By Matteo Morelli | Photos by Carolina Moscheni & Francesco Fioretti

Italy’s Carolina Moscheni and Francesco Fioretti tell us about their newly formed partnership, how COVID made it start in a bit of an unusual way, and what they want to achieve together.

Carolina and Francesco, you started skating together this year. How did this new partnership start?
CM: Our partnership started following the end of Jasmine (Tessari) and Francesco’s partnership, but somehow it started in a casual way as neither Francesco nor I were thinking about the option of staking together.

FF: Following the end of my previous partnership after the last European Championship, I consulted with Barbara (Fusar Poli, Coach) and we decided to keep working together on this path to help fulfill my Olympic dream. It was her suggestion to skate with Carolina, as she stopped competing since her retirement at the end of the last season. It ended up being a quick decision, I was sure we would have worked well together.

Did you know each other before becoming a partnership?
CM: Yes, we started being in the same team from an early age, when we were both training in Zanica with Valter Rizzo and Brunilde Bianchi. We then both joined Barbara’s team, with different partners.

FF: Yes! We have known each other for many years, we trained together when we were both skating in Bergamo and we have always been in touch, hanging out together outside of our skating commitments, even when we were training at different rinks. We have a long-lasting friendship that also contributed in our decision to start our partnership.

Did you do a tryout before deciding to skate together?
CM: Yes, before taking a final decision we did a tryout to understand if we were doing the right thing or if we were just following our instinct.

FF: We did a couple of days of tryout, but I already knew that the outcome would be positive and that I should skate with Carolina. Even Barbara was already sure about it before seeing us together, as she knows us really well and she knew the partnership would work.

What did you feel when you skated together for the first time?
CM: In my case, I felt something I had not felt for a long time, having stopped skating for almost a year. It was nice to be back on the ice and felt at “home” again. I was also very happy as I was not expecting this new beginning to go so well from the outset.

FF: From a human perspective, it felt really good to me as I already knew Carolina really well. I knew what to expect and that I would be happy working with her. From a physical perspective, it was a bit more complicated at the beginning as Carolina got back on the ice after almost a year off, and it took us a bit of time to find the right physical form. At the end though, we have managed to get into good shape, even despite all the restrictions during the lockdown.

Do you think that your experience in your previous partnerships has been of help, or did you find that starting a new partnership is almost like starting from scratch again?
CM: Surely starting to skate with a new person requires a lot of time to find synchronisation and connection between each other, however, our previous experiences have been instrumental for both of us.

FF: We both skated at a high level, having had a chance to compete at European and World Championships. This certainly helps as we understand what it means to train and compete at that level, and we are aware of the amount of work required to get there. Changing partners is always difficult because each person has their own way of doing certain things and to approach training, competitions, and challenges in general. Finding the right feeling on the ice requires time, and this is exactly our main focus during these first months together. We know that the journey is long but I am sure that our experiences and our relationship will help us to speed up this process and to reach our