Interview with Jorik Hendrickx

Q: What made you take up figure skating? Aren't both of your brothers ice hockey players? Why did you decide on skating, which is more of a marginal sport in Belgium?

A: Because I couldn’t skate and I tried ice hockey. This tended me to figure skating club to learn how to skate. I stayed there and I’m sitting here ... (laughs). The intention was to go to ice hockey, but... I don’t know why I skated. I was still young and I liked this sport and so I continued.. I just loved it and I didn’t think about going to ice hockey any more.

Q: What do you like and don't like about figure skating?

A: I have to train very hard and that’s fun, because you have to challenge yourself. Everytime you have to motivate yourself you have to be at your best in every practice session. Sometimes I want to be too good, I'm a perfectionist. That’s my personality - I want to be very good and sometimes it doesn’t work. What I don’t like about figure skating is that you get a lot of injuries and if you want to train, but you can’t train because of your injury. I think that you have to do spins with so many difficult variations, you have to jump and you have to do it on ice and that’s why you get a lot of injuries.

Q; Kevin van der Perren made figure skating popular in Belgium. Do you see yourself continuing his tradition?

A: Yeah, I don’t feel like it yet...maybe in the next years I will feel the pressure because there is no Kevin ... the other competitions I was in the shadows of him. They expected a lot from him and I was just the second Belgium skater and I didn’t feel that pressure from the media and other people. So maybe now I will feel it. I think that I have to switch something in my head and just skate and then we will see what happens - which results and which place I will get.

Q: What are your strong points? What is it, in your opinion, that makes you special?

A: I think that I pay a lot of attention to my spins and steps - I try to get the highest level. I know my jumps are not the best because there are better jumpers in figure skating. But every time I'm getting more consistent. So last year I skated quite consistent than I didn’t have an failures like missing all the jumps or something.

Q: Which conclusion are you making out of your experiences in the past season? What does it mean to you to have placed among the top 10 skaters at Europeans? Is that motivating you?

A: I was very happy that I was in the top 10 because I didn’t expect it. I feel like I'm living in a dream because 5 years ago I didn’t jump any triples. It’s going so fast! I think I was 16 when I learned all the triples in one year. In the next year I learned tripe-triple [combinations]. And last year I learned triple axel. So it’s going very fast .

Q: What are your future plans?

A: First I will do Nebelhorn-Trophy and Coup de Nice and then I will have my first senior grand prix. It’s very hard, but... yeah...we will see! I’m really glad that I have one and that I was chosen because they see potential in me... because they gave me one even though I didn’t skate at Worlds. So normally it depends on which place you make at Worlds a lot of skaters from Worlds getting grand prix events directly. I only did Europeans and small competitions. So I’m very glad that they picked me to do one Grand Prix.

Q: You have two new programs?

A: I was looking for a choreographer for a long time because I wanted something new: I wanted to create a new personality, I want to improve my skating and so I was looking for someone who can make my programs [like that]. It was very hard because it’s a lot of money as well and involves a lot of traveling. Finally I found Shanetta Folle and I travelled to America to train there for 3 weeks. I went to America but I didn’t know what my music was because she would pick it for me. So I went there and then the first day, we went in her car and she had this cd with ten songs on it and I said that I want this and this and in the beginning I felt a bit weird with my free program because it’s classic music and I never skated on classical music. So it was a big challenge for me. The short...I like it because it is Blues and Jazz, it’s fun. But the free program... in the beginning I didn’t know what they expect because she said it’s good and if you can skate on this it will improve your components. So it was completely different because normally first we choose a music and then we made the program to it. So now she already had the music...she worked completely different than I was used to. Normally we first cut the music and then we make a program on it. We had a piece from 9 minutes and we made a program on it. And then after this we cut the music. So it is not complete yet, so I haven't skated on the complete version of the music yet. So I will go back to train with her for one week and then we will figure out the music.

Q: How is preparation going so far and what are you planning to work on?

A: On my skating skills I worked a lot in America. I was 5-6 hours on the ice, but I didn’t jump that much. So we put a lot of steps into my programs. I want to improve my skating skills. And of course my triple axel needs to be consistent, because I learned it last year so it’s not very stable. And I want to try two triple axels in my free program. So it’s gonna be a challenge to get it consistent.

Q: You often come to Oberstdorf. Is it helping to train here? What are you gaining out of it?

A: It’s a good condition to train here and they have two ice rinks. Well, at the the moment just one ice rink. But I will stay here for another 2 weeks. I love working with Mr Fajfr. He has a great jumping technique and next week my coach will come as well. So I can work with my coach on my programs and spins and so on, and then improve my jumps with Mr Fajfr. I think it’s a good combination to work with. Last year I had a good example [Michal Brezina], but this year there is none anymore.

Q: Let's talk about the new – well, not so new anymore – judging system. It's more like a hunt for points. It's hard to develop a personality on ice. What are your thoughts on that?

A: I think it is more fair because you get points for every jump and every spin and every step sequence. It’s still in the second mark...there it gets still a bit individual of course... how you like...some people like this program or some people don’t like it at all because it’s up to personal taste. I think sometimes to like the choreography and to like the interpretation is the opinion of the judges. Sometimes, if you have a big name, you get a lot of points in transitions.... I think it’s more fair because the first part is better because you get for the jumps and spins, but then with the second mark it is a big difference sometimes between skaters.

Q: Are you having any role-models...or had any when you were younger?

A: A: Because I didn’t skate that much on international level just yet I just like the Belgium skaters Kevin van der Perren and his wife Jenna McCorkell. And in first place I like the skating of Stéphane Lambiel and jumps of Michal Brezina. Of course Kevin is a big idol because he made figure skating in Belgium so popular. Patrick Chan and Daisuke Takahashi are my idols as well. I think every skaters has his own qualities.

Q: What are you doing in your freetime? Any hobbies?

A: Not so many hobbies (laughs) I live in Belgium and I study in the Netherlands.. I do sport management and marketing. Last year I did the complete year so I had to do a lot of subjects. So it was very hard because I spend a lot of time skating and a lot of time in school. It was very hard because the system in the Netherlands is if you go to University or College you have to do the first year completely. So they can see if your capable of doing this studies. So all sport men have to do the first year. So I hope that I can split the second year and then I will have less pressure from my school and I can focus more on skating. So it was very hard last season and so I didn’t have so much free time.

Q: What are you doing in Oberstdorf aside from skating, after all, isn't it a little quiet around here?

A: After America... I am still a little bit tired due to the traveling. I traveled back from America and then I was four days in Belgium and then I went to Oberstdorf by train for 12 hours. I was very tired and I’m training here 3 hours and I’m working out off ice every day... I’m doing condition programs. I have to run every day . If I have any free time I take a break or I watch television.

Q: Thank you very much for the interview and good luck for the coming season!                                                                                                           


Translation: Nicole Graff