Champions for children - a special skating lesson with Javi, Caro and Tomáš
To win a spinning competition and get applause from a five-time European champion and a hug from another five-time European champion, while the 2008 European champion is smiling wide at you? This dream came true for students of Czech Skating Academy, the skating school of Tomáš Verner.
It was probably the toughest Europeans for Tomáš Verner. He was not competing, but he was doing everything else. Literally everything. His accreditation read "Head of the OC" and he was a really multifunctional person in Ostrava. He conducted the interviews with the winners; he was standing by the boards while his student, Jiří Bělohradský skated; he took part in the opening ceremony and the gala exhibition; he was co-commentating the event for the Czech TV... Sometimes he rushed to the TV stands with his skates on... And these were only the "visible" activities; lots of organizing, logistics and other work went on hidden from the eyes of the public and the media. On Sunday morning, he couldn't hide his exhaustion anymore. Even though he was smiling, the dark shadows under his eyes revealed that it wasn't an easy week for him.
But there was one more scheduled event he would never miss that wiped away his exhaustion immediately: a special skating lesson for 25 kids of Czech Skating Academy, which is his skating school. The location of this mini-camp was in Kravaře, a village 20 minutes ride away from Ostrava, and the special teachers for this occasion were Javier Fernandez and Carolina Kostner.
It was the day of the exhibition, where the newly crowned "pentacampeón" couldn't skate because of the painful fall he suffered during his free skate. But he didn't want to let the children down, so - though moving very carefully - he took part in the funny spinning competition. On the first try it was Carolina who was able to spin for the longest time; however, on the second try one of the students won. The prize for the best spinner girl was an applause from Carolina and a hug from Javi! For this young skater, it will probably be the most cherished memory for a long time.
Carolina showed the young talents how to skate on deep edges. They followed her every movement with awe and admiration. Those sparkling eyes... The lesson concluded with a photo-shooting. It lasted one hour only, but the memories for all those children on the ice will last forever.
"It is a fantastic project. Tomáš is a great athlete and a great person, and he has a lot of experience to pass on, but not only sports experience, it's life experience. He can teach the kids many lessons beyond the sports," Carolina said about the project with her gracious smile. She emphasized that it's very important to show the kids they can follow their dreams.
The skating school of Tomáš Verner doesn't function all year long yet, but the 2008 European champion hopes that soon they will find a permanent place near Prague. Now they organize shorter or longer camps in the summer for the children who are interested. "There are kids who regularly come back, but there are also new faces every time. Everybody can join, we are very flexible; I can arrange ice-time, coaches and so on based on the child's interest," Tomáš explained. He coaches himself, but besides him there is also his long-term coach, Mrs. Kopřivová, and other skating and athletic coaches. "Everyone is welcome in our camps. I can't say we accept everybody, because sometimes we make groups according to the level of skating, so if there is a big difference in students' skills, it won't work. But basically, our door is open and whoever is interested can come. The main thing is that they should enjoy competing," Tomáš added.