INTERVIEW TO LAURA FERNANDEZ
1- We all know the story about how Javi started skating, which was after he saw you skating, but… How did you started to skate? How old were you?
I was 6. I was starting the year at the elementary school and my parents decided they wanted me to practice some sport. They showed me several ones, among them there were rhythmic gymnastics and figure skating. I can’t remember, but the told I said to them that I wanted to skate. One day they took me to the Diamond ice rink (a rink that existed in Aluche, Madrid, those times) to take a look and I loved it, so they signed me up to take lessons there.
2-Many fans now know you as “the sister of…”, ignoring your past as a skater. What memories do you keep from that time? Refresh their (and our) memories a bit and tell us briefly about your career.
I feel very proud of beeing Javi’s sister, so it doesn’t bother me, it’s quite the opposite!
I was the Spanish Junior Champion for 4 years in a row (2001-2004) and first runner up in 2006, I represented Spain in several Junior Grand Prix, two Junior World Championships (2003, 2004), one European Championships (2005) and two senior World Championships (2005, 2006), and in other international events as well.
Undoubtedly I keep very good memories. As in everything, not every moment is a good one, you have highs and lows, but it gave me the opportunity of living great experiences that helped me to grow as an athlete, but mostly as a person.
3-What was the reason you decided to quit? Do you regret it after seeing the success Javi has had?
There was a moment that I decided I wanted to focus on studies and go to college. That was the moment where I started to set myself apart little by little. Afterwards, Spain’s Ice Dance Project started and I was in it for 2 years. I would have liked to continue, but I needed to look for a new partner, and for that it was almost imperative to leave Spain, so I decided to quit to skating completely and focused 100% in my studies.
No, I don’t regret that decision. I’m very happy of his success, but I wouldn’t change what I do now for that. I took that decision having well considered all the possible consequences. Now I’m a nurse and I enjoy my job helping kids and their parents. But I also love figure skating, so I try to keep linked to it as much as I can.
I feel that thanks to what I decided, now I have in my life two very different things that I enjoy
4-Despite not being an active skater, you kept linked to the skating world, first as a coach in Valdemoro (Madrid), now you’ve passed the technical specialist exam… Have you thought about continuing linked to this world that intensely? Despite us being fans of figure skating, we’re not able to get every technical detail, could you explain us what passing this exam involves? Does it credit you at national level or internationally as well?
Well, as I’ve said before, I really like nursery and the skating world… How much I end linked to one world or the other is a mystery yet.
I guess life will lead me through one way or the other as years and opportunities pass by.
I’ve been a coach for some years and I love it. Due to my job at the hospital, I had to quit it temporarily, but in the future, if the given circumstances are good, I’d like to come back to that.
As a technical specialist, I obtained the national title many years ago, 8, I think. The exam I recently passed is ISU’s International Technical Specialist, which gives you access to international competition panels. There is one higher status, ISU Technical Specialist, necessary for top level competitions such as Senior Grand Prix, European or Worlds.
5- In addition, you’re a nurse. Do you find easy to combine both things? Involving nursery, do you have a nursery speciality or have you thought about getting one? Do you think about passing the EIR exam? In the hypothetical event you were forced to choose… will you choose nursery or skating?
Well, I try to do it to where I reach. It’s not easy nor difficult… You just have to know how much you can give yourself to each thing.
Now I’m making the Pediatric Nursery Specialty at the Niño Jesús Hospital. I’m R2 already, so if everything goes well in may 2017 I’ll be a specialist nurse.
Regarding choosing between nursery and skating, I couldn’t decide, it would depend on the circumstances. But it’s not in my mind to give up any of them.
(Translator’s note: EIR exams, R2 rank and so are details about the Spanish Public Healthcare system, which I do not know well. However, those details are not relevant unless you want to be a spanish nurse. I just wanted to note this and apologize for it )
6-We’ve seen your parents in several interviews, and in our opinion, they have their feet on the ground and give great advices. What did the say to you when you took the decision of quitting skating?
They’ve always supported us in our decisions, as long as we had previously well thought about them. So they told me that if I was sure that was what I wanted to do, I should go for it.
7- For us, Javi is the 4 times european champion and twice world champion. For you he is simply your brother. How is your relationship like? We guess you two argue, as all siblings do, what is what annoys you the most about him? And in the other hand, what is what you admire or like the most about him?
It’s just another sibling relationship. The hardest thing is he being so far and that we just see each other during some weeks a year, but this is where we are now.
What I admire the most about him is the way he has of coping with everything that surrounds him and his goals.
I couldn’t say what annoys me… There are things in which we are very different, but that’s normal. The truth is as we don’t spend a lot of time together, we just try to enjoy it.
8- Fans can be quite intense sometimes, we’ve heard some stories involving your parents and japanese fans..., has any remarkable or funny story with fans (in your competitive career or as Javi’s sister) happened to you?
