Stéphane Lambiel: On the Front Line of Figure Skating as Coach and Choreographer

Stéphane Lambiel is one of the most successful skaters in history. Once a competitive skater, he was known for his super spins and great personalities shown in his programs. Even though it’s been years since he retired from competitive skating, Lambiel never left the ice. He participated in various ice shows and even created his own. He opened his own skating school and choreographed for numerous world-class skaters. Among his students stands Koshiro Shimada, the newly medaled Japanese junior skater at the Grand Prix Final in Vancouver. After the Japanese Nationals, Shimada was nominated to represent Japan at the Junior World Championship. As Shimada’s coach, Lambiel talked about Shimada’s performance, as well as the feeling of stepping in as coach and choreographer in the figure skating world.

Q: What do you think of Koshiro’s performance at the Japanese Nationals?

A: I’m super happy with his short. We made some changes to the step sequence, so I was looking forward to seeing programs with new changes. I’m super excited to see his skating. He’s more and more involved in his performance. He put so much energy into it. While he was skating, I also enjoyed it. He decided to skate to that music himself. After the last season, He came up with the idea of skating to that music. It’s very personal for him. I really enjoy watching him performing that.

Q: What about the free program?

A: Koshiro’s free isn’t his best for sure, but I’m quite happy with the way he’s controlling his energy. The previous performance turned on the whole crowd. I was worried that he was going to be distracted, but I was happy that he went through the whole program. After he popped the first Quad Toeloop, I was afraid that he’s going to lose concentration, but he was able to regain control of his body and his mind. He went through the whole program. We were discussing that the second Quad Salchaw is like a bonus. He wasn’t able to let it go, but I wasn’t expecting much there. However, I was expecting that later in the program he would go for another Quad Toeloop. As for the rest, he was very calm. I think it is a very great experience for him to skate as the last skater here, right after Daisuke, being third in short. There are lots of new experiences for him, and they are going to be very helpful for him in the future.

Q: You mentioned Daisuke. How do you feel about his return to competitive figure skating?

A: I’m very impressed and super happy for him that he is here and is enjoying skating more than ever. I know this feeling because I stopped competing in 2008 and then came back in 2009 in order to compete at the Olympics, my final competition. I understand the feeling. It’s a great feeling and a great step to move forward in his life. I hope he can take in as much as he can, to enjoy the crowd and the space, to use the space that he has to show himself.

Q: Do you think Daisuke could make it to the Worlds? (Note: at the time of this interview, the Worlds team has not been announced)

A: The question is open for me and for him as well, probably. The answer is not very impotent. What’s important is that he goes out there and enjoys himself more than ever and perform more freely in the ways that he wanted.

Q: Koshiro mentioned that he felt very nervous. How do you help him with his nerves? What caused his nervousness?

A: I think we both felt pretty nervous, but at the same time we both felt confident. It always feels very special before you send a skater on the ice, because your nerves peak at that moment. You just have to accept it. Today he accepted it and he performed very well. As of reason, this is his first experience skating last with a third place in short. It’s a lot for him. He had a good short and came on last in the free, so he was probably nervous about that. Also, because of the Junior Worlds selection, he must be very nervous. After the short I told him that stress is your friend. We need to take the stress with you. Stress is part of the job, so don’t try to push it away. Try to grab it and use it in the best way. That’s what he did. Even though he popped some jumps, he was able to use the stress and control his mind. I’m happy with the way he dealt with pressure. He didn’t give up and fought till the end of the program.

Q: What did you discuss after the free program?

A: I was just telling him that he needs to be more flexible. If our plan A is not working, then he needs to trust the plan B. That’s what we discussed. I was expecting that he would recover with a second Quad Toe, but he was not even thinking about it. We need to work on that. We need to be more flexible with plan A. If plan A isn’t working, then we need to go for plan B.

Q: Could you talk a little bit about the creative process of this season’s programs for Koshiro?

