Kristoffer Berntsson: "I will continue to skate!"┬á
Kristoffer Berntsson on this season's results, why he chose to retire from the big events and what his future skating life will look like…
Kristoffer is often considered the best figure skater in Swedish history and rightfully so. He won his 10th Swedish Championship in December, his best placement at Euros is 7th place and his best placement at Worlds was 9th place in Japan in 2007. He still remembers the standing ovations after his free program there and was hoping to return to Japan for Worlds in Tokyo. Nordics were the tryout for Worlds and Sweden had three candidates. Kristoffer Berntsson is the best known of these candidates - not only in Sweden, and many fans all over the world had hoped for his success at Nordics. Unfortunately it was not to be. Right after Nordics in Copenhagen where Kristoffer ended up in disappointing 3 rd place, I had a small chat with him. Due to time shortage between the competition and the medal ceremony we talked during dinner. This was Kristoffer’s suggestion since he always keeps a promise and that was a short talk with me.
Ok, let’s start with the competition. This was clearly not what you had hoped for!
No, what can I say...
You placed third here at Nordics. It didn’t go your way. At Swedish Nationals you did so much better.
Well in a way, not good, but yes I skated better at Nationals, everything was better. I felt good going there. I was in a good shape for Nationals but it felt the same way now so …
Perhaps there was more tension since this competition was to decide who goes to Worlds?
Not really, if I wouldn’t have won Nationals in December that would have meant no Europeans for me in Bern so that was actually more stressful. If I would not have won Nationals, I would have been without any chance at all. So Nationals were more important and this is not the first time for me anyway, to be in this situation. I am used to it now, even worse than this, too. This is what I have been doing all my life.
So how have the preparations been going?
Before Nationals everything went better and better but after Nationals I had a little dip and ahead of Euros I didn’t really get to the level I wanted during practice.
At Euros there was much talk about the cold. Did that affect you?
Well it was cold but it wasn’t hysterical, colder than usual, yes. I think it was worse for the audience who had to sit still for so many hours. That couldn’t have been good for them, but for us competitors, we warm up before and then we are just out there for some five minutes skating in full power. Perhaps it was worse for the girls who wear dresses with short sleeves or no sleeves.
You were in Lausanne too in 2002 and it was the same there so not really any news .
Yes I was, but I don’t remember it being cold.
This year’s programs, did you choose them yourself and cut the music?
We made them together, all three of us: me, Serjon Abebe [streetdancer who has done Kristoffer’s choreography in the last years] and Andrea Dohany [Kristoffer’s coach since, well, forever].
Your free program this year is to a Michael Jackson medley. Did you choose that since your free program from 2007 was very successful especially at Worlds in Tokyo and it’s somewhat the same style?
So why did I chose it? Well I thought it would be fun to skate to. It really wasn’t anything else. It was more, what have I already skated to and what haven’t I, not that Worlds takes place in Tokyo this year. So we tried to find music I haven’t skated to before and ended up with MJ.
So there are the three of you. How does it work, when does Serjon come in?
He is there from the start during all stages like general ideas, music ideas and then we work in a mixture. Serjon works on different endings, beginnings, movements and expressions. At the same time I work with Andrea on the ice and we put together the jumps and steps. We make a set-up and then we match the music to the program. Serjon also makes the choreography to Team Surprise so he is used to this process.
You are one of the skaters at Stockholm Ice again this year. Will you have a new show program?
Yes I should! I can’t come with an old one. I can’t have the same one as last year so we will see what it will be. I don’t have any thoughts yet, so it will be a surprise.
You have been around for a while. Is there anything you would have done differently looking back?
Yes, in a way there is when I think about it and what I know today. There are things I see very clearly now, like what should and could have changed and be done differently. For example if I would have known what I know today it could have made me a better skater.
What are you specifically thinking about?
Things like training and the attitude towards it for example.
Have you thought about what you will do with this knowledge in the future and how you can use it?
Well, that is in the future and future will tell.
Some of Kristoffer’s future plans became official on March 9th, when he announced he would stop competing at major events.
How did you come to this decision?
Since last year I have been taking one season at a time so this decision has grown on me. Already last year I wasn’t sure but I thought it was so much fun to skate and continued one more year. This doesn’t mean I will stop completely. I still really love skating and I can’t be without it, so it is not that I am retired completely.
What does it mean practice wise?
I will continue to train and see what happens but not three times a day, and I will not do two workouts per day for example. I will not go to summer camp and I will not make any new programs or anything that is included to prepare you for a full competitive season. I want to take it easy and not only concentrate on figure skating. I just finished my studies too so there are new things in life coming up.
What happens now?
I have one competition coming up and that is the Swedish Cup Final and then the Stockholm Ice show.
What do you mean when you say you will not do any major events?
I will not do Euros or Worlds.
How can your international fans get to see you?
I will continue skating for sure and if I get a good offer I will be glad to do shows. I love skating, it is part of my life.
How many programs have you been asked to skate at Stockholm Ice?
One program, as last year.
I think for sure we will see you next year again at Stockholm Ice, so you can’t relax too much!
Do you think so?
So if you want to see Kristoffer skate you have two choices left this season, either The Swedish Cup Final from April 8th -10th or Stockholm Ice. That is something to look forward to. If there is something Kristoffer really knows how to do after all his years in the skating business, it’s a great show number and how to sell it. So don’t miss him and the others on April 2nd at Stockholm Ice.