My Unique Novice Year: « Les Marquises »
In September 2006, Valérie created a Novice Team Division 2 (D2), named Magic’Moz, bringing together a good part of her Juvenile team from the previous season, including myself.
Valerie asked me if I could also stay in Juvenile, being a « joker ». (See Article Clarifications)
Of course, I accepted because for me it represents another opportunity to do what I love and to show some gratitude to my coach, who showed confidence in me.
However, two teams were not enough, I was going to integrate a third soon!
Indeed, after the French Cup 2007, the Novice Team D1 of Rouen’s club, Jeanne D’arc, lost two skaters for various reasons. Their coach, Anne-Sophie Druet then called Valérie, her longtime friend, to find out if it was possible for two skaters from Louviers to replace departures for the rest of the season and to allow the team to have 17 skaters.
One of my teammates, Coralie, and I were chosen by Valérie. We did a test on a Saturday night, to see if we were able to adapt and follow the team and we accepted to do it.
Our first training with Jeanne d’Arc of Rouen was memorable. We had to learn the program in an accelerated way: we were assigned to our new places, the music started and we had to follow the team without even knowing the steps! Maude, who was next to me a good part of the program helped me a lot in this particular moment and was also one of the first people to talk to me.
It has become a pretty funny story and in a sense, it develops the ability to adapt. Also, I had the chance to be in the same school as Camille, another skater of the team and we took this opportunity to teach me steps!
By engaging with the Jeanne D’arc, I had to ensure for our first competition. We had less than a month to prepare and on top of that, it was an international competition.
I had the opportunity with my team Magic’Moz to compete in Huttwil Switzerland in January, but it was nothing like the one I was going to live in Gothenburg, Sweden.
It’s also by helping Jeanne d’Arc that I had my first experience flying, as well as the fear of not having a suitcase at the exit. It finally arrived later in the day, with my skates!
This first competition was the Leon Lurje Trophy. At that time, it was reserved for the Novice category which presented twice their program over two days of competition.
We made a first rather good performance, however the next day we let ourselves be overwhelmed by the stress and the desire to do even better, so that we had 4 falls in the program and therefore not the best rankings… 16th out of 17.
Anecdote : I was told that Anne-Sophie had called Valerie before our first performance by telling her that I was all white. Valerie would have answered: « Yes it’s normal, but don’t worry, she’ll make it! »
Thank you Coach for the confidence! 😉
However, I think that even today it is still valid!
After this disappointment, the joy of the moment and the desire to savor every minute of this experience have taken over.
What will have mark me the most is the performance of an American team. During the second day of competition, the fire alarm of the rink went off while the team was ready to get on the ice. Instead, they found themselves outside, trying to keep their focus and continue to be active. After a good half-hour, the competition resumed and they skated an almost perfect program. It was really impressive!
I had been told about this competition as a Novice World Cup and thinking about it was really the feeling I had. It was my first experience with so many nations present and I left with stars in my eyes. I used to watch the French Cup for 5 years, but to see skaters of my age with this level, I wanted more : reach the level of the best teams.
I absolutely wanted to start again and attend this new world that had just opened up to me. I did what I loved most in the world and at the same time I discovered a new passion: discovering new countries and new cultures.
Through my engagement with Jeanne d’Arc and the competition in Sweden, Valérie told me to devote myself only to Magic’Moz and my few individual competitions. So she asked another skater to replace me for the Juvenile team.
With the French Synchronized Skating Championships coming up, it seemed difficult to skate with three teams in one day of competition: whether to manage the official training, the change of dresses, to find an adult to take care of me and my particular schedule, but most importantly, manage the fatigue that it could cause.
To get to Lyon, place of the competition, Coralie and I made the trip with the club of Rouen. Being involved in Novice D1, we had to present a short program, like the Junior and Senior categories, on Saturday and our long program on Sunday.
Not having needed this short program for the Leon Lurje Trophy, I had to learn it after the competition but not under the same conditions as the first time. This program was only used for one competition and hadn’t been worked since, so we started it more or less at zero. The only difference this time was that I shared the same place with Coralie in the program, which meant that only one of us would skate the short program.
To choose which one of us would have the chance to skate, we alternated our place in the program.
It was the first time I was in a situation like this, but it’ll not be the last time.
I really wanted to skate so I worked harder and was lucky to be chosen. I was happy but in another sense I felt guilty about Coralie, because we were both deserving. But sometimes it’s the hard law of our sport, we can only be 16.
The short program day was quite special for my skating experience.
After the official practice, Anne-Sophie learned that part of our program didn’t comply with the rules. So during the warm-up before the competition, we developed a strategy to create a small circle of 4 skaters in the middle of our big circle. After, it was necessary to arrange for them to recover their places for the continuation of the program.
Our first attempt was to be the right one, we didn’t have the right to mistake. Despite the pressure and stress of the moment, the circle was largely a success although it is always better to have the time to work the consistency of a program!
We were second after the short program, within 3 points from first place. In other words, the motivation was there to get the top of the podium the next day.
Sunday was an intense day in emotions!
The two official practices were chained to leave room for the preparation of the competition.
With Coralie, we started the competition with Jeanne D’arc, Rouen’s team. We were really determined to go in first place and we really skated a great program. We won the long program! However, our backlog in the short program didn’t allow us to pass before the team of Compiègne.
So we were second at the French Championships and it was already a great victory.
It was also the first time I won this title!
After our performance with Jeanne d’Arc, we had to hurry to join Magic’Moz, team of Louviers. We only had time for a surfacing to be ready. We had to change dress, but also the hairstyle, from a fake ponytail to a bun.
It was a stressful moment, we couldn’t be late, but finally everything went well.
In the locker room, we even had time to play the program’s music to put it back in the lead, before being back on the ice.
I remember sitting for the beginning of the program and having a feeling of « déjà vu. » I thought it was funny, because 20 minutes ago, I was already on the ice to skate and there I was going to do another performance.
My team was now fortunate to be encouraged by that of Rouen, and their supporters. I can still hear the cries: « Go Agathe, go Coralie, go Louviers! »
It was heartwarming to see a real cohesion be born between the two clubs.
We had a good program, without falling and for the first time this season we beat the team from Caen, our main rivals. But for the French Championships, Compiègne had also registered a Novice Team, and it is they who won. So we were second too.
However, we had a turnaround!
The team registered by Compiègne in Novice D2, happened to be the same skaters and the same program as their Juvenile team! (Btw, Respect for that and to have won in both categories!)
So there was a controversy because of that and a decision was made: since the team had first competed in the Juvenile category, it will only be disqualified in the Novice D2 category.
An announcement was made at the microphone, while I enjoyed the rest of the competition with my friend Camille from Jeanne D’Arc. After having confirmation that I had heard, I ran back to my team.
This information had just changed everything:
We were French Champions !!!
It took me only three years with my team, to conquer one of the most coveted titles in France!
The season ended on a high note, with two new titles, new friendships, but especially with an even greater certainty:
I can’t wait for next season to renew this feat! 😉