2005 Other articles

Flying high - a chat with Julia Sebestyen

1. When and how did you start skating?

- I started skating when I was 3 at an open-air ice rink in Tiszaújváros, my parents took me there. At the age of 13 I moved to Budapest, alone. At first I stayed with Klári Kozák, my then coach. I have a lot to thank her. In the capital city I was able to train under better conditions.

2. Who's your favourite figure skater, or maybe your role model?

- Nancy Kerrigan and Kristi Yamaguchi, because they skated with so much grace. And Midori Ito because of her jumps, she was a really gifted jumper. She was the first to land a triple axel in an international competition.

3. Which ones do you prefer in your programs: technical elements or linking movements? What are your favourite figure skating elements?

- I like the whole program, all jumps, spins and footwork. Since jumps are the most dominant elements, my favourite one is the triple lutz. I was the first Hungarian woman figure skater who landed it in a competition, and I was only 13 then.

4. What do you think figure skating is: art or sport? And why?

- Mainly sport. And a rather complex one because you have to be athletic and flexible at the same time. You need to be in great condition yet you have to pay attention to all the details of a performance. You have to cope with the expectations alone.

5. How do you prepare yourself for a new program? For example how do you choose the music? And who creates your beautiful and elegant costumes? Do you have a say in that matter?

- For a couple of years from now recognized choreographers - like Nina Petrenko, Nikolai Morozov, Tatiana Tarasova, Evgeni Platov - put my programs together. They also choose the music and I think they always succeed in picking the right music for my personality. These people know me well and know what I am able to perform so that it's fitting me. My costumes are created overseas. They show me the plans beforehand so I can choose what I like the best. I might have a say in picking the colours of the costume but they really know me well and also know what advantages of mine are need to be emphasized and what kind of dresses suit me.

6. Do you keep up any relations with other skaters at international competitions? Do you sometimes go out together?

- I am on friendly terms with a lot of skaters, because we have been competing together for a couple of years now, we attend the same training camp, etc.

7. What do you think of András Száraz and Eszter Jurek as coaches? Could you tell us a couple of words about them?

- I like working with them very much, they know all about my jumps and I know almost from half words what they're thinking I have to pay attention to. If there's any problem, we're able to discuss it and try to correct it, we always strive for better achievements.

8. Which one of you is the most nervous during a competition?

- Probably András :))) because he cannot chip on the program, all he can do is worrying.

9. Last season Budapest hosted a quite successful European Championships. Thanks to the enthusiastic crowd foreign visitors came to the conclusion that figure skating is a pretty popular sport in Hungary. Do you think so?

- In Zsuzsa Almássy's time it was really popular. Families were watching figure skating competitions and cheering together. The European Championships in Budapest proved that people still willingly come to see and cheer for the Hungarian athlete. Since the Euros the interest has been definitely on the increase, more and more people turn their attention to figure skating competitions.

10. Under what conditions do you train? Do you have off-ice training? How do you practice your jumps?

- We've been training in the Jégcsarnok (an ice rink in Budapest) for 4 years. Before that we had to train under a temporary tent put up on the open-air ice rink of Városliget (also in Budapest) for 2 years because the Budapest Sportcsarnok (a stadium with training facilities) had burned down. Moreover, we had to travel day after day to Székesfehérvár and Dunaújváros to train. It was a very tough period. We had to compete with foreign skaters who had had better training conditions than ours. But that's probably encouraged us to work even harder. I have off-ice training, and ballet two times a week. I jog every day for better physical condition. During the summer I have a different kind of off-ice training as well, but that's only for the off season. I sometimes do aerobics, also for physical condition.

11. What do you think your strength is as a figure skater? What are your weaknesses?

- For a long time I was Juli Sebestyén, the skater who can jump so high. Besides, I'm working hard on improving my artistry.

12. How can you have that marvellous spring in your jumps?

- Everybody's asking me that. (She smiles.) I would say talent, but good technique is just as important.

13. What are your goals next season, or in your carrier?

- I'm always concentrating on the task still before me and trying to do my best. I never think in terms of placements, because results depend on lots of things: luck, good draw, opinion of judges.

14. How do you prepare yourself for the World Championships?

- I'm going to a training camp to Landskrona, Sweden before the Worlds. There I can be completely alone on the ice. I listen to my music a lot, there's calmness and I train hard.

15. Beside skating you're studying. Where and what?

- Exactly, I'm studying at the Semmelweis University, Faculty of Physical Education and Sport Sciences. I'm attending another school, the Budapest Polytechnic where I'm studying to be a technical manager.

17. Could you tell us a couple of words about your family? How can your family help you at competitions?

- My parents still live in Tiszaújváros. I have a younger brother, he's a sophomore at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics, Faculty of Electrical Engineering. I rarely have the time to travel home, so often my family visits me. If a competition takes place in Hungary or in a neighbouring country, they would come and see me, and my two cousins, Ági and Évi, as well as my godparents, my biggest fans accompany them.

18. What are your hobbies?

- Reading, listening to music, going to cinemas.

20. What are the most important qualities in an athlete that can bring her/him to the top in your opinion?

- Persistence, diligence, strong will, endurance of pain, failure but success as well.

21. How do you react to critics or praise?

- I accept critics, because that's what makes you develop, and of course one is pleased with the praise, only you have to consider that they're honest or not.

22. Do you keep all the plush toys you're given to? Do you have any lucky charms?

- I have a tiger and a frog, my coach always holds them in his hand during the competition. I also have a mouse on which I keep my pins from competition (for example team badges from the Nagano or Salt Lake City Olympics) - but I'm afraid I'm going to lose it once so I rather keep it at home. I keep one part of the plush toys, I give away the other (for example last time I gave them to a school of Tiszaújváros).

23. Are you comfortable with people recognizing you on the street?

- I had to get used to it. Nowadays it happens a lot that they recognize me. Some ask for autograph or tell me that they're cheering for me, that's really flattering.

24. Do you go out sometimes? What kind of places do you usually attend?

- Off season I have more time, so I can go out with friends and my cousins.

25. Do you follow fashion trends?

- Only if they suit me, that doesn't mean always the newest trends.

26. What is your favourite place in the world? Where would you travel if you got one and a half million forints?

- My favourite place is Tiszaújváros. I also like Vancouver, Paris, Brisbane in Australia, I've already been there. Unfortunately there's not much time to look around at places during competitions.

27. What do you think of Sweden?

- I train in a small town in South-Sweden (Landskrona), people are very friendly there. They're pretty calm, they don't worry all the time like we do.

28. Finally, what kind of boots and blades are you wearing?

- Boots: Risport RF2 SUPER. Blades: Wilson Gold Seal.

Mar. 02, 2005 (2005-03-02) © Adastra