In my competitive career I was very, very far away of having the amount of fans Javi has. There were some fans that send me pictures to my house in order to return them signed, but besides that and the pics/autographs/gifts at the championships, not much more.
With my brother, the truth is that nothing remarkable has happened to me either. Anyway, I don’t tend to reveal I’m Javi’s sister publicly and I can't accompany him to every championship my parents go either.
9- Some of the Pink Ladies went to the Valdemoro exhibition last summer, where Javi and you skated together. Tell us, how was the experience like? Whose idea was of skating together? Was it difficult assuming Javi has always skated in individuals?
It was a very beautiful experience. The music was ideal, audience loved it and the ambience was unbelievable. I think knew how to enjoy that moment together.
It came up as an idea to make a present to our parents, after all the have made and keep doing for us. The dreamed about seeing us together on the ice, especially my mother, so we thought about it and went for it.
It wasn’t difficult, we just had to practice some parts a little more and that’s it.
10- Your brother moved to Russia very young and alone. We suppose that meant for the family not just that Javi was very sure about what he wanted but also how good he could become. How was his decision to leave for you? Did you feel the impulse of slapping him in the back of his neck and telling him that he was leaving over your dead body or did you feel happy about having his room for you?
He left with a russian coach, but to the US, which are further yet. But no, it didn’t come to my mind telling him to stay. I knew that was a once in a lifetime opportunity for him and that he had to take it. You always have time to return, but those opportunities don’t tend to happen twice. So in one hand I was sad he was moving so far away from home but on the other, I was happy for him. He was sure about his decision, but in any case, my advice was for him to leave.
Regarding his room, it has always been his and continues like that when he comes home. When he’s not home we hardly use it, just when some relatives or friends come to visit us.
11- You seem to be the shyest member of the family, is it so o is it just façade? In your daily life we suppose being Javi’s sister is irrelevant, but are you spotted among the crowd when you go to a competition or you can enjoy it serenely? How do you cope with being recognized at least in the skating world?
Yes, I’m the shyest, I’ve always been. Sometimes fans recognize me, mostly if I go with my brother and my parents, but usually we can watch the competitions without any problem.
I’ve been in the skating world for a long time, so it’s normal people know me. Not just because of my brother, but also due to my sports career and what I’ve been doing after that, both as coach and as a technical specialist.
12.- Javier changed Russia for Canada, for the family was this a good or a bad thing? We ask this because in one hand, Canada is a further place and we guess he can’t come to Spain as often as he would like, but apparently it is a much safer country)
Javi was first in the US. Then he moved to Russia because his coach had had to go there, but he wasn’t much there. So in terms of distance it wasn’t very different for us. Anyway, he was able to come to Spain more or less the same times no matter where he was living at the moment, because regardless of the distance, when the season starts, he can’t come here due to the trainings and competitions.
Again, it was a decision he made and he was excited about it… That can’t be bad for the family. If one of us is well, so are the rest of us.
13.- We take for granted that you adore and support your brother, but, excluding him, who is your favourite male skater? And in the rest of disciplines? Which discipline is your favorite?
Yes, he is my favorite skater, obviously… If I exclude him, probably I’d choose Patrick Chan.
Besides Men’s category, I like Ice Dance a lot. I loved Davis & White and, from couples competing nowadays, undoubtedly Papadakis & Cizeron.
In Ladies category, russian girls are awesome lately, but I’d choose Ashley Wagner.
Pairs is the category I understand the less, honestly. I liked the german couple Aliona Savchenko & Robin Szolkowy, but from the couples competing now, I couldn’t say.
14.-You can’t always go to watch the competitions in person and you have to watch them on tv. Where do you suffer more, watching them at home or living it at the rink?
I suffer more when I am at the rink, you’re closer and you can feel more the tension in the ambience. In addition, you know how the trainings develop and about all the problems that may appear.
15.- Have you ever posted in skating forums, chats and so as an “anonymous user”? How do you cope with the criticism towards your brother’s skating? Can you tell him some constructive criticism or corrections about, i.e., his technique or his movements yourself? If so, does he listen to your comments?
No, I never go to the forums. I don’t have a lot of free time, and when I have it I prefer to stay away from these things.
Regarding the criticism that comes to me through other ways, it depends on the type of criticism and where it comes from. I consider that in order to judge someone’s work, first you have to know about what you are talking about instead of just judging carelessly.
That’s why I don’t make any criticism to Javi, because we can’t forget that criticising him includes criticising all the incredible team who is behind him too. And Javi is achieving all his triumphs not just because his constant work, which undoubtedly is very important, but also because of that group of professionals who advise him and help him to follow the appropriate path every day
Actually, we talk very few about skating… At the end of the day it is his work and when we are together, he is either in vacations os competing. If, by any reason, any subject pops up, I give my opinion as any other person, but it is just that, an opinion.