Stéphane started his campaign on Thursday when he stunned the audience with an incredible new short programme to Rossini’s William Tell Overture: A very powerful programme, with exquisite step sequences and choreography, quite clearly aimed towards Vancouver – what better way to represent Switzerland at the upcoming Olympic Games?
A spellbinding free skate followed on Friday and Stéphane won the competition, 26 points clear. He also won many new fans who had watched him here live for the first time.
So the first goal of the season had been achieved. But not only had Stéphane gained the desired spot for Switzerland, he had also clearly set the tone: he was back, full-heartedly.
My interview with Stéphane was scheduled after the men’s gala practice on Saturday and during the ladies free skate. We met in the press conference area in the entrance hall of the rink and started off there as it was fairly quiet. However, as the ladies event finished, the hall got more and more crowded and we had to move. The closest place we could find was a locker room nearby, so we just went in there. Stéphane was quick to point out that it wasn’t the most glamorous of interview locations: “Sorry, it’s not very sexy in here.”
First of all, congratulations Stéphane. How does it feel to be back?
It feels great, I had a very good time here in Oberstdorf and am really touched by all the support. It’s so early in the season and I’m very happy with my performances.
Yes, last year in October I just couldn’t skate. I was in a lot of pain and having shots all the time and doing physio. And it really disrupts your cycle, you know. I would go on the ice, do a spin and have to come off again because of the pain and stop for a few days. I realized there’s no point, I didn’t want to ruin my body, I would have never been able to skate again and I want to skate forever. So I had to listen to my body. I took two months off and then started again slowly, to build up strength bit by bit. I also saw a physiotherapist in Canada who helped me a lot and now it’s getting better and better. In fact, I haven’t had any pain for the last two weeks at all.
That’s great news. Do you still have to take things slowly now or are you actually back to training 100% again?
I’m fully training again, every day.
You showed a fantastic new short programme. I think this was the shortest short programme I’ve ever seen. It felt as if the 2 minutes 50 were gone in a flash.
Yes, it felt the same for me (laughs).
Everything about this programme was very quick and easy. We did the choreography with Salomé and it basically came together in just three days, it was almost too easy.