« Les Gendarmettes de Saint-Tropez »
In 2003, the club of Louviers had a new start with the return of Valérie Arsa-Ballester as a coach. She had just returned from Canada, one of the greatest nations in our sport, after many years there.
Her return was synonymous with renewal: she reformed synchronized skating teams, starting with a year of leisure for the youngest and then taking the path of competitions.
I joined the Juvenile team, the Mini’Moz, in 2004. It was my first experience in a real team sport with a new way to skate with friends and I loved it.
My first program was based on the music of the movie « The Gendarme in Saint-Tropez » and we were the « Gendarmettes »!
The Coupe de France was our second competition and the last of the season. It was held at Bordeaux.
It was at this competition that I fell for the first time, with other teammates. I was upset, especially since my fall was a consequence of another one, but now I also know that these are things that happen and bring some experience. Even then, I had a sacred character for a little shy girl, but the maturity and experience have been able to bring a little wisdom and relativity! In our sport, the fall can be part of the game.
We weren’t supposed to make a podium, already compared to our lack of experience where it was the first year of competition for almost everyone, but mostly because the other teams were really better than us and that, even if we hadn’t fallen!
However, because or thanks to a bad registration of two teams, which were downgraded to another category because they didn’t respect the age requirements, we finally finished in 3rd place out of 4 teams! It was our first podium! 😉
It is also there where I discovered the concept of substitute. In my team, or even in my club that year, everyone, I think, skated then my childhood innocence had no idea that it could exist. But when I saw some girls weren’t doing the program and staying on the edge of the ice, I asked my mother why. She simply told me that it was a sport where there could only be 16 people on the ice at the same time, that the others were substitutes and that they would skate only if one of the 16 others was injured.
At that age, the only thing I saw was that: I didn’t want to be this skater and that I would work to not be that skater.
Over the years, there was no way for me to be a substitute in France. I thought that: if this situation should happen, it’s because I joined a World Top 10 Team, where for me, I had the potential, but I still had to improve to win my place!
Now, and even more since our adventure at the 2017 World Championships, I find that it’s also a big responsibility to be a substitute. The team is counting on you to be effective in any situation, to be able to replace anyone and that, it’s really not easy!
In parallel of my team, I participated at my first Coupe de Printemps. This is an individual competition reserved for club members who not participate in figure skating competitions. It’s up to skaters to create their own choreography on music that will be unveiled on D-Day. I finished second ex aequo!
It was a revelation for me: it was what I wanted to do, I wanted to progress, I just wanted to skate.
And this illumination fell pretty well! Indeed, one of the judges of this competition, who was none other than Valérie’s mother, Mrs. Edith Ballester, had spotted me. For her, I had abilities in this sport and even if I was already old enough to aspire to big ambitions, nothing can stop me from following my own path.
My desire to progress and skate as much as possible led my mother to talk with Valérie. No promise was made about my future in this sport, but my request was accepted. So I started to multiply the hours of training and I was lucky enough to be invited by Valérie to join few other skaters for a one-week training camp in Caen in July. I have also been the guinea pig to find a lift for the future Senior Team of Louviers!