David Richardson “As long as I enjoy it and I am skating well, I will continue”

July 19, 2011
By Mireille Geurts
Photos © Absolute Skating

It was a nice surprise to meet the British skater David Richardson again at Europeans in Bern this year. I got to know him at a show a few years ago (Kevin van der Perren’s Ice Fantillusion, which we write about regularly) where he showcased enormous talent to incorporate humour with quality skating, as well as being very enthusiastic towards his sport.
Skating since he was 7 years old, he now had his first year in the big international competitions, first the Europeans in Bern and later Worlds in Russia. This is because David won Nationals for the first time.

“I was incredibly happy to win British Nationals. It was a childhood dream of mine and I had to work hard to achieve it. It was even sweeter to win because I won with a PB total and skated the best I have ever done to win. It made all the hard work and all the bad times seem invisible in comparison to the win. I was also happy to give the title to my family who have helped and supported me throughout my career, both financially and emotionally.
With the National title I also got to go to my first European Championships which made me extremely excited!!!! I was very nervous on the day of preliminary rounds and felt it affected my performance. I could have qualified comfortably but allowed my nerves to take over a little too much. I learned a lot from the experience and had an amazing time seeing the comparison between an ordinary international to an ISU championship”.

When qualified through the preliminary, the ISU refunds accommodation plus a part of the meal costs, which for David unfortunately wasn’t the case, nevertheless David decided to stay all week and soak up the competition atmosphere. In the same breath also showing his federation how enthusiastic he is and hoping he would be sent to the next big competition.

“After Euros it was unclear if I was to be sent to Worlds but in February I learned I would be Great Britain’s representative for the competition. I was even more excited for Worlds because, other than Olympics, it is the most prestigious event to take part in”.

Of course, then disaster hit Japan and all plans had to change for everyone.

“I was devastated for the people of Japan who the tsunami and earthquake struck, and my thoughts were with them. Although I would have loved a trip to Tokyo I was just truly grateful that all the competitors were not there at the time. On the day the earthquake hit my Mum called me and said I couldn't go even if the event was still going ahead.
After the postponement of Worlds, the training became very hard and exhausting. It was a difficult situation to deal with as no-one knew the exact circumstances. When Worlds was announced for Moscow my motivation became to lift again and training became easier.
When I got to Worlds I was much more relaxed and felt more at home. Learning some of the Russian traditions and lifestyle was fun and I spent a lot of time with Jenna (McCorkell) and Kevin (VDP) which is always nice as we are great friends! We visited Red Square and explored Moscow.
When it came to my skate I felt I performed much better than in Bern at the Europeans, and looking back, had I not made such silly mistakes I could have qualified through to the short program. Although I narrowly missed out, I left the competition feeling more motivated and enthusiastic than ever before. I came home from Russia with more energy and love for the sport”.

Enthusiasm and love for the sport was already very much there at the Movies Extravaganza show where I first met him. How did he end up in Belgium?

“I do shows regularly in England, but this is the first time I was in Belgium. I used to train with Jenna many years ago, before she started to train here with Kevin and we stayed friends ever since. I had seen some of the previous shows, Jenna showed me DVDs and it looked like a really good show and it’s a good standard of show. A couple of friends also had done shows here, like Elliot Hilton (left), Alex Wilde (middle) and the ice dancers.
I really enjoy doing shows, it is so much fun, and less pressure than at competition. You can do a jump but if you don’t land it nobody cares. I love competition but shows are so much more laid back and relaxing. At competitions there are so many restrictions on what you can and cannot do, you don’t really get a chance to be an individual with the new rules”.

That remarks brings us to “Code of Points”, the system that was installed several years ago and is still undergoing developments like every system should do as time progresses, is always an interesting topic to discuss.

“I do like the new rules, it works well for the technical score - if you do the jumps, spins and steps you get the marks, but with the component scores judges can still be place people where they want them. Maybe this happens less at internations, but especially at national level. It’s a catch 22 situation.
It can be so frustrating, when at Euros or Worlds someone in the bottom groups skates technically great and then someone in the higher group skates poorly but gets more components marks, just because they are in a higher group and that’s not fair. It should be more balanced.
With the old system you knew what you had to do, how long your music is and now you have to wait till July till the new changes come in, and you have to sit down with your coach and change everything. So it delays the preparation for the new season, but at least that is the same for everybody. ”

Preparation for the new season also includes improving your technical arsenal.

“When we spoke last time I still had some trouble with the triple Lutz, but since last season the jump is getting much stronger and last season I had it called in a couple of competitions so I need to improve on this in the new season. I also hope to work on the triple Axel in the summer so it will come later in the season...hopefully!!!”

