Sognu by Amaury Vassilli – Rio
The previous season had left me with a bitter taste, I was a little lost. The only thing I knew: I didn’t want to relive a season like this, full of doubts, not to feel out of place. Despite my uncertainty, Valérie and Anne-Sophie suggested that I come to the summer camp with the team to help me make a choice: continue or stop the TSE adventure.
In any case, I was going to be there to train in figure skating with my club.
They were right to give me this chance. They knew it would help me make the right decision: Stay. Indeed, the summer camp was a revelation for me. Even though I had been disappointed in the previous season, I had no desire to stop synchro and leave my team.
Sometimes you can get lost a bit along the way, but the important thing is to find yourself. I felt guilty for doubting my team, but since then I have promised myself that this would never happen again. I will devote body and soul to my team and I will make sure that I am an essential member to make our dreams come true.
Fun Fact: During this camp, a rest period (nap) was planned in the afternoon. With Camille, we didn’t intend to sleep, so every day we watched the clips on TV.
On Friday, to Lazy Song music by Bruno Mars, we danced the choreography for our few spectators in the room. At the end of the week, we were called indefatigable little demons!
For this season, we had 3 competitions selected by the Federation for the qualification path to the World Championships which took place in Gothenburg, Sweden. To decide between us in case of equality, the coefficient system of competition was maintained. We thus had to prove ourselves:
– At the Masters, in Lyon, mid-November,
– At the French Elite Championships, in Dammarie-les-Lys, mid-December,
– At the Spring Cup, in Milan, Italy, mid-February.
Besides, a new Senior team had just joined the competition: Ex’l Ice, from Paris. Now, we were 4 teams wanting to fight for qualification for Worlds. Only one team will be selected, the battle was going to be tough!
Before our first competition, we had 3 days of training during our October school vacation. The Normandy League had brought in for the occasion the coach of the Les Suprêmes Junior and Senior, Marilyn Langlois. Later, I will learn that it was her first year as a senior team coach. It was my first meeting with her, and far from the last…
Either way, we had a huge chance and opportunity: we were going to learn from one of the best in Canada but also from the world, and that was a huge asset before our first big date.
For me, it was a daydream. I met the coach of my favorite team from 2010. I was impressed and I had stars in my eyes.
Valérie and Anne-Sophie had asked her to watch our programs, to improve them if necessary, to do what was necessary to win. For us, she did Valérie’s strategy: simplify the levels of the program to ensure that they were validated while focusing on the quality of execution and therefore get our points on the GOE (Grade of Execution). A smart technique for a team that is in the middle/bottom of the world table, but unthinkable to be part of the elite. With her, our long program was finally over.
In just 3 days, we had made great progress and we felt ready for the Masters. Also, we now had new exercises to improve our skating quality.
The first competition of the season is always the most exciting, especially since I was Senior. I loved the fact that several teams are fighting for a place, I was eager to discover the themes and the programs of the other teams, but especially to compare and evaluate our work.
Were we in the race for qualification? Will we win the first round?
We had a good performance for our short program with no big major mistakes. A few minor misalignments and straights, but the whole thing was good. We were second, which was pretty decent.
On the other hand, the Masters marked the comeback of les Zoulous. They took first place in the provisional standings with their short program. A hell of a progression seen how the previous season had ended.
The biggest surprise came to Atlantides. The team had been unbeatable last season and were now in third place. The launch of this season was full of twists and turns and promises to be exciting!
Our long program will experience more adventures! I blame superstition!
Indeed, with Alicia, we had a ritual: being placed in the front line at the beginning of the program, we exchanged eye contact each time we were in a position to start the long program. Unfortunately, for the competition, we missed each other! Besides, it’s my fault: in the euphoria and adrenaline of the moment, I forgot a little, and when I remembered it, it was too late…
I told myself that it was okay, that everything will be fine anyway: I fell in the angle intersection and Alicia in the pivoting bloc… At the end of our performance, we told each other that we would never miss our little moment. It has become our superstition.
During my 5 years of TSE, this will be my only fall in competition.
Despite everything, even with these two falls, we kept the 2nd place! To me, it tasted like a victory. With the TSE, I had just beaten the Atlantides, a team that I had admired for a long time. Also, although Zoulous had impressed me and there were a lot of points to get to hope to take their 1st place, this competition was very encouraging for the rest of the season. I couldn’t wait to get back to training to get our first victory!
After the Masters, we had a second league camp, but this time in Dunkerque. It was an opportunity for us and for the other teams to work with new persons.
I didn’t necessarily have good memories of this internship, but I retained two positive points:
The first, to strengthen cohesion with the teams of the Louviers and Rouen club because it is the future and the succession of the TSE.
