Interview: Kévin Aymoz at Internationaux de France 2018

Kévin Aymoz performing his Free Skate at IDF 2018 (   Photo credit: Clara   )

Kévin Aymoz performing his Free Skate at IDF 2018 (Photo credit: Clara)

Clara: Hi everyone, this is Clara (@daejangie) again. I’m back with our second interview from the Internationaux de France a couple of weeks ago. This one is with Kévin Aymoz, the 2017 French National champ and current vice-champ. Outside of IDF, we didn’t really get to see much of Kévin in international competition last season, but this season he’s back on the scene and the choreographic strength and the emotional impact of his programs have definitely been getting him noticed. I was meant to interview Kévin just before the gala on Sunday, but he missed his coach to the rink which, I assume, meant he barely got there in time for his own gala number. So instead he sat down with me literally just as he came off the ice after that number, still in costume, scraped palm and all. And to top it all off he did the whole interview in English, so thanks again to him for that and here’s the interview.

Clara: Okay so, I’m sitting here with Kévin Aymoz.

Kévin: Hello everybody!

Clara: Thanks for saying hi! Who was super exciting this weekend at Internationaux de France. The first thing we wanted to ask about is your programs, because they're so contemporary and cool and unusual and -

Kévin: The short or the long?

Clara: I mean, we love both of them.

[both laughing]

Kévin: Thank you!

Clara: But we wanted to understand a bit more how you chose the music, what the story is behind them, that kind of thing.

Kévin: Okay! On the Short Program, with my coach, we were waiting to find the music, and we saw the time fly. It was in March, after Worlds, and we said, oh we need to change the short. And after March, April, May, and we were already in June. Beginning of July, and we say "mmm, we need music." And then you have too much music, I'll be singing in the shower, or in the car, music everyday. And this one was on my playlist. And I don't know why I did a move, in my home. I was alone in my home and I did a move. And I said, "Wow, it's cool to do a show", or dance, and I let this music play on the ice, in training, just the music just to -

Clara: To see, yeah.

Kévin: Yes, in the training.

Clara: Is this “Horns” or is this the free?

Kévin: The short one.

Clara: Okay, cool.

Kévin: And John, and Silvia, came in like, "Wow, you play this music and you skate really well, alone." Like my mind skated for me to the music and I didn't really see. And John and Silvia said that it can be a really good music to do something, and we tried. The short was born!

[laughter]

Clara: That's really cool.

Kévin: That's the story of the short. And the story of the long, it's a little complicated and more secret.

Clara: Okay.

Kévin: Because the music "In This Shirt" by The Irrepressibles, it's music I know from a long time ago, a really long time ago. When I was in a really bad mood at this point of my life, April until June. And I was in really bad shape physically, mentally I was a bit lost because I didn't know what I was going to do with my life in skating, if I stop, if I don't stop, because I was really lost everywhere in my head. And this music talked about something - I can't tell, because it's a secret, the magic of my program. Because if I say what's the story behind, everybody is going to look differently at the program. And my program, it's like a story of- that everyone can understand the story, what you want -

Clara: Everyone can project their own, yeah.

Kévin: But my story of this program, it's really secret, but the lyrics of the music was really perfectly matched with my life at this moment. I was really lost, and too many lyrics - with my private life, with my parents, with my coach - everything was matching. And when I heard this song too many times, and one day - it was a long time ago I didn't hear this music - and I was in a really bad mood, Sunday I think, and I was crying with this music. And I said, "Okay, we need to do something this season with this music” Because it's the story of my life, this music, and I need to show to everybody. And John and Silvia arrived the next day too, and said, "We found the perfect music." And it was another music from The Irrepressibles, and I said, "Oh my god! That's perfect because I want to show you some music from The Irrepressibles". And we chose the one I chose, because it was music of my heart. And we chose this one.

Clara: Yeah, you really connect with it. It's incredibly moving. I have friends who were at the Autumn Classic, and they saying that in the beginning, people were not paying attention, and then as soon as you got into the program, everyone started looking. It's really magnetic. You mentioned that you weren't really sure over the summer whether you were going to come back or not, what you were going to do, how did you decide?

Kévin: I was a little bit - it's not like I was going to stop or not stop, I was like, "Yes, I'll continue skating." But I was really lost, like I don't know if I'm good to train and perform in competition. Because, last season the Federation was rude with me, but they did do something good for me. Like, they don't give me the competitions to go to, but behind this message, it's like a punishment, but a good punishment for me. I don't know how to say, the Federation did something really good with that because they made me more mad. Because I was like "I want to go to this competition", and I didn't go, and I was like "No, I need to train, train, and train and train". And I remember in one month I got two quads and before I never did quads. And I say a big thank you to my federation, because sometimes we are like “ugh, the Federation”, but they are good, really.

