Chafik Besseghier: From cat to tiger
By Alexandra Ilina
Chafik Besseghier is something like a “terra incognita” for international figure skating fans. A month ago in Japan he skated at the World Championships for the first time in his career and made some furor.
He made impossible to possible by reaching a top-ten place. This result brought for the French team two spots for the next Worlds. Maybe it is a big step for his international career.
It seems as if Chafik Besseghier, born in Grenoble, came from nothing. But it is wrong. For his success he had to go a long way, with ups and downs. At the beginning of the last season he had an injury and lost time but he continued to work hard. Now he is back, ready to fight and compete.
“It was a big responsibility for me, because if I would not do it, we would have only one place for the next year. It was very hard. It was a fight for me and for Florent, too. My federation was also very happy, nobody thought I would get two places for the next year, and we all were very happy that I skated two clean programs on my first Worlds,“ said Chafik during the tournee “Stars sur Glace”.
“I had to forget all these thoughts and first of all to care about my programs. I had to focus on my skating and to do everything clean, and to show what I can do.“
He can really do and show a lot. He jumped his first quad already at the age of 17. “I like Axel jump and quads… but quad is very complicated, but I like it. It can be good today at the practice and tomorrow it may be bad.”
Chafik is also the only skater, who can stay on his head on the ice. “I worked with a coach on hip-hop and we realized that it would be good on the ice. We decided to try it. It was very difficult so I needed a cap for it and a lot of concentration to keep my balance.” If the judges would give points for such element, Chafik definitely would get the highest ones.
This season was not easy for him. At the first competition in October in Orleans he was injured. All dreams seemed to be over. “It was hard, because I was ready to compete. I was ready to skate, I had a very good summer and very good trainings. I was in a very good shape. Through my injury I lost a lot of time, the time that I needed to prepare for Nationals and Europeans.”
At his competitions in this season Chafik skated to Egyptian music in a free program. It is very interesting to look at him. It seems as if he is not skating but as if he is playing on the ice, a fantastic game with an imaginary ball. “With these movements I show not simply a ball, and it is not a football too. I have an energy ball in my hands”. In his short program Chafik is a robot, with originally step sequence, and when the audience is already sure that now he has to fall, he is landing on his feet. That’s why the French media is calling him a “cat”.
He was ready for this past season’s Worlds. It was his debut at such event. Last year the French federation did not send him to Worlds, he wasn’t even nominated – French team had three sports but only two skaters were sent there. “Maybe if my federation would have sent me also last year to this competition, I could earn better result this year, because I would already have gained more experience.” said Besseghier smiling.
Now he has a great chance to develop, a chance that he would not lose. “I had to change my coach because the ice rink in Paris-Bercy was closed for renovation. Annick Dumont has a big experience with male skaters as a coach and I thought it would be also good for me to train with her.“
But who is Chafik Besseghier actually? A robot? A man with an energy ball? A skater, who is sitting at the ice show outsides the rink, enjoying the sun with a music box? Or is he actually a “cat”?
No, Chafik is not so easy to decipher. He will do everything for the big goal, for his dream to compete at the next Olympics. And maybe he will be growing from a “cat” to someone bigger; who is not only landing on his feet but also fights like a tiger. Now he is ready for new skating challenges.
Photo: Alexandra Ilina