“I did not win silver but lost gold.” Loena Hendrickx about European Championships, breakup, having “twisties” and negative reactions from Russia
Loena Hendrickx and her coach and brother Jorik Hendrickx about preparation and performance at the European Championships 2023. About a breakup, struggles in training and negative reactions from Russia.
source: nieuwsblad.be dd. 29 January 2023 by Martin Delvaux
“I did not win silver but lost gold.” Loena Hendrickx (23) came to this firm conclusion after finishing second at the European Figure Skating Championships. She didn’t think she’d make it to the top just a few days before: a painful breakup and struggles in training had put her in a negative vicious circle.”My body was doing really crazy things.”
“At the most important moment of the season, Loena has delivered her worst performance.” Coach and brother Jorik was honest about it. With a score of 193.48 points at the European Championships, Loena Hendrickx remained almost thirty points below her personal best. She had not scored this low since the 2019 Worlds four years ago. A fall during her short program and two slips during her free program killed her chances in Finland. Three big mistakes hadn’t happened to Hendrickx in years. “If Luna had landed one more jump, she would have won gold. But even then, we would not have been satisfied because we had come to this European Championships for two clear performances. It was very upsetting. Oh, it’s still silver. It could have been worse.”
Jorik is referring to the disastrous preparation his sister had had in the weeks before the European Championships. Loena’s inability to approach her most important competitions flawlessly had been hinted at in advance, but it wasn’t until the day after that details became public. “I just had a breakup. After about five months, I realized that we weren’t the perfect match after all. Then I decided to put an end to it. That has not been easy; I am also a person with feelings,” she said in front of the camera.
On top of those private problems, training in January also didn’t go well. Hendrickx suffered from twisties, the same problem that American top gymnast Simone Biles had to deal with during the past Olympic Games. Exercises that have become deeply ingrained in muscle memory as a result of intensive training abruptly stop working. Doubts interfere with its execution, and the athlete can no longer orient themselves automatically. “I was in a difficult period, and that made me very insecure. So I ended up in a vicious circle. My body was doing really crazy things. That got dangerous. I thought that with such workouts, I wouldn’t even make the top ten. I only got out of there three days before I left for Finland. Otherwise, there might not even have been a European Championships. Whether my fall on Saturday was also caused by a twistie? That could very well be. Usually, I don’t do a jump like that.”
Since the unapproachable Russians were absent, Hendrickx missed a unique opportunity to become European champion. At the World Championships in Japan at the end of March, where she will defend her vice world champion title, Russia is also absent, but she will have to deal with tough competition from Japan, the US, and South Korea. “Girls who score just as high as Loena on average,” Jorik says. “That will fuel her fighter mentality. I also assume that the Russians will be allowed to participate again next season. The exclusion of Russia has caused a lot of hatred in the figure skating world. Just look at the pro-Russian reactions Loena gets to photos on social media. Is that appropriate? Fortunately, it’s easier for her not to pay attention.”
Thanks to the fans. After her disappointing performance, Hendrickx was overloaded with messages, and on Sunday in Finland, there was the longest queue for selfies and autographs with Loena. “I am so thankful for all those lovely people. I have read the messages in tears. I can pull myself up from the love of the sport.”
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