There was a point in her life when Elene Gedevanishvili considered quitting the sport. But the diminutive skater who hails from the Republic of Georgia decided that a change of environment might be just what she needed.
And so it was that Gedevanishvili moved north of the border a little more than a year ago to work under the direction of former World champion Brian Orser at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club.
“I’ve been really lucky to work with some great coaches, been through so many different schools,” Gedevanishvili said during her first-ever appearance at Skate Canada. “For skaters, we always need to keep moving. For me, sometimes I need to change to start something new. With Brian, it was something new and the start of something great. It worked out really well.
“When I first moved, he said he didn’t want me to just train and work, work, work. He wanted to make it fun for me, so that I was happy going to the rink and happy training. It kept me together and he, Tracy (Wilson) and David (Wilson, her choreographer) helped me with so much stuff.”
Gedevanishvili previously worked with the likes of Galina Zmievskaya and Robin Wagner — both of whom have produced Olympic champions — during a five-year training stint in New Jersey.
The switch to Orser in July 2011 was, she said, a matter of needing a new change in direction. “Skaters go through coaches,” said Gedevanishvili, a 10th-place finisher at three of the last four World Championships. “I feel when something is going bad, (many) skaters try to blame coaches. I don’t think it’s that. Sometimes, we need changes ... it’s the same thing in life. We don’t always want to be in the same routine.
“You go through the same things for years and years and years and one day you wake up and say, ‘oh my God, I’ve been doing this for so long. I don’t want to do it anymore. I want to stay in bed today.’ ”
At Skate Canada, Gedevanishvili dazzled the audience with her short program performance to music from the movie “Schindler’s List.”
That music, Gedevanishvili said, has a personal meaning to her. “I grew up in Moscow, so they always showed a lot of old movies about the war. I was born in the old Soviet Union — it’s our culture to know that stuff. We learn it in history class.”
Gedevanishvili was born in Tbilisi, the capital of the now-independent Republic of Georgia. “My grandpa had been in wars and liked to tell us stories. He wanted us to know that stuff. I feel like everybody should know that stuff. But it’s such a painful story,” she said.
It’s that emotion that Gedevanishvili hopes to display whenever she performs the program. “It took a long time for us to decide on music ... I told David I wanted something dramatic,” she explained. “I told him I really needed music to love and something with really, really deep emotion. My goal for this program and for my skating this season is to get people to feel the emotion that I’m feeling, because this music is so deep and painful and so dramatic. I really love it and enjoy skating to it.
“Since the first run through, I really loved this music. It’s a very sad movie that has such a deep message. Everything that was going on back then was so painful. I saw the movie a while ago and I have always loved the music, but now I’m 22...when I watched this movie again I saw it a little differently. There were a lot of tears. It definitely has really deep emotion.”
Gedevanishvili topped the field in the short program with 60.80 points. “I was a little shocked,” she admitted. “But my practices have been going well and I trained a lot.”
Technical errors in the free skate left her fifth place overall. Her second Grand Prix assignment is NHK Trophy.