For four-time Croatian ladies champion Idora Hegel, winning the ladies title every year made her too complacent. She admitted she didn’t work as hard as she could in the past. “In Croatia, when I go on to the ice, I know I’m first,” she admitted. “I wasn’t into skating that much. I used to eat lots of junk food. Now I’m trying to be a better athlete. I eat fruits and vegetables. I take ballet three times a week and I run after practice when my muscles are warm. Hegel rededicated herself after suffering a severe injury last fall and missing most of the season.
“I had a broken ankle before Golden Spin,” she related. “I couldn’t skate for three and a half months and just started back three weeks before Europeans. I didn’t have much time to train so I tried to do the best I could do. My skating was terrible but I have to learn how to do the big competitions. I wanted to do it so bad that I burned. I wanted to do everything so much but just couldn’t. I’ll just have to do more next season.” Hegel, who finished 19th at the 2002 Olympics, was a career-high 14th at the European Championships and 24th at Worlds in 2003. She also won the Copenhagen Trophy. This season she started out with a fourth place finish at the Otto Nepela Memorial in Bratislava in the Slovak Republic. Hegel, who grew up in Zagreb, home of the Golden Bear and Golden Spin competitions, has won the Golden Bear twice in her hometown and wants to take home a Golden Spin gold.
The lovely 20-year-old started to skate when she was three. “My older sister was skating and I didn’t like to stay home and sleep so I went with my mother to practice. I was like a mascot for the federation. I would hide behind the coaches and eat ice while my sister skated. When I was six, I started doing things that the coaches had said and they told me I had some talent. I learned a single Axel the first year, had a double Axel by nine, and by learned the triple salchow, loop and toe loop by 11 or 12. By 13, I had all the triples.” Because the triple loop is her favorite jump, Hegel often uses a triple loop-triple loop combination. She is working on a triple lutz/triple toe and triple toe/triple toe.
Alexandr Rozin and Oksana Gorbacov have coached Hegel for 11 years. “My coach is a classic coach,” she said. “Very good coaches have respect for him.” She has trained in the Slovak Republic, Switzerland and Austria in the summer and in Zagreb during the winter. Before Worlds, she trained in Wilmington with Victor Kudriatsev. “I was good to have some competition with other skaters,” she said. She works for about two and a half hours on ice four days a week, two sessions each day.
Oksana Gorbacov choreographer Hegel’s 2002-2003 programs. For the short, she used The Only Girl I Ever Loved Before by Sarasate. “It’s an old Hungarian gypsy song,” she said. “I had a traditional Hungarian style costume. I don’t like a costume with so many colors but everyone loved it. We have an amazing guy who comes and listens to my programs and in five minutes, he does sketches of five costumes that are so good you don’t know which to choose.” For the long program, Hegel chose music from the The Mask of Zorro soundtrack by James Horner. “My coach picks 10 or 15 pieces of music and we decide together what to use,” she said. “I have one way to do my program and we change the spirals and spins to fit the music. That way I’m free to enjoy the music and skate well. I can feel it in me. One year I did Carmen and I could feel it in me all the time.”
She changes both programs each year. “I usually forget last year’s programs,” she added. “Next season, I think I will have something classical, violin or piano,” she continued. “Everyone is stepping out now and trying things with hard music. It’s too loud. Skating is simple and classical, very flowing.” Off ice, she likes jazz music and hopes to try a jazz free program sometime. Jennifer Lopez is one of her favorite artists.
Hegel is starting at a sports university, taking about a third of a class load. “I want to learn the sports medicine side of training,” she said. “It’s only my first year and I may go somewhere else to study, Spain or the USA. It’s hard to make a choice.” Hegel speaks French, Italian and English as well as Croatian, and wants to learn Spanish.
Some of her favorite activities include shopping and scuba diving. She has a computer at home, which her mother often uses to check the results, when Hegel is away. She also collects phone cards and toys she receives from fans. “I have a huge place for them in front of my bed,” she claimed. She has two dogs, a German Shepherd, which stays home, and a Yorkie named Godzilla that she carries in her purse to events in Europe to play with Sarah Abitbol’s dog Cookie. She loves to travel, especially to the United States and hopes to go to Australia one day. “Ibiza is my favorite holiday spot,” she recounted. “There’s a girl that’s like a sister to me there. And I like to steal away on weekends to go to a house by the sea. It’s only one and a half hours drive. It’s always sunny there and I can relax and do nothing.”