The 2021 French national ice dance champion with Adelina Galyavieva, Louis Thauron, granted us the pleasure of an interview at the rink side during the Lombardia Trophy, where he accompanied the pair Aurélie Faula and Théo Belle. He told us about his projects, both on and off the ice.
Solène: We haven't seen much of you in the ice rinks since you ended your career in 2021, but you seem to have new projects. Can you tell us about them?
Louis: After ending my ice dance career, I started a family project to create a medical clinic in Paris, so I didn’t have much time to set foot on the ice. I later joined Claude Péri in Bercy. I had never been a coach, but I immediately liked it. I started coaching young skaters and then Aurélie and Théo. I initially worked with them on skating skills. They enjoyed our collaboration and offered me the opportunity to choreograph their programs. It was a challenge since these are programs for pairs, not ice dancers. Other opportunities followed with Romane Télémaque and Lucas Coulon. I also coach ice dancers at Viry-Châtillon. I work on their programs, but we primarily work on skating skills.
Solène: How do you adapt your coaching methods in pairs and ice dance from one discipline to another?
Louis: Although they're two disciplines, I take the same approach. I'm as demanding with one as with the other. Of course, the needs differ. Pairs focus more on jumps, lifts, and spins and generally less on skating skills, which are foundational for dancers.
Solène: You also participated in a national camp for pairs?
Louis: Yes, Fabrice Blondel approached me. It was a very enriching experience. I got to work with pairs I didn't know. We focused on skating skills, especially body movements. Pairs need this, and I believe we can go much further.
Solène: Which ice dancers do you currently enjoy watching on the international stage?
Louis: I think of Marjorie Lajoie and Zachary Lagha, who showcase great attack in their programs. This was somewhat lost for a few years when everyone tried to imitate Gabriella and Guillaume. It's good that teams are offering something different and dynamic. It's courageous as it's more challenging to maintain good technique on faster music. In this same line of thought, I was impressed by Katerina Mrazkova and Daniel Mrazek. I also think of Loïcia Demougeot and Théo Lemercier, with whom I worked in Villard-de-Lans. They have great programs, and I enjoyed working with them as well as with Marie Dupayage and Thomas Nabais. I also watched Dania Mouaden & Théo Bigot's programs during the Junior Grand Prix in Linz. I didn't know them but had heard about them. I enjoyed their on-ice personality and dedication. They seem mature for their age.
Solène: What do you think of the evolution of ice dance?
Louis: I'm not convinced by recent developments, especially in rhythm dance. For the audience, the programs look a lot alike. I rarely enjoy a rhythm dance these days. The decision not to keep the compulsory dance with its steps and positions isn't beneficial for preserving our sport. Some dancers are in the world's top rankings with questionable basic dancing skills. We see too much parallel skating and open positions. That's unfortunate. Our discipline is losing value, and we're getting closer to pairs. We should find more valorizing themes and evolutions for ice dance, allowing it to retain its soul. Moreover, by trying to complicate the rules on lifts and twizzles, we lose the beauty of ice dance. A lift's complexity doesn't necessarily make it beautiful. Gabriella and Guillaume offered simple, musical, well-danced, and smooth elements. We shouldn't seek acrobatics to get levels. We're not gymnasts on ice.
Solène: So I gather you don't miss competing under these conditions.
Louis: I feel right in my place. I'm happy to watch my colleagues and friends skate!
Solène: What were the reasons for ending your career?
Louis: I had significant hip problems, and doctors recommended a few months break. Another reason I stopped competing was our non-selection for the 2022 Olympics. Gabriella and Guillaume chose not to participate in the 2021 World Championships, which assigned Olympic spots per country. I think it was part of their job. Adelina and I went, along with Evgenia Lopareva & Geoffrey Brissaud, so that France could compete in the Olympics. With our results, we secured a spot and gave it to Gabriella and Guillaume so they could fight for the gold medal. They didn't send any encouraging messages for this competition. I was disappointed. I understand the importance of an Olympic gold medal, but team spirit is essential. I think the same scenario in the US, Canada, or Russia would have made much more noise.
NB: Olympic spots are assigned by discipline and country based on the results of the World Championships preceding the Olympics. With a 16th (Adelina Galyavieva/Louis Thauron) and a 17th place (Evgenia Lopareva/Geoffrey Brissaud) in the 2021 World Championships, France was assigned a single spot for the 2022 Olympics. France would have had three spots if Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron had participated and won a medal.
Solène: Can you tell us about the studies you pursued alongside your career?
Louis: I first studied engineering at INSA Lyon when I trained with Muriel Zazoui, Olivier Schoenfelder, and Romain Haguenauer. I didn't have plans for my professional future at that time, but I enjoyed scientific studies. When I went to train in the US, INSA Lyon arranged for me to continue studying. I operated a robot equipped with a webcam from Detroit that allowed me to move around the school, approach the blackboard, talk, turn, etc. I had a 180-degree view. This robot was later reused for other elite athletes as well as for students with disabilities or hospitalized. I later wanted to continue my studies in a more business-oriented program. EM Lyon offered a distance learning program, which was perfect for me. I was living in Moscow at the time. I was studying with people with about ten years of professional experience, which was enriching.
Solène: How did the idea of opening a clinic come about?
Louis: I always had this idea of creating a family clinic with my sisters. One is a dentist, and the other is a midwife-gynecologist. This project kept me very busy after the end of my skating career. I attended numerous meetings with the architect, bankers, accountants, real estate agents, suppliers... The pace was stressful but very motivating. We opened the clinic on March 28, 2023, in Le Perreux-sur-Marne. We are delighted, and everything is going very well. I'm the clinic's director. The administrative part is quite heavy for a medical structure, but I am starting to be able to delegate some of the work, which allows me to have projects related to skating. I like the balance I've found between these two activities.
Solène MATHIEU - Skate Info Glace