Anita Madsen: ”It would be a gift to qualify for the Olympic Games”


September 25, 2013
By Eva Maria Jangbro (EMJO)
Photos © Eva Maria Jangbro (EMJO)

Danish skater Anita Madsen, 18, had a breakthrough last season, vividly cheered on by her enthusiastic coaches by the rink side. I head for Copenhagen to talk to all three of them; coaches Kalle Strid and Martin Johansson and to Anita Madsen herself. I want to find out how their collaboration started and how the Swedish coaching style differs from Danish. I also want to ask Anita if she is aware of her coaches’ empathy to what’s happening on the ice while she is competing.

Coach Kalle meets me at the train station to take me to the rink since it is a little hard to find. When approaching the Copenhagen skating club arena, I notice it’s not actually an arena but a big white tent that reminds me of the practice tent used at Europeans in Bern in 2011. It didn’t used to be held up by wires, so when it was windy there was a problem, now, however, that has been solved. It can handle every kind of weather and it’s very nice to be inside the white, light tent with a really pleasant temperature. The outside temperature is around +20 C, which probably affects the inside temperature. My guess is it’s colder in winter.

I arrive just before Anita’s off ice practice. She normally has the off-ice practice after skating, but today she will be on the ice later. Anita lives an hour out of Copenhagen, so she has turned the two practice sessions around to not get home so late at night.

Let’s start by introducing you; when and why did you start skating?

Anita: I started when I was 4 years old because of my sister. I was dragged to the rink every day since she was skating, so I thought: ok, why don’t I just go out there and skate too? It would be boring to just sit and watch. I found out I really enjoyed it and here I am now! I skated at the Rödövre skating club from age 11 and I came here a year and a half ago.

And you made a coach change to the two Swedes: Kalle Strid and Martin Johansson. Are they different than Danish coaches?

Anita: I had a Swedish coach the year before I moved here so I was used to the Swedish style, which is very different from the Danish. Swedish coaches have a more serious approach than the Danish coaches have. Danish coaches look more overall on all the skaters while Kalle and Martin look at each individual; what do you need? And most of the time it is just me and Justus (Justus is Kalle’s younger brother who now skates for Denmark) on the ice, which of course is very different too.

Kalle: It is something we have worked on and we have to thank the Copenhagen skating club for investing so much in Anita and Justus. Had they not, moneywise it would be too expensive for the skaters to pay for private ice time.

You went to Lake Arrowhead, California, and participated in a camp. What did you learn?

Anita: It was my first time going to a camp like that and to work with a trainer you have never worked with before. But it was a great experience that will stay with me. It is nice to get away from the things you are used to, and it’s an eye opener. A lot of work was put into my skating skills and the small technical details that make the jumps easier and more consistent. It is of course a little difficult to remember everything now that I’m back home again, so it will take some time to get into the correct skating again. I also have to get unused to skating with all those stars!

This season is very important, have you prepared differently for it?

Anita: I just started skating as a senior and the junior season starts earlier with the junior grand prix. I think it is important to do what you usually do and not suddenly put a lot of other thoughts in your head. I now have my own physical therapist and a mental coach from Team Denmark helping me. (Team Denmark is an elite talent program.) I have had many problems with my hip and I’m happy to have the same person take care of me instead of many different people. I listen to Michael, my physical therapist, and what he thinks I should do, and not to what everyone else tells me to do. It feels very safe for me that way.

Do you have new programs for this season?

Anita: We made a new free program together with Kim Zandvoort (Kim choreographs for several Swedish skaters) to the music called Vendetta. It is about two sides of one person. It is a little different from what I am used to; a little more difficult both technically and how the program is planned to be able to raise the level of difficulty. It will be really exciting to skate it.

What kind of music do you prefer skating to?

Anita: Well, dramatic music is clearly my strongest side; it suits me the best. After I got my short program here last year it has given me great, positive feedback and success. I am keeping that short program this season too. It was choreographed by Kalle.

Kalle: The first thing we needed to look at was Anita’s programs. They needed to be changed since it looked like Anita didn’t have any feeling for the programs, and that the choreography was just there without filling any purpose. We wanted to give her a program that showed her character and highlighted her strong sides. I think Anita made lots of progress last year because she performed the program with better interpretation, which showed in the component score. Now that she is used to me, I thought we’d raise the bar a little and I think Kim is really great and it is fun to see what she made for Anita.

What are you goals for this season?

Anita: It goes like this: I will do my best at the Nebelhorn Trophy to qualify for the Olympic Games in Sochi. If it happens it’s a gift, if not it’s ok. My main goal is the Olympic Games in four years. I will work hard and train for that. I will try to raise the bar even more, but I am also aware that it might make my results less good for a couple of seasons, until I am fully trained and able to achieve and perform what I am aiming for. Perhaps I will succeed in some of the things, but this season I will just do my best and prove to myself that I can. It would of course be super to take part in the Olympics even earlier than my main goal, to try it out and gain that experience. I didn’t count on skating at Worlds last season … it all happened so fast for me so clearly it is a gift if I make it.

Kalle: It is fantastic to even discuss the Olympic Games. Exactly a year ago our discussion was about what we had to do to become Danish Champions and then, if we didn’t make it to Europeans, would Junior Worlds be an option or not.

It sure has been a big change for you going to Europeans and the big competitions. Do you have any spare time after all the practice sessions and studying too?

Anita: Well, I don’t really have any spare time. I attend the Team Denmark high school and I will for one more year since I only study part time. Everything in my life is school and skating.

Which skaters do you look up to; do you have any role models?

Anita: I have always looked up to Carolina Kostner. When I was younger I was in Oberstdorf during the summer (at the Icedome) where I trained with Carolina both in groups and I got private lessons from her. We also talked and spend time together so I have a different relationship with her than with the other skaters. I think Carolina has something really unique. There are many skaters that are great jumpers, but she has something above and beyond the average.

This is my last question and I think many wonder about it: how is it to have your coaches jumping and cheering while you are on the ice competing?

Anita: While skating it is honestly not something I notice. When you are in the audience you might consider the coaches’ reactions as being a bit too much. But when you are skating, you’re so totally focused and concentrated that you don’t really notice it. But if I do, it makes me really happy and puts me in a good mood.

My interview with Anita is over and she rushes to the off-ice training that only partly takes place outside, since it has started to rain. The off-ice training is held by Martin Johansson, one of Anita’s two coaches. He is later joined by Kalle Strid as the ice practice starts. I also had a chat with Kalle and Martin, not only about what they thought about ending up on youtube after being filmed at Euros in Zagreb, but also how and why they started coaching together.



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