Interview with Tomas Verner

Tomas Verner was the first man from the Czech Republic to medal at a European Championship since 1992 when Petr Barna won the title.

Tomas Verner, who placed fifth at Skate Canada and fourth at Cup of Russia didn’t make the cut for the Grand Prix Final, but had a strong comeback when he took silver at the 2007 European Championships.

“I didn’t have any serious problems,” said the 19-year-old regarding the Grand Prix events. “I just needed more time to be able skate my programs with all the planned contents. It took a long time.”

Then came Worlds.

Verner placed ninth after the short when he popped a triple Axel and made a minor mistake on a combination sit spin.

“I didn’t do a god job,” recalled Verner. “I did not relax because there are points in the steps and the spins where I cannot lose any points. You have to do everything perfect because the other guys will not make mistakes like that.”

Despite a sub-par start, Verner rallied back during the long program, landing a quadruple toe loop-triple toe loop combination, a quadruple toe loop, and five triple jumps. However, he stepped out of his ending jump – a triple flip.

“I was a little ashamed to fall my favorite jump (flip) in the same program where I did two quads,” said the five-time Czech champion. “I didn’t fall, but I touched the ice with both hands so I got a deduction for it. I was just tired and kind of loosing my power. I didn’t have enough coordination to rescue the the jump.”

Despite the mistake, Verner placed fourth in the long and rose to fourth overall – a major improvement from his 13th placement last season.

The student from Borovany also placed first at Nebelhorn Trophy and second at Karl Schäfer Memorial this past season.

Verner divides his time training between Oberstdorf, Germany and Leppavirta, Finland under coaches Vlasta Koprivova and Michael Huth. His choreographer is Rostislav Sinitsyn.

“Oberstdorf is more like my second home,” said Verner. “I spend a lot of time there. Finland is just a two or three week camp in the summer, but I love it there.”

Eileen (USA): I loved the dramatic and powerful selection of music used for your LP this and last year, and thus have started listening to Lesiem! What made you decide to use it? What kind of music do you enjoy listening to yourself, and what music do you wish to use in future programs?

Tomas: The decision was an agreement with my choreographer, Rostislav Sinitsyn. I do have some ideas of my future music, but he always comes with something as great as my last free program music was. We are now just about to choose new music for both of my programs. So let you be surprised. :) I enjoy every kind of music – it must have rhythm or contents.

Alexa (ROU): Congrats! How do you feel now after Worlds and what are your goals for next year?

Tomas: Thanks! I felt pretty good after Worlds, now I am back to work on-off ice as hard as I can to be able at least keep my placing from last season for the next one. I have my own goals, but I don’t talk about my personal goals in public.

M. (POL): Tomas, is it true that you said ‘sorry’ to Brian Joubert for being in first place after the short at Euros? There was a rumor like that. Congratulations!

Tomas: I never did this and I won’t ever do it. Why? This is a sport and no one has anything given. I did my best in the short and I guess I deserved my points.

Krista (LAT): What are your brightest memories from 2007 Europeans besides your silver medal? Congratulations on your successful season!

Tomas: Thank you :) It was the last few seconds on the ice while ending my short program. I won’t forget this feeling – ever!!! And right after the music was done, I heard the people. This is always nice to see or feel – someone likes what you do or enjoy it.

Kiki (USA): Tomas, congratulations on your silver medal at Euros and a fantastic showing at Worlds! How did you feel going into the free skate at Euros as the leader after the short program?

Tomas: Truthfully, I tried hard to don’t think about it, because it was my first experience with leading in such a big competition. I didn’t sleep well before the free skating, but after that I didn’t feel any difference on the ice during the warm up.

Nina & Maike (GER): Hey Tomas! Congrats on your great performance at Worlds. It was awesome to watch your free skate. We would like to know if you will come to Oberstdorf this summer and when. Stay as you are!

Tomas: Ich freue mich schon wieder auf Oberstdorf. Ich komme schon gegen 11.6. and bleibe bis zweite woche im July und dann komme ich noch mal wieder, aber selbst ich weiss noch nicht wann genau.

