Coquitlam SC – British Columbia Skating Talents Base

Interview by Vladislav Luchianov

Today’s special guest in WFS is Mr. Zdenek Pazdirek, coach and representative of the Coquitlam S.C., British Columbia, Canada. He is a former two time Czechoslovakian Senior Men’s Champion, Olympic and World competitor. He has 21 years coaching experience; is NCCP Level III Certified (working on Level IV); and has had skaters qualify to Canadians at the Senior level. Also Mr. Pazdirek designed off-ice training device ‘”Skate Spinner” which helps skaters to maximize their spins, turns, and jumps. This product is on the market last 20 years.

VLAD: Hello Mr. Pazdirek and welcome to our edition! My first question is about your competitive years. Can you think back to that period?

ZDENEK: My competitive years were 1970 – 1976 on the international level.1974 and 1975 I was Czechoslovakian Champion.In years 1970 to 1973 I was always second behind Ondrej Nepela,3 time World and Olympic Champion. I competed at European and World Championships 1970 – 76 and Olympics 1976 in Innsbruck.

- Tell us, please, about the Coquitlam Skating Club?

– Coquitlam SC is public club with variety of programs from learn to skate “Canskate” program, Early Figure Skating program designed for skaters with interest for figure skating. From there skaters progress to Junior session into private lessons. Next step is Intermediate session for skaters who passed Junior free skate test up to Pre-Novice test and most advanced in Starskate program. Skaters who passed Novice competitive test and higher are training on Senior session.
Club has strong session for adults, one Synchro team. Coquitlam SC runs Pre-Power and Power skating sessions for hockey players as well. Board of Directors (volunteers, usually parents of skaters) is running the club.

Our club is one of the largest clubs in BC with very good competitive history. Our skaters are achieving very good results in local competitions as well as on provincial and national level. In our club grew Provincial and National champions and medalists.

We are proud that we have in our club skater Ronald Lam who represented Canada at Junior World Championships. We are lucky that we have strong competitive group of skaters who are role models for the younger skaters to keep competitive tradition in our club. Every two years we have Ice Show. Kids love it and it keeps club visible in community and serves as a motivation for young skaters.

- In your opinion why some people think that figure skaters must be in certain places in order to achieve success?

- In some cases it might improve training conditions for the skater, it might bring skater to more competitive environment which might be missing in some small clubs or quality of competitive coaching and sometimes it could be just believe that if I’m going to be seen in group of skaters or with coach from well known centre it will help to get better results.

It’s always sad to see the situation when skater leaves the coach who gave him/her great basics, brings him/her to very good level and the coach will not see the “final product” of hard work and dedication. But I guess it’s the risk of our profession. Life simply brings changes if we like them or not.

- Let’s talk about your skaters. Are you selective about who you accept as students?

  – I look at how much time I have available for coaching. I try to make sure that if I accept the student I will have time to deliver quality coaching and result of my and student’s work will make both of us happy and satisfied.

I accept every student who will do figure skating for the right reason because they like it and they are ready to work hard and have fun with it as well. Not all skaters have potential for great competitive career but all of them have right to achieve their potential. It’s great to work with little kids, it’s great to coach competitive skaters for thrill of competition or coach recreational or adult skaters because they love it.

- As I know Canada and USA have many ice rinks around the country. And not only in big cities. I can’t say the same about Europe. What is your vision of that difference?

– Here in Canada we are lucky that basically almost every town has ice skating facility. It brings much larger number of potential athletes on the ice. Larger base there is more chance that somewhere between them will be somebody very exceptional and will achieve great success on world stage. 

It’s more difficult in places where large population must share fewer rinks. The conditions are harder but maybe it brings more determination to fight odds and succeed anyway.
I grew up in Brno in Czechoslovakia where conditions were not ideal but we were very competitive and skaters from our club had very good results even on world stage. We had World champions in pairs Kovarikova- Novotny and from my old club comes now Michal Brezina. Where the will there is a way.

- This year British Columbia was an Olympic region. Tell me your thoughts about it?

– It was fantastic. I was very happy that I could taste one more time Olympic atmosphere. People could experience what Olympics are all about. Many our skaters participated as ice patchers, flower retrievers or performers in skating gala and they could experience highest level of competition from very close. It was very motivational. Many people volunteered as well and they were proud to be part of it.

- You are experienced coach. How to keep a good balance between difficult technique and the artistry in the modern figure skating?

- This a good question. In past maybe the athletic part of our sport was on mind of majority of skaters. There is no doubt that if somebody is able to perform high level of technical difficulty with artistry has the edge against other competitors. To judge technical part of program is not easy but easier than components part.

Components part of judging is more questionable. Is figure skating judge equipped with enough knowledge to judge and award right mark for artistry and all components in short period of time they have to produce objective judgment? Professional choreographers who many of them studied for years dance, music etc who are creating this programs and in a sense art work and this work is judged by figure skating judges whom many of them don’t have such a background. 

I’m hoping that figure skating still will be viewed as a sport with great appreciation of technical difficulty then to go to far other way. What you learn relatively easier artistry or technical part? Where is bigger risk? I’m sure there will be ongoing discussion and controversy about right reward for technical part and artistic part of performance. But it’s figure skating!!

- In your opinion, what should the program of the really great figure skater be like?

- I think program of really great figure skater should show that he/she mastered and risked elements of great difficulty skating skills, edges,footwork, spins and jumps with great feel for music and very reasonable expression of music with movement and great contact with audience. People in seats must be pulled into it even without deep analysis. This way figure skating will have magic for audience like it used to have.

- What are your club’s goals for the next season?

- Our club will have very challenging year.We are going to operate in new facility. Problem is that now there are other user groups which demand more ice time. So we hope that we will have enough ice time for our Learn to Skate programs, for our Junior skaters and we will be able to continue to develop competitive skaters or skaters with very good skills who will enjoy sport of figure skating.
You need ice time and off- ice time as well. Simply good conditions for good training. At the end of the season we should have our Ice show. It’s lot of work for parents but lot of fun for kids.

- Mr. Pazdirek tell us your general advice to young figure skaters?


- Thank you very much for taking out the time to answer questions!

- Thank you, Vlad!

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