Barbara Fusar Poli: “You have to do more than “enough” if you want to be at the top”

Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio

By Barbara Castellaro,
special to World Figure Skating

2006 Olympic Games in Turin… Italian ice dance couple Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio returned to compete, after a period of withdrawal from the competitions, with a goal to reach a historic result for their country, presenting as usual the intense and expressive programs.

Just a fall prevented them from achieving the dream but there is no doubt that they have entered the history of ice dancing and the memory of generations of figure skating fans.

Historical note: Barbara Fusar Poli is an Italian ice dancer. With partner Maurizio Margaglio, she is the 2001 World champion, 2001 European champion, and 2002 Olympic bronze medalist. They won eight Italian titles and competed at three Olympics: Nagano 1998 – 6th place; Salt Lake City 2002 – 3rd place and Turin 2006 – 6th place. Presently, Barbara coaches Charlene Guignard / Marco Fabbri of Italy and Tanja Kolbe / Stefano Caruso of Germany. She has also worked as a reporter for Italian TV and Eurosport, covering skating events.

Six years have been passed since that… In ice dancing appeared new couples, strong and beautiful. The system of judgement have changed too: the technical aspect is prevailed over interpretation, perhaps at the expense of emotions and artistry. Maurizio moved to Finland for a new adventure and work there as an ice dance coach of Finnish team. Barbara works with young couples in the Agorà in Milan, where I meet her for the wide-ranging interview in which past, present and future are interwoven.

Barbara Castellaro and Barbara Fusar PoliBarbara, as a coach you presented two couples at the European Championships in Sheffield. What can you tell us about their performances there?

Barbara Fusar Poli: I’m quite satisfied. The guys competed confident there. They also were well prepared and very motivated. In trainings they already have shown that they are able to achieve a good level. At our first Europeans Maurizio and I finished tenth. Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri were eleventh in Sheffield, and Tanja Kolbe and Stefano Caruso finished twelfth. Both of them showed very beautiful free programs. It’s also notable that there wasn’t any Italian or German judge. Sometimes this factor has its influence…

And what can you tell us about them in comparison with over ice dance teams in Sheffield.

Barbara Fusar Poli: I’m never satisfied; this is a part of my nature. Tanja and Stefano certainly must improve the approach to trainings. In the past they had different methodologies, but now they are working with me and I demand them to go beyond daily limits. Looking for the reason why other couples slide better and have more extensive movements, they must not be discouraged, but must try to improve their performances. As for Marco and Charlene, they are very careful and tenacious guys. At the moment, there are good enough, quite pleasant … You have to do more than “enough” if you want to be at the top.

Maurizio Margaglio said to me, in an interview, that it’s much easier to create a couple than to keep them together. What do you think about it?

Barbara Fusar Poli: It depends on the couple. There are couples that skate together for a long time. As coaches we must try to understand who is in front of us. If you are using the same methods with everybody, you are in risk to failure. For example, the senior couples, that I train, are totally different. I don’t propose similar programs or similar music. The final choice belongs to the guys. One example: In 2001, when Maurizio and I decided to skate “Romeo and Juliet”, just half of our team was agree with that choice.

Barbara Fusar Poli and Olympic memories…

Barbara Fusar Poli: My first Olympic Games were in Nagano, in 1998. The most serene Olympics I can remember. We finished sixth, a good result, and above all it was an unexpected result, which was a turning-point in our career. Then was Salt Lake City 2002, the most beautiful, the most difficult and the most tormented to us. We were favourites there… There were tension, too many of tension…We won only the bronze medal, and for a long time Maurizio and I looked at that medal as at something uncomfortable, which you want to hide or refuse. After many years we have understood that, in reality the Olympic medal is important thing in any way. We fought very hard to take the bronze, a disappointed bronze, but we made a history.

Turin 2006… The Olympics of our come-back, the Olympics in our country…When you are skating at home it’s different and it’s wonderful; you feel the spectator next to you. There was the fall and another sixth place. After the competitions I was called by Candido Cannavò, the director of the Gazzetta dello Sport and he said me: “Barbara, you have entered to the hearts of the Italians more than before.” He was right, but at that time I felt disappointment.

You have already covered Vancouver Olympics as a TV commentator. I hope we will see you in “Kiss and Cry” as a coach in Sochi.

Barbara Fusar Poli: I hope so too. It would be nice to take the guys to Sochi. I really hope.

Let’s talk about upcoming World Championships in Nice. What is your own preview?

Barbara Fusar Poli: Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir and Meryl Davis / Charlie White are two beautiful couples. At first they are the most charismatic. I like when there is a lot to of emotions, no matter what the ranking is. At the moment American and Canadian skaters do not have rivals. However, the attention should go to the Russian skaters, because they are reaching an excellent quality and they are also young. Do you know who has surprised me? The young Canadian couple Kaitlyn Weaver / Andrew Poje. “Historia de un amor” and “Je suis malade” are very intensive programs. Angelika Krylova and Pasquale Camerlengo are doing an excellent job with them and not only with them.

What about the Italian teams?

Barbara Fusar Poli: Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte are two young talented and, perhaps, they are one of the most beautiful couples in this season. They have an incredible potential.

As for Carolina Kostner. At the Europeans Championships she was significantly better than others. She is certainly at the peak of her sporting shape; calm, confident and very pleasant to watch. She has worked in the right way. At the World Championships she will face many strong skaters, but I think she will do well there.

Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek look very excited. Franca Bianconi has prepared them in an excellent way. If Ondrej had not been ill for Europeans, probably they would have been on the podium.

So you have a very optimistic view to the Italian team.

Barbara Fusar Poli: Definitely! But I also would like to add following. We, Italians, are so good because we get results in spite of the fact that we have to make immense sacrifices. Americans or Canadians have many ice rinks; rich skating federations, which can offer them the best and so on. We have difficulty in everything: in the availability of ice for trainings, in costs, in raising funds and despite this we achieve extraordinary results.

Listening how Barbara are talking about different memorable moments of her career I thought, that many people around the world still remember clear all great images, which Barbara Fusar Poli and Maurizio Margaglio created to us in their wonderful performances: “Dracula”, “Romeo and Juliet”, “Lord of the Dance”, “I will survive”, “The Prince of Egypt” and many others.

Help with translation from Italian: Giorgia Ruggeri


Barbara Fusar Poli / Maurizio Margaglio – Salt Lake City 2002, FS

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