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Duskova and Bidar look ahead after momentous season
- Published: May 8, 2016
When beginning pair skaters Anna Duskova and Martin Bidar first teamed up, they were embarrassed to hold each other’s hands on the ice. Five years later, Duskova, 16, and Bidar, 17, made history when they became the first skaters from the Czech Republic to win the World Junior title. This accomplishment capped off their most successful season to date as their medal haul includes silver medals at the Youth Olympic Games and at the ISU Junior Grand Prix Final.
The young Czech skaters worked their way up step by step and didn’t expect this kind of breakthrough when they first began. Both were single skaters when their coach, Eva Horklova, suggested to them to try pairs.
“It was quite embarrassing at first, because everybody was skating singles and we had to hold hands,” Duskova recalled. “We were so young and shy.”
However, they both warmed up to the new discipline quickly.
“I liked the lifts, because it was different from only jumping,” Duskova noted.
“When I heard that there were not so many jumps in pairs, just one in the short and two in the free, it was good for me,” Bidar added. “I wanted to try it and I liked it.”
The skaters still continued to compete in singles until the 2016 National Championships, and Duskova even competed at the 2014 World Junior Championships in both disciplines.
Bidar comes from a skating family and his older brother Petr, who competed in singles and pairs internationally, helped the young pair when they started out. Bidar had actually not much choice than becoming a skater as a four-year-old.
“Of course I wanted to become a hockey player, like all boys in the Czech Republic,” he said, “but my brother, my mother and my sisters were figure skaters. Now I’m happy that I’m a figure skater.”
His partner, on the other hand, had to overcome some resistance when she fell in love with skating as a six-year-old.
“We had some skating lessons at school and I really liked that,” Duskova recalled. “I always told my mother that I wanted to skate again, but she didn’t want me to. I tried it for a long time and always told her that I wanted to skate and then finally I was allowed.”
Duskova’s persistence and hard-working attitude helped her to be successful in both singles and pairs and she actually loves both disciplines.
“I will focus more on pairs, but I like singles as well,” the National (singles) bronze medalist said. “I think I’ll do some singles competitions, but not so many. Maybe I’ll do senior Nationals again, but I don’t know yet. Pairs will win.”
Bidar is happy to leave singles behind him as he enjoys pair skating more.
“I was fourth (at Nationals) and I did a personal best and it was good for me, but I don’t want to continue in singles, because pairs is better for me,” the 17-year-old noted. “I’m not as nervous as in singles, because of her, of course. We support each other.”
The Czech pair made a lot of progress in the past year, and Duskova felt that this was in part they had grown up a bit and practiced harder.
“We could try harder elements and we improved, because we worked hard,” she explained.
“We also visited Canada,” Bidar added. “We were in Montreal and then Sochi in the summer and then in Montreal again during the season.”
Training in Canada alongside World Champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford was a great experience for the young team.
“It was amazing!” Duskova recalled. “In the Czech (Republic), we are the only pair and we never train with somebody else. Then it was like, wow, so many pairs. We didn’t know where to look first. Always someone was in the air!”
After Junior Worlds, Duskova and Bidar had a little break as there was no ice in their home rink in Prague. They also had to pass some school exams as they are both full time high school students. Both admit that it can be difficult at times to balance school and skating.
“I don’t think there is enough time for homework, but we have to do it and we have some individual teaching,” Duskova who likes art and drawing. “We don’t have to do everything that the other students do.”
Bidar’s favorite subject is the Czech language.
In April, the Youth Olympic Games silver medalists started with choreography and off-ice training such as dance, ballet and swimming.
“I think swimming is good to relax and we can work out other muscles that we don’t usually use skating,” Duskova pointed out.
For next season, the skaters and their coach Eva Horklova decided to keep their long program to “La leyenda del beso” and “Historia de un amor.” The new short is going to be choreographed by Maurizio Margaglio.
“Our coach chose a tango, because she thinks it’s going to suit us and we haven’t tried anything like that yet,” Duskova revealed.
This month, the World Junior champions will take part in a training camp in Italy, and in beginning of July, they will go to Canada again. They also plan to attend training camps in the Czech Republic and Slovakia during the summer to get ready for the upcoming season. Next season, the Youth Olympic Games silver medalists want to compete in seniors and juniors.
“We want to attend the Junior Grand Prix Series, Junior Worlds, some senior competitions, and also Europeans,” said Bidar.
The 2017 European Figure Skating Championships will take place in their home country, in Ostrava.
The skaters, who look up to their compatriots and 1995 World champions Radka Kovarikova and Rene Novotny, hope that their success will draw some attention to their sport, especially to their discipline.
“I hope there will be more pairs in the Czech Republic and more skaters that want to start pairs skating,” Bidar said. “Here in Czech, people are not very interested in figure skating. It’s more about ice hockey and football. Then suddenly everybody became interested in us. We are glad that we could show that figure skating is also an exciting sport and that not everything is about football and ice hockey.”
While the Junior World champions enjoyed the attention, they don’t feel that their success has changed anything for them.
“It motivated us to not stop working because we still have a lot of things to improve and to learn,” Duskova pointed out. “We still have to work even harder to improve each element or to learn some new lifts.”
With their healthy attitude, ability and talent, Duskova and Bidar are clearly set for more success in the future.