The second was to skate in a new rink.
Indeed, I had already come to the Dunkerque rink in 2009, but as a supporter of the Louviers teams for the French Championships, (I also think that I had been a little tiring… Sorry) but I hadn’t had the opportunity to skate there. A tragedy when at the time, my goal was to skate in as many ice rinks in France as possible!
What I remember perfectly, however, is how cold it was in the city but also the ice rink! It was similar to the cold of the Louviers ice rink!
We were entering our last preparation for the French Championships when an unfortunate event occurred. One week before our departure, the team had to face a test which it certainly didn’t expect and for which no one is prepared in life: our coach, Anne-Sophie, had an infarct…
It was a shock and a big fright. Fortunately, it was more fear than harm: despite everything, she was lucky and she was fine.
What was certain was that she couldn’t accompany us to Dammarie-les-Lys, and that she would be absent for several weeks. Health comes first, but we will skate and think about her. We were determined to bring her the title back! ♥
In the rink, Anne-Sophie was my coach, but outside she was also a friend of my family. We spent Christmas 2010 together, she even gave me a teddy bear, named Oscar, which is still in Canada with me today.
Fun Fact: In 2007, when I went to strengthen her Novice team (See Article), she found me too nice and asked me to insult her to bring out my personality! I was shocked and I was not able to: I have too much respect for my coaches!
Despite the joy of being in competition and the fact that we looked good, a strange atmosphere reigned around the team. Valérie was doing her best for us in this rather delicate situation. This desire to do well, linked to the latest events and to the stress of the competition, made the nerves give way: one of my teammates burst into tears 10 minutes before embarking on the ice.
I admit I didn’t understand that reaction at the time, but now I realize that at 17, I was already going through life’s hardships as a soldier, a « heartless robot. » I knew how to put my emotions in a box so that they didn’t affect me. Usually, this is very useful, but sometimes I can pass for a heartless…
Our short program will be neither good nor bad, and we had a fall. So we were 3rd in the standings, but we intended to catch up with the long program. This season we knew it was our strength.
Unfortunately, this wasn’t our competition. Before half of our performance, our program is marred by 2 falls. The first leading to the second. Despite our second place in the long program, that will not be enough to move up the standings. We therefore end these French Championships in third place.
Obviously, I was disappointed, but given the circumstances and our performances which weren’t at their best, I felt that we weren’t in our place: we were made to be second. Unfortunately, it’s the sport and we can’t control the result but I was impatiently awaiting the French Cup for the « revenge » and to prove that my theory was true.
Before the French Cup, we participated in the Interligues, which took place in Rouen.
It was an opportunity for us to see if our work had paid off, so we were ready for our next deadline, focus on the final details to make a difference, but above all, to express our Love to Anne-So. We couldn’t wait to find the second half of our shock buddy.
The French Cup 2012 was filled with contradictory emotions, a real roller coaster.
To begin with, we were lucky to find Anne-Sophie, even if she wasn’t with us all the time. Then, despite a correct short program with one fall, the result wasn’t there: we obtained a total of 27,78 points… Big disappointment but also fear: the new Ex’l Ice team had obtained 27,38 points, they were behind us just 0,40 points!
Atlantides was the second French team with a total of 31,52 points and Zoulous had taken off with 35,12 points. It was unthinkable to be able to catch up with Zoulous, but I intended to regain second French place. Our competition was between the French teams, I knew very well that it was impossible to reach the podium of the French Cup!
Fun Fact: During the Kiss and Cry of the short program, we had the chance to meet the Rouen tenor, Amaury Vassili, the interpreter of our music. This meeting will not mark me more than that, and it was mutual.
The day of the short program was behind us, now we had to focus on the long. Despite the pressure, we were determined to give the best of ourselves and it was mission successful. Our program had lived up to our expectations.
We knew the Atlantides had a 64,34 points score on the long program, so when we heard our score was 68,80 points we couldn’t help but believe it…
Our short program point gap was significant. Did we make our comeback, or did we just narrow our gap?
Atlantides had a final score of 95,86 points. We were waiting: « Team Synchro Energie obtained a total score of 96,52 points. » Explosion of joy on the Kiss and Cry, we had just regained « our » second French place!
Ex’l Ice had obtained 76,26 points and Zoulous had taken off, with the bonus of skating in the second group. They finished the competition with 108,06 points.
Even though I still had the ambition to finish first French team, I was realistic enough to realize that les Zoulous were better than us and above all, untouchable. I was already happy to have regained this second place after a poor performance at the French Championships.
