With the retirement of Marta Andrade, Spain’s lone entrant in the 2004 European and 2004 World Figure Skating Championships was Yon Garcia, a gregarious 24-year-old from San Sebastian, Spain. Garcia is a very entertaining skater and has even been offered the opportunity to skate with Hot Ice in Liverpool, England. “I love doing shows, ” he said. “I’m much more of an entertainer than a technical skater. I don’t like to sacrifice choreography for jumps. When I can see the clapping people, I feel something special.” Even so, he has won Spanish Nationals five times and hopes to make the 2006 Olympic Games.
He didn’t start skating until he was eleven. “Before that I had was doing judo and playing chess,” he said. “I liked Bruce Lee films so I took judo for three years, getting up to the orange belt. And I played in some chess competitions. Then one time, my family went to the ice rink for my brother’s birthday. My mother’s friend’s daughter was skating so my brother and I tried it and I liked it. After two months, I went to Nationals and won in pre-novice so I stayed in the sport. Once I even did dance for a few months when a coach from France came in. I liked it a lot, doing the steps, but he left and we had no dance coaches in Spain.”
Garcia trains for only an hour a day six days a week with Jonathan Levers, who also choreographs his programs. Garcia actually teaches coaching almost as much as he skates himself, about four hours a week. In the summer, he often practices using rollerblades because of the lack of ice time. “It’s hard to practice when I’m weaving in and out among 15 small skaters,” he added. “I have to be careful and not scare them when I do a jump. Last year, I hurt my back and it took me six or eight months to recover, including two months without skating. Before that I had up to the triple lutz consistent and was landing a couple of triple Axels every month. It was very hard for me because every time I can skate, I go to the rink. I go just for fun to skate around when I’m not training. Sometimes I even play hockey.”
Garcia tries to change at least one of his programs each year. Last season, he used Capriccio Espanol by Rimski Korsakov for the short program, the same as the 2002-2003 season. “There was not enough time to change the program,” he said. For 2004-2005, he will be using Chicago from the soundtrack of the film for the short. For the long program, Garcia will be using music from the City Lights soundtrack, the same as he used in 2003-2004. “For the last four years, I have chosen my own music,” he said, “in consultation with my coach. I think every competitive program should tell a story, with a start and a middle and an end, like a small film. Kurt Browning was a master at this.”
“I don’t like programs that are the same every year,” he continued, “just jumping with different music. I want each program to have a sad part and a happy part. Two years ago, I did a program about the circus. Last year, it was Charlie Chaplin. That was completely my idea. I thought for four or five months about how to do the character. I watched two DVDs of his films and listened to a lot of music that my coach brought to me. I’ll keep the program for next season but I may change the first part of it because there are too many jumps there.”
He also has an exhibition program using Elvis Presley music – Heartbreak Hotel, King Creole, and Are You Lonesome Tonight. “The first time I did it was in St. Gervais,” he said. “I was surprised to have to do a gala number. I had my music but no costume so I had to go into the shops in the village to find something to wear. I finally found some tight plastic pants in a girl’s store and some sunglasses to wear with a T-shirt. I’ll do a new gala program this summer.” He also does show programs to Tom Jones’ Keys and to Mack the Knife.
Off ice, Garcia listens to all kinds of music from classical to rock, but not rap. “I like the music more if it’s something different, more experimental,” he noted, “but I also like everything from heavy metal to pop music. I also like to watch and listen to the street musicians. Some of them are very talented. I like to play the drums for fun and I can play the guitar and piano a little.”
He’s also a computer whiz. “I like to work on the computer a lot,” he said. “I did the website for my family’s factory. The website of my skating club is done by a my friend and I. There’s also a fan website that a friend in Madrid did for me. I also like to play computer games.” He collects postcards from the places that he’s traveled. Australia and Vancouver, Canada were his two favorite trips.
He plans to skate as long as he can. Although he studied engineering for two years, he’d prefer a career in skating, either in a show or as a coach or choreographer.