The great skating talents of Belgium

Part 2

Text by Magdalena Osborne
Photos © EMJO and Joy

And then there's Kevin van der Perren himself, the six time Belgian champion from Ninove. A real powerhouse on the ice he's become known for his triple-triple-triple combination, but his looks, wit and ultra long eyelashes have also earned him many female admirers. We met in an empty breakfast room at the hotel in Antwerp the morning after the first show.

What is your best memory from the Antwerp shows last year?
To be able to skate in a big rink in Belgium with a big audience, it was awesome!

What is it like to work with Lea Ann Miller?
It's good cause she's going through things very fast and I like that. I don't want to be out on the ice for hours and don't get any results, it gets boring.

And you get to skate a number with Ruben Blommaert!
Yeah, Ruben is a great kid, I teach him once or twice a week. He's been skating like 6 years now and he's fast! It's difficult to predict how far he can go but he could go very far, he's already the novice champion!
But coaching is not really my thing, I'm organizing a club show in May and that's a lot more interesting.

What's best about this year's SOI show?
The James Bond number! But last night we were all so tired we couldn't really enjoy it, I think it'll be better today. But there were some funny things last night, like with the rope the girls use at the end of the Bond number, Katia (Gordeeva) forgot to bring it on the ice! You should have seen the look on her face! But what they did without the rope was actually nicer so I don't think they'll use it tonight either.
And I didn't think they'd spotlight my triple-triple-triple, but they did! I'm glad I landed it, I did a lot of jumping during practice but suddenly I couldn't do the loop anymore, I like got stuck in the ice, it was weird...

And the worst part?
The ice! It wasn't so bad when we first got here but the Zamboni isn't working. Oh, it's out there but there's no improvement when it's done. We're all really... (made a face) about it. I don't know what's wrong, I guess it broke. But there's another rink only about 10 minutes from the Sportspaleis, why didn't they borrow the Zamboni from there?

What are things like here besides the skating?
There's a lot to do, after the show last night there was a VIP reception. I had to go because I had an interview, but I don't think I have to go to the reception today...
And it's hard because we don't know what's going on, we always get our schedules so late, last night I got it at 1.30 am! Imagine an envelope being slid under your door at that time, but it's still good cause they give us a nice break in the morning. We don't have early practice, and today's practice is an hour later than they first said and we'll only go through the opening.

If the show comes back next year, will you be in it?
Let's hope I don't have a Grand Prix competition at the same time. But we'll have to see, next year is the Olympics and you don't want to get burned out early in the season.

What does your training schedule normally look like?
I usually skate from 12 to 14 and then from 17 to 19 but I think tomorrow I'll only skate in the evening. I'll take it easy and just skate a little since we're leaving for Cup of Russia on Wednesday. I'm honestly not so enthusiastic about going there. I'm bringing two suitcases for the 5 days, one with clothes and one with food, cause I was told it's really bad. And that the ice rink is held together only by the dirt and I don't like the sound of that.

What are your expectations for the competition?
None, the least ever! But last year I went to Lalique expecting nothing and I finished second, so we'll just see. But afterwards I'll have vacation for a week and I'm looking forward to that.

Tell me about your programs!
The short is "Everything" by Safri Duo; I call it "Computer Game".
The long is "Lawrence of Arabia".

Don't you get tired of hearing the same music over and over and over?
My short - no, the long I'm sooo tired of and I'm going to change it after Moscow.
(Editor's note: Kevin has brought back last season's "Robin Hood" but with some changes in the costume, music and choreography.)

And what about the Matrix number?
I just made it earlier this week in less than an hour. Last year I used the Matrix music for maybe 20 seconds in my exhibition number. Everyone seemed to like that music so I thought I'd use it, but not make it anything like Brian Joubert's version.

Do you have any dream music you'd love to skate to?
Pirates of the Caribbean! I already asked for it for the past two summers so it'll be my free program next year for sure. Drobiazko and Vanagas do it great in the show, I like it a lot, but you don't even need to watch skating, I just like the music! I'll place the jumps myself but for the in-betweens I'll go to a choreographer, I don't know who yet.

Who made your costumes?
A Russian lady came to Newington for three months and she made the costumes for all the Morozov students.

How do you think the Code of Points is working for you? People are winning without a quad...
I think it's working pretty good, I don't want the old system back.
This system rewards clean programs. If someone does a quad but misses three other jumps and someone else doesn't do a quad and maybe not even a triple Axel but does all the rest, then it's nicer to watch and it should be rewarded!

You have been bothered by some injuries, how are you doing now?
Bad. Every time I'm on the ice it's like - ouch! Knee, heel, back... After the Olympics I'll probably have surgery for all of it and maybe the hospital will give me a volume discount. But I'll still do Europeans and Worlds, well, we have to do Worlds if we want to go to the Olympics. I just hope I'll even make it to Worlds; my back is getting worse every day.

What kind of treatment are you getting?
None, I don't believe in treatments. I had so much of it for my knee and it's still not good, so... I won't live forever anyway!

Thoughts on the 2006 Olympics?
I want to get there of course and do my best performance there, hopefully with 2 quads. The quad toe I can do now, it works every day but not several times in a row, so for Europeans I think it'll be fine. And the quad loop is very close. I did it after the last Olympics, in practice at Worlds in Nagano but then I got injured and it was completely gone. But now it's there again and not doing so badly!

So there they are; the stars of Belgium. We were very pleased to meet them and wish them an ever bright and never diminishing glow.


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