A New Ascension

Figure Skating : 2008-2009 & 2009-2010

On the side of my individual competitions, change was in the appointment.

I passed in the 2nd division, that is to say just below the hopes of France and those who were selected to participate in the European Championships, World Championships and Olympic Games.
I had accomplished a great feat and I was therefore involved in the Tournois de France (TDF), qualifier for the French Championships, against skaters who had started this sport before me…
To reach this division, I had to validate the minimum level required. Following this success and after reading the new regulations, it was my coaches who asked me if I wanted to try this new experience: I said yes without hesitation.

To qualify for the French Championships, it was necessary to participate in several TDF, in at least 2 different areas of France out of 5, according to the breakdown of the system.
Then, the ranking of the competition allowed to gain points to establish the national ranking.

During these two seasons, I was in the Novice category: it was the most popular, we were more than 130 skaters in the national rankings! In other words, I had very little chance of being qualified, only something like thirty skaters. Even if I watched the ranking by personal curiosity, my main objective wasn’t the French Championships.

One might think that I lacked ambition, perhaps, but I didn’t feel it. Instead, I was realistic. It was already a great success to have reached this level, and although I wanted to continue to evolve and progress, I knew that it was « to make a name » in this new world. While waiting for my eventual turn, I continued to write my story.

I had trained hard to climb one more step, and seeing that it worked made me want to go even further, to dream more than I had already accomplished.

However, the road was difficult: at my first Tournoi de France (TDF) in the 2nd division, in Colombes, I made one of the worst performances of my life. A lack of sharpening of my blades and therefore support, certainly related to the stress of a competition a little more important that I finish last good, with 4 falls, and two jumps starts on the ground before even jump… In addition, I was the last of the day to pass! A way to make a smashing entry into the circuit!

Now, I carefully avoid competing in Colombes: 4 falls during this performance, combined with a fall in 2006 synchro competition, it’s definitely not an ice rink that brings me luck!

Nevertheless, I came to the podium to recover my medal synonymous with my participation.

The way back to home was not easy: my father who was present didn’t stop criticizing the fact that it was really time and money lost for nothing and that I better not to do TDF if it’s to do this kind of performance. Obviously, it hurts to hear that, and it’s even disheartening on the moment. Yet, instead of crying and feeling sorry for myself, I had the rage to conquer. I wanted to prove him the contrary, but above all I wanted to prove to myself that my place was there, that I was able to do it, and I was already thinking about to the next practice.
Subsequently, in the future, I would ban him from attending my individual competitions.

Anecdote: During my meeting at the beginning of the season with Valérie and Marine, my two figure skating coaches, my goals were simple: to have all the double jumps at the end of the season. Of the three that I was able to do on 5, only 2 were constant. Suffice to say that I had work to do, but I loved the challenges! In December, I was able to score 4 out of 5, with the last one on the verge of being successful too.

Valérie felt obliged to tell me: « Agathe, it’s not for the end of the year that you must reach your goal, but at the end of the season! »
Translation: It’s not for December that you have to succeed, but for June.
I knew it well, but if it could be before, it suited me very well. And like that, I was getting ahead! 😉

The last double jump that I missed was successful at the beginning of February, so I achieved my goal in time, and even in advance, as I wanted.

It was also with my entry into the second division, that I met Maëliss. By starting the competitions in figure skating and even more changing division, I didn’t know anybody and I arrived in the cliche of our sport: rhinestones and sequins allied with arrogance.
The competition was intense: the girls weren’t there to make friends, but to win and become a skating star. Pretty ironic when you’re not even in the best division to achieve this ambition…

Maëliss was the exception. She didn’t know me but she was the only one to say hello, to talk to me and to be kind. So that I was surprised, but happy: my first TDF had not used me to that…
After that, I looked for who she was, and I was hoping to do the same competitions as her. In addition, she was an excellent skater who ranked at the top of the competition, the opposite of me! 😅
For once, social networks and the internet do things well: that’s how we were able to keep contact and create a sincere friendship that continues today.
She’ll join the world of synchro in 2010, and she’ll leave in a foreign team like me, but in Sweden.

Competitive but Friends!
Photo taken in April 2015

Regarding my summers, nothing special on the horizon: I participated in the second and third edition of summer-camp at Le Mans organized by my club in 2009 and 2010.
The only difference is that I had to split myself in two. Rouen rink closed for renovations, and to ensure the construction of our new synchro programs, we made a cohesive team camp during one week at Le Mans.
My second week at Le Mans was special figure skating and it was also an opportunity to set up my new solo program.

In August 2009, I had the chance to participate at a summer camp with all the best skaters of Normandy in Cherbourg. This camp brought together skaters from the 1st, 2nd and 3rd divisions. For a week, we had the opportunity to learn new things from coaches of other clubs, whether on ice or off-ice. We were like a big summer camp where we lived together. Again, I found myself in an event where was Bruno Massot, future Olympic champion in pairs in 2018. Even then, it was a star in the League of Normandy.

