Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise: “Olympic season is always something special and this will be our last season”
Interview with Nicole Della Monica and Matteo Guarise for Russian media. About reasons to end their sports career after this season, main favorites of the Games in Beijing, and also talked about the difficulties of life in Russia and friendship with famous Russian skaters.
source: championat.com dd. 5th November, 2021 by Ekaterina Efimova
This season is already 11th in your career. Where do you find motivation for each new season?
Nicole Della Monica: Over time, it became more difficult to set new goals. But at the same time, for so many years we got to know each other so well that sometimes words are not needed.
Matteo Guarise: For us, a very difficult period began when pandemic started. After all, we are a pair who are thinking about retirement. And when you realize that the seasons are simply disappearing, and we have lost a season and a half due to the pandemic, of course, this is demotivating. You say to yourself: so what’s next, maybe it’s worth stopping? But in reality, the Olympic season is always something special. No additional motivation is needed this year. We are enjoying our every performance at competitions now. Our fans, young skaters see all this, and this pushes us to keep moving forward. Always with a smile.
After the successful 2018/2019 season, there has been a decline in the results of your pair. Were there objective reasons?
Nicole Della Monica: Yes, in the summer of 2019 I got a rather serious injury that did not allow me to fully prepare for the new season. Then we were able to get in shape, but due to the pandemic, the World Championships was canceled. Then we were very upset, because, as Matteo said, in your last seasons you want to perform as much as possible and as best as possible. But we are glad that now everything is gradually starting to return to normal.
Matteo Guarise: Imagine a guy in his twenties who stops his training for three months and then starts over. Now imagine a thirty-year-old who pauses everything for three months and then goes back to work. It’s not the same thing. It takes too much effort to get back to the same level. It was very difficult. Do you know what has changed over these 11 years that we are performing together? Previously, you could go to vacation after the season, and after a couple of weeks you were in great shape again. This year, we completely gave up vacation, because even one week literally knocks you out of a rut. During a week of vacation, you lose shape so that you need to train hard for three weeks to return to the previous level. So we told each other that this season will be our last. And we go forward. This is the big difference, because now we are competing with pairs who are 15 years younger than us.
So you have already decided that you are ending your career after this season?
Matteo Guarise: Yes, this will be our last season.
Nicole Della Monica: Let’s just say, as a woman, I would like to start a family and become a mother. I don’t feel that I can continue performing for another four years, because then it will be too late. I’m ready, Matteo is also ready to end our career after this season.
When athletes stop to compete, they often feel sad, competing in familiar events for the last time. Do you feel something similar now?
Nicole Della Monica: Yes, probably it is so. On the other hand, I’ve been doing figure skating since I was six, and now I’m 32, so it turns out that this is my whole life. And, of course, I want to try myself in something else. Do something more mature.
Matteo Guarise: I think a lot also depends on the athlete. If you ask this question to Evgenia Medvedeva, who finished competing being still very young, perhaps she will say that feels sad about it. But if you ask, for example, Maxim Trankov and Tatiana Volosozhar: weren’t they sad to end their careers – I think, the answer will be different. Each moment has its own phase. Our moment has come.
Why didn’t you change your program before the Olympic season?
Nicole Della Monica: We decided to keep the short program, because we performed it only twice, if we count the World Team Trophy. And it seems to us that this is a strong program for the Olympic season, so we concentrated on preparing the free program.
Matteo Guarise: Yes, we decided that since there were so few starts last season, this short program is worth be seeing.
At the Grand Prix in Turin, the Chinese pair Sui / Han will perform. In your opinion, is it really possible for someone to compete with them for gold at the Beijing Olympics?
Nicole Della Monica: It seems to me that their level is extremely high. If they don’t make a mistake, then, of course, they will take gold, because they are the strongest of all. Not only technically, but also in how they express themselves on the ice. Of course, there are young Russians who never make mistakes, so the Chinese need to be careful. But you need to be objective, we do not participate in the fight for gold.
Matteo Guarise: It would be great if there is such a competition where everyone perform brilliantly, performing all the elements without a single mistake. Sui / Han are very gifted technically and artistically. Therefore, if everyone skates on maximum, it is very difficult to fight them.
But there will be a team event in Beijing as well. In Sochi and Pyeongchang, the Italian team remained fourth. Maybe this time it will still be possible to climb the pedestal?
Nicole Della Monica: We will try our best, no doubt. But you can’t say anything right off the bat, because we need to see how other countries perform as well, but we will try!
Matteo Guarise: The team event is a very unpredictable competition. But our advantage is that we have strong enough skaters in every discipline. Perhaps this will become our trump card. Yes, we do not have number one in ice dance, pairs, there are no best singles skaters. But Italian skaters are ready to show themselves in every discipline, and this can work in our favor.
Three Russian pairs will try to challenge the Chinese in Beijing at once. Do you have favorites among our pairs?
Matteo Guarise: We are goos friends with Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, so we, of course, will root for them. It seems to me that they are already in excellent shape at the start of the season, this has not happened before. I think this strategy might work. Pairs from North America have always been in great shape since August, and pairs from the East – Russian and Chinese usually reach their peak for the European Championships, World Championships and the Olympic Games. That is why I think they changed their strategy. So far, many pairs are not in the best shape, because the main competitions of the fourth year is few months later.
Tell us how you became friends with Evgenia and Vladimir.
Nicole Della Monica: We lived in Russia for almost a year several years ago, so we became friends with Fedor Klimov, Alexander Enbert and with Zhenya and Vladimir.
Matteo Guarise: For several years in a row, we have been to the training camps together before the start of the season and before important competitions. Each is about three weeks. Of course, we all became friends! Actually, Nicole and I had many opportunities to meet different pairs. For example, we were in China and trained for three weeks with a Chinese pair, I think we are generally the only pair that can boast of this (smiles). I must admit that we never stopped at what has been achieved, we always wanted to achieve more, because everyone has their own technique and their own strategy. But wherever we came, we were always welcomed very warm.
And how do you like life in Russia? What difficulties did you have to face?
Nicole Della Monica: We were together and supported each other as best we could, but the most difficult things awaited us outside the rink. It was difficult to get to know someone or to make friends. Not many people speak English. Plus, in winter we had a hard time, it was really hard, because it was very cold. We moved in the summer and the weather was great, but when winter came, everything became difficult.
Matteo Guarise: Of course, if we spoke Russian, everything would be much easier. Difficulties were in everyday life – when we wanted to get ourselves a SIM card or had to go somewhere by minibus.
But now you are here in Italy, at your home Grand Prix. What are your impressions before the start?
Nicole Della Monica: We will enjoy and try to get maximum pleasure, and the result, I think, will not be long in coming. Planning to win a medal or take a certain place is a road to nowhere. Therefore, we think only about our performance, and not about places. We are happy to be performing in Italy.
Matteo Guarise: Now the result itself is not so important as the pleasure of the performance and the realization that everything was done right.
Related topics: Nicole Della Monica Matteo Guarise