Skating in Norway - Michael Chrolenko
Photos © EMJO
When mentioning Norway, skating isn’t
the first sport that comes to mind. But young hopeful
Michael Chrolenko could be on his way to change that.
He placed second among the junior men at Nordics in
2004, and he has collected three national junior titles.
This season he wants to capture the senior crown.
Michael: “I like to travel
to different places and meet new people, and compete…
it’s all great! And when you work on a program and all
the different elements come together – wonderful feeling!”
Something that immediately stands out is the way he speaks; besides a slip or two in Norwegian, his Swedish is perfect.
Michael: “Ha ha,
you think so? Well, I’ve spent a lot of time training
in Sweden and I know many Swedes. But we speak Polish
at home; my mom and dad are both from Poland.”
So it’s about time they get one. The question
is if enough is being done to support skating.
Marek: “Actually, there’s quite a bit done to promote the sport. And Michael was part of the ISU development program for young Scandinavian skaters. The project ran for three years with skaters like Kiira Korpi, Lina Johansson and Adrian Schultheiss. It gave Michael the opportunity to train with Swedish coaches. We still go to Sweden to get inspired and because their rinks have ice longer than we do in the spring. There’s a rink in Oslo that stays open, but it caters to all the clubs in the area so there isn’t much room for us.”
Michael: “I think the sport’s (lack of) popularity may have something to do with population. Norway is a small country and skiing is so big, everything else is considered of lesser importance. The little kids play soccer until they start skiing.”
With hardly any competition Michael is pretty much
in a league of his own and he finds training in Sweden
Michael: “Yeah, I was
at the Ice-Dome in Oberstdorf, and later in Flims with Viktor
Kudriavtsev. Both camps were excellent, both the on and off
ice training. I trained so much and I trained hard, we had
ice during the summer! My dad didn’t practice with me
in Flims, which was good; we need a break from each other
sometimes. But training for my dad is fine; really, I mean
he’s not dad on the ice. Besides, he’s always
been my coach so it’s all I know!”
Marek: “Well, I probably treat my kids a bit differently... I’ve coached the Norwegian team and I’m possibly harder on my own kids. It’s not easy to coach them, but it works out fairly well. But them going to Flims without me during the summer, Michael has been there the last four years now, is good for all of us.”
After the summer camps Michael is ready to face the new season.
Michael: “I kept my programs from last year. In the long I skate to ”The Pirates of the Caribbean”. It’s a constant struggle to find just the right music. I like classical stuff transformed to trance, but it’s very hard to come by. As far as the jumps, well, the triple Axel is coming along; I’ve been working on it all summer. I know I need this jump and I’m trying hard to master it. Now I just want to keep away from injuries so I can concentrate on my training and have a good season.”
His last season wasn’t bad either, he was allowed to
go to the Swedish nationals and compete with the senior men
Marek: “It was a boost for him to train and compete with those guys. It’s hard to train alone so much; having others around who are better than you helps you stretch your limits! When you’re alone it’s hard to stay motivated.”
The competition also served as Michael’s
qualifier for Europeans, and he passed!
Michael is certainly on the up and up, but Marek is a bit
concerned about the future and how much longer his coaching
Marek: “For another year or two, until Michael’s done with school, we should be ok. But after that we’ll have to evaluate the situation. Maybe he’ll need to move, maybe he’ll want to, we have to see what kind of progress he makes”
But although Marek has high hopes for his son, he also recognizes
the fact that there’s life beyond skating.
Marek: ”Michael takes the sport seriously and works very hard, but school is also important to him. He understands that an education is for life where skating isn’t, and so far he has managed to combine the two. He’s in a 4-year program for athletes who want to apply themselves to their studies. The first year was very tough, the second he had a little more time for skating.”
Michael: ”Besides the sport part, I study math, physics and other advanced stuff. In case I’d get seriously injured and unable to stay in the sport I’ll have an education to fall back on. School is for real and someday I’ll have a good job and make lots of money.”
With a sharp mind like that, who would doubt it? He’s
a hard worker indeed and between school and skating there
isn’t a lot of free time, but when he finds some he
can easily fill it.
Michael: “I participate in a few other sports like cycling and soccer. And I like to go out with my friends, or sit by the computer.”
He’s a man of both work and fun and he has a pretty heavy goal.
Michael: “I’d really like to make it to the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver. But the competition will be fierce and I may even have a problem making the Norwegian Olympic team since there are so many medal contenders in other sports. I’ll work hard for it though! Long term, well… Right now I have no coaching plans for the future, but you never know!”
Our conversation is over and he packs up his things to go back on the ice. It was a pleasure getting to know this promising, young Norwegian, but the last request became one too many, that to describe himself.
Michael: “Oh no, please, I can’t! I’ve never even thought about what that would be…”
Well, this reporter can think of few things, like “fighter”, “dedicated” and “future heartthrob”, but enough said that Michael’s someone to keep a close eye on from now on.