Sunday, February 1, 2009

Striving to become the top Swiss figure skater

Jamal Othman has been wedded to figure skating since the age of six – a passion that finally paid off when he picked up the title of Swiss national champion.

The 22-year-old took over from Stéphane Lambiel as Switzerland's top male competitive skater in December, after winning the men's national championships in La Chaux-de-Fonds.

He developed an affinity with the ice after taking his first steps on a rink in his home city of Bern.

"I was always a skater. From the first second I was on the ice I really liked it. There was no question any more what I was going to do," Othman told swissinfo after a training session at Bern's newly revamped Post Finance Arena.

"I started with one practice a week but soon it became a daily thing. I went to school and I practised. That was pretty much it. But it was what I wanted."

At his side ever since has been coach Jacqueline Kiefer, under whose tutelage he started competing at the tender age of six and travelled to the Netherlands aged nine for his first continental competition. She knew from the start that she was onto "something special".

"He stuck out. You didn't even have to tell him anything. He just moved. He turned without knowing what to do," Kiefer remembers.

Without any prompting, the young boy quickly showed an ambitious streak, winning his first competition. "He wanted to be the best even then," Kiefer says. "As a coach you work with thousands of skaters and you are very lucky if you find someone like him."

Full article.

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