The Euro Files: Chips of glass

Part 2

By Helga Dobor
Complemented by Titanilla Bod
Photos © Absolute Skating

Part IV. Audience, Croatia, cheering and collisions. 

I think that most fans are interested in how their support influences their favourite skaters. Do they notice? Is it important for them? Are they aware of anything when they are on the ice? Are they happy about it or does that put more pressure on them? Does the cheering disturb the skaters and mean only a noise for them or energize them? As we people are all different, so are the skaters…  

J√ļlia Sebesty√©n:

"I felt the love of the crowd. I was getting tired during the program, but I said to myself: "It's okay, come on, it's going to be better." The Hungarian fans gave me strength."

Kati Hadford:

"I was a bit excited, but when I stepped on the ice, it disappeared. I heard the crowd shouting "Hajr√° Kati!" (Go Kati.)

Luca Lanotte:

"The crowd was amazing; they were supportive and were with us the whole way. It helped!"

Jana Khohklova and Sergei Novitski:

Sergei: "We feel great here, there is such a good reception from the audience, there are Russian fans who travelled to Croatia to support us!!"

"The air on the ice was full of electricity, the audience was magnificent. There was so much support."

"We're well received everywhere, but here the crowd was just amazing."

Jana:  "We want to thank the Russian fans that came here to support us. It really helps."

"A big thanks to the audience, we felt their energy and they gave us energy. It was so pleasant for us. The crowd was awesome. When they started to clap along during our side by side step sequence, it gave us so much energy!"

Kiira Korpi:

"In the warm-up I was a bit nervous, there were supporters and noise, but I was prepared for that."

Tugba Karademir: "This is the first time my supporters arranged a little tour from Turkey, because I did so well last year. It means a lot to a skater to have supporters."

Gregor Urbas: "I wanted to do my season's best here in Zagreb, because I love skating here, I feel like I'm home."

It was harder to skate the free, because I did not expect so many fans to arrive from Slovenia, but in another way they gave me the strength to go on."

Josip Gluhak :

"I am a little bit disappointed with the low attendance, I blame the lack of publicity for that, but the atmosphere is nevertheless excellent and I enjoy skating in my hometown."

The audience was amazing and supportive. It helped me to do my best. A big thanks to the audience."

My favourite quote to close this part, by Sinead Kerr, after the OD:

"The audience was absolutely fantastic for us! I think they liked the man in the skirt more than me!" 

Talking about cheering, we have a cute and funny story to share. A Hungarian family, who supported the Hungarian skaters with a huge flag that appeared on the screen sometimes, wrote a cheering banner with a message to Julia Sebestyen. They decided to leave a message to the youngest daughter too because she stayed at home with her father. So the banner read: We love you Julia and Blanka.

This banner showed on TV and the TV commentators were speculating who Blanka could be. So the message was not only delivered to Blanka, she was even talked about too. Who can she be? J√ļlia is a skater. Do we have another skater there with the name Blanka? ¬†

When I wanted to go to the audience area on the other side of the rink, I preferred to use the path at the barrier inside the ice rink - and I wasn't the only one. One time we were in a hurry, so we almost ran (and checked our steps, so looked only at the floor) so didn't see that somebody had come from the opposite direction until he was in front of me and we almost crashed. It happened so fast we didn't have the chance to say sorry…nor did I have the chance to warn Titi, who was behind me, so when I stopped and stood aside, she almost crashed and I just heard her angry voice: "Who is this… oh, hello Brian". 




Part V. Switching disciplines, exhibition practice and Brian 

During the European's I thought a lot about how skaters start to skating and how they pick their disciplines and about switching disciplines - I think sometimes they surprise not only me, but most people.

Like the story of Marika Zanforlin and Federico Degli Esposti, who are four-times World Roller Skating Pair Champions (2003 to 2006) and they switched to figure skating last May.

The European's seemed to be a try-out for them. Marika talked about their plans and skating:

"We are happy that we managed to give our best for our debut. After this competition we want to sit down and decide our future."

