My first step at Senior Level

2010-2011 Season
I Love Paris by Vanessa Paradis – Circus

After our Junior World Challenge Cup, we were more motivated than ever for the new season. We wanted to take our revenge. However, sometimes in life, plans change.
Last year, we created a Team Synchro Energie in the Novice category to form a real core, cohesion between the two clubs, and prepare the next generation of our team. Unfortunately, it will only one season for various reasons.
It’s a pity because it could have been a great training opportunity as well as the creation of a beautiful structure that could have made a huge contribution to our sport in France.

We were short of skaters to complete our junior team, and some of my teammates had to leave because of the age limit (You should not be 19 before July 1). A choice was presented to us: stop the team or move up to the Senior category. Changing categories was obvious!

At almost 16 years old, I made my entry into the « big league. » For a long time, I thought it was only due to the circumstances and not because I was a good skater. Now I know it wasn’t, because otherwise I would never have been chosen!
It’s often impressive to be at the Senior level at this age, and now I understand why. To be part of the top, you need a certain maturity and quality of skating that you don’t necessarily have the chance to develop by arriving too early in Senior.

Despite our change of category, our objective remained the same: to qualify for the World Championships. Maybe not the first year, but as soon as possible would be the best!
For this, the French Federation had slightly changed its system. We had three qualifying competitions, each of them had its own coefficient. Either way, if three different teams each won a competition, the team winning the one with the highest coefficient, would win their qualification for the Worlds, in Helsinki, in Finland, and would thus represent France!

For this season, the qualifying competitions were:
– Masters in Lyon, early November,
– The French Championships in Tours, mid-December,
– The French Cup in Rouen, early February.

We started the new season quickly. From April, we had the music for our short program, and our trainers started the choreography.
For our free program, we were fortunate to have Merja Laakkonen, Finnish trainer who had been working with us for two years, during our team-building camp, at Le Mans, in early July. She also helped us with learning lifts, which is the biggest difference between the Junior and Senior categories.

TSE Sénior with Merja Laakkonen.

After our summer vacation, it was time to go back on ice. However, the Rouen ice rink was closed for repairs, and in Louviers, we never had the chance to go back on the ice before the end of September – beginning of October.
Our return on ice is made at Compiegne. It is also that synchro! We can be adversaries a year but we also know how to support and help each other when necessary.

Especially since our first competition was fast approaching, and we encountered some problems. Between our injuries and our difficulties with lifts, we had to make concessions and it wasn’t without displeasing me. We would only have 2 lifts instead of 4 at the Masters, which was a considerable disadvantage.
I was on one of two groups that wouldn’t do lift. For us, it was a black flip. Besides, I was not the girl lifted, but rather a lifter. Only for the backflip, they asked me to try… Being a former gymnast, I wasn’t afraid so I was chosen!

Fun Fact: A few weeks before our first competition, we had received the visit of Philippe Maitrot, a French international technical specialist, to make sure that we had well built our programs. It was I who had the honor of telling him the order of our elements as well as their levels.

For the second edition of the Masters, the competition was now open to foreign teams to gain popularity. We were 4 teams, including three French in the race for qualification:
Atlantides of Bordeaux
Zoulous of Lyon
And us, Team Synchro Energie from Rouen-Louviers.

Fun Fact: For a long time, as for Black Diam’s, I had admiration for Atlantides, before they were our adversaries. Besides, the previous season I had a team calendar where each member of the team wrote a word of encouragement, I was totally a fan.
In addition, I thought that after my Junior years with Rouen-Louviers, I would go skating with them. Again, life has reserved other surprises in store for me. That day, they were our competitors and I didn’t necessarily feel up to it. They had the experience and the maturity that we didn’t have.

However, we have created a surprise! By not having any particular expectations, apart from taking advantage of the present moment, having no pressure, and executing our program as it should, we won the short program. Excuse me? I couldn’t believe it! It was what we call a fanfare entry for our 1st year in Senior!

Photo of the Short Program.

However, doubts are very quickly appeared: the difference in points was small, our program was not strong enough without 2 lifts… How to keep the first place?
I didn’t believe in victory when I arrived, but now that we were in the first place, I didn’t want to go down in the ranking although it seemed impossible to win.
Unfortunately, this was the case, despite a good program, our technique was not up to par. 3rd in the long program, 3rd in the final ranking. A disappointment, I was hoping to at least finish 2nd…

Kiss & Cry after the long program,
a little disappointment.

We were third today, but I had no intention of staying there. For me, after this cold shower and the emotional roller coaster, it was time to return to training to work on our weak points. The first, and not the least, lifts.

It was also at this time that I experienced my first injury: inflammation of the hamstring ischium. It may seem trivial, but my brother, who was in fencing, had already had this injury, which had worsened in bone tearing with the consequence, stopping sport and physiotherapy sessions. It was out of the question that the same thing would happen to me.
One week before leaving for the French Championships, I had to stop skating for a bit so that it would pass. It was obviously not an option for me, nor for Valérie and especially for Anne-Sophie, my coaches, to replace me.
So I made compromises to be able to be there for my team but also to skate.
The day before our departure, I had a pat on the back of my thigh for the weekend before skating at the gala in Rouen, which was our last performance before leaving.

Thursday, December 10, 2010, Day of the departure for the Elite French Championships. After the last training in Rouen where I didn’t skate, we left in the direction of Tours by mini-bus. It was also our last competition with the France 3 Normandie team, before the release of their report.

