Zawadzki zaps her demons for Olympic season

Two-time reigning U.S. bronze medalist looks to conquer nerves, free skate in 2013-14

Olympic hopeful Agnes Zawadzki wraps her arm around her nephew, Hayden, in Colorado.
Olympic hopeful Agnes Zawadzki wraps her arm around her nephew, Hayden, in Colorado. (Sarah S. Brannen)


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By Sarah S. Brannen, special to
(05/02/2013) - Agnes Zawadzki talked to the day before she left for New York to appear in the Figure Skating in Harlem gala.

"I've never been to New York!" she said. "I've always wanted to go, and I'm so excited to see just how the city is, how hectic it can be, because I'm a city girl. I like the hectic-ness. I hope I can squeeze in Times Square."

As she sat in front of the Ice Hall in Colorado Springs, Colo., where she trains with Christy Krall, Zawadzki talked about the upcoming season. She said she's trying not to make too big a deal out of that one big event, the Olympic Games in Sochi.

Of course, they are on her mind.

"I'm really happy that our girls got us three spots," Zawadzki said. "When I found out, I was jumping around the house, I was so excited. It is the Olympic season, but I don't want to put too much pressure on that. I want to work on keeping how I compete the way I practice, not making it too different.

"Obviously, it's different. It's two different sides of the spectrum."

Zawadzki is going to keep last season's short program, which was choreographed by David Wilson to Middle Eastern music from Sex and the City 2.

"It's kind of nice that I'm keeping the same short," she said. "So, I won't have to focus too much on two new programs. I can put more effort into the long program."

Wilson also choreographed the new free skate, to a tango medley of "La Cumparsita" and "Jalousie."

"I was going to work with David on a new long the season before, but it was too late to ask him," Zawadzki said. "I'm really happy to work with him again. I love his atmosphere, his personality. He's so fun; he always makes me laugh. We just click as a duo, and I think that's important when you're working on a new program.

"I think it brings something else to the program if you have a good relationship with the choreographer."

Zawadzki couldn't be happier with her free skate music.

"I am absolutely in love with it," she said. "I kind of want to put it on repeat, and I don't care if everyone gets mad because I'm playing my music so much. I think I just have a connection to it; it brings out a fun persona in me. It makes me a bit more confident in myself and a bit more cocky.

"You kind of have to have that persona. I think it's going to help me."

The first element in the program will be Zawadzki's least-favorite jump, the triple loop, which she did not have in her program last season. She is also working on adding a triple lutz-triple toe loop.

"As of right now, we have it in the program, but I'll kind of see how it goes along during the summer," she said. "We're putting back in the double Axel-triple toe. Three good solid changes."

For the coming season, Zawadzki is working on controlling her nerves. She tends to skate strong short programs, but she has sometimes had trouble delivering the goods in the free skate.

Zawadzki says she will be working more with a sports psychologist on consistency and the mental aspect of competition; she will be working to overcome the tension that sets in when she runs programs.

"The last two competitions, I was practicing a better long than I competed," she said. "I'll be working on mental toughness and trying to keep my mind in line. Without the music, I feel like I can do everything perfectly. But, as soon as the music comes on, that's when I get really tense, so we're going to work on that a lot."

Interestingly, although the free skate has been troublesome for Zawadzki in the last couple of years, the short program used to be the issue for her.

"It's kind of funny," she said. "Back a couple of years ago, I was always a long program gal. I loved my long more than I loved my short, especially when I won junior year. But, at some point, I switched where I was more comfortable with my short, and then in the long, I was like, 'More elements, more chances to mess up.'

"I play head games with myself, and it makes me upset because I know I can do it without the music, or I do a small section and I know I can do it."

Zawadzki's summer plans include shows in Sun Valley (July 27) and Lake Placid. N.Y.