Czech skater Michal Březina has it all: technique, artistry, charm and charisma.
After placing fourth at the European and World Championships and 10th at the Olympic Winter Games in 2010, Březina was on a mission last season. His goal: to prove that his results that year, his first full season on the senior circuit, were not a fluke.
Last season did not get off to a good start for the 21-year-old Czech star. Hampered by injury and subsequent surgery, Březina missed the entire Grand Prix season.
He turned heads at the 2011 European Championships, with many predicting a podium finish after watching his spectacular practice sessions. He ranked second in the short, but dropped to eighth after making a number of errors in the long.
Březina acknowledged that he was not as prepared as he had hoped to be.
At Worlds, he landed two quads (toe and Salchow) in his free program for the first time in competition and skated into fourth place overall.
That is all now water under the bridge as he prepares for the new season at his training base in Oberstdorf, Germany. “Everything is going well, except for some boot problems,” he said.
Březina is only one of a number of top athletes who are currently experiencing equipment issues. Boots are breaking down faster than ever before.
He paid a visit to his boot manufacturer to address the problems. “I told them exactly what I need, where the boot needs to be stronger, but explained at the same time that they cannot be too stiff,” Březina said. “They will start working on a prototype right after their summer break and hopefully I’ll be able to test it soon.”
His triple Axels are looking easy, and he is working on the quad jumps. The plan is to include two in his new free program to “The Untouchables,” which was choreographed by Pasquale Camerlengo.
“We were looking for something powerful with the music choice, especially at the end. Only the beginning and the slow part are the original version of the music,” Březina explained.
“The music guy did the techno version himself. I think it is very different. I haven’t competed this program yet but I already like it better than my old program.”
He is keeping his short program “Kodo Drums” and is thinking about adding a quad.
The 2009 World junior silver medalist is scheduled to perform in shows in Korea in early August. “I never have been to Korea and I’m so excited about going there,” he said.
Březina is planning to return to Detroit in mid-August to polish his programs with Camerlengo. His first competition will likely be Nebelhorn Trophy at the end of September, which is like a home event for him. He hasn’t missed one since 2007 and has a complete set of medals.
His focus is not on placements or defined goals for next season. “I just want to skate for myself, and try to get better with every competition. I have not really set a goal, so I will see how it goes,” he said.
At press time, he is the only man to have committed to three Grand Prix events — Skate America, Trophée Eric Bompard and Cup of Russia. “I recently got the news that I can skate in three of them, so I thought why not, I’ll just cut out one of the other international B competitions I was going to do,” he said with a smile.
His only regret is that he is has no Asian Grand Prix assignment this season so he can perform the “Kodo Drums” program for his numerous Japanese fans. “I had NHK Trophy last year, but I was recovering from surgery and I couldn’t go.
"Then Worlds in Tokyo was cancelled. And this year, I didn’t get any Asian Grand Prix,” Březina said with a sigh.
Originally published in October 2011