There isn't any particular element that was most difficult to do, it's just the feeling for the ice surface in general. We took our lifts from roller skating, but there isn't any limitation in the rotation in roller skating, so we had to adapt them." explains Federico. 

At the Exhibition Practice Sergei Voronov and Maxim Trankov shocked the audience - they teamed up for fun and even tried to do throw jumps!

And here is the video material to prove it.

The Exhibition practices offered more fun for the audience.

On the Sunday morning practice, we suddenly heard the Dying Swan and the Croatian skater, Josip Gluhak started to skate to the music. We looked at each other surprised. What's happening? Whose program is that? Why is he impersonating her program? Titi was the first who realized: "It has to be his own program, and meant to poke fun at the ladies' programs." As men often do, but I've never seen any of the men skaters do so in front of an audience.
The music stopped suddenly and something dynamic was played next, which he skated to, so we weren't sure about his program again. We knew that we would find the answer at the gala though. At the exhibition, we saw that skating a program full of ladies' elements is not as easy as men think sometimes. It was a nice and funny attempt. Congratulations Josip. 

We saw some new ice dancers too. At first Isabel Delobel and Stephane Lambiel teamed up for a short time, then Oksana Domnina and Tomas Verner. In the last part of the exhibition gala practice, only two skaters stayed on the ice to skate, Oksana and Tomas. Since Maxim left earlier, Oksana could skate only her parts, but for a few moments, she needed help so she asked Tomas to skate with her. He seemed very surprised but after some seconds started smiling ear-to-ear and asked what he should do. After some laughs, we concluded that ice dance is not a possible discipline switch for Tomas.

At the end of the practice Tomas and Carolina provided some entertainment for the audience, better if the photo talks here.

Check this and more out in this video on Youtube.

Some funny moments we got with thanks to Brian Joubert:

One day at the practice rink, we could see our favourite French TV, which always follows every step of Brian Joubert. Of course, they did their job well there, and Brian had no possibility to escape. If he'd want to that is.

Anett was at that time so fed up with their entourage and felt for Brian. How bad it must be for him, getting no breathing space at all. 

"The fans are surely happy to see his every step and the TV is happy to have such huge documentary material.  I'm sure Brian also enjoys their attention."  I shared my thoughts with Titi.

Some minutes later, when we left for the bus, we met them again. Anett told Titi: "The French TV broadcasts Brian so much, that the French people who don¬īt know him yet, will notice him and say who can that handsome fellow-countryman be?

That isn't French TV anymore but Joubert TV¬Ö replied somebody.

Yeah, a soap opera with him as main character¬Ö was added.

By this time, we were waiting at the bus stop but still had time until the departure so we decided not to climb on the bus - we wanted to enjoy the warm sunshine in the square. Suddenly many skaters arrived and entered the bus. We weren't sure if it still would have space left. Brian Joubert arrived and determinedly went on the bus. Ok, that sounds normal, but if you know that the bus is filled to capacity, it's not so normal anymore, knowing he does that in the company of a full TV crew. But no, nothing is impossible for Brian Joubert. They succeeded on getting on the bus and the bus still kept waiting for new passengers. To have an image of that see the photo of the bus below.

My friends started debating if we should wait or get on or if we should take the other bus.

- I don't think we should go with this bus. Brian Joubert got on.

- And?

- And the French TV of course - replied somebody.

- So no more space on that - said another friend.

- So we don't go with the Joubert bus - added me. 

We were very generous with him in Zagreb. We named a TV, a bus after him, and gave him a documentary and a soap opera with him as main character.  

Part VI. The rise and fall of the press tribune, quotes quotes and the end. 

Sitting at the press tribune also brought some moments…  

After the free program, Brian Joubert was asked about his strategy before the program. His answer was deciding to jump only one quad.

I liked that question a lot and started to bombard Titi with it "What is your strategy?" When Titi in reaction dropped my short-guide book, it fell down under the tribune. She looked down, looked at me and looked down again.

