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World champion Kostner not ready to stop yet

Italian skater says she needed some time for herself after grueling season

Carolina Kostner and Stéphane Lambiel perform together at "Opera on Ice."
Carolina Kostner and Stéphane Lambiel perform together at "Opera on Ice." (courtesy of Daniela Mancini)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(01/14/2013) - For Carolina Kostner, Italy's first world figure skating champion in ladies singles, the first half of this season was unusual. Instead of participating in the Grand Prix Series, she decided to take a little break.

In her own words, she just needed some time for herself. This should not come as a surprise, as she fought for years for the title of "Best Skater of the Planet." After fulfilling that conquest, she could well afford to take a much-deserved pause.

To the surprise of her fans, Kostner said in July 2012 that she was considering retiring from competitive figure skating but later that same month said that she had decided to continue competing until the 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

Despite the time off, Kostner came to her first competition of the season, Golden Spin of Zagreb, in good shape and with a great desire to skate. She won the event, skating two strong and elegant programs, and landed a clean triple toe-triple toe combination in the short.

In late December, Kostner dominated at the 2013 Italian Championships in Milan, winning her seventh national title.

No less noteworthy was her participation at a very unique skating project, "Opera on Ice," which was held last September at the famous Arena di Verona. Participating in this project for the second year in a row, Kostner was happy to note its main achievement: bringing young people closer to opera through skating.

"I would have never imagined the magic and atmosphere of the first year could ever happen again," she said about the event. "Instead, the show was even more exciting and gripping, with lots of thrilled children around us, dream-like costumes and a fantastic public that, in the finale, embraced us all by lighting up the candles [they were given]. I will always carry this image and this feeling in my heart."

There is just one week before the beginning of the 2013 European Championships, where the Italian skater can take her fifth title. Icenetwork.com talked with Kostner about her time away from skating, her recent competitions and her thoughts on her upcoming events.

Icenetwork.com: This season, you've competed only at Golden Spin in Zagreb, Croatia, and at the Italian championships. Both events you won confidently, showing very good performances. How would you evaluate your condition and readiness for the upcoming European championships?

Kostner: I was pleased about how I was able to perform. There are still many things to do, but I am confident.

Icenetwork.com: In Zagreb, you will defend your championship. In your view, which is better: to defend or to aim for the title?

Kostner: The best thing to do is not to think about the result but to concentrate on how I want to perform!

Icenetwork.com: Missing the Grand Prix Series, you've had a long break. Could you tell us about your preparation during that non-competitive period?

Kostner: I took some time off ... went on vacation, spend time with my friends. I really enjoyed that. In September, I worked with Lori Nichol on my new programs. It felt strange to see the events on TV but not be there. Although, I really needed this time for myself.

Icenetwork.com: Tell us about your new programs and your work on them.

Kostner: I skate to "A Transylvanian Lullaby" and "Devil's Trill" for the short program, and "Bolero" for the long. I hesitated on the choice because I thought they were something completely different from what I feel comfortable with, but it turned out that I fell in love with them both. In fact, they feel more difficult, and they give me some hard times. But this is the challenge.

Icenetwork.com: How about the technical part?

Kostner: The elements are basically the same. I am working to get the Lutz more consistent. It's not so easy!

Icenetwork.com: Last July, you said you were considering retirement from competition but later decided to continue competing until the Sochi Olympics. What influenced your final decision?

Kostner: I realized that I love training, and I am not ready to stop yet.

Icenetwork.com: What are your thoughts on your main rivals you'll face at Europeans? This year there will be strong former juniors, such as Adelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamisheva.

Kostner: There are many very strong skaters, which makes the event very prestigious. I will try to concentrate on what I want to do and not think so much about the others.

Icenetwork.com: What are your general thoughts on the quality of ladies skating this season?

Kostner: We ladies are getting strong!

Icenetwork.com: Last autumn, for the second consecutive year, you participated in a very unique and wonderful project, "Opera on Ice." What does this event mean to you?

Kostner: "Opera on Ice" is hard to describe in words ... you have to have seen it. It was just amazing: amazing cast, amazing musicians, timeless sight, best weather -- an unforgettable evening! We all felt a little bit of magic that evening. I have heard they are going to do it again this year. I am really looking forward to it!

Icenetwork.com: Can we say that a fifth European championships title is in Carolina Kostner's plans? And what about your goals for the world championships?

Kostner: My goal is to perform well, like I imagine I can do. The rest is not completely in my hands.