Saturday, August 1, 2009

Sweet Revenge

Samuel Contesti came out of nowhere to take the silver medal at the European Championships and to place 5th at Worlds. His story was one of the most intriguing comebacks of the year.

In 2006, Contesti was disesteemed and outcasted by the French Federation. In 2008, however, he returned as a competitor for Italy. Last season, he inspired the audience and judges alike, and achieved Italy's best Men's singles result in 55 years.

"This is a wonderful victory for all of those who supported me," Contesti said at Europeans Helsinki.

Meanwhile, some French officials were following the success of their former athlete with rather grumpy faces. Contesti's silver medal at the 2009 European Figure Skating Championships was bitter for them.

While the former Frenchman came in behind Brian Joubert at both the 2009 European and World Figure Skating Championships, Contesti edged out the other French skaters Yannick Ponsero and Alban Préaubert at Europeans and beat Ponsero again at Worlds. Contesti won his medal for his new country at Europeans, and it was the first one for an Italian man since Carlo Fassi was European Champion in 1954.

What happened?

Contesti's career looked promising until 2005. The son of former French first division soccer player Yves Contesti grew up in Gap and followed his two elder sisters on to the ice when he was four years old. "I was a very active child and I needed to exhaust myself," he said, grinning. "Actually I wanted to play soccer. I just love soccer, and I like all kinds of sports in general. I just had to spend my time and so I went skating," he recalled. "Later I started to compete and I discovered that it was competing that appealed to me a lot."

Contesti trained in Annecy under Didier Lucine, who had some other successful skaters in his club. In 2005, he qualified for the first time for the European team and finished 9th. He also went to Worlds, but missed the final cut when he was ranked 26th after the short program.

Full article.

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