Natalia (RUS): Hi, Tomas. Was the fourth place at Worlds a surprise for you? What were your expectations?

Tomas: I wanted to come under top ten, which I did. Fourth place was better than I expected before I flew to Tokyo. So I was very satisfied with this placing.

Katy: 1) What was the weirdest thing you ever got from your fans? 2) You are planning a new long program for next season, but will you also change your short?

Tomas: I change both of my programs. I never got any weird thing from my fans, but the most funny were: singing flower (song: You are my Sunshine) and a huge pink panther.

Eli (POL): Congrats on your silver medal and an amazing performance at Worlds! I like the idea of ‘biting’ the medals during the medal ceremony at Euros :) Where did you and Brian get this idea from? I’ve never seen something like this before but it looked great :)

Tomas: Thanks! Strange … I always thought this is what you do with your medal when you get it on the podium. I wanted to do it at least once :).

Rosee (FRA): How did you get into ice skating?

Tomas: Because of a girl, when I was 5 years old. I fell in love with her and some days later with figure skating.

Sisinka (CZE): Congratulation to your results this season! Do you have a dog or any pet at home?

Tomas: Thanks! My family and I don’t have any time for pets and we wouldn’t be able to pay enough attention to them as they deserve.

Melody K. (CAN): Congratulations on your wonderful performance at Worlds! You were truly spectacular! You seemed to have more fire and motivation this year. Was there something specific that made the difference?

Tomas: Thanks! Maybe I finally start to grow up :).

Kazu (JPN): Congratulations on the silver at Europeans and fourth place at Worlds in Tokyo! I’m hoping you will visit Japan sometime again. Two questions: How has your life changed after you got good results on the European and World Championships? How would you like to change your skating-life and yourself for next season?

Tomas: Thank you. I don’t want to change anything in skating (or in general) for next season. I guess this one was good, so I will just keep on working and going forward. The last results means only to work harder in my practice. My life changed… but I have lots of to do for my study and practice so I don’t notice any big changes. Except some people recognize me on the streets when I go to school. I was invited to some TV talk show and some opening receptions or ceremony. This is all I guess.

Marina (RUS): First of all I would like to congratulate you on the best season in your career. May the next season be even better! How do you account for such a prominent leap up this season?

Tomas: Thanks :)! This is all about my team work. We work harder and harder every year, but this is not yet enough for itself. We are one strong team holding tightly together in every situation, whatever comes.

Judith (USA): Congratulations on a great season! I have two questions for you: 1. What is the skating scene like in Czech Republic? 2. I know someone else will ask about your great jumps, but where did you develop that sinuous footwork style? It’s beautiful! You’re like Fred Astaire!

Tomas: Thank you :)! There are some people watching figure skating when it comes on TV, so it means only Euros and Worlds. Football and Hockey are the number one on the Czech scene. It’s getting more popular because of my result last year. Good result means more interest of TV and this means more broadcast. Footwork is all about my choreographer, Rostislav Sinitsyn. He is teaching me how to skate and he is building up my skating skills.

Natacha (FRA): Hi and congratulations for this amazing season! You’ve turned out to be this year’s skating revelation and have shown you are capable of beating some of the world’s elite skaters. With that and the huge amount of talent you’ve got, I would like to know what you’re skating ambitions are?

Tomas: Thanks, but I don’t tell my personal ambitions to anybody, sorry. I can say only this: I try to improve from year to year and don’t want to make any steps backward.

Kim (USA): As an American-Czech I am wondering what training is like in the Czech Republic? Also, what do you like most about figure skating and what motivates you?

Tomas: I like the people around me. I find my motivation in more then just one thing, it would be a long story… My practice in the Czech Rep. is good now. I have my practice twice a day on the ice, both one and half hours and one ballet or dance lesson in between. All in afternoon and evening. When I was small (age 5 – 13), I woke up every day at 4:30 for my practice.

