Ruben Blommaert: The ice diamond from Brugge


by Mireille Geurts
Photos © Absolute Skating

At the Proxiumus Stars on Ice show in Antwerp 2004, we got to know a 12 year old boy who was invited to skate in the shows as a promising Belgian star. They couldn't have been more accurate. Now four years later, this same young man has been making his marks in the junior international competitions and even took his first steps at senior level. In 2008 he competed at the European Championships for the first time, was the youngest competitor and gloriously made it to the long program - a great accomplishment! This year (2009) he came to a 25th spot, just out of making it to the finals.

The Belgian Nationals 2009, held in Novemver 2008, was a good moment for us to catch up. It was a strange day. We met up in the cosy café overlooking the ice rink, where the "audience" sat in a seemingly very relaxed atmosphere. Ruben Blommaert had just skated, but had no clue about the marks or the results yet, just as his fellow competitors.

Weird, but true. 

Speaking of that show in the past, the last one was held in 2006, do you miss Stars on Ice in Antwerp?

It was very pleasant. I learned a lot there - the big audience and the spot lights and cameras. I am very sorry the show is gone - it was good for Belgium. 

Ruben at the last edition of Proximus Stars on Ice 2006

Yeah it's indeed a real shame, but let's get back to the present.

You skated in the Warsaw Cup in Poland last week, how did it go?

I was in first place after the short program and I had a personal best. Then for the long program, I started well but messed up a little in the second bit of the program, which is why I ended up second in the free, and second in the total rankings as well. I wasn't disappointed. The total score wasn't too bad, because the short went so great, so I was satisfied. 

I already competed in two Junior Grand Prix this year and improved my personal best twice. I was 11th and 10th and because of that 10th spot, I got a point for the World Rankings, so I am finally on the big list! Not high of course, -laughs- it's just one point, but still…I am glad I am on it. 

We laugh with him. It's a start of course. Do you know what spot?

163 I think, but still...

Does competing at the Europeans depend on the results here?

No, not really. The Junior GPs count more and the others had assignments too, but didn't go.  
(He did compete at the EC and in the SP he collected 49,14 points, with a triple Flip double Toe combination, a step out on the triple Lutz and a double Axel, just missing out on the finals, aww)

How is the level - is there much difference between you and them?

They have improved and that's good. It's good for me to have competition in my own country. Today it was exciting, because I skated well, and the other skater (Jorik Hendrickx) skated well. Tomorrow will be decisive. 

How did you experience your first Europeans last year?

Great. Especially my short program - that was pretty cool. I wasn't really prepared for the long program. I trained short, short, short, didn't think I would make the free. When I heard that I just qualified, when it got announced, I was sort of in shock. I made the best of it, but I hadn't trained it much and that showed. The music [which is shorter for juniors] was re-cut only a week before, so I trained for only two days. It was an awesome experience and that's what I take with me. I learned a lot. 

From all the competitions where things don't work out as planned, I learn a lot. Just like in Poland last week. The SP went so well, being in 1st place going into the LP, skating with that pressure. I've never been through that before, so it was a good experience. 

I got a new long program this season - music from the movie Blood Diamond. It's a really beautiful movie, but also hard and raw. I've watched it so I know how to interpret it. 

Do you use the story of the movie, or what you feel from the movie?

No, it's the story from the movie. The music is adjusted to the movie plot - in the beginning it's very thrilling, because they get attacked, then it gets slow when he is looking for his son and in the end it gets really exciting when he tries to flee with his son. So it follows the flow of the movie: fast-slow-fast. 

You switched coaches from Silvie De Rijcke (Kevin Van Der Perren's current coach), to Vera Vandecaveye (KVDP's previous coach).

Yep, I switched in May, but didn't have the first training with Vera till August. I already had planned my summer camps and such, so followed those first. I am content with it, the competition goes well. I've improved a lot. 

Is it very different for you?

Yeah it is. With Silvie, the communication wasn't so great anymore - we didn't understand each other as we used to do. With Vera it's a whole new start - she learns from me and I from her. I experienced a lot already. The communication is better and I feel more at ease. 

And combining it with school?

I am still at a special sport school but it is difficult just now. I've got three hours per day free, for three days in the week. I can only train one hour of that, because it takes one hour to travel to the arena and one hour back. That's why I train in Brugge at the moment, but that's only possible for four months in the year and the ice quality isn't that great either. I have to catch up a lot of homework after school and at evening for the classes I miss, and of course, when I go to a competition.

Next week I've got exams, by the way. 

Isn't that hard, a week after this competition?

Yeah it is, especially because I still have to make up a week I missed because of last week's competition and today I am not in school. So it's catch-up time and study on my own for the rest I missed. (He passed them too, props Ruben! –ed) 

Can you keep up?

It's hard, especially with competitions, but I manage.  

You have trained with Mishin this summer again? What else did you do?

Yes I've been to Mishin, I also trained in Oberstdorf on my own, and I've been with Vera to Scotland for a month. We worked mostly on technique and trying for the triple axel and the triple-triple combination. My jumps are higher and bigger.  

Is it coming, the triple axel?

I think that if I could work on it now, it could come, not immediately but soon. It's there; just don't know when it'll come out.

So it's not for competition yet! -laughs-

No, not taking any risks. Just like the triple-triple combination. I do train on that, but not doing it in competition yet. 

What have you got planned for the rest of the season?

First, my exams are next week of course, and then in January it is the Europeans. In February it's the Kempen Trophy. I hope for World juniors at the end of February and depending on that maybe senior Worlds and then the Flemish Championships. Senior Worlds would be awesome, not so much for the achievement as such, but it would just be great to be at such a large competition, to feel the atmosphere. 

You still skate juniors here. When do you pass on to seniors?

I do juniors here so I can skate the junior grand prix. Maybe I'll move over to seniors next year, but I do want to do the junior GPs as long as possible. Maybe add some senior competitions if that's possible, to gain some points for the world rankings. 

Have you any injuries; knee, hip, back?

No, I haven't had injuries for a long time now. I'm fully grown now and I'm over the phase when one needs to take special care, as that's when a lot of injuries occur. I came through okay. I was careful not to train too hard. Now I am injury free and can train as hard as needed. 

Are you nervous at competitions in general? Are you more nervous at the international ones?

No, not really. There is always something, but no not really nervous. I try to see it as another practice. I have some little butterflies before maybe, a little more for the big grand prix, but when I am busy, no not much stress. 

So, after your great skate but still mystery result today, what do you expect tomorrow?

I've got a new program, I trained it a lot, my condition is good, the jumps are good and my program is good, so I will do my best.


We wished him much luck and went on our way home. The day after, we received a text message that he was second in the SP due to a time violation deduction. In the LP he missed two jumps but nevertheless, he won the LP as the other boys made mistakes too. The difference was 0.75 of a point to be the champion, but he was not. How and what exactly was unclear to him, but he decided not to let it bother him and just try harder to regain his title next year. That's the spirit Ruben! 

He has a busy schedule ahead, this fellow, but he seems to handle it with determination and confidence. He is eager to learn through all the necessary changes and gain as much experience as possible. The triple axel is on its way and the other 5 triples in his pocket. Nothing seems to stand in the way of his desired future. Belgium can be proud of such a promising star and should nurture his talent as much as they can.  


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