Valentina Marchei & Ondřej Hotárek

Translation courtesy of Laura Sciarrillo


Valentina Marchei, Ondřej Hotárek, the new pair in the Italian figure skating. You have started quite well your journey, tell us how it's going.

Ondřej: We are having fun so far. We are training a lot, building elements and programs, but we are especially looking for synchro on the ice.

Valentina: Yes, it's going very well because we are improving pretty fast, but most of all we are having lots of fun. That's what pushes us forward and creates a bond between us on the ice, I hope this is going to make us go further on.

What has pushed and what is still pushing you to start and then continue this adventure? It's a risky move.

Valentina: Passion for this sport. Both of us have given so much in our past skating experiences, as a singles skater for me and with another partner with Ondřej. We hope we have something more to give to the sport. We hope to chase another Olympic dream.

Ondřej: Yes, we want to push our limits and go further, even if many people think we're not able to do something, we will.

So your goal is set on four years from now.

Valentina: Yes, at the beginning it is going to be difficult to get some results. But we have good goals and they are long term so there's no rush in this. It is not easy but that's what makes this all so challenging. We know it's a bit reckless but that's why we like it so much.

What about your programs?

Ondřej: We are looking forward to compete. The short is ready, we still need to work on the free skating but we think we'll be fully ready for nationals in December, to show everyone that you can achieve a lot in a short amount of time.

Valentina: And also that age is not a limiting factor, you don't need to be young to follow your dreams. And our experience make us say “everything is possible.”

Ondřej: Well, you are still young!

Valentina: (laughs) You too!

Let's reveal the music of your short program

Valentina: It's “Malaguena.” A strong music, that represents us pretty well and shows both our characters. It is particular and it was particular building the choreography together. At the beginning it was strange to put together the choreography with someone instead of being alone. My partner is also very good, he has a lot of patience and makes me feel at ease on the ice.

What do you appreciate the most in your partner?

Ondřej: She is determined. She falls a thousand times and gets up every time with a smiles and never gives up.

Valentina: He is patient, I like that he always encourages me. Everyone is saying “It is going to be difficult for Valentina because she has never done pairs,” well I also appreciate Ondřej's efforts because he has started from scratch again from all the great results he has achieved. T is never easy to start all over again, its a challenge for both of us. And I also want to thank him for choosing me to start this new journey.

We are all wondering why you have started training pairs and whether you'll continue skating singles or not.

Valentina: Well for now I want to do both. It is not easy but not even impossible. Of course I will have to take a final decision sooner or later. Why I have started, well, the passion is what pushes me forward. I want new challenges. When I came back from Sochi I was so excited, I wanted to work so much more than before. I have been offered this opportunity and I said “why not.” Time will tell.

Ondřej, what is the new motivation for you?

Ondřej: To learn all over again. It's like to start from scratch again, everything is different for me too but I am having fun. Having experience matters and we can be faster than the previous times I have started skating with a different girl.

Do you have a message for all the people who have been following you for years and that now will have to get used to see you skating together?

Valentina: Well I know it's not easy, even for the people around us. But as I have decided to change my life again, while keeping a part of it the same, I am sure our fans will accept this new situation and will be happy about it.

Ondřej: What I want to say is, look at us to be inspired by what you can do when you have already achieved your goal but you want more and more.



The new duo made its first public appearance in Roana: Valentina and Ondřej could debut on the international scene in November.

In front of the (brand new) arena, there's a huge picture of Enrico Fabris: “The man of the Games” of Torino 2006, two gold medals and a bronze in speed skating, is a legend here, at home. Inside the arena about fifty skaters take turns to skate singles, pairs or ice dance. They are the athletes of the club Sesto Ice Skate and affiliated skating clubs, and will skate here until the end of the month together with skaters coming from seven different countries.

Among them there's the most gossiped pair of the summer – under a sport point of view – Valentina Marchei and Ondřej Hotárek, representing the police sports groups Aeronautica Militare and Fiamme Azzurre. They have been skating together for two months now, and yesterday evening performed together for the first time in front of a public (among them there was the federation's president Andrea Gios), during the inauguration of the arena built on the Altopiano di Asiago.

They didn't skate a full performance as Valentina has suffered a light contusion on her right knee on Wednesday, and it's better to not aggravate it (their participation in the shows of “Ghiaccio Spettacolo, starting tomorrow, has been cancelled). But the project is continuing and showing unexpected results.

GOALS – “The short program, choreographed by Massimo Scali, is ready – Ondřej as revealed us – and the music is ‘Malaguena.’ Our technical elements, as of today, are throw and side-by-side triple Salchow and triple Lutz, two level-four lifts and two spirals. We are now going to work on the free skating. I would have never imagined I would execute these elements so quickly.” Their schedule has already been decided: “Our goal is on the national championships in December” Valentina explained “and we might start with a competition at the end of November” in order to achieve the minimum score needed for the European Championships in January.

Therefore, what at the beginning appeared as a hazard is now reality. Everything happened very fast, but the choices have been thoughtful. “We have started just for fun in June, during a training camp at Andalo. Now we believe in it and we are having fun.” Franca Bianconi is their coach and Sesto San Giovanni is their training base, the pair is going to have Richard Gautiher and Bruno Marcotte and Montreal as a second training base. They have already successfully trained there in July for twenty days.

MOTIVATION – Both are in a certain way starting from scratch. “My partnership with Stefania Berton ended at the end of May, and we both agreed on that decision: we had different goals, there wasn't any more the necessary trust towards each other, and we have talked about that face-to-face. We had also started to write an official statement about our split. I was thinking of quitting, to start coaching and doing shows, Igor Cassina has taught me how to do a somersault. I want to clarify one thing: when I have started this new adventure, I have also written an email about it to Stefania.”

The change for Valentina is even bigger. “I want to keep competing in singles as well, by updating my programs from the past season and perhaps skating in the two Grand Prix assignments I have been given. But I live of motivations and even if now I theoretically I am the #1 Italian in the Ladies category, I want to challenge myself even more after the Olympic Games.”

She has never lacked courage.