This French Cup will also mark an innovation for 2 years. Indeed, the French teams engaged on the selection path to the World Championships were also part of the French Senior D1 Championship circuit. That is to say that in addition to the Elite French Championships, we could also win a French Champions title based on our ranking in our three selection competitions.
Unsurprisingly, with 3 victories, the title went to les Zoulous. Thanks to our second French place in the French Cup, we finished Vice-Champions of France D1, Atlantides in 3rd place and Ex’l Ice in fourth. This system was quite special and for my part, quite useless. Only positive: we were in the place that I thought ours from the beginning.
This podium took place at the same time as the Senior podium of the French Cup! There were two aspects to participating in this podium:
1. It was inappropriate to do it at the time, everyone was wondering what was going on and they were right.
2. It was still cool to participate in the podium. Failing not to win a French Cup medal, we found ourselves alongside the best teams in the world. However, I didn’t want to be next to the best, I wanted their place. I wanted to be them.
While waiting for that to happen maybe one day, we took the opportunity to take a photo with Team Unique from Finland, and especially with Paradise, from Russia, of which I was totally a fan of their long program on Moulin Rouge! I had stars in my eyes, that’s also the magic of the French Cup!
After the French Cup, it was already time to go back to training to prepare for our last competition of the season: the Spring Cup in Milan, Italy.
Even though I had been to Italy in the past, it wasn’t to participate in the Spring Cup. I had always wanted to participate, so I was happy to realize a new desire. Indeed, one of my goals at that time was to participate in all international competitions: after this, I only missed the Mozart Cup in Austria.
It was my regret from the previous season: not going to international competition. Even though we had participated in the French Cup, it’s different because the competition takes place in France, at home, in our ice rink.
Unsurprisingly, our short program, although it was a decent performance, places us third for the French team… This program has really been the weak point of our season. However, we had obtained 32,94 points, which was a big improvement in two weeks. Just for that, we were still happy. Atlantides had 33,39 points and Zoulous 34,05 points. Ex’l Ice wasn’t participating in the competition.
We know we would do better with our long program, but it was a shame that we always had to compensate. In addition, the battle was going to be difficult: we were the first senior team on ice and the two other French teams were in the second group… The result of the short program and the draw of the long program, made us default, but we didn’t intend to let ourselves down!
Fun Fact: During the off-ice warm-up, Valérie announces that there are problems with the light on the rink. Indeed, while a junior team was on the ice, the light suddenly went out! She advised us on how to react if this happens, but luckily we had no problem!
However, I wasn’t completely at ease with our performance in the long program. Indeed, between the French Cup and the Spring Cup, we had to make mini changes and replace skaters. Because of school, they had to return to France earlier.
For that, they were flying on Sunday evening, and we didn’t know if they would be able to skate the long program because of the draw.
In the end, we opened the competition and they could have skated, but it was too late to back down. It was a bit unsettling to have made changes but I trusted my teammates. Either way, we weren’t playing our Worlds qualification anymore, were we? If I had known…
Indeed, despite our various disadvantages, we obtained a total score of 100,61 points and we passed in front of two teams skating in the second group, it was a great achievement! But above all, with a real surprise!
We knew Atlantides had a total score of 102,99 points, and we were in the stands to watch their performance, as well as that of Zoulous. Hearing the scores, we noticed that we had beaten them on the long program!! Their total score was 100,56 points… We just beat Les Zoulous by 0,05 points!! It was an explosion of joy!
We had just achieved the impossible, but above all we were really close to our goal: qualifying for the World Championships. Indeed, if we had finished second at the French Championships in December, with the system of coefficients at each competition, we would have qualified for the Worlds… We were so close. It was infuriating but also encouraging!
In any case, our long program had caused a sensation and although we are a team from the bottom of the table, the spectators were talking about us. Someone also told Valérie that it was a shame to have been the first team on the ice because otherwise we would certainly have had a better ranking…!
Indeed, we brought together two teams from the second group, and in order to succeed, we had to make a good impression on the judges!
We will end the season with a last competition, in France, in Caen. We were greeted like « stars ». In presentation for our entry on ice, our ninth place in the Spring Cup. We were proud!
For me, the 2012 Spring Cup was TSE’s best performance of all years, despite a rather difficult pivot block. Thanks to this season and this competition, my love of synchro just got stronger. This Spring Cup is definitely one of my favorite memories with the TSE, and it clearly has its place in the ranking of my best competitions. We had good performances and the osmosis there was in the team was incredible.
We were so close to qualifying for the Worlds that I decided to take my team to the top. There was no question of doubt, our time was finally coming, next season would be ours!
I was ready.