Brezina Challenges Czech’s Verner

Michael Brezina skates to I Take Everything by James Blunt at the 2008 World Junior Figure Skating Championships Gala.

Michal Brezina first made his mark on the international figure skating scene when he beat fellow Czech skater and 2008 European champion Tomas Verner to win the 2007 Nebelhorn Trophy. “It was a surprise because it was my first senior international event and I didn’t think I could win,” Brezina recalled. “I learned to be cool in competition and not be so nervous when I skate.”

The talented 18-year-old followed that up with a 16th place finish at the 2008 European Figure Skating Championships. “Europeans was good but I didn’t do my triple Axel there,” Brezina lamented. “If I had landed it, I would have been in the top ten. But it was good for me for the experience.”

The student from Brno didn’t do as well on the 2007-08 Junior Grand Prix circuit. He won a silver medal in Chemnitz, Germany but only placed seventh in Vienna, Austria. “I had hoped to qualify for the Junior Grand Prix Final, but I did not skate well in Vienna,” Brezina noted.

Brezina’s goal was to finish in the top ten at Junior Worlds, despite lost training time due to a broken wrist which occurred after Europeans. He met his goal with a fifth place finish – up from 16th in 2007. The three-time Czech junior men’s champion was second in 2008 behind Verner in senior men in the Czech Nationals.

Brezina did not start out as a figure skater. “My father was a skater, but he didn’t tell me to skate,” Brezina recalled. “After the 1998 Olympics, I wanted to play hockey, so my father told me I had to learn to skate first. I played hockey for half a year, but I didn’t really like the sport when I did something wrong. Figure skating is a nicer sport I think. If you fall, it’s only bad for yourself.”

He first landed a triple Salchow at the age of 12 and a triple Axel by 15. “The triple Axel is my favorite jump,” said Brezina. “In practice, I land it ten times out of ten most of the time. I’m working on the quad toe and quad Salchow. I landed both of them last summer, but didn’t practice them during the season. I’ll be working on them again this summer. I’m also working to improve my second mark, especially my footwork.”

Last season, Brezina used a triple flip-triple toe loop, a triple loop and a double Axel in his short program. In the long program, he included three combinations: a triple Axel-triple toe, a triple flip-double toe, and a double Salchow-double toe-double loop. He also did a triple Lutz, triple loop, triple flip, and two solo double Axels.

Petr Starec has coached Brezina for the last four years. He trains in his hometown of Brno, Czech Republic, and Oberstdorf, Germany, where he spends about two months in the summer and a month and a half working with Karel Fajfr. Brezina usually works on ice six days a week for two or three hours a day.

“I don’t do much training off ice in the winter,” Brezina said. “I just go to the gym for about an hour a day. In the summer, I do a lot of training off ice. I go to the gym for two hours a day and go cycling with my father for three or four hours.”

Frank Dehne choreographed Brezina’s 2007-08 programs, both of which were new for the season. He used Sing, Sing, Sing by Louis Prima for his short program and a selection of Latin dance music by Safri Duo for the free skate. For a gala program, Brezina skated to I Take Everything by James Blunt. “My short program was jazz and my coach knew I would like it,” Brezina said. “My free program was a Latin dance mix. I like it when the music has energy for skating.”

“I used my last free program for three years,” Brezina continued, “but my coach told me it was time to change it. If the music is good, I like to keep my programs. Next season, I will keep both programs for sure.”

Off ice, Brezina said, “I listen to a lot of music. I like everything if it’s good for listening.” He also likes to play video games, especially American football and NBA basketball, on his computer. For more strenuous activities, he likes to swim, play soccer and hockey, and cycle. He has his own web page at www.michal-brezina.ic.cz.

Brezina is in his second year of high school and plans to study sports at university. He plans to be a skating coach.

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