Two time Swiss Champion Stéphane Walker is most certainly a skater to watch. He's represented his country on some of the world's biggest stages, medalling internationally at events like the Gardena Spring Trophy and Warsaw Cup and representing Switzerland at the World Junior Championships, European Championships and World Championships, where he this year qualified to compete in the free skate. The promising twenty three year old took the time away from his busy life of studying and skating to talk to me about his career to date, focuses in training, favourite skaters, coach Myriam Loriol-Oberwiler and more in this great interview:
Q: You've had such a successful career to date, winning two Swiss National titles and medals at both the Gardena Spring Trophy in Italy and Warsaw Cup in Poland as well as representing Switzerland at the World Junior Championships as well as the European and World Championships. What would you say are your proudest or most special memories from your skating career so far?
A: There are so many good memories. The first time I landed a triple jump was just a great moment for me. I realized that I would be able to jump triple jumps and this would bring me on a new, higher level. Also, with the first triple Axel I perfectly landed was a great feeling, almost greater because I worked so hard on this jump... almost 4 years! Of course, to win my first Swiss title was a nice feeling too. It took me several attempts to finally stand on the top of the podium. This past 2013/2014 season makes me very proud. I achieved (in my opinion) so much. In April 2013, I was third at Gardena Spring Trophy. Even if it was not a very big event, it was an awesome feeling to be (for the very first time) on an international senior podium and scoring 193 points. I couldn't believe that I was third. I checked the result sheets several times. It shows me (or confirmed) that I do have the capacities for making good results. Then, Warsaw Cup was just another great moment in my skating career. I finally managed to do both programs almost clean, won the competition and on top of it got the points for worlds. That was great! Finally, the world Championships in Japan... it was a very nice and special experience for my first participation far away from home and first time in Asia. I went there without having practiced my programs for two weeks because of injuries. I couldn't put on my skates. It was too painful. Therefore, I'm so proud and happy for reaching the final and doing a personal best in the short program even if I used all of my resources for the short. Unfortunately, I couldn't show what I am 'normally' able to do in the free.
Q: You're coached by Myriam Loriol-Oberwiler, a former Swiss National Champion herself in 1982 and 1984. What is your relationship like with Myriam and why is she the best coach for you?
A: It is a good and close relationship with my coach because we spend much time together in competitions and training. We have experienced a lot of things with all the travelling around the world. We could almost write a book with all our experiences! She already 'saved my life' when I had a bad infection during a Junior Grand Prix event in Cape Town. She is best coach for me because she has great experience as an athlete (she did the Olympics in Sarajevo, Worlds etc.), is an ISU technical specialist, judged many competitions including the 2010 Olympics and therefore knows by heart the whole rules and is one of the best coaches in Switzerland.
Q: Who is your favourite singer, actor and writer?
A: My favourite music band is Maroon 5 but I don’t really have a favourite singer. I like Adele, Lady Gaga and James Blunt. One of my favourite actors is Robert Downey Jr. and I also really like Natalie Portman. I am definitely not a bookworm. I don’t have a favourite writer.
Q: Who are your three favourite skaters of all time and who is one skater whose style you most respect or want to emulate in your own skating?
A: I like Evan Lysacek because he is rather tall for an ice skater but is able to do awesome performances on the ice with nice jumps. It gives or gave me hope that it's possible even if I'm tall. I really like Jeffrey Buttle's style but I love Carolina Kostner. She is a great artist. She respects every single note of the music. She has so much speed and beautiful jumps with the perfect position in the air. I would love to able to one day interpret the music like she does.
Q: What is the most beautiful place to visit in Switzerland?
A: There are so many beautiful places in Switzerland. It's a beautiful country and I think it's worth visiting the whole country. Of course, my favourite place is my hometown (Sion) which is located in the middle of a valley (therefore the canton is named Valais in french). It is surrounded by the Alps.
Q: Looking towards the 2014/2015 season, what are your main goals or objectives and how are you working to achieve them in training?
A: For the next season, I wish to improve my skating skills and interpretation... the second part of the mark, the components. I will also work harder on the quadruple jumps. I would like to represent Switzerland (as I did this year) in the major events of the season (Europeans and Worlds). I know this means much work. I will continue to work my body in off ice training) and also continue to take dance lessons. Perhaps I also will increase the practice hours on the ice.
A: "A champion is someone who gets up when he can't.", "Persistence can change failure into extraordinary achievement." and "If you train hard, you'll not only be hard, you'll be hard to beat." by Herschel Walker. It's funny because has the same name!
Q: What's one thing about you most people don't know?
A: That I'm first of all a student in economics at University of Neuchâtel and that figure skating is my hobby. I create the many parts of my own programs, for examples the steps.
Robin Ritoos photo, courtesy Stéphane Walker
Q: What do you love most about being on the ice?
A: I am a rather shy and introverted person. I need a space for feeling good, being efficient and creative. Figure skating offers me the perfect opportunity. The ice is a place just for me alone when I skate, with enough freedom for being creative. I just love everything about figure skating.
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