Clara: Do you think that was on purpose, that they did that, or was it just a happy accident?

Kévin: No, the Federation was thinking about that. They are smart for that. I was really mad, like, "Oh, I don't have competition", and I train, and I just can say thank you to Katia Krier to show me I can train.

Clara: Yeah, no, sure. I wanted to ask since we’re talking about jumps, about your triple Axel. So you are, I think, the only other man apart from Yuzuru Hanyu who does it from a back-counter?

Kévin: Yes, yes, yes!

Clara: Yeah? So-

Kévin: It's my favorite entry of Axel.

Clara: So can you tell me when you started doing it that way, what the key difficulties are?

Kévin: The first season - I was really late to jump, like the first triple Axel I did, I was 18 - that's really late - I was with my coach from Grenoble, from here, and she said, "oh, try with an eagle," because I did double Axel before with eagle. And after she said, "oh, do" - I think it's called - the eagle -

Clara: Oh, the cantilever? Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Kévin: Yes. The same, try to do, you go back, and you jump. It's like an eagle. And after we do with Ina Bauer, and after we say with just the edge, back edge, and after we said, "Oh, we're going to do a counter." And we tried too many things and now I know I can do the Axel with seven different entries. That's cool, because in my competition I have three Axels and three different entries.

Clara: That's so cool. Which one's your favorite?

Kévin: I think it's the counter. But because it's really fast, I can't think about the Axel. Because on the Ina Bauer, in my long program, with the music I'm staying, staying, staying, and I'm like, "Oh my god, the Axel, it's at the end of the line" and I need to be focused on my shoulder and my hip, the timing, because I have no timing - I'm staying - and I need to create timing at the moment of the jump. That's really hard. Now I think it was my first time trying with the eagle, it's the first time I did triple Axel with special entry.

Clara: Okay, so the back-counter is almost easier?

Kévin: Yeah. When I'm tired or really sleepy, and my coach is like "Okay, triple Axel with counter," I'm like, "I'm sleepy, I'm tired, I can't do it!" But it's really fast, I don't think about the Axel, it's like "whew BAP" and I go. That's fun. Fun to do.

Clara: So it sounds like you experiment a lot with your own dance moves, etc.?

Kévin: Yes, that's my favorite time skating. Because we use the body for everything.

Clara: So is that mainly like that... What was it, the - I don't know what to call it - the hydroblade-Ina Bauer-layback thing that you do?

Kévin: The real name, it's - the first time that someone did it, it was John Zimmerman at Worlds, a really long time ago. But a small one, not with real speed, just go and come back. It was just two seconds. And Silvia, the wife, my coach too, she told me just two weeks ago [that] John is really happy, because he tried with too many students to do this move, and nobody did really good. And one day, the first week I worked with him, he said, "Oh, we're going to do something fun," and I didn't really know John. And he said, "Oh try that", and I went directly and I did. And he was like, "Wow! What!"

Clara: You'd passed the test!

Kévin: Yeah. And everybody tried to find a name, and John, too, tried to find a name, but- and I called it "JZ" for John Zimmerman. "JZ slide."

Clara: JZ slide. Nice.

Kévin: That's cool.

[laughter]

Clara: So how do you get your ideas? Do you watch a lot of dance, or is it other skaters?

Kévin: Yes, we watch a lot of dance on the floor. I really look everything up with skating. I don't have a favorite skater, I really love the Canadian Ice Dancers, Paul [Poirier] and Piper [Gilles]. Really good this season, really good. In pairs, for me, the French [James and Ciprès] - for me it's the top of the world this season, really.

Clara: I mean, yeah. Personally agree.

Kévin: Really, for me, it's the top of the world. Aljona and Bruno were my - gave me something after the Olympics, Gabriella [Papadakis] and Guillaume [Cizeron] are really good, Patrick Chan, Yuna Kim, that’s all of my world. But I don’t really have a favourite skater, but I really look [at] everyone because everyone has something different. You’re good or bad, or not really good or not really bad. Everyone has something different. And that's cool to see.

Clara: Yeah, sure.

Kévin: I can like this skater, but different, because that's bad if I look at the skater and say, "That's really good, I want to do the same.” But if I do the same, I'm not unique, I don't have my move, I don't have my style. Yes, that's cool to try to do the same to be better, and all the same, it's not better to try to be on the same level because you can't be better than someone [just by] doing a move. You know what I mean?

