Ivett T├│th wants to feel more relaxed on ice

January 17, 2020
By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © Mireille Geurts, Reut Golinsky, Askar Ibragimov, Keiko Kasai, Polymnia

She's not an Olympic medalist, but the world press hailed her during the Games in PyeongChang because of her unusual and audacious music choice. AC/DC cannot be described as traditional figure skating music, but it fitted Ivett Tóth's fighting character perfectly. The 21-year-old Hungarian skater has overcome obstacles since the last Winter Games and is ready to show another side of her personality at the Europeans in Graz.

Tough moments

That Olympic season was the hardest in her career. After the Worlds in Helsinki, where Ivett placed 20th and earned the Olympic spot, she parted ways with her coach, former European champion Julia Sebestyén and, for the first time in her life, went to train abroad. Practicing with Linda van Troyen in Switzerland she had to learn how to manage everything on her own. It meant far more than just stepping out of the comfort zone; it required leaving behind everything that made her feel safe and relaxed.

Moreover, at the beginning of the season she injured her leg, missed out on training and then felt she had to hurry in order to be ready for major competitions.

Worlds 2017 in HelsinkiWith Linda van Troyen at Worlds 2018 in Milan

It was obvious that she was struggling with her new situation – at the Europeans in 2018 in Moscow she placed 13th, at the Olympics she was 23rd, at Worlds in Milan she almost missed the free skate and placed 23rd again.

"This was probably my toughest season. It was a rollercoaster, but this is life, that's what makes you stronger mentally. So, in the future, you know you can rely only on yourself. I believe that if you go through such situations, only then you learn who really stands by you," she said after the free skate in Milan.

She talked openly about the hard moments in a foreign country: "There are moments when you would love to sit on your bed and burst into tears. I missed my parents and had some really hard moments," she confessed, adding that she's not complaining because she "has grown up and part of her soul has toughened".

Worlds 2018 in MilanWorlds 2019 in Saitama

Happiness in Minsk

It was uplifting to see her some months later at the Europeans in Minsk, smiling and punching her fist after a great free skate. "This was the first competition where I really felt that I'm here, in the present moment. I felt my legs, I felt the strength in myself, I felt the audience and my coaches, and I could gain strength from a lot of places like never before," she explained in the mixed zone.

A lot of things have changed in her life – she moved back to Budapest, started to train with Zsófia Tokaji-Kulcsár and Zoltán Tóth and found her safe bubble again. Just like in Moscow, she finished at the 13th place in Minsk, too, but the feelings about her performances were totally different. Some troubles with double Axels couldn't affect her drive and determination, and it was obvious that she finally had a great time out there on the ice again.

"My coaches are like protecting shields around me, they care about me. If there are any influences from outside that could harm me, they withstand them," she emphasized at the last Europeans.

Her coach Zsófia Tokaji-Kulcsár added: "People often forget that competitors are not robots. It's important to have positive thoughts at competitions instead of doubts whether she's able to do it. Ivett had some negative experiences, so it wasn't easy to change this. But we have reached a point where now we understand each other without words."

A swingy short program

The Hungarian skater started the current season in Bratislava at the Ondrej Nepela Memorial, where she presented her new short program to swing music. It's a style she hasn't tried before but it fits her very well. "So far the spectators could see my dancer, hip-hop side more; now I wanted to create a program where I can show my girly and wild personality," she said about the short program, choreographed by former junior World silver medalist ice dancer Nóra Hoffmann. She admitted that it was a surprise for herself that she can take this role as well: "I wasn't even aware this is also inside me."

She kept her free skate from last season, and she also kept her goal from last year: to feel calmer and more relaxed, less nervous on the ice. "I would like to have a steadier season than the last one. I hope there won't be any downturns and I hope that I can show my shape not only in practice, but also at competitions," she said after the competition in Bratislava.

She had various results so far this season. After the 8th place at the Nepela Memorial she placed 4th at the Halloween Cup in Budapest, 12th at the Golden Bear in Zagreb, 7th at the Volvo Open in Riga and 13th at the Warsaw Cup.

But in the end her start at the Europeans was not in jeopardy, because Júlia Láng, a 16-year-old talent of Hungarian skating, missed the Four Nationals Championships, the last of three competitions that were supposed to decide which of the two skaters will represent Hungary at the Europeans. Júlia Láng was better at the Halloween Cup; Ivett Tóth placed higher in Riga, and in the end she also grabbed the Hungarian national title in Ostrava at the Four Nationals. This was her sixth senior title and now she is concentrating on the Europeans in Graz.

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