleans. I have already prepared two new programs. The short program is to music by Ludovico Einaudi, and is choreographed by Fabian Bourzat. My free program is set to Reborn by the group Era. Laurie May choreographed it. During the summer I performed both programs in front of judges, and then we made some changes in order to earn higher levels. I hope that the judges at the competitions will appreciate my programs.

Well, since the interview Chafik has won his first competition of this season, the Lombardia Trophy. We wish him the best of luck during the new season and may all his dreams come true!


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