Monday, February 2, 2009

A new start for the French national champion

Yannick Ponsero, the new French national champion, was hardly known on the international scene until this season. His performances on the 2008 Grand Prix Series, however, proved that he was no longer "Mr. One Program Only," as he had been known in the past. Ponsero had always faltered on either the short or free program in any competition he had skated in. This season, it seems he has overcome some of those issues but is not over them entirely.

At Skate Canada, Ponsero won the short program, the first time he had won any segment at a Grand Prix event, but finished fourth after a sixth-place free skate. At the NHK Trophy, he found his consistency, placing third in each segment and earning the bronze medal, his first of any color on the GP circuit. In December, he made his biggest statement, winning gold at the French championships ahead of Alban Préaubert.

Unfortunately, the 22-year-old is not completely over his old ways. A week ago at the 2009 European Championships, Ponsero finished ninth in the short program only to come back a day later to win the free skate with a flawless performance. He finished fourth overall, 0.06 points behind bronze medalist Kevin van der Perren of Belgium.

This result clearly boosted Ponsero's motivation for the weeks and months to come. He detailed his new approach to competition to What are your goals?
Yannick Ponsero: Clearly, my ambition is to get a medal at the Olympic Games. I see every competition I take as a stage toward my goal. I now have a whole staff helping me to reach that goal, and it helps. I have a mental counselor, a physical counselor, a dietitian -- I am probably the first French skater to have gathered such a team around him. We started last summer, and, to tell you the truth, it has already led me to significant results.

ICE: What do they bring to you?
YP: You see, I am one of the only French skaters not to finish my programs down on my knees. I am not exhausted, which proves that my physical preparation is excellent. As for my mental counselor, he has allowed me to frame things, which means that now I know what to do on-ice, off-ice, and even while I am resting. It helps me to develop my self-confidence. At Skate Canada, for instance, several of my competitors skating before me had a hard time. I also had a hard time, yet I managed to hold on to my program and to stick to the quality level I wanted. I even got a +3 GOE [Grade of Execution] for my triple Axel. It showed me that I was able to do it.

Full interview.

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