For the first time in a camp like this, and although I knew other girls, I had a friend who came from my skating club, Lisa. Thanks to her, it was easier for me to talk with others even though we mostly stayed together. It was good to have a real ally and not feel alone. Not that I have a problem with loneliness, I’m rather solitary by nature, but usually, I had the impression of disturbing: that we didn’t accept that I was there. But my place, I deserved it by working hard.

We have more friends with skaters of Rouen, our clubs are closest to each other. In addition, being part of Team Synchro Energie, and having training in Rouen, it was also easier to meet again.
In fact, Cyrielle, Rouen’s figure skater, will eventually try synchronized skating and join our team.

A other skater from my club, Louis, was also part of the camp: we were therefore three representatives of the Louviers club. But for once, he could have male friends, so he took advantage of it.
Girls and boys for a week without a love and flirtation? Impossible.
Was I concerned? Obviously!

My 2009 – 2010 season didn’t have any particular adventures. I continued to participate in Tournois de France.
This year was significant in synchro, certainly my best season in France. Therefore, and because in a team, the most important is collective, my focus was on Team Synchro Energie rather than « me. »
Still, I continued my little way in this new world by participating in various competitions to gain experience.
In 2008, we also asked MaryClass to create a dress that I wore during both seasons.

Anecdote: I have always loved learning. I had been told: « Agathe, be a sponge. Hold it everything we told you and as soon as possible. »
That’s what I did in skating. I learned quickly because I was passionate. Only I struggled to stabilize my double jumps. Work consistency, it wasn’t really my force. I felt that by working new difficulties, it would help me to stabilize the oldest and therefore the easiest. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work like that.
While in training, I struggled to succeed my double Lutz, who did not go for 3 months Jacques Mrozek was visiting the rink and I was happy to see him again. I know that without him, I certainly wouldn’t have progressed so fast.
From the edge of the ice, he started to coach me, and I felt bad to go see vis-a-vis my coaches on the ice. But finally in two tries with his advice, my double Lutz was back.
This anecdote reminds me of how good he was. He had no qualms about the skater, he simply passed on his knowledge.
Unfortunately, I came across an interview for a local newspaper about him. He was in complete disagreement with the functioning of the Federation, and although I agree with him, it’s enough to oust you at such times. The Federation is ready to lose an admirable coach for politics. I hope someday that will change.

I would only say that the most outstanding experience of this season was the Normandy Championships.
Many skaters are looking to stay in the sport one way or the other after their sporting career. For once, it was by doing the training judge.
These apprentice judges, and friends of my competitors, came into the locker room and one of them said: « It is me who gave you the +1 to your spin! »

It was from that moment that I understood: before me, in the locker room, it had just been confessed that some points not necessarily justified had been given. The bad image of skating is well founded and it begins at all levels. That’s a shame.

From that moment, I didn’t give any more importance to the Normandy Championship. I came here for the experience, to spend good moments with my club and my friends but I didn’t expect anything from this competition in terms of result.
I never liked to skate in front of people I knew because it was stressing me even more, so this competition was always a challenge for me unlike TDF.
But why, when I skated correctly in TDF, I was able to beat them, but very rarely, or even never see, in the Normandy Championship?

Anecdote : Coupe Porte de l’Eau 2009, Louviers.

My club was used to organize a competitive figure skating for skaters 3rd, 4th and 5th division. Since joining the second division I haven’t participated, but it has become a tradition to be present to encourage other skaters of my club, or simply to help the good management of the competition.

My dad was managing the music with another volunteer and during the last installments before the start of the competition they seemed to have heard meowing. However, they didn’t take the time to check before the end of the competition. So at the end of the day, under a tarp, they discovered three kittens.

We knew that as soon as we left, the owner of the rink would get rid of them… So after negotiations with my father, he told me that I could take them if I went to get them before I got out of the rink. I was right in front of the door, and I didn’t hesitate a second to turn around, followed by Alycia, my friend. We found a cardboard and put them in, heading to my house. The next morning, during the check-up at the vet, we learned that they were babies, barely a week, and that we would have to feed them with a bottle every 4 hours if possible!

That’s what we did, or rather what my mother did, rising at night! Despite the veterinarian’s fears about the litter’s female, the three kittens survived. We kept both males, and we gave the third kitten to Marine, one of my teammates and daughter of one of my coaches.

Today, they’re certainly the most affectionate cats I have had, and they’re still part of our lives. This is one of the reasons why I like to go back to France, but also for which the Louviers skating rink will always have a place apart in my heart. It’s my childhood, my adolescence, the construction of the person I’m today and a lot of memories.

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