Loena Hendrickx: “I think it would be great to start skating in seniors at 18 years old. By this age, you become a woman, not a child”
Interview with Loena Hendrickx for Russian media. In the interview Loena told why she shone so late on the international arena, what gives her motivation to continue her career and how would she reacted if Russian girl appeared in the Belgian national team.
source: championat.com dd. 6th November 2021, by Ekaterina Efimova
Loena, happy birthday and congratulations on such a great result. Was the leaderships in the short program a surprise to you?
Loena Hendrickx: I was ready for this short program, I believed in myself, but you always have only one chance – here and now. I’m happy that I managed to take this chance. It seemed to me that I made a small mistake and in general there is always something to strive for and something to improve.
Did your birthday give you strength?
Loena Hendrickx: Oh, it seems to me that it gave more stress (smiles)! If I had not skated clean, I wouldn’t have been able to enjoy this day. But now I will have more reasons to rejoice.
Figure skating in Belgium is far from the most popular sport. Are there any difficulties representing this country in the international arena?
Loena Hendrickx: Oh, yes, actually it is very difficult. There is no strong support for children’s sports, and you have to pay for everything yourself until good results appear. And when the results come, they start to believe in you and support you. And it is very difficult to go through this path, to achieve something, so that they start to support you. And it’s sad, but hopefully something will change in the future.
Are you as popular in Belgium as Russian figure skaters at home?
Loena Hendrickx: I don’t think so, football is popular in Belgium. However, after the last World Championships I got a little more attention. And this is already not bad (smiles).
Now many Russian figure skaters are changing their citizenship. How will you react if one of our girl decides to skate for Belgium?
Loena Hendrickx: It’s possible. I even heard some conversations about one girl, but then something did not work out. Let’s see what happens in the future. I will just keep working and trying to bring maximum results. Not everything depends on us.
You missed a lot of time due to injury. Was the return difficult?
Loena Hendrickx: It was really difficult, because the injury was not one, it was immediately followed by another. In total, I could not perform for more than a year. This time was very difficult. I realized that I adore figure skating and cannot imagine my life without it. I realized that I want to return, because this is my love and I want to perform and perform. I’m so proud of myself that I managed to overcome all this and now I am here.
Today you are 22 years old. Many skaters end their careers much earlier, and you just starting to declare yourself. What’s your secret?
Loena Hendrickx: I just love figure skating and I love to train every day. It seems to me that I will train and perform until I just can not skate. I can’t imagine that something would make me leave the sport. I will continue until this is over.
Is the example of Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who won a medal at the World Championships at 24, inspiring?
Loena Hendrickx: When I was 16, my triple jumps were so-so. But I started skating very late, we do not have conditions in Belgium to train competently at the top level, it is difficult to combine school and training. Therefore, I had to move to the Netherlands to a sports school, where I could train more. So Liza Tuktamysheva and, of course, Carolina Kostner are my role models. Especially Koster, it was amazing to have such a long career in figure skating, it is admirable. She is European, she has great gliding. Carolina never gave up and in general is an example of longevity in figure skating. She always followed her dream and enjoyed it.
Typically, figure skaters reach their peak at 15-16 years old. Your results get better and better with age. Can you explain this?
Loena Hendrickx: I don’t know, I started training late, until I was 13 I trained only once a day and, of course, it affected. After moving to the Netherlands, I had 2-3 workouts a day. I am glad that I have my older brother, he has always been an example for me, I saw how he works and how hard it is for him to achieve his goals, but how cool it is when he succeeds. Going to the Olympic Games together was amazing!
Has it become easier for you to skate as you get older?
Loena Hendrickx: It has never been easy, because I have always struggled with jumps, I don’t think I have talent for this … But I train a lot and work hard to make the jumps consistent. And now it seems to work out.
Do you think it is possible to compete with Russian skaters without ultra-c jumps?
Loena Hendrickx: To be honest, I don’t think so. They are vastly superior to me in terms of technique. When I see them train, I am impressed by their jumps. It’s just amazing.
Recently, there has been talk of a balance between technique and artistry in figure skating. In your opinion, is it worth changing the impact of the technical score on the total score?
Loena Hendrickx: I think it would be nice to change that, because the technical aspect prevails over the artistic one. And if it was judged in different ways by different judges, it would be more fair.
What is your opinion on the age minimum for women’s single skating?
Loena Hendrickx: I think it would be great to start skating in seniors at 18 years old. By this age, you become a woman, not a child. I don’t want to say that Russian figure skaters are children on the ice because they perform well, but I think it’s important to be in figure skating for many years, and at the age of 18 there comes a moment that you can stay in the sport.
What do you think about Russian figure skaters? Their careers are often so fleeting …
Loena Hendrickx: In Russia, you have a lot of skaters, and when one is at the top, another is already on the way, which could be better because she is younger. Therefore, careers can be cut off very quickly.
Do you get aesthetic pleasure from the performances of young Russian figure skaters: Shcherbakova, Valieva, Trusova, Khromykh?
Loena Hendrickx: I like Shcherbakova and Valieva, they have such programs, such lines! Excellent gliding, confident jumping. And, of course, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva! She is the best skater in Russia at the moment, she hears music and feels it, and also jumps!
Recently, coach Alexander Zhulin suggested adding points for age, which caused controversy in the Russian media. What do you think about this?
Loena Hendrickx: No, you don’t need to add points (smiles). But the age minimum can be raised to 18 years old.
After the Olympics in Pyeongchang, you’ve already got one tattoo. What does it mean? Do you plan to make another one for Beijing?
Loena Hendrickx: For me, a trip to the Olympic Games is a great achievement, and I wanted to get myself a tattoo to capture this moment. But that’s enough, I won’t have more tattoos.
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