A: I choregraphed both programs. Koshiro chose the short himself. We started choreographing in March, because he finished last season pretty early. We took some time to choreograph that program. In April, we did the free program. I recommended the music, “Eight Seasons” from Kremer. I like the combination and connections of the “Four Seasons” of Vivaldi and Piazzolla. I always have a strong connection with those two “Four Seasons.” Funny thing is that when I came to Fantasy on Ice, the first person I met was Satoko. I asked her how her programs were going. She explained that she was in the US and Canada for the programs. When I asked the music she chose, we found out that she chose the same musician as Koshiro and I did. We were like “wow, same idea!” It’s a beautiful (piece of) music. I like both programs very much. They show strong personalities of Koshiro.

Q: You also performed this music once.

A: Yes, I performed this Tango too. I performed many Tango pieces. Tango is in my blood. I love Tango music and classical. As choreographer, you need to enjoy all music because you need to be creative. You need to be open to all kinds of music. That’s really important. In the future, I’ll recommend more music to Koshiro, to develop more of his abilities to skate to more complex and beautiful music.

Q: Koshiro looks a lot like you in many ways, like his spin positions. Did you choose those positions because those were your trademarks once?

A: That’s mostly what everyone does with the rules now. It’s more about the spins that the system requires. But of course, he has improved a lot. He has been working hard. We will keep working. There are still things that he needs to improve. My job is to get him ready for the next challenges.

Q: Which will be Junior Worlds?

A: We are expecting the announcement. I have no idea. We will wait for the announcement. In case he is going to World Juniors, I really want him to first recover from this period, because he has been in so many competitions: both Grand Prix, the Finals, sectionals, junior nationals, then here for Nationals. We had so many trips. Now it’s time for him to recover and enjoy a little bit of the Christmas holiday. Later, we will be back to Switzerland and prepare for the next challenges.

Q: The battle field is deep for men’s singles here. What do you think are Koshiro’s strengths and weaknesses?

A: His strength, for sure, is his personality. He has beautiful body as a figure skater. He has musicality when he skates. He feels the music. We did lots of dance classes during off season. The way he moved to the music was wonderful. I was admiring him, because as a young man, sometimes you only want to jump. Of course, he loves to jump. He can land Quad Toe and Quad Salchaw, but he also likes to feel the music, to move and follow the music, to discover new styles and to use his body in so many ways. He has so many interesting personalities and that’s very important.

Q: This is your first Japanese Nationals experience as a coach. How does that feel?

A: It’s a wonderful experience. First of all, because I really like my student. I like the way he performs and the way he respects his coaches. He respects me a lot. We have great feelings. After Vancouver, we prepared while I was preparing for Christmas on Ice. I’ve been to Japanese nationals before as a guest skater. This is my first experience as a coach. There is a lot of pressure because there are so many great skaters, both from junior and senior levels. There is always a lot of attention to all the skaters, both in the ladies and men’s events. I take it more as an inspiration. Yesterday I watched the ladies. Of course, not all performances were clean, but every performance was so intense. That’s where I find inspiring. I am good friend with all the Japanese coaches because every summer I come here to join the Japanese skating federation’s camp, so I’m somewhat familiar with the people. It’s very nice to be here as a coach for the first time. I’m thankful to be there with him at the Kiss and Cry. It’s a wonderful Christmas gift to be here with my student. It’s very original. I’m very thankful for him to give me this experience.

Q: You also watched the ladies. What are your take on their performances?

A: I enjoy Satoko’s skating very much. I think she is most refined skater of our time. She makes you feel what figure skating means to her when she is on ice. Clearly, she isn’t here for the scores. She was here for her love for skating. Her skating is powerful and inspiring. I also love to watch Wakaba. She has very different style than Satoko. She’s full of energy, but she also makes you feel why she loves to skate. Her performance also hits me very much. Mai and Kaori are also great skaters. I think they are yet to sharpen their styles and find the ones that fit them in order to leave an impression. They have great potentials. Rika came to Switzerland to work with me this summer. Back then I knew that she was ready for the challenges competing in the highest level of international competitions. I love her style. She’s very young and exciting.

Q: You were one of the best skaters yourself. As a coach, what do you want to pass on to your students?