Titi: I'll get it back.

Me: And what is your strategy today to get my guide back?

We started to talk about strategies and of course, nothing worked, she could see that more of my papers and bottles were under our seats. I told her about my unsuccessful attempts. Two days later, at night she gave me my guide back and told me she fulfilled her mission. The strategy was good. I don't dare to tell how simple it was to get the guide back…. :p 

For the press tribunes they build tables, over existing seats. This is not always safe, as we found out.

One day when I was working on a report, we suddenly heard a loud noise, as if a heavy thing had fallen down from a height and we heard a scream too. We were sure that it was the tribune. There was another journalist in my row and our eyes met, and we both sat stock-still. We didn't dare to move because we thought that with any motion it could get worse. Some seconds later everybody started to move about and we both dared to look around.

In the row under our seats, a German speaking reporter climbed up from under the seats, with his accessories and all, complemented by an angry and suffering face, since it was his table and part of the tribune that were the heavy things that fell down, including himself. That was a close call.   

At the tribune, we didn't have too much space for our accessories. Of course, there was a huge table, but not much space to put our bags. You could put them under the table, on the seats, but things tended to get lost down there, and when put on the table, it was hard to see the ice, and if next to you, it was only possible when nobody sat there.

I was even more demanding. I liked to sit at the end of the row, simply because I didn't want to climb over other journalists when I had to run to the mixed-zone. I am sure they didn't like that so much either. 

Titi loves chocolate. A lot. Once she ate a big bar of it, in three bites! I couldn't say anything, I was dumbfounded...

- "You¬Ö You ate that chocolate¬Ö in three bites????"

- "Yes. I like chocolate."

- "More than Tomas¬Ö Oh¬Ö" - and shook my head as I couldn't believe that.

Some seconds later when I "accepted" that Titi is a religious chocolate eater, I said:

" Titi, we should have Tomas sitting here, next to you and you two could eat chocolates the whole day."

I told her I would write it in the report. Titi said ok, but then I started to worry about Tomas? What if he read it??

Titi: "No problem. He will know at least that I like chocolates too."

Helga: "And maybe he will bring you chocolate then." 

As an ending I wanted to share some quotes which are cute, nice or interesting, and some of them sure quotable.

The first sentence, which I wrote down, is by Ruben Blommaert. It's short and sweet!

" I'm proud to be Belgian!" (on Kevins successes) 

Ondrej Hotarek on their free skating:

" It started like a kick ass performance!"

On the skating of the other Italian pair:

" They had a kick ass performance!" 

Maria Dikanovic:

- Everyone in this sport is my role model, we all work hard, some are better, some are worse, but we all share the same passion and destiny. 

I simply loved the way in which Oksana Domnina talked about their success and Maxim Shabalin.

Oksana: "It was a very difficult competition for us as Maxim's health was not the best. I am just happy that we survived this competition. I want to thank Maxim. Only he knows how difficult it was."

During the Press Conference:

Oksana: "I want to congratulate Maxim on his birthday today and I thank him for his courage and strength. I enjoyed skating with him tonight. He was on the top of his game and in his courage and strength. I felt his inner support and his support from outside." 

Isabelle Delobels comment is so true:

"That is life, that is sport. Fair play." 

And I want to close the report with Tomas' sentence:

" There is nothing to win and nothing to lose, just fight, that's it!" 

Thank you for all the skaters, friends and all people who were involved in these stories, simply for being that funny and helping to make that week unforgettable. A big THANK YOU to Titi and Tomas. Yes, as I said to Titi, we both Tomasized a bit. Even, I acquired a habit ;), as you can see in the last quote too, which I wrote in a letter to Titi about this report, which was half-ready at the time:

" I wrote more parts, each part has also two parts; the second part is for the readers, to laugh, and the first part for me - where I can write, because I love writing." 

Hope you didn't mind this separation and both parts remained entertaining for you.

Back to Part I


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