One of Germany’s up and coming pairs teams is that of Mari-Doris Vartmann, 16 years old and Florian Just, who is 23. The team finished fourth last season at German Nationals but made a strong showing at the 2005 Nebelhorn Trophy finishing third in the short and sixth overall, ahead of Rebecca Handke and Daniel Wende who made the podium at the 2005 German Nationals. “We were happy about our short but we could have done better in the long,” Just said. “But it was quite OK for our first international.” “We’re hoping to reach the European Championships this season,” Vartmann added. “We plan to skate until 2010 at the minimum.”
Both skaters started in the sport when they were between four and five years old. Vartmann recalled, “Some neighbors were going to the ice rink and asked me if I wanted to go with them. I liked it and wanted to keep skating.” She won the German junior ladies title in 2002 and was second as a guest skater at French Nationals in juniors the same year.
Just went to public skating with his parents and saw some figure skaters practicing on a quarter of the rink. “I wanted to skate as well as them,” he said. He also competed in roller-skating in the summer, winning the German national title five times in his age group before quitting to concentrate on figure skating when he was 13. “Ice skating is more recognized by the public,” he said. “It’s more professional.” Just won the Junior Grand Prix in Zagreb during the 1999-2000 season, reaching the Junior Grand Prix Final that year. He finished as high as fifth in seniors at German Nationals.
But he wanted to try pairs. “There’s much more stuff you can do together than you can in singles,” he said. He started skating pairs over two years ago but never competed with his first partner. In early 2004, he and Vartmann started training together. “I always watched pairs training and liked it a lot,” she said. “I like the lifts.” “She’s always fun to work with,” Just noted.
The couple train for three to four hours a day, six days a week, in Dortmund with another two hours a day in off ice training. Knut Schubert coaches the pair and Natascha Devisch does their choreography. For the 2005-06 season, Vartmann and Just are using “Libertango” for their short and music from the soundtrack of “Once Upon a Time in America” for their free skate. Their exhibition program is “You’re the One That I Want” from the musical “Grease.” “Everybody brings in music and we decide together what to use,” Just said. “We are using the same music as last season.”
Both skaters are studying through correspondence courses on the Internet. Vartmann has three years left in high school, while Just is in his first year of university studies in economics. He hopes to be some kind of manager, perhaps of a sports facility. She hopes to have a career in fashion design and designs some skating costumes now.
Vartmann likes to draw to relax. Her subjects include flowers and fantasy. She also likes to shop. Just prefers working on his computer, designing websites for the couple and other skaters. He also enjoys snowboarding and soccer.