Isabelle Delobel and Olivier Schoenfelder have withdrawn from the 2009 World Championships. Ten days prior to the start of the competition, being held in Los Angeles, Delobel and Schoenfelder held a press conference at the French figure skating federation headquarters in Paris to announce that they are unable to defend their World title.
On Dec. 14, Delobel injured her right shoulder during the duo’s second gala number at the ISU Grand Prix Fnal in Goyang City, South Korea. The sub-dislocation injury required surgery.
Dr. André Lafosse performed the surgery arthroscopically on Jan. 5 in Annecy. The procedure took more than three hours. “When the surgeon proceeded, he noticed that the damage was more serious that expected,” Delobel said. “He ‘cleaned [up]’ everything, but I knew then that the rehab process would require more time than we [initially] thought.”
Delobel traveled to Capbreton (close to Basque County on the Atlantic Ocean) in early February. She started her rehabilitation in the Centre Européen de Rééducation du Sportif on Feb. 5.
“Two to three times per week, I spoke on the phone with Dr. Lafosse," she said. “He came every week to check my condition. Of course, I was also in constant communication with both Olivier and our coach (Muriel Boucher-Zazoui). In Capbreton, all the patients have sports backgrounds but most of them have knee problems.
“When I arrived, the biggest challenge for me was, for example, to eat, to comb my hair or to brush my teeth. ... When you cannot use your right hand, you have to develop some kind of skills with the left one.”
While Delobel rehabbed her inured shoulder, Schoenfelder practiced in Lyon. He admitted it was not easy to stay focused. “But I had to remain fit for when she would return from Capbreton,” he said.
In early March, Delobel realized she would not be ready for the 2009 World Championships. "Being optimistic is part of the rehab process," she acknowledged. “But there are only three weeks remaining to the start of Worlds.”
Delobel expects to be finished with her rehab on March 28.
Prior to the injury, the 2008 World ice dance champions were enjoying a successful season. They won gold medals at Skate America and Trophée Eric Bompard as well as at the Grand Prix Final. “After the nice start to our season, would it be a good idea to compete and try to regain a World title if you are not 100 percent fit? Not really,” she admitted. “So we (Muriel, Olivier and I) decided to withdraw and to announce it a few days later."
Zoé Blanc and Pierre and Loup Bouquet were named by the French federation as Delobel and Schoenfelder ‘s substitutes.
The federation is still hoping that the teams of Nathalie Péchalat and Fabian Bourzat and Pernelle Carron and Matthieu Jost will place high enough, so that France will have three entries for the 2010 Olympic Games (their combined respective results can not exceed 13 in order to keep three berths).
During the press conference, held on March 13, Delobel and Schoenfelder also announced that they will not keep the "Pink Floyd" medley for their free program for the Olympic season, noting there was room for improvement in that routine. "We really enjoyed performing it," Schoenfelder said.
“We have never recently kept the same routine two seasons in a row,” Delobel concluded. “I guess we will still use it for galas.
“What I am sure of is that the free dance at the Olympics will take place on Monday Feb. 22. Do you know which Saint is celebrated on that day? Isabelle! I guess that's already a good sign.”