Where are French pair skaters ?

13/12/13 - by Kate Royan


Pair skating is said to be the hardest and the most dangerous discipline on ice. We know that Daria is injured (stress fracture), hence Popova/Massot missing Nationals. We witnessed James/Ciprès' poise and steady improvement. But then ? What after those four ?


Christopher Boyadji has gone to the UK to find a new partner, Amani Fancy. Méline 

Habéchian, who trains in Winterthur, recently won the... Swiss championships with Noah Scherer, (who is from Switzerland - the reason why...), ending up 18 points ahead of Herbrikova/Roulet from Neufchâtel. Camille Mendoza is training with a foreign partner. Remain the Juniors Maëlle Matheron and Alexandre Wyts, who recently won the Trophy of France in Saint Ouen and who will soon be seen competing again in Lyon on January 11 and 12. 


Meaning : 2 senior couples and one junior. Whether you consider the glass half empty or half full, you can say it's better than nothing. Or you can talk sidereal emptiness. That is, without insulting pair skaters in activity. They are not reponsible for the loss of interest in the discipline.  On the contrary, they are its window and its driving force. But a window nobody wants to decorate and a driving force no one cares to fuel. Who after them ?


And why such a desertion ? Too difficult ? Too much sacrifices involved, too much pressure ? A lack of support from a Federation that tend to focus on other disciplines ? Both ? Not so long ago, some couples, who are now retired and/or have started a new career, were training in the middle of public sessions at their home rink. Unthinkable, dangerous, appalling. All qualifying adjectives were used, not without reason.


When you think that pair skating was, for a very long time, the beacon for the whole sport, a reference, the one that attracted all the eyes and viewers... If this disaffection seems to be more or less general on a world scale (for some years now, it has proved difficult to gather 24 couples for big international events), who benefits, for instance, from the experience of French pair skaters like Abitbol/Bernadis, twice European vice-champions, ten times National champions ?  Right now, a real TV show... (Sarah is actually the producer and actress of her own figure skating show, Rêves de Glace). Where are Nicolas Osseland, Mehdi Bouzzine, Mélodie Châtaigner and all the others ? Why is Maximin Coïa coaching in Canada and not in France ?


Of course, pair skating is tough. It's ultra expensive. But why sacrificing it in favor of other disciplines that are not at their best either ? Is it the deliberate choice of the French Federation ? Is it a total and predictable absence of candidates to the succession of past champions ? Nobody seems to be able to answer this question. And it's a shame. One swings between both theories over the course of the events or over their absence. The future of a whole discipline is a heavy load for only 3 couples, especially when one of them is so young. Warning : the same thing could happen to ice dance. Where are the future French skaters ?