Clara: Yeah, I see what you mean.

Kévin: And that's cool because you learn the move of someone and you try to do a new move too to make something different, like the "JZ slide," because now I'm happy because it's not my move, but I know everybody says "Your move! It's amazing!” And every skater, in every competition, [they] told me, "We tried it in training," and I’m like "Thank you!" And everybody said, "We tried but we failed, but that was actually - "

Clara: Makes you feel good?"

Kévin: Yes. I'm like, "Hmm yes!"

Clara: That's really cool. Did you take dance classes ever or do you just dance at home?

Kévin: When I was in Grenoble, I [took] two hour dance [classes] but it was with the ice centre, and I did classic, modern, jazz, and everything of dance, like the moves, count the music, learn the body [with] the music, the breath, everything. And now I'm learning dance 1 hour of the week because now I'm too old to learn the feeling inside my body. Now I have the move, and now I need just control, and learn how to be better like have a good posture, have good arms, have a good [placement], have a good neck, have a good back, like to be - not perfect, because we can't be perfect - but have the best move, to be better.

Clara: So is choreography something that you want to go into then, now?

Kévin: Yes. I want to stay in the skating world to be a choreographer. That's my dream because I've started to make some programs in the [Wesley] Chapel [area] where we train and I did one program this season, it was just a Short Program, and Silvia and John said, "Okay, you go with this girl, and you make the product. I was like, "Oh my god, I'm going to do that?!”, like - and the girl was really loving the program, like we did something cool. I'm not like, "Yes, I did something good,” but she really loved working with me because it was the first time I worked with someone and I was totally lost, like I don't know what to talk [about] with the skater. And I know she liked [it] because one month ago, she came back with music and she said, "I found the music for the new season. Are you okay?" And I’m like, “I don't know, you chose your music, that's your program.” And she said, "No, are you okay to work with me again?" And I'm like, "Of course!!"

Clara: Repeat customer!

Kévin: Yes. And I was happy because it's a dream to make something, to make the move, because that's [a] different life, that's something I like.

Clara: How do you want to develop these two programs over the course of the season?

Kévin: I want the short [to be] more [of a] pleasure one for me. I have more pleasure now, I'm smiling because I don't like smiling on ice, I'm sorry but... But on the short I'm really focused on the technical, but now I'm a little bit smiling and enjoy[ing] the moves and -

Clara: And relaxed.

Kévin: Yeah. It's fun, because the music it's like that. And now I really want to do not a Short Program, but a 'show program.' Like it's not a show because it's competition, it's maybe...

Clara: Okay. Yeah. Too rigid and controlled.

Kévin: Yes, but it's maybe like (snaps) a jump, have fun, speed, and feel the music, feel the audience around me, feel the judge. And for the free, I have everything as I need because I chose the music, and I worked 30% on this program with the choreography, like John gives 30%, Silvia 30%, and me 30%, to make-

Clara: The whole, yeah.

Kévin: Yes. And I know I put really a big part of me in this program and I know I don't need to work on my emotion on the move, I need just really work on the technical now. That's the big things I need.

Clara: Is that stability on the quads, or..?

Kévin: Yes, yes, and maybe another quad because after I arrived, I have trained Salchow.

Clara: You have options now.

Kévin: I had Salchow, nice four rotations, sometimes one foot sometimes two. But maybe at Europeans that's the goal for me: to have two different or two quads at the Europeans.

Clara: Amazing. What sort of success rate are you at on the Sal?

Kévin: In one week, if I try 12-15 per day, I think maybe one can be on one foot. It's a young born [newborn], but-

Clara: (laughter) Work in progress.

Kévin: Yes.

Clara: But that's really exciting, I hope we get to see it. That's amazing. Okay. So we should also tell the internet that you are to be given - it's not Bob Razowski in English, is it, he's got a different name.

Kévin: Yes, it's Mike, Mike Wazowski. I know because the first time I arrived in USA with my little Bob with me-

Clara: Yeah, your little plushie.

Kévin: And everybody was like, "Oh who is it?" and I said, "It's Bob!" and everybody's looking like, "No, it's Mike!" and I'm like, "No, it's Bob!" But it was really fun and I know now in English, in the real movie, it's Mike, but in France, it's Bob. And it was my favourite Disney character because when I was young I [watched] Monsters, Inc…

Clara: So many times?

Kévin: Three times per day, and everyone knew Bob was for me my friend, because I got to a Disney World Land in Paris, and I was in the store and I take one with me, and after he stayed with me all my life. I think it's like my skates; my skates are [there] every time with me, Bob is there every time with me.

