Jorik Hendrickx – The journey continues
Comedic falls and tearing costumes
Something we’ve noticed while following Jorik is that he is doing a lot of (international) competitions. In this case also because Worlds fell out of his schedule, so he went looking for competitions to replace it.
“The Challenge Cup was really close by (The Hague, Netherlands), so we thought why not. There was a conflict at first, with the Flemish nationals being held at the same time, but that got solved. In the end, international development is more important. My short program there was the best of the entire season.
The free program however wasn’t flawless, I had a step out of the Axel, or threes afterwards, not sure anymore, that jump drives me crazy! And at the end, on the triple loop, I stepped forward out of it and fell backwards. It was the most comical fall of the season!”
We (Titia and Joy were also present at this particular talk) all laugh, while Jorik was doing a sort of presentation of how this happened, comical indeed.
He came fourth at the Challenge Cup, after Jeremy Abbot, Samuel Contesti and Brian Joubert, which is a great result! Despite being all run down and empty after this, he decided on another competition, mostly to benefit his world ranking. How does this work exactly?
“I thought I’d just try. I had a second place and a fourth place. Then I can try to get a first or second place somewhere. So for the world rankings, if I would get a ‘higher than 4th place’, then that 4th place would be replaced with that one and then you get more points.’
Aha, makes sense and that competition was the Coupe de Printemps in Luxemburg.
“The short program was quite okay, apart from the triple Axel (but what else is new?). I stepped out of it, my blade got stuck in my costume and I fell flat, tearing the costume. The rest was okay though, despite having to skate the rest of the program with that flapping piece of costume. I got 70 points, 10 more than the next guy. And in the free I made all the mistakes I didn’t make during the rest of the season!”
Well, it’s better to do them all at once, eh? Jorik starts listing:
“I tossed myself entirely in the Triple Axel and stepped out, I fell twice on the Lutz, I fell on the loop, I pulled out of the Salchow………... and I still won.”
This particulair talk we were having was taking place in the "office" of the ice rink in Liedekerke, where the shows organised by Kevin and Jenna and his wife (McCorkell) took place. Jorik skated several parts in the Ice Fantillusion shows as usual; solo as well as group programs. His solo was to “Mambo Swing”, which he had choreographed because he felt a bit new to the Mambo theme. You can watch the end result here.
For one particular number, one he shared with Jelle Butzen and David Richardson, they were all dressed in black with a red triangle on their chests. Initially Kevin’s idea had been to also make black bands around the arms, but they ended up not doing it. Jorik felt they’d really add something to the program, so he created them himself, with strings made out of garbage bags. We must say we agree, it really did add something!
Summertime and the creating of programs
After these shows, the summer season would start. But going on vacation was not really in Jorik’s planning.
“I have never been on vacation, have never actually boarded an airplane without having checked in my skates. I had planned on going now, but it didn't work out.”
(Photo: so none of these activities -but then on water- for Jorik )
It is also the time for summer camps and the creating of new programs.
"We were looking for a choreographer with a lot of experience. On a camp with Alexander Vedenin he introduced Shanetta Folle to us. I already knew her and already had been on a training camp with her. And she has worked with Kevin and Jenna (as well as with Mao Asada in 2010 as an assistant to Tatiana Tarasova). I was really happy she wanted to work with me, and travelled to Indianapolis in the USA, where she was located for the month."
In April we talked a lot about choreographers and music and new programs, so I was really curious what he ended up doing and choosing for the new season.
"Having had the first contact with Shanetta in May, and going there in the beginning of June, meant that everything had to be arranged really fast. So once arrived, we immediately listened to a CD with music choices she had prepared, based on the styles I had expressed I wanted. In the end I decided to trust her and choose something out of my comfort zone for the free program (The Violin Concerto by Max Bruch). I never skated to classical music before. The short program was more of a puzzle, but after receiving several versions from a Russian company she worked with, my short program was arranged as well (a mix of Cry Me a River by Michael Bublé, At Last by Kenny G, Spiderman by Michael Bublé.)"
Competition time... or not?
And then the Nebelhorn Trophy approached. Jorik had intended to skate at this competition in Oberstdorf, but pulled out of the roster.
"A lot of heavy training took its toll and in the beginning of September I had an inflamed knee cap (patella) tendon, which made landing my jumps impossible. I didn't train for two week, to give it a rest, and the first two weeks of my practices after that, I didn't jump at all."