Jackson (USA): Hello, and congratulations Tomas! What do you think of your competitors, like Brian Joubert and Stephane Lambiel? Do you feel any pressure going into next season, being placed so close to such names?

Tomas: Thanks :) They are great skaters. I want to be a great skater too some day. I don’t feel any pressure from them. What I want is to try to make a pressure from me to them :).

Malgosia: First off, congratulations on a successful season :) Do you have any superstitions or “lucky rituals” before competing?

Tomas: Thanks! I ALWAYS put my left skate first on! Always.

Yuhon H. (USA): Congratulations on your silver medal at the European Championships! What does this medal mean to you?

Tomas: Thanks! My first big medal and a huge motivation to don’t let this medal be alone in my collection :).

James (USA): Congratulations on your European silver medal and most importantly, your fourth place finish at worlds. I wish you the best of luck for the next season. What aspect of your skating do you think separates you from the best in the world?

Tomas: Thank you! I think what separates me is that I I try to balance both of my programs in one competition. So far I never show my programs both clean. I need to learn how to do it!

Flavia (ROU): Congratulations, your whole program was great! How well does figure skating and school go together?

Tomas: Thanks! It’s hard, it seems to me like two sports doing together on top level. I try to handle it and it works so far.

Nanako (JPN): I got crazy about your skating especially when seeing your Free Program at Worlds and a very good attitude toward your fans. I heard you and Kristoffer Berntsson practice in the same rink and saw some funny pictures of you two. Are you good friends?

Tomas: Unfortunately we don’t practice in the same ice rink, but we spent some times together in Sweden before Worlds in Tokyo and we spent some time together in Oberstdorf in the summer as well. We are good friends. Kristoffer is a good guy and nice person.

Andrea (USA): Have you thought about what you’d like to do after your skating career? How about male model? :-)

Tomas: :) Thank you for your compliments!!! I don’t think I can reach this business. I study and still think of what will I do in the future.

W.B. (UKR): Why do you think you were so successful this year? Is it because of good physical form or luck or psychological advantage?

Tomas: As I mentioned before, the success comes from my team. I felt in good shape this year, both physically and mentally, and maybe I had more luck then in last few seasons.

Antonela (ARG): What figure skater did you admire? Why?

Tomas: Evgeni Plushenko. He is Mr. Perfect on the ice. There are some more, but he is the one who I admire most.

Katka (CZE): How did your anatomy exam go?

Tomas: I got a B (2).

Anonymous: Congrats at Worlds! Going for those two Quads was really brave and you pulled it off wonderfully! I’d like to know if you have someone special in your life and how that affects you as an athlete. Does being in a relationship give you emotional strength or do you find it to be a burden at this point in your life when you’re right at the peak of your career?)

Tomas: Thanks! I hope I am not yet at the peak of my career :) My relationship gives me a lot for my sport, because figure skating is a very emotional sport (we are also judged of bringing emotions onto the ice). Relationships are not a burden, but it depends on how you take them. What you draw from them you can use them to be stronger, but they can ruin your life as easy as Carolina Kostner does her triple triple combo :) .

John G. (CAN): First of all, congratulations on your success at the recent World Championships! Do you participate in any other sport(s) other than figure skating?

Tomas: Thanks! Not on a top level, but I like to play football, volleyball, basketball, handball, and almost very kind of sport activity.

Huriye (UK): Congratulations on a great season and your silver medal at Europeans! Do you think your name will be listed as one of the potential winners of the 2010 Olympic Gold Medal? What do you need to improve in your overall skating to become Olympic Champion? Good Luck!

Tomas: I will do my best to be listed with few other skaters as a potential fighter for the World and Olympic podium. I will be very pleased to be listed as a potential Olympic winner, but this makes a huge pressure, so I don’t know if that would be a good advantage for the competition.

Mishka (CZE): Hello! How often do you visit your official website? And do you know about your fan forum?

Tomas: I try to visit my sides as often as possible. I know about my fans and I appreciate to have them on my side…I’m very happy for that.

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