It was exciting to come back to the French championships and have new competition in common with the other skating disciplines. However, it is always difficult to find the necessary space for teams. The ice rink isn’t very large, we had to share a single locker room, as well as a judo tatami to warm up. Something to feel a little cramped.

Despite the conditions, this didn’t stop us from putting ourselves in our bubble and making a good performance for our short program. However, small disappointment: we were second unlike the Masters where we had obtained the first place. I had dared to think that our short program was acquired following the result of our first competition, but it was a mistake. The competition was fierce and shouldn’t be underestimated.

Following our performance, I hoped to be able to watch the competition, especially the men’s short program because I always preferred their skating. However, with the presence of France 3 Normandie, my plans were short-circuited. For us, it was towards the Christmas Market to ride the Carousel!

A photo worth a thousand words:
You can see all the enthusiasm I had for being there!

We had worked on our free program a lot since the last time. We were hoping to make a difference this time. We were perhaps second but I didn’t intend to descend from this step, and I wouldn’t have said no to climb the top of the podium!
One of our biggest changes was our dress. At the Masters, we had feedback that it was perhaps a little too junior. To change that, we moved our flowers and added a corset. Small constraint: it took time to put it so we were already in our dress for warming up, but without putting the sleeves, to avoid having halos under the arms!

The sleeves of the dress, below
our tank top!

Our long program was a success! I was happy with our performance despite my little fright. Indeed, at the end of no hold, I had a little imbalance on my last twizzle and I barely restrained myself from falling! It was clearly not the time and I remember thinking to myself: « No, that is out of the question that it is happening now! » After a little mental destabilization, I quickly recovered and we ended our program without a hitch.
Unsurprisingly, we finished in second place with a substantial point gap between Atlantides and us. Despite everything, I was happy, we had gained a place since the first competition.

We aren’t going to the World Championships this year. Having won the first two qualifying competitions, Atlantides had just won their qualification as well as their title of Champions of France. Even with the new coefficient system, the French Cup couldn’t change anything in the results. We would have to finish the first French team and Atlantides had to be the third one… Let’s be realistic, there was very little chance that this would happen!
It does not matter, nothing prevented us from finishing our season in style!

Alicia, with Florent Amodio’s jacket!

Fun Fact: For the medal ceremony, we had the honor of a surprise guest in our judo room. For no apparent reason, Florent Amodio moved in with us and not in the men’s locker room. We were totally fans and Alicia even had the nerve to put on his sleeveless jacket!

By finishing second, we didn’t participate for the first time in the Gala des Champions on Sunday. A little disappointed, but even if we had won, it was possible that we wouldn’t participate. Indeed, there had been significant snowfall to such an extent that if we didn’t leave as soon as possible on Sunday, we would have been blocked on the roads!

The last competition of this qualification path was the French Cup! With little new for this edition. To begin, on Thursday evening, before the draw which took place at the City Hall of Rouen, we participated in a parade as well as a flashmob. We paraded through the streets of Rouen to music, proud to represent our countries! Once all the teams arrived at the town hall, the flashmob started. For having lived it several times, I am sorry to say it, but the first edition will remain the best!

My dream was to do the French Cup, but after this edition, I realized that my dream was rather to do the French Cup but in the Senior category. It was impressive to see so many spectators in the stands. I was wondering how I could skate in front of all these people, but above all, how much I wanted to do it again!
Performance levels, we have executed two good programs. But not surprisingly, we remain the second French team, behind the Atlantides.

The latest innovation was a Team Party on Saturday evening, organized on the training rink, right next to the competition rink, during the Senior event. Carpets had been installed on the ice, with a buffet and a giant screen to broadcast the competition. As skaters, what we wanted was to watch from the stands, not on a screen!

To end our season, we participated in two other competitions. One in Valenciennes, Les Hauts-de-France, was when we arrived to skate our short program, we learned that the Zamboni had problems. It would be impossible to make ice for the rest of the evening. Hoping not to convey a bad image of our team, (like « They are divas, they don’t want to skate on bad ice… ») we had decided to postpone it to the next day.
On Sunday, once our performance of the short program ended and the notes received, we went around the track to get back on the ice and thus make our official practice of the long program! Being the only registered team, we finished first.

Our second competition took place in Caen, leaving me with a bitter taste. We were a team on the selection path for representing France at Worlds and we almost got beaten by a team from the second division…
It was very impressive and cool for them but to me, it was just unthinkable and unacceptable. I didn’t understand how it could happen. I had doubts: Did we have our place on this circuit? I didn’t know if I wanted to continue fighting. I was considering stopping TSE …
Especially since my individual season had been beyond my expectations.

From the beginning, this season has been difficult for me. We had just experienced a Junior World Challenge Cup, and although I liked the challenge of our passage in Senior, I would have liked to continue in Junior to reach the objectives that I had set myself.
During the half of the season, I was, with all the « oldies », in nostalgia for the TSE 2009-2010 which didn’t necessarily have to help our new skaters to find their place. And even less to exploit our full potential…
It was only when I arrived at Les Suprêmes, during my first season that I would understand what they felt: Les Suprêmes Sénior 2012-2013 had an incredible season together, as I was fortunate to experience this with the TSE 2009-2010, so much so that we would have liked to relive it a second time. But we had forgotten that we must take advantage of the present moment to avoid living in the past and thus be ready to seize the opportunities that the future holds for us.

To the TSE 2010-2011, Thank you.
Thanks to you, I will have learned one thing: to succeed, you have to believe in it from the beginning to the end!

TSE Sénior 2010-2011

Report from France 3 Normandie,
From the French Cup 2010 to the 2011 French Championships

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