Tuesday, 26/5/2020 | : : UTC-7
Skate Today

Italian Pair Shines

Laura Magitteri and Ondrej Hotarek

With the World Championships coming to Italy in 2010, the Italian federation is working hard to strengthen its entire team. The team already has strong ladies and dance teams that can challenge for a medal and experienced men. Now they are building a foundation for pairs.

With the pairing of Laura Magitteri, 19, and Ondrej Hotarek, 23, Italy had its first solid entry in pairs competition at the senior level in several years. Magitteri, who was born in Como, Italy, paired up with Hotarek, who is from Brno in the Czech Republic in January 2006. Hotarek formerly skated for the Czech Republic with Veronika Havlickova.

“I was working with Karl Pfeiffer in Oberstdorf for a week,” Hotarek said. “I told him I didn’t have a partner and he said that Italy wanted a partner for Laura. We tried out and then I moved to Italy in the winter.” “I didn’t want to do pairs at first but my coach told me to try it,” Magitteri said. “Then I was real happy about it. I liked being up in the air on the lifts.”

“I like lifts because then I can breathe during the program,” Hotarek noted. “I found that pairs is really exciting. In singles, you come to practice to jump and spin. In pairs, there are so many elements that you never get bored. And you don’t have to be perfect on jumps if all of your other elements are good.”

In their first season together last year, the couple placed ninth at the European Championships and 16th at Worlds. “We did Italian Nationals and then it was straight to Europeans,” Hotarek said. “We only had one year together.”

This season, they participated in their first two ISU Grand Prix events, placing sixth at Skate America and eighth at the Cup of Russia. They competed at the Nebelhorn Trophy in late September but couldn’t finish due to an injury that also cut into their training time for the Grand Prixs.

“In the last minute of practice the day before the short program, the Polish team was skating backwards and hit us,” Hotarek recalled. “Both of them fell on Laura. She had a bruised thigh and a sprained neck and shoulder. She was in pain but we skated the short. Then in practice, the pain was so bad she couldn’t even move her head and nothing was working so we had to withdraw. She had to take ten days off to recover so we had less than two weeks to get ready for Skate America.”

Hotarek began skating when he was five. He had a triple toe loop by 14, landed everything up to the triple lutz and even tried a few quad toe loops in practice. “My father was a skater who competed at Czech Nationals, but he had to quit when he was 16,” he related. “My mother was a volleyball player so I come from a sports family. I was second and third in juniors in the Czech Republic, but someone would jump over me and win every time. I did two Junior Grand Prixs in singles, but without a triple axel I knew I had no chance. That’s when I chose pairs. I knew there was always one place in pairs at Europeans and Worlds.”

Magitteri didn’t start skating until she was eleven. “I was doing gymnastics from the time I was five until eleven,” she recalled. “I was up to the fifth level, training with a former world champion, but then he moved to another city. My favorite event was the balance beam. Then I wanted to do acrobatic rock and roller skating, so I tried figure skating too.”

“I skated in ladies until two years ago,” she continued. “I was up to junior ladies, but I only learned a triple toe when I was 15 and didn’t have other triples. And I was too nervous.”

Karel Fajfr and Rosanna Murante coach the skaters, who train in Milan, Italy and Oberstdorf, Germany. In the summer, the couple also trained in Courmayeur and Andalo in Italy and Newark, Delaware in the U. S. “We were in Newark for five weeks working with Jeff Digregorio and Ron Ludington,” Hotarek said. “We learned a lot in five weeks. Before all the big events, we go to Oberstdorf for two or three weeks.” The skaters usually work for two hours a day on pairs elements and another hour on singles skating plus an hour of ballet and another hour of off ice lifts five days a week. On Saturday, they usually skate one pairs session.

For the short program, the skaters have included a throw double loop and side-by-side double axels. In the long, they have a throw double salchow and throw double loop, side-by-side double toe loops and a double axel-double toe sequence. “Laura’s triple toe isn’t consistent enough to have in the program,” Hotarek said. “With the new judging system, it’s not worth it to try it. Our goal for this season is to have a clean triple twist.”

Frank Dehne choreographed the couple’s 2007-08 programs. “Both of the programs are new,” Hotarek explained. “I think it improves your skating when you try new things. Sometimes with an old program, you get stuck.”

For the short program, they are using “Chi Mai” by Enrico Morricone from the soundtrack of “The Life and Times of David Lloyd George”. “It’s slow music, like classical music, easy to skate to” Hotarek said. “I heard it in our ballet lessons and we liked it so much, we put it on the ice. We got it from the Best of Enrico Morricone CD.”

Their long program contains music from the soundtrack of “Grease”. “I don’t like to stay in the same kind of music for the short and the long,” Hotarek said. “We like to have fun and entertain people and I liked doing Saturday Night Fever last year so Laura said lets try Grease. It was hard to cut it without singing. I usually cut my own music on the computer so I can have it exactly as I want it and can change it to fit in the elements.”

For some shows, the duo used two vocal selections from “Grease”: “Summer Loving” and “Born to Hand Jive”. “It was a lot of fun,” Hotarek said. “We tried to do it just like in the movie.”

Magitteri primary passion is music. “I love pop music and love to go to the disco with my friends,” she said. “I like to dance.” She also plays the piano. Hotarek said, “I like everything but country music. I listen to anything from the Red Hot Chili Peppers to Justin Timberlake. It depends on my mood, but it has to have rhythm.”

Hotarek also noted “my Playstation is a good friend. I get a lot of books in Czech when I’m at home. I like fantasy and science fiction and books about Eastern philosophy and Buddhism. My favorite is Seven Years in Tibet. I don’t collect anything but I send postcards home from wherever I go. We have a whole wall of postcards.”

But sports are his passion. “I’ve spent all my life doing sports,” he said. “I like snowboarding, windsurfing, inline skating and extreme sports. I did the triathlon in school and want to try bungee jumping and base jumping.” He graduated from a sports college and hopes to attend university in Milan. “But I have to learn more Italian,” he admitted. “My Italian is not good, but I’m improving. The people are great, so open and friendly.”

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