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Amodio ecstatic after winning European title

French skater high on life after big win

Florent Amodio's star is on the rise after his big win at European Championships.
Florent Amodio's star is on the rise after his big win at European Championships. (Getty Images)

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By Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to icenetwork.com
(02/01/2011) - Florent Amodio has emerged as the new leader of French men's skating. Amodio found himself completely ecstatic on the top of the European podium, one step ahead of veteran Brian Joubert.

"Merci merci merci!" [thank you thank you thank you!], Amodio yelled at the audience after he claimed the gold, so much the audience cheered him up throughout his programs. He comes back to his victory and talks about his plans with icenetwork.com.

icenetwork: You win the Europeans on your first try, how do you feel?
Amodio: It's true, this is my first participation. If someone had told me at the start of this season that I was going to medal at both Grand Prix [Amodio took the bronze at NHK and the silver at Trophée Eric Bompard], be selected for the ISU Grand Prix Final and win the European championships -- I am not sure I would have believed it!

I have many thanks to give now... It is a dream that has come true. Yes, indeed, I have a lot of work ahead of me, but at least this is a super great thing that is done. This is a superb opportunity for me to get better known. Now I feel like I am on my own highway, full speed on.

icenetwork: The audience seems to give you a real motivation.
Amodio: Oh yes, I always think of the audience when I am building one new program. I am here to give them fun and joy. One should never forget that people who come to see skating want to see a show and to clap in their hands. I really want my programs to move both myself and the audience. I am training hard to give me fun and give them fun. I have always been like that, almost since I started. [He thinks for a second] Yes, audience definitely comes first.

icenetwork: At the same time you seem to be so concentrated on your skating.
Amodio: This is true, especially for the short program. In Bern, for instance, I did not want to miss my short so I really concentrated not to lose my focus. It was my first competition ever at the European level, and I did not want to be distracted. To tell you the truth, I noticed the audience only at the end of my program. They were shouting like hell, but I was too concentrated to even notice them. I need to remain in my own bubble if I want to win.

icenetwork: On the one hand you say that you want to remain concentrated, and on the other you say that you need the audience. How do you find the right balance?
Amodio: You are right, this is something that is very difficult for me. I really try to make my mind completely clear before every program. Then I hope to carry emotion across, even though I am in my own shell. I have not to think about the audience and at the same time skate with my heart open for them. In Bern, though, the audience went wild in my free program, and there are some occasions when you can not prevent yourself from hearing it. This time it was too enormous. I could even hardly hear my own music at times! It is not easy for me. This time it worked, though, and I am happy about it.

icenetwork: Your witty style, the velocity you display in your steps, the way you relate to audiences and even your size are not without reminding of Scott Hamilton's. What do you think of American skating?
Amodio: I love it! North American skating means "shows" to me, with packed and cheerful arenas. It is a dream to me!

icenetwork: Most upcoming skaters, in Asia and in North America, are now mastering the quad, whereas we have never seen you make one. What are your plans?
Amodio: You are right. Patrick Chan of Canada is now mastering it fully, just like several other North American skaters. The great skaters from Japan master the quad as well. I am fully aware that I need it too, especially at world level. Also at the European level, really, as everyone will want to bite me now [he laughs]. With my coaches we have decided to proceed stage by stage. This season we wanted to create really difficult programs and show that I could master them. We had set to ourselves several objectives this season: medal at Grand Prix and at the Europeans, and skate clean each time. We decided that the quad would come afterwards. Now the time has come, and we will do our best to include one. I will focus on it in the weeks to come, and we will see where it takes us. I could include one as soon as worlds if we feel it is ready. Actually there will be a big competition at worlds this year, and we are going to work hard to land in front of the pack.

icenetwork: You had to leave your family and surrounding to train with Nikolai Morozov, could you find the right balance there?
Amodio: Yes, I think so. It was not easy for me to leave my family, my skating rink and former coach in Cergy [a suburb, 30 min. west of Paris]. Yet I knew that I had to change all this if I wanted to succeed. I have decided to be very professional in my skating. I force myself to be completely focused during each single practice, and devote myself completely to what I am doing. I am particularly meticulous on the quality of my elements. My training is very intense, wherever I am. So that when I arrive in a rink for a competition, I am fully confident. The way practice sessions work well for me when I am at a competition, proves that such a regimen is working well for me.

At the same time, I like to go out and be with my buddies and have fun. That's why I go back to France from time to time to have some good time, even though I keep training there as well. I just bought a new car [a BMW] because sports cars are a passion for me. I am really excited to start driving it. But, at the same time, I can assure you that I am living for the sport of skating. I will not tolerate one single step out of my skating path. When I am in France I train with Annick Dumont -- Alban Préaubert's coach.

icenetwork: One last question: you shared a room with Brian Joubert in Bern. How was that?
Amodio: This is a very personal question! [he laughs]. Yes, more seriously, I must say it was great. It was a great opportunity to learn a bit more about who he is really. He is a great guy, even though we fight hard on the ice. We had big laughs together, we could make our jokes together and it was great. We have been boosting one another for the last two years, and you can see the result [Amodio and Joubert took gold and silver at Europeans]. This is a great asset for the French team. Viva la France!