Justus Strid: "For the children I coach I'm the biggest star in the world"


Sept 7, 2012
By Titanilla Bőd
Photos © Absolute Skating

It's not only the winners who deserve attention at a skating competition. Justus Strid from Denmark didn't qualify for the free skating at the World Championships in Nice, but his Les Miserables in the preliminary round and La Vie en Rose in the short program were memorable for many fans. I caught up with Justus when he left the ice in the qualifying round and was all happy about getting through it.

How satisfied are you with your performance in the qualifying round?

I'm very satisfied. I thought that I'd need 108 points fo qualifying. I had around 103 points at the Europeans, and now I got more than 110 points. So I'm really satisfied. I did almost everything. And I'm in the short program, that's important. You can do 120 points, it doesn't matter. I can be first or last, I'm through.

Was your main goal for these Worlds to qualify?

Definitely, but we've been working on the short program with the triple Axel and the triple-triple combination, and it's been really good in the training, so we are going for everything, of course. We need about 60 points to get through, and I had 53-54 at the Europeans, but it wasn't excellent. So it's possible to get to the short program as well. Hopefully I will do the best short program. [Unfortunately, Justus couldn't deliver a performance he wished for, got only 50,55 points for his short program and didn't qualify for the free skating.]

Is it harder mentally or physically to do the qualifying round?

Mentally, definitely. Because if you miss one jump, like I did in the beginning, I fell on the Axel, then you have to keep chasing, because you know that you need to do everything almost perfect to qualify. If you are like Voronov, than you get 130 points because you are that good, but if you know110 is a lot for you, and you miss the first jump, mentally you will feel behind all the time. But it was okay.

After your skate you also received a royal applause from the Prince and Princess of Monaco. How did you like it?

It was good! I'm hope next time we will have our own queen, the Danish queen at a competition. Then I will talk to her.

How do you like the city of Nice and the venue?

I could say I love it so much, but I don't know. I'm sweating all the time since I arrived. It's too hot for me. I live in Denmark, I like rain and cold. It's nice to go for a few hours to the sea for sunbathing, but it has to stop. Because from morning to night it's too hot. But in the arena the temperature is just as it should be. It's much better than in Bern last year at the Europeans, where it was freezing.

You were born in Sweden but you are now representing Denmark. Why did you switch countries?

I moved seven years ago. First I just went there to have new coaches. In Sweden I had a lot of problems with different coaches and I just wanted to change everything. So my mum said: move to Paris or move to Copenhagen. My French is not that perfect, so I was like: OK, I'll go to Denmark. There I can understand people and it's easier to go home. So I lived in Denmark for two years, still competing for Sweden, when the Danish federation just asked me if I can compete for them. They said it would be better for me as well, they could give me more competitions, so I thought, why not. Either compete nothing or compete for Denmark, where I live and train. So it felt almost natural to change.

Is there any difference in the approach of the federation or in the training methods?

Yes, of course. The federation is not as big as in Sweden, it's me and Karina Johnson, who was born in the U. S. So it's not a big federation. But the ice times are really good, because there is not as much ice hockey as in Sweden, so we don't get so much time. While in Denmark, in my club the ice hockey team has four hours a week ice time, and we have the ice in the rest of the time. We get a lot of time and my coaches can focus more time on me. This is good for my practice. I think it can be really good to compete for a small country and get more attention on everything around. It works well for me.

How much time do you spend on the ice weekly?

When I'm not practicing, I'm coaching little children. So I am at the rink from ten to ten everyday, and maybe some Saturdays are off days. That's my sleep day. Otherwise I'm almost all the time at the ice rink, or at the gym, or eating in between. But I have two hours my own practice time on ice every day, and three or four hours off ice.

When did you start coaching children and how do you like it?

I started when I was about 16 or 17, just coaching in skating school for little children. And it's just kept going. It is really fun. When I moved to Denmark, it was a good opportunity as well. They were glad that I can coach children, and for me it is a really fun job. I'm better at that than anything else, because I've been skating for twenty-something years, I should be good at it. It's nice to work with children, they get really happy. For the children I coach I'm the biggest star in the world. When I left for the Worlds, they said: “You are the best, you will win!” Yes, I will win, hopefully (loud laugh). It was really funny.

One of your coaches is your brother Kalle. What's its like to be coached by such a close family member?

Sometimes it is tense, but I have two coaches. Martin Johansson is also from Sweden, and they take turns. Sometimes I'm really cranky, and my brother knows that, I also know that. So then the other coach takes his turn. Because I can yell at my brother, but can't yell at the other coach. But it is also a big advantage to be coached by my brother. He knows me, he has seen me everywhere, so he knows when I'm tired, when I need practice, when I'm injured. He knows everything about me, when he can push me and when I have to stop. And choreography-wise he is really good. So I would say it has more advantages that disadvantages.

How do you choose the music for your new programs?

That's a really good part of being with my brother, because we can talk about it all season, and we have different ideas. We can discuss these small ideas all the time, so for the another season we have a good base to build a whole program on, and not just call a new choreographer and make a program in a week. We choose together a lot.

Do you already have some ideas for the next season?

Yes, but that would be a secret! We have many fine ideas. But it is also a shame, because I've earned many points with this program, Les Miserables this year, and the judges have said they really love it. So now there is a little question whether to keep it or not. We like changing programs, because it's fun to do something new, but we might keep it and try to make it even better. But hopefully we will change.

Do you have any skater you admire?

I really like Jeremy Abbot. I think he is so underscored. For me he is the best. His free skate this year has everything, I can't even describe it, just “Aaaah”. And he didn't even skate it perfectly, that's the hard part. Chan skates perfect every time, but when Abbot skates, not even clean, it's still like “Wow”. I really admire him.

How do you like the new scoring system?

It has flaws, but it is much better than the previous one. It's easier when you go out on the ice because you know what you have to do to get a certain score. It's easier to count. So I'm okay with it.

Do you have any favourite element?

I really like the Axel. It's the biggest jump I do, and it's a very important jump. I like it when it's good and really high. When it's bad, I hate it, you hurt yourself so much!

Do you plan to learn any quad jump?

We practiced it a lot last summer, but I didn't land it, so we said we won't try it this season, because we should have worked too much on it during the season itself and it would maybe destroy the triple jumps. But in this summer we will work more for it and hopefully get it. The toeloop is good but the Salchow has also been really good, so hopefully for next year, it will work. It would be really good, for one program at least.

We hope Justus had a great summer, in which he was able to work on his quad jump!

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