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Behind the scenes with Team GB European Youth Olympic Festival Figure Skaters

After competing at the European Youth Olympic Festival (EYOF) in Sarajevo, Team GB spoke with British Figure Skaters, Genevieve Somerville and Joseph Zakipour about their experiences at the competition and how they got invovled with skating.

We've pulled together a selection of quotes from both skaters for British Ice Skating supporters and fans to read and find out more about these upcoming Juniors...

Joseph Zakipour speaking about his performances this week:

 “The competition was amazing – there was so many people in the crowd. It helps you want to perform and makes you love your sport even more than you already do.

 “I really enjoyed it - I tried to absorb everything. It was really easy to just be me, rather than focus too much on the jumps and the spins and the harder stuff.

 “I was really happy with how I competed in the short programme. I was injured coming into the competition, so I’m happy that I recovered and was able to compete back on the ice.

 “I’m really proud to present Nottingham and carry on Torvill and Dean’s legacy – we even skated on the same rink so I was really proud to compete.” 

 Joseph Zakipour speaking about his overall EYOF experience:

 “EYOF has been amazing, it’s been a massive learning curve for myself. To be able to perform at that level in front of lots of people has been amazing – I'm really proud to have been selected as part of Team GB.

“I’d love to do more competitions like this – maybe some more international ones including the European Championships and World Championships. I’d love to be a part of it.”

Joseph Zakipour speaking about how he got into figure skating:

 “I was ten years old when I started figure skating. It was my brother’s birthday and my sister had already been skating for a year – I didn’t want to go on the ice in the first place, but my mum forced me to get on. I realised that I was a natural at it and I fell in love with it straight away – it's just really fun and different.

 “I’ve been competing for five years now, with most of the competitions being the National’s, so this competition (EYOF) is the biggest competition that I’ve ever been to. 

 “I’m in Year 11 at school, so I’ve got my GCSE’s in May. It’s hard to juggle my school work and training, but it helps that I’m quite a hard worker. I did some of my school work in the car to training as well as on the plane here to Bosnia! I’m studying Maths, English, all three Science’s, French, Geography as well as food and nutrition.” 

Genevieve Sommerville talking about her performance at EYOF:

“I did better on my second day of competing because I went for all of the elements and I didn’t give up. It didn’t go as well as I wanted it to but I think I’ll put it down to experience, it’s been really fun performing in front of a really big crowd – I’ve never really done that before.”

 Genevieve Sommerville talking about EYOF experience:

 “It’s been really fun, I’ve never been in an event like this and I’ve met so many new people. I hope to keep in contact with them as well.

 “It’s really good practice for future competitions, I just hope I’ll be less nervous next time. I felt quite a lot of pressure under the crowd the other day.

 “I obviously look up to Torvill and Dean, because they won 35 years ago here, it’s been great to represent Great Britain here, then I also like what the Russian team are doing because they are the best and always winning.”

Genevieve Sommerville talking about how she got into figure skating:

“When I was 6-years-old and watching ‘Dancing on Ice’, I saw Torvill and Dean and the winners of that year. I pointed at the screen and was like I want to do that. I don’t think my mum really believed me, but then I kept insisting every day that I wanted to do it every day. I remember she woke me up really early one day and asked if I was sure I wanted to wake up that early every single day and I was like yes. So then we went to the rink and I was falling over everywhere, she thought I was going to cry and would never want to do it again, but I did. She was really surprised.

 “I used to do gymnastics at around 4-5 years old but because my mum was the rhythmic gymnastics coach I didn’t want her to watch me, so I just resisted and didn’t let her stretch me. I wanted to do something different, but still in sport because she was involved in it.”

 Genevieve Sommerville talking about how she balances figure skating with school:

 “I usually wake up at 4 o’clock in the morning because I have to train before school, so I get to the rink at 5.30am where I usually warm up and then begin training at 6am and skate for two hours. I’m allowed to be late for school because the rink isn’t close by, my school is quite good about it, they let me miss a few lessons to go skating.

“After school, I’ll either go skating again or go to the gym as my mum is a gymnastics coach, so I get to do my jump rotation and stretch which helps with my flexibility.

“A couple of days in the week, I won’t go early in the morning and will miss the last period of school instead or go at lunchtime for an elite session where there are high level skaters and it’s better to get the work done so it’s not as busy.

“I’ve got used to balancing school and figure skating now, I have certain days where I do homework, where I have a free night and then I do manage to fit it in on the weekend especially since GCSE’s are coming up.

“I’ve had to sacrifice a lot, but it is worth it in the end. I don’t really socialise with my school friends as much, most of my friends are at the gym or skating, so I can arrange things with them around our skating times. It makes it easier, so you can get a social life within the sport as well.”

Overall results from Sarajevo can be found here.

Genevieve finished 21st in the short and 23rd in the free, while Joseph placed 14th (PB) in the short and 14th in the free.