„We want to go to the Olympics and make people remember us” – interview with Justyna Plutowska & Jeremie Flemin

„J&J on Ice” – this is the title of their YouTube channel, where they unveil the scenes from their competitions, trainings and personal life. Figure skaters Justyna Plutowska and Jeremie Flemin decided to tell us about their sport life before the most important competition of their career – European Championships in Moscow.

Justyna Plutowska/Jeremie Flemin, fot. Alena Shukalo

I would like to start with congratulations. I think you should be very proud of your programs at Polish Championships in Kosice where you won silver medals.

Justyna: Thank you very much. We have skated two quite clean programs, so we were really happy about our performance. We want to show our best on ice and I think we did it during the National Champs. However we know that we still have a lot of work to do with both our programs.

Jeremie: Thank you for your compliments! Yes we are happy about our performances and we enjoyed this audience cheering us even if the rink was not full. It was a nice moment though. We skated calmly, and were very concentraded. This is what we needed to show in front of judges and our federation that we can skate clean.

You have to agree that you’re not very lucky from the beggining of this season. At the Warsaw Cup Jeremie had the unfortunate fall and judging during competition in Nicea was not really objecitve…

Justyna: In sport there are always „ups and downs”. Even the best couples have some problems and we should leave the judgements in judges hands. If we want to achieve something we have to be  emotionally strong and – what’s the most important – don’t give up!

Jeremie: About Nice we were not happy, but I think we expected too much, after that preview competition where we won the SD beating the Polish champions. It was early in the season, our programs were not completely ready due to a big skating break that I had to take because of my back problem (which is ok now). Also, yes, ice skating is not the most fair sport in the world, we know it. We all know that the judgements are from humans, and sometimes they have their own subjective feelings. I can’t say that “we were out of luck”. It’s just the beginning for us, so it’s ok, we are just getting more experienced. We are learning how to loose, in order to appreciate those days when we’ll win more.

We are just before the most important event in your career and I think that your preparations started at the beggining of this season. What are your goals for the European Champs in Moscow?

Justyna: From the last season we have known that we are going to the European Championships so  we started the ongoing season focusing on our performance in January. Our goal is to skate as clean as it’s possible in short dance and qualify to the free dance. If we do our job well we can finish in the top 20.

Jeremie: European Championships are coming. Friday, 19th of January will see me competing at such a big competition for the first time and Justyna for the second time. The goal is to make people like us and remember us. We will also fight to be in the top 20.

For Justyna it’s a big comeback to the Europeans after 4-year break and for you, Jeremie, it will be the debut. Do you feel that you both have different feelings before this event?

Justyna: As you mentioned, my debut at EC was in 2014, but I had also competed at bigger events like World Championships, so for now I don’t feel any pressure and I am trying to be relaxed. I think Jeremi is more excited about Europeans especially that it will be his first start in such a big competition. We both know that our hard work on trainings and good attitude, without any crippling stress, can only pay off during the competition.

Jeremie: For me, as a showman, audience is really helpful, so I think it’s going to be all good because we are ready. I just hope that I will not be too much excited, because in this case I could start to do some extra movements and Justyna would be surprised. But if I will focus on our job like I did at the nationals, it will be ok.

You are pretty experienced skaters but it’s still beggining of your career as a couple. Do you think about your next steps, about future and about next Winter Olympics? Because we all know that for you it’s to late to compete at Pyeongchang 2018.

Justyna: We still have possibilities to be better  than we are now so I think that despite it’s our second season we are showing our progress and we would like to go on with this. So, yes we would love to patricipate in next Olympics in Beijing. It’s our goal to finally fulfill this sport and personal dream for which we have already spent about 20 years of our lives.

Jeremie:  Well, yes, we wanted to go to Olympic Games in Korea, but somehow we know that without any big acheviements behind us, it would be difficult to pass the cut for the OG. But in 4 years we plan to go to the Olympic Games and do something really nice there and make people to remember us by our skating. For now two seasons together it’s a bit too short but I have still dreamed to go to the 2018 OG. I think we are still looking young and we have potential. We are hard working and we love skating. We don’t smoke, we eat healthy, we drink alcohol really occasionally, so I think we can continue and even at 30 years old we are still going to be fresh. Yes we are 26, but most of people think that we are under 22 years old.

Why did you decide to practise in Italy with Barbara Fusar-Poli who is a former World and European Champion and the olympic bronze medalist?