A: I have my own experience, but as a coach I’m still learning. Every competition I adjust my coaching technique a little bit. My philosophy stays the same: I want the best for my skaters. I want the best for myself. I want to improve myself as a coach, but I want them to improve themselves as skaters. That’s my goal, my direction, my philosophy. Meanwhile, I want them to enjoy figure skating. It’s a wonderful sport. As a coach, I wish that when my skaters retire, they will have wonderful memories of figure skating and their career, the same memories I had with my career and my coaches and choreographers. They’ve been always supportive. They’ve been positive, even during hard times. That’s what I’m aiming for, that is to follow the model that my coach has showed me.





与2016-2017赛季一路凯歌不同,进入奥运赛季,Tessa和Scott受到了来自Gabriella和Guillaume更强劲的冲击,并在大奖赛总决赛中不敌法国组合。备感压力和担忧的同时,两个人也没有气馁, Tessa将这场惜败视为前进的动力,“我们学到了很多,赛后不到一个小时就已经在研究哪里可以继续精进了。观众和裁判的回应非常有价值,根据反馈我们会和教练讨论哪些地方感觉是对的,哪里还需要修改。”Scott则抱着乐观的心态对待银牌,“我们努力去看好的方面,为每场比赛都有所进步感到高兴。我们真正享受了备战过程,享受和彼此一起滑冰,这是我们职业生涯走到今天最为重要的。”

经历过两次奥运,Tessa和Scott在总决赛之后没有急躁,而是每一天都带着奥运比赛的心态踏上训练场。“能够预见并感受到压力和不安,是件好事,每次训练我们都给自己加压,只有给自己更多在压力之下表演的机会,才能在奥运赛场更为从容镇定。” 作为运动员,他们也必须诚实地面对自己,“没有人会满足于第二名,我们的目标是去赢得奥运会。希望今后回首这段经历,不会有任何后悔和遗憾。”




Tessa自嘲说,他们对节目 “疯狂地修改”可谓“臭名昭著”。在运动员们步步为营的奥运赛季,Tessa和Scott却在总决赛后决定对自由舞《红磨坊》进行大刀阔斧的改动——他们换掉了半套节目的音乐,将《Come What May》由独唱改为重唱。2018年加拿大全国锦标赛首次亮相新版《红磨坊》,他们以满分的成绩第八次获得全国冠军。“温哥华对我们来说有着特殊的意义,我们在温哥华第一次赢得全国冠军,也在这里第一次赢得奥运冠军,如今第三次、也应该是最后一次奥运践行之战、全国比赛谢幕之战又回到温哥华,就像完成了一个轮回。观众的热情温暖并感染着我们,我们会珍存这份美好,记住赛场上的呐喊和助威,并将同样的感觉带去奥运赛场。”一曲终了,全场观众起立鼓掌,全新的《红磨坊》磅礴的尾声,在赛后引起热烈讨论。











Scott: 我偷偷摸摸捂住嘴不让你们听见(笑)。其实只是告诉彼此,要记住这一刻,享受这一刻,记住我们做出了多少努力,希望这个节目可以……(有些哽咽)

Tessa:我们希望自己能用心演绎节目,而不仅仅拘泥于技术细节,这个赛季我们花了太多的精力在技术上,每场比赛都过分纠结于每个要领,这令人疲惫。现在我们希望自己能够信任平时训练的成果,告诉自己,这些技术要领已经成了我们内在的本能,现在要做的就是忘掉这些羁绊,让自己放松而自由地滑冰,就像这个赛季加拿大的口号一样“感受此刻”,在我们节目表演当中,抬头看到冰场四周加粗的FEEL THE MOMENT,也是对自己很好的警醒。




Tessa: 我想这个托举很好地代表了我们这套节目编排的中心思想,既然想要第三次踏上奥运赛场,那就要做些与之前不同的事,哪怕是呈现出像这样激烈、性感、黑暗或是带着浓浓现代风格的元素。


Tessa: 是的,从编舞到服装设计都希望充满新颖的现代感。


问:你们曾经说过,与Marie-France和David Wilson合作总能得到极大的启发,编舞过程中他们又给了你们怎样的指导?

