Kevin Aymoz: "Skating saved my life many times"
He is unique, he is different, and he is totally loved. Kevin Aymoz from France has immediately become a crowd sweetheart with his memorable programs at the Europeans in Minsk, and those who have already noticed him in junior events were glad to see him fulfilling his potential in the senior rankings as well. He is definitely a skater to follow, one who always skates with his heart, something you could definetly feel in our chat with him.
Did you expect being fourth at the Europeans?
I'm really proud of myself, because I wasn't really thinking about a medal this weekend. I was thinking only about the performance. I wanted to show myself to the skating world and say: "Look at me, I exist!”, and then maybe in a few years I will be prepared to get a medal. But after this result I can say maybe next season it can be a real goal.
These were your second Europeans, you also skated in Ostrava in 2017. What have you learned since then?
At my first one I learned how a European Championship works. Last season I didn't skate at the Europeans, and I learned how to work. This season I was more prepared to skate at such event.
Were you nervous? How can you usually handle your nerves at a competition?
I was really calm, it was even strange. Before the short program I was relaxed, but I was more stressed in the free program, because I was in the last group. But all in all, I was really calm all week.
You have moved to the United States to train with John Zimmermann and Silvia Fontana. How has this changed your life?
It was a big move, to leave France, but with John and Silvia I feel like I'm home. So, I have no regrets about moving to Florida.
And why did you decide to move there?
The year before I moved I was in France, but had no coach. I was with the federation coach, Katia Krier, but everything was very uncertain, I wasn't sure where I'm going to train. The federation sent me to Florida to work with John and Silvia for two weeks. During these two weeks I felt something really special and asked the federation to stay.
Can you describe what was so special working with them?
It's about human connection. Something you can't see, can't show, but can feel. And I feel it with Silvia and John.
How much do you practice? Do you practice more than when you were in France?
It's totally different. When I was in France, I was young, and I was learning jumps, spins and skating. Now I'm learning how to keep all this and be better.
Do you have any favourite jump or element?
No, because I feel that I love every jump and I hate every jump at the same time. The loop can be my favourite jump but then I miss it and I'm like: "I hate loop, I don't want to jump loop!"
But do you like jumping, or do you like the other elements more?
I love skating and everything in skating. When I skate, I can give my heart, and for me that's the best feeling in the world. When you push and can feel your body move, that's the best feeling.
When you were a little child and started skating, did you dream of getting to big competitions once?
When I was young, I remember I told my parents that I would love to do big competitions. And today [the day of the free program in Minsk] I just woke up this morning and realized I'm in the last group at the Europeans! It's like a dream. In the end I was fourth, but I have no regrets, I'm really happy.
What was it like to share the ice with Javier Fernandez and the Russian guys?
I was so happy and asking myself: what are you doing here? But Alexander Samarin and Daniel Samohin were in the same last group at the Junior Worlds a few years ago, so they weren't strangers for me. Here at the European Championships I was a bit lost to be in the last group, but also very happy and I enjoyed the training and the six minutes warm-up. It was very cool.
You have really special programs this year, with uncommon music, and your interpretation is also very unique. How did you choose these music pieces?
For the short program, my best friend gave me this music [Horns by Bryce Fox]. I listened to it in my bathroom, in the shower. It was mid-July and I realized I don't have a short program music, so I said: "I really need a short program, that's the moment.” I listened to it in the shower again and decided to try it on the ice. I showed it to John and Silvia, and they approved it, they said it's really cool for a different short program. As for the long program, I chose this music [In This Shirt by The Irrepressibles] because I felt really lost in my life, I had too many problems. But it's a long story and this story is hiding in the program. I'm going to tell the story when every competition is over. If I revealed it now, people wouldn't look at the program like they are looking at it now. I prefer people to see the story I tell on the ice, not the one I tell on Facebook or other social media. I was really lost, and the lyrics of the song were totally matching with the moment in my life. Again, I proposed the music to John and Silvia, and they said: "We can skate to this one”, and I said: "We're going to skate to this one”.
So you want people to watch you carefully and try to understand the message?
I think people are going to understand the message, but it's a personal story and I can't skate without my heart. Skating is a business, unfortunately, but for me, my heart pushes me to skate.
I think figure skating needs more skaters who skate with their hearts! So, what is your main motivation? To express yourself on the ice?
I think skating is now the main thing in my life. I'm not very good at studying, I'm not very good outside of the skating life. But even if I have problems, I know that when I skate, every problem disappears. I think skating saved my life many times. There were too many troubles. So skating is really important to me.
Were you the guy who always got into trouble in the past?
No, I'm not like that. But I saw my friends when I was young, who were not skating, they had school, a boring life… For me, when I'm sad, when I have problems, I go on the ice and everything disappears, and everything is cool.
So it's also a therapy?
Yes. I feel I was born to be here.
Is it hard to be a figure skater in France? You have great traditions, European champions, World champions…
That's challenging. Now I want to work to earn a medal, because I want to belong to the family of French champions. Not just a National champion, but a real champion.
Do you have any idol, a skater you look up to?
There are many good skaters I like, for example Florent Amodio, Gabriella [Papadakis] and Guillaume [Cizeron]. I admire my training mates, Morgan [Cipres] and Vanessa [James], they work very had, and they really worked for that European title. Mae [Berenice Meite], because she is a very good person, she is smart, she works a lot, she pushes, she is an example inside and outside of skating. I know her, because I lived with her in a family, and she is really an example. As for international skating, I like Javier Fernandez, his skating is just perfect. Patrick Chan was one of my favourites when I was young. I also love Paul [Poirier] and Piper [Gilles], because they have something different, and Yu-Na Kim, she is the royalty of skating.She is the best.
Does it help you that there are more French skaters in your training group in Florida?
It's great to train with Morgan, Vanessa and Mae. Outside of skating we have our lives, some days we are together, we are friends, but we try to have a real life too, and not just be in skating.
I remember you from Debrecen, the Junior Worlds in 2016 and you had unique programs back then, too. Can we look forward to more and more unique programs from you?
Yes, I'm keen for that. Every program is a new story. My short program was a challenge with someone. I said I was going to skate to this music, Hallelujah, and he said no, you can't. And I said: "Okay, deal!” And when he saw me at a competition, he couldn't believe his eyes. The free program was totally cool, because I created the costume, I painted on it, it was very special. With John and Silvia now, we are working to find something totally different from this season.
But probably it won't be classical music.
No, no, no, no. But we are already looking for something.