That makes it just a month later, October 24-28 when the Cup of Nice was held in France. A competition Jorik decided to participate in, despite the short time his injury had had to heal.
"I wanted to skate in a competition before I would make my debut in the senior Grand Prix, so I wouldn't be tossed in the lion’s den immediately. The competition went quite okay, not entirely flawless, but better than I had expected. I think my destiny is to place 4th there,” Jorik laughs, “after all, that’s where I ended last year as well.”
We (Joy and I) were actually there as well and even though he didn’t skate perfectly, it was a very good first impression of his programs, and oh well, with the free program he did top his personal best by 0.25 points. Considering this was his first competition of the season, we were quite impressed.
Fairytales that turn into nightmares...
And then in mid-November, it was time for that ill-fated competition: the Grand Prix in Paris.
"I was very much looking forward to this competition, a unique experience of which I so far had only dreamed of. Being selected and the crop of men that would skate there formed a huge motivation. It felt like a miniature Worlds. In the B-competitions you see a lot more competitors, but at the Grand Prix the best in the world compete. And suddenly you are between those. It makes you feel really tiny, but also happy you are allowed to be there."
Skating at the Trophée Eric Bompard were Tomas Verner, Chafik Besseghier, Florent Amodio, Nan Song, Ginlin Guan, Brian Joubert, Takahito Mura and Jeremy Abbott. And only the last three had a higher score in the short program than Jorik.
"In that field I had nothing to lose. Physically and mentally I felt all prepared and ready. Ok, the short program wasn't entirely perfect, but I was very satisfied. The amount of points I got was around what I expected, but I had surely never dreamed of a fourth place! Of course I was aware of the fact that a lot of the skaters just had an off-day, and if that hadn't been the case I'd never gotten that placement. It felt like a fairytale..."
Which turned into a nightmare. Instead of being able to come home with the satisfying feeling of having had a successful first senior Grand Prix, Jorik underwent the ordeal we described at the beginning of this article. Falling in the warm up, and injuring his fibula. A quite serious injury.
"The first two weeks were extremely hard; I had to wait until the swelling was down a bit before they could do some of the exams. I must admit, I was quite down then, but my motivation returned with the help of a very good medical team and especially my coaches: on ice coach Carine Herrygers, mental coach Anja van Gompel and physical coach Rik Didden. It was at first very strange to just be lazy and not having much to do. Honestly, I'd rather be busy! So I was happy to get back to my mental, conditional, force and ice practices. I also had to lose some weight, but healthy food and being able to train again made that easy. "
Jorik was back on the ice before the European Championships in Zagreb, but didn't compete there. This was in spite of the fact that the Belgan national standard for being allowed to go to the Olympics is a lot more reasonable there (top 12) than at Worlds (top 16).
"The European Championships were not doable; I only started to be back on the ice in January. Only at the end of January could I start to build up the jumps that have the entry from the right foot. For a long time I trained my programs with only the Salchow, Axel and toeloop, because with them only the landings were painful. Top 12 at Euros would have been more reachable than top 16 at Worlds, yes, but it isn't the last of my possibilities. So that's keeping my hopes up, but first I have to place internationally, of course."
Back to his dreams
He did do one competition a little bit ago, the Bavarian Cup in Oberstdorf.
"I was going to Oberstdorf anyway to work a bit more with Shanetta. I had planned my programs with just the Salchow, Axel and toeloop, but the week before the Bavarian Cup I was able to do all my jumps again, so I wanted to reinstate them. Those were last minute adjustments, but I'd rather try them and fall, than making it too easy. The short program was quite okay, but the free was a straight disaster. I think I took that fall part a bit too literal." He laughs.
Sometimes they say: bad 'dress rehearsal', good performance. Since this competition was his dress rehearsal, let's hope the saying comes true. At least for the free program.
"I am super happy I can compete at all, with all problems I had this season I really thought it was over. But I am in decent enough shape and I am going to make the best of it. It was a busy time, I am a bit sick and worn out, but in Canada I can focus completely on the competition (Worlds). My main goal is to make it to the final, and anything beyond that is a bonus!"
We wish Jorik a lot of luck in Canada, and hope he will be able to end this unfortunate season on a high note and get that bonus!
To be continued...