Tessa:实际上,在摸索节目基调和风格的时候,我们率先进行了陆地部分的编舞,由之前Hip-pop的编舞Sam Chouinard操刀完成。由于《红磨坊》被太多人选用过,我们意识到,如果想将它带上奥运舞台,就必须求新、求变,因此我们决定找Sam为我们编排开头的舞蹈。而David Wilson作为编舞也非常尊重我们的选择。


Tessa: 整个过程中我们都给David发去舞蹈视频,他对我们和Sam的创意非常尊重,他通过视频去想办法将动作移植到冰面上,并加入他的风格与创意为节目锦上添花。一切就绪之后,Marie-France为节目最终掌舵成型,而Patrice则编排了具体的步伐和托举,因此这套节目是所有天才创意的结晶,每个人都为节目带来不同的精彩,而组合在一起,他们为我们打造了独一无二的《红磨坊》。


相比于《红磨坊》创作和修改的一波三折,Tessa和Scott运动生涯的最后一套短舞则一气呵成。Tessa介绍说,Marie-France为他们敲定了音乐,并与他们交流了节目“野性”的灵感。“我们对拉丁风格也有所顾虑,但第一次伴着《Sympathy for the Devil》起舞时,就爱上了这个节目。我们表演过很多拉丁作品,因此非常渴望一套不落俗套的节目,亟需感受焕然一新的能量。这种渴求贯穿整个节目,也是我们选择《加州旅馆》的原因。我们一直都希望能用这首曲子,虽然一开始设想的是表演滑。”Scott则将这套短舞定义为“带有摇滚风的拉丁节目”。“《Sympathy for the Devil》和《加州旅馆》是我们很喜欢的歌曲。我和Tessa都希望所选择的音乐能给我们带来心灵上的冲击。短舞的内容并不复杂,就是两个人倾其所有用心起舞。”

多年征战, Tessa和Scott对各种风格早已驾轻就熟,说起还未涉猎的风格,两个人开玩笑说“留给我们的选择不多了”,但他们依然渴望尝试不同类型的表演,以及像表演滑《Long Time Running》一样,亲自编舞,做些即兴创作。“这套节目并不在计划中,直到加拿大站才敲定。”Tessa坦承他们原计划使用之前赛季Prince主题的短舞作为表演滑,“但是加拿大站之前,the Tragically Hip乐队主唱Gordon Downie突然去世,对于加拿大来说,是巨大的损失,全国都在哀悼Gordon,于是我们决定用这首曲子纪念他。”Scott还透露,他们本想在加拿大站用一次就换掉,“但我们在情感上非常亲近这支曲子,于是保留了下来。表演滑需要与观众的互动,选择有动感的音乐也许效果更好。用《Long Time Running》有些剑走偏锋,但是希望观众们能感受到与大部分节目不同的情绪。”






问起他们从搭档身上学到的东西,Scott拍拍脑袋,笑着说:“我的天!二十年要从何说起,大概这场采访永远都结束不了了!我常开玩笑说Tessa都不记得生命中没有我的日子了,我猜这对她来说听上去挺吓人的。”二十余载的携手奋斗难以总结成三言两语,而“幸运”二字却似乎又足以概括。“我们曾经青梅竹马、一起长大、走过青春期、又共同长大成人,也许我最终学到的,或者最大的感触,就是我们非常幸运。如今踏入冰场,我最兴奋的事依然是见到Tessa,我们对未来还有共同的梦想,拥有这样一个合作紧密的搭档,是独一无二又难能可贵的,我们都很珍惜这份来之不易的礼物。”而Tessa,则如同她在新版《Tessa and Scott》封底所写的那样,感恩这份珍贵的搭档经历,又不知如何解读它的意义,因为与Scott并肩努力的这段人生,是她成长与收获的全部。“In all of this discussion about what our partnership means, we’re the two people, right in the center of it, who understand the least about it because it’s all we know.”