When asked what his favourite element is, David answers with a longing in his voice.

“Ahhhhhhh, when it is right, the triple toe – triple toe combination. It feels really nice, but when it feels wrong, it really hurts. Also my spins are pretty strong; I get high levels on my spins. I enjoy spinning.”

We see you do high level spins in the shows as well.

“Yeah that is because I keep hearing my coach’s voice ‘don’t think you can’t do levels just because it’s shows, try to get difficult positions and changes’.”

In aforementioned Ice Fantillusion shows, David had some pretty special programs. You can see his solo here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=cfF5JWOTOsA Next to that, he performed in several group numbers, including a ‘wild wild west’ routine with Alex Wilde and Elliot Hilton, where they are cowboys on the ice, having fun, flipping Alex over untill David gets shot at the end, as well as portraying drunken pirates who get the bright idea it’s fun to lay on the ice (David and Elliot) while the third (Alex) jumps over them....

“The group stuff (with Elliot and Alex) we made when we came here. We’ve known each other for a long time, so it wasn’t that hard. We skated together a lot, so we are very used to each other. Yesterday it went a bit wrong. Alex is supposed to stop a little bit before us, but his blades are a bit sharp, he kept going and hit Elliot a little bit. Nobody’s hurt….yet. No need to worry, unless you see blood.”

More pictures of the show you can see here

Luckily, no blood was seen that week. Since I had not seen David in competitions yet I asked him if he has a more classical style in competitions than here at the show.

“Well actually the second part of my solo program is the second part of my short program music.”

Really? It is? So you do stuff like wobbling your bum? At the judges?

*laughs* “No definitely not, I don’t wobble my bum at the judges… though that would be interesting. Maybe I would get better marks. You never know. No, the second part is my short and it is a real fun program. The long is classical. [the program we discuss here, can be seen on our youtube channel here, as mentioned above]

When we had that talk, he had just made a big change in his training environment.

“I just had a change of coach. I used to train with Yuri Bureiko in Coventry but I am now with Joy Sutcliffe. I just changed after nationals. I was getting stuck in a rut, so it was time to make a change, for something new.
It’s at a training centre, an hour away from home. I go there on Monday and go home on a Friday. I stay with my coach, I train full-time and I work a bit as well.”

Work is needed to raise funds to maintain doing this sport. Just recently, David took steps for a bit of help in this area.

“This sport takes a lot of dedication and hard work, along with a huge bank balance. At the moment I currently fund my skating alone with significant help from my grandparents. Even though I was fortunate enough to compete at European and World championships, I footed the majority of my bill myself. The cost of a season runs into £1,000s and can become very stressful at busy times in the season. I coach young skaters to help fund my ambition and find it hard to train and teach...but needs must!
I have entered into a competition to receive a grant to support my skating which also provides a top athlete to act as a mentor, passing on valuable experience and knowledge. The program also entails seminars and the possibility of new equipment. The first stage of the competition requires me to get as many votes as possible to allow me through to the next stage. I must finish in the top 10 of the initial applicants to proceed to the following round. I could really do with your help in getting votes. All I need is for you to log on to the link below and enter an e-mail address. It doesn’t cost anything and it’s easy! And who knows, it may enable me to focus more on my skating than on my bills! ”

Maybe your vote will help him through next season, for which he started to prepare after a well deserved break after Worlds.

“I took a little break and went back home for a week’s holiday just to visit family as I spend all my time away from home so took the opportunity to catch up with my friends and family.
At the moment I am busy planning my new season and preparing new programs. At the NIC in Nottingham, where I am based, Gurgen Vardanjan joined us last season and I have been working with him alongside Joy Sutcliffe. In addition to this we have a new member to the coaching team, Jerana Ipakjan. Jerana has worked with Julia Sebestyen and Tigran Vardanjan.
We have been working tirelessly on my new routines to try and improve the component mark in my performances. The programs are extremely demanding and it has been a pleasure to work with Jerana. Her choreography and vision has given my routines a new dimension and feel. She will be based in Britain full time now and I look forward to the input she can give to my skating.
I believe my season will start at the end of August with a domestic event held in Sheffield. From there I will discuss with the federation my international allocations and will hopefully try and compete at more international events in order to gain valuable experience. My Nationals are scheduled for the end of November.”

We wish David a lot of luck, with the funding competition and of course for the upcoming season! Last but not least, how long do you intend to keep skating David?

“As long as I enjoy it and I am skating well, I will continue.”

David in the middle of his Ice Fantillusion co-stars

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