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Olympic dream leads roller skater Betti to the ice

Recently converted figure skater aims for 2018 Olympics

Dario Betti is hoping to make a smooth transition from the roller rink to the ice.
Dario Betti is hoping to make a smooth transition from the roller rink to the ice. (courtesy of Alessandro Fiocchi)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(06/19/2013) - Last month, a two-time world and European champion in roller skating, Dario Betti of Italy, held a press conference where he announced he was switching to figure skating. The 21-year-old athlete said that he achieved all his goals in his sport and would like to try his hand at figure skating, which he had always liked.

In addition, the "newly born" figure skater noted that one of the main factors in his decision was the fact that roller skating is not an Olympic sport. Participation at the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Korea, is one of his main goals. Betti also believes that the Italian Ice Sports Federation (FISG) would welcome a new skater who aspires to join the national team.

Betti has already started training on ice and preparing for his first figure skating season under the guidance of a coach, Lucia Civardi. Another Italian specialist, Barbara Riboldi, works with Betti as a choreographer.

Icenetwork.com talked with Betti about his reasons for his decision, the challenges he faces and his plans for his first competitive season on the ice.

Icenetwork.com: Tell us a little bit about your former sport, roller skating. Most of our readers don't know much about it.

Betti: Roller skating is a very similar sport to ice skating. The most important disciplines are dance couple, pairs, and single women and men, but there are a few others, too.

Instead of skating on a blade, we skate on eight wheels -- four left and four right -- and the breaks are at the front of the boots, which are little softer than the ice skating ones. We skate on many different surfaces, like wood or concrete, and the rink is never bigger than 25x50 meters.

Icenetwork.com: I understand roller skating is very popular in Italy. Is that so? What does the typical competitive year in roller skating look like?

Betti: At an amateur level, roller skating is very popular in Italy, because it is possible to do it anywhere, but at a professional level, it's not as known and common, because it's not an Olympic sport.

The competitive season of a roller skater is very different than the one of an ice skater. There are very few competitions during the year; the most important are the national championships, and the European and world championships.

I used to compete only from 3-5 times a year, starting with the first competition in May and ending with the last one in November.

Icenetwork.com: Last month you said that you will switch from roller skating to ice skating because your sport isn't in the Olympics. Does this mean that the Olympic dream is the only reason for your switching?

Betti: There are many reasons why I decided to switch to ice skating, but my biggest dream would definitely be to be able to take part at the Olympic Games, as I think it is [important] for every athlete. I'm looking for new experiences and new emotions to push and challenge myself again.

Icenetwork.com: Tell us about your exposure to figure skating. When did you start trying skating on ice?

Betti: In the past few years, I've always been following figure skating, because I've always thought it is really interesting. After winning the senior world title for the second time in 2012, I decided to try to skate on the ice and after a month, I made my decision.

Icenetwork.com: What difficulties have you experienced in ice skating?

Betti: The difficulties that I had to face were actually many more than what I was expecting! Having a blade under your foot changes your balance and your feelings. I think the hardest thing to do is to skate and slip smoothly through the ice.

Icenetwork.com: As I understand, your main goal is participation at the 2018 Olympics.

Betti: My goal is to be a member of the Olympic team in 2018, but I know the way to get there is very hard, long and difficult.

Icenetwork.com: What is the opinion of the Italian Ice Sports Federation about your switching?

Betti: I believe the FISG is very happy to have another man competing for Italy, and my decision also generated a lot of interest.

Icenetwork.com: Tell us about your preparation for your first year in ice skating.

Betti: The work that I will have to go through is very hard, because I still have to learn a lot of new things. I'm already working on the new programs; I usually skate four hours a day on the ice with my new coach, Lucia Civardi, as well as working with Barbara Riboldi, who choreographed both of my new programs.

I also work on my off-ice preparation with Mirco Botta, who helps me with my daily workout at the gym; with Corrado Giordani, my new ballet teacher, who gives me lessons every day; and with my sports psychologist, Matteo Vagli from Mente Sport, who helps my mental preparation.

Icenetwork.com: At which competition do you plan to compete in the coming season?

Betti: I will definitely compete at nationals in December. At the moment, my coach and I are planning on taking part in two or three competitions right at the beginning of the season.

Icenetwork.com: What are your main goals for your first season in figure skating?

Betti: My main goal is to work hard and give my best every day. I won't know what level I'm at until I start competing.

Icenetwork.com: As the world and European champion, you must have many fans in the roller skating world. What do you want to say to them?

Betti: I really have to thank the entire roller skating world, because if I'm here now, it is thanks to my past and thanks to the results that I achieved with the help of many people.

Despite my choice of starting this new adventure, I have to say that I received a lot of support from everybody, and a lot of people cheered for me and stayed close to me. That is just great to me.