Justyna: Skating school in Milano is one of the best in Europe. We had some experience of working with her and we knew what we can learn from her. Barbara is a great teacher and she gives absolutely everything from her in every single training, as well as our whole team. Every day they are trying to give us the best what they had. That’s why we can see effects of their work in our skating and when we are watching other pairs from our „Italian team”.

Jeremie: We had to go to a big school if we want to be the best, and in the world there are only two schools in USA, one in Canada, 2 in Russia and one in Italy. We decided to choose Barbara because Justyna had been sometimes working with her when she was skating with Peter (her previous partner) and she was satisfied about her job. Moreover it’s easier to practice in Europe because most of the competitions are there.

You have appeared on international level during the last season. For many fans it was a big suprise because it was really unclear if you ever appear back on ice. How did it happen that you decided to skate together?

Justyna: We both had a break, but in our heads there were still some plans connected with skating. As soon as I got a message from Jeremie I decided to try. Jeremie came to Gdansk for a try-out and then we both agreed to start working together. Our first steps were pretty hard but now we can be proud of ourselves. We didn’t give up and we have already achieved a good level.

Jeremie: In May 2015 my previous partner decided to stop working with me, because I couldn’t get a passport to get to the Olympic Games with her. It was in Switzerland, and I was already working as a coach. I had a good salary there, but somehow I didn’t feel happy just with money, even though I love working with kids. I couldn’t have continued this life without goals, I need challenges. The skating world is small, so I knew Justyna was trying to skate with another French skater, but it didn’t work out, so I decided to contact her via Facebook. She told me that we can meet for a try-out in November 2015… I was so happy to be back in the game. So I came, the try-out was ok, and she said  “let’s ask for the release and we’ll see if you can get it and change national team”. At this time the president of the French federation was not giving any releases to anyone. But in December 2015 she texted me and told me that the President signed the release! I was so happy! Then in February 2016 I moved to Gdansk to finally start skating with Justyna.

You are a couple not only on ice but also in your personal life. Is it hard for you to separate sport career from your relationship?

Justyna: Our first season wasn’t really easy for us. At the beggining we had some quarrels and disagreements. You know, every couple has some difficulties and they have to get through it, sod id we. From the last year everything has changed and know we get along very well. We have plans connected with figure skating and our life together. From total opposites we create really nice and harmonious couple.

Jeremie: Last season, I don’t know why, but I was putting too much pressure on Justyna and also on me, to do everything good from the first time during the trainings. When it couldn’t have worked fast, I was getting mad. And when I was mad on ice, I was mad also at home, so it was not nice for Justyna. But after this injury, I think it made me grow up somehow and now I enjoy every day on ice, thanking God that I can still skate… Some doctors were saying that I should stop skating after my back problems. This season is really different, I don’t even remember the last time I was angry during practices. Our relationship is really good now. I love Justyna and I’m happy to spend every day with her. I actually missed her during Christmas holidays.

In Poland you are actually a little bit in the shadow of Natalia Kaliszek and Maksym Spodyriew. You have also possibility to skate with some strong couples during your trainings in Milano. Is it something which motivate you to work much harder?

Justyna: Of course! Practises with other couples are always one of the best motivators to work hard and give 100% on trainings, to be as good as they. If there is a possibility it’s always a good idea to skate in a larger group, rather than alone.

Jeremie: I don’t feel like we are in the shadow of Natalia and Maksym, because people watch us and remember us. We are two different teams, with different styles, so that’s why I don’t feel like being in their shadow. In Milano we practice next to six other senior teams, and this really helps our motivation. We always want to do even better than others and it’s really making us pushing our limits.

Can you name your bad and good points? How fast will you be able to break 160-170 point, which can allow you to reach high positions on the biggest events?

Justyna: I think we are really hard-working and this is our biggeest advantage. Lessons are important, but it all depends on us. We have to work to be in a good shape and at a good level. It’s much easier for us, because we both love to dance. Our bad point is that sometimes we have a lack of motivation and we only see the dark side of everything and that pulls us down. But we are still working on it. We have to be able to rise after we fall.

Jeremie: Good and bad points… We are good dancers, I’m strong and she is light so the lifts are also one of our things. Also, we are good looking people and hard-workers. We started with bad technical base before coming to Italy, but our coaches are working pretty well with us and we are already much stronger now, even if we still have a room for improvement there. When the technic will be there and with more experience of skating together, I think we will be able to have very good points, it’s just a matter of time.

Mateusz Górecki2036 Posts

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