Clara: So you sit him on the edge of the rink to watch you skate?

Kévin: Sometimes I come with him. That's my favourite character. That's my best friend.

Clara: So you want to collect as many as possible, or is it just the one original special one?

Kévin: Oh no, I have one because the first one is the first one, but when I saw people give me some on ice, I was really, really happy, like...that's giving me something special. Like, "Oh my god, it's Bob!" and I was really happy.

Clara: Okay, cool. So, everyone, take note.

Kévin: It's like the Winnie the Pooh with Hanyu, but it's not going to be-

Clara: A rain!

Kévin: A yellow rain, it's going to be a green rain. I hope so, one day.

Clara: Let’s aim for that. We'll make it happen.

Kévin: Yes. Maybe. They're just a fan. It's Bob.

Clara: Yeah, no, it's really cool. That way people know what to give you. Last question - when will we see you skate in pyjamas if it wasn't today?

Kévin: I'm going to do it after the Nationals because it's in France, it's a French song, it's a story of a guy, he doesn't want to go outside, he wants to stay in bed all day, doesn't go to the dinner with friends...

Clara: Oh I know which song we're talking about!

Kévin: It's “Le dîner.” And I remember one day, because Grenoble, every end of the season, we organize a really big show with every skater of the ice centre because we are too many, like 500 skaters, in this ice centre. That's a really big show with TV, and every year we have a theme, and sometimes it's “around the world,” and one time it was “food.” I know with my team we do a group number. It was on champagne, we chose champagne, it was us. What were we going to do? And for the liquid, we used a music of U2, it was “Exogenesis Part II” [Note: Kévin meant “God Part II”] and that was really good for the liquid because it was smooth music, and there was gold, the guy was with white shirt with gold pants

Clara: For the bubbles?

Kévin: No, no, no, and the girl was totally one piece gold, and we had a balloon with helium with the big little string with the balloon, but we [kept] all the first part - all the first part, because it's the liquid, it's in the bubble, and after we put a sound of the pop of the bottle of the champagne, and we [took] out the balloon with helium going in the air, like you know the bubbles-

Clara: Like the bubble was rising, yeah.

Kévin: And after, the music, it's the French music, it's “La Bourgeoisie.” The song, for people who speak English, it's the story of a really bad girl, she's drinking too much champagne with rich people, and this music it's like a little bit disco, and that was our first part's move with the liquid, and after the pop off champagne because we [took] the champagne with the balloon [going] up. And after we all drank and we danced on ice, that was fun, and that was the food theme of the show. And I was like, "What am I going to choose, like tomato?!” for my show, I was like “No,” and I said, "What am I going to do?" And the song it's “Le dîner” for the French song and the story of the dinner, it's a guy who wanted to stay all the day at home, doesn't want to go to the dinner with friends, (Clara: and get pizza delivered), he says he's fat, and he wants to stay in pyjamas. And I take a pillow, and a big cover [blanket] on the ice, and something on the ice, and I was fake sleeping on the ice, and after the music stops and I wake up and at the end of the show I go back into bed. It was really fun.

Clara: Great, well, it sounds amazing. Conceptual comedy.

Kévin: Thank you.

Clara: We'll look forward to that at Nationals. I realize I kept you longer than I said I would,

thank you so much.

Kévin: That's okay.

Clara: And we'll look forward to seeing you at Nationals, and then hopefully Europeans after that.

Kévin: Yes, Europeans is my goal, I don't want to-

Clara: (Europeans with two quads!)

Kévin: Uncatch this spot because last year, this spot left me... But that was for a good reason. And now I understand what the Federation did for me and it’s a thank you, but now I did the work and now I'm here to say, "Okay I'm here to perform. I'm not here to discover the skating world, I did this last season. And I’m here this season to perform and to show everybody my name." You know what I mean?

Clara: Yeah, yeah.

Kévin: To show my name.

Clara: To get recognized, yeah. And I'm sure that will happen for you.

Kévin: Hope so, I've been wanting for that.

Clara: Well, thank you so much Kévin.

Kévin: Thank you, thank you.

Clara: So there you have it, that was Kévin Aymoz. Don’t forget to make it rain Mike plushies for him the next time you see him live! We won’t have a new episode this week, but if you want more news from the Internationaux de France competition, you can check out episode 19 in which Dani, Kat and Tilda recap their highlights from the competition or our special interview with Stéphane Lambiel. You can find both wherever you usually find our podcasts. See you soon, bye!