Michal Březina has only question about his decision to move to California to train — “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
The 26-year-old from the Czech Republic believes he is already beginning to reap the benefits of the move to the camp of coach Rafael Arutyunyan in Lakewood, California last July.
A fourth-place finish at 2016 Skate Canada — his highest placement at a Grand Prix event in two seasons would seem to offer some early proof of that.
“It’s been three months, and, for three months’ work this is pretty good,” Březina said after his free skate. “I’m happy with how I did today. I’m not happy about yesterday’s short program, but today I pulled everything that I had. I think I went to my reserve batteries and I just gave out everything.
“We worked so hard all summer on actually skating the last part of the program clean every time. I think that showed here. That’s actually the first time, at the beginning of a season, that I’ve skated a clean program.”
Březina credits his work with Arutyunyan for giving him the push that he needed to feel strong at the end of a program. “That’s his main thing. The first thing Rafael said to me when I went there was: ‘I don’t want to work on your quad now, because it’s not the time. Right now, you have to concentrate on skating the second part of the program every day, until your mind goes nuts,’” Březina explained.
“Rafael said, ‘you have to know that when you get on the ice, you have to skate the second half clean. If it’s five in the morning or it’s 10 at night when you get on the ice, you have to know that you have to do it.’ That’s what we worked on the most, and I’m happy about that.
“I’m also really happy that I landed the quad. Even though it was not clean, it was my first one since the summer. I haven’t done it since I came back from our national camp, so I’m really happy I was able to do it here. It wasn’t clean but I stood up, so it counts.
“This is a stepping point for the beginning of the season,” he said. “I’m happy that I showed that I’m not some guy from Czech who, when he has the option to move up, doesn’t take it. So I’m really happy that I showed the other side of my skating.”
It is clear that Březina, a bronze medalist at the 2013 European Championships, has already hit a higher level of motivation with his new mentor. “It’s a lot different. It’s a lot of work, but it’s good work,” he said of training with Arutyunyan.
“There’s something about him that makes you more motivated. Even in practice — when we’re tired — he says one word and you want to keep going for another two hours. That’s one thing that has helped me tremendously. I’m really happy that I made the move. I’m just a little mad at myself that I didn’t do it earlier.”
His result at Skate Canada has Březina eager to show more at his second Grand Prix assignment, Cup of China, this week.