Talking Olympics with Matteo Rizzo, Deniss Vasiļjevs, Stéphane Lambiel and Loena Hendrickx

February 10, 2018
By Reut Golinsky
Photo © Reut Golinsky & Loena Hendrickx

Matteo Rizzo

First of all, congratulations. You've worked really hard and throughout this season you have proved that you totally deserve to go to Olympics. What are your feelings about this?

I'm really happy with how my career is turning out now. And also my season is going well. Of course, I'm very happy with my Olympic spot. I hope I'll do my best in the team event - this is for me the most important part of the competition, because as a team we're very strong and I have to do my part of the job.

You mean you will do your best so that Team Italy will be in the top five?

Yes. Of course, the expectations are really high.

Did you ask your teammates, who have already been to the Games, what it will be like? Maybe they gave you some advice?

Of course, I'm asking them a lot of questions. And I can see their passion when they train, so it's really important for me to follow them and to learn the most from them.

Is there any specific Olympic moment you're looking forward to?

I think the team event, because as a team we will be all watching [from K&C] the skater on the ice and this experience will be new for me.

Deniss Vasiļjevs and Stéphane Lambiel

Deniss: I feel that we're all becoming part of history. Every single one of us who participates in the Games can add something to his family's story: not only that he lived once, but that he achieved something at the very top, because being at the Olympics... you can't get higher than that. For me it's a huge step forward, something which makes me feel very proud. I worked all these years to be there, step by step...

Deniss, your coach participated in three Olympic Games. Did Stéphane give you any advice?

Deniss: "Enjoy as much as you can, live the moment."

I remember Stéphane once defined his Olympics like this: "Salt Lake City 2002 was fun, Turin 2006 was a huge pressure..."

Stéphane: Well, it was still fun. But the first Games was more like a discovery. Deniss has already experienced Lillehammer (Youth Olympic Games in 2016) as a discovery. For me [the Olympic Games in] Salt Lake City was my first big international competition. I did Europeans twice but I never did Worlds before that. So it was the first time that I was with the best skaters in the whole world. He's been to two Worlds already and took part in the Grand Prix events. He already has a "bundle" of memories and experiences which he can use. But we're constantly talking about how to handle this, how to use this pressure and move forward.
Deniss: I participated in the European Olympic Festival, which was more like the whole family coming together to have some fun. In Lillehammer it felt more like all the wolves came into the pit to fight! For me it was very enjoyable but I was feeling very aggressive. And now I'm looking forward to the "big" Games and wondering how it will be.

Is there any specific moment during the Games which you're looking forward to?

Deniss: I really want to get there and see the full arena. I'm really waiting for that moment when you stand on the middle of the ice and see everyone applaud, when you're inside this huge energy bubble.
Stéphane: Like a gladiator at the arena... I felt exactly like that when I entered the rink.

Loena Hendrickx

You were probably asked about this many times already, but how does it feel to go to the Olympic Games together with your brother?

It was a dream when I was a little girl. When he went to his first Olympic Games, four years ago, I was dreaming about going together in 2018 and now we are going, so it's a dream that came true.

If you had a chance to thank anyone personally for this dream coming true, who would it be?

My mom and Jorik, of course, because he does everything for me, I'm so grateful.

What did he tell you about the Olympic Games? How should you prepare?

Just to train hard and enjoy it. Enjoyment is the major thing he told me because he himself didn't enjoy it that much [last time], because he was too focused on the competition. He enjoyed it, of course, but [advised] to enjoy it even more, to watch other sports...

Is there any specific Olympic memory that you have from watching the Games on TV when you were younger?

I think it was when Joannie Rochette won her bronze medal in Vancouver. It was the first time I had this "WOW" feeling.

Is there any specific moment during Olympics that you're looking forward to?

Of course, my performances. But I think the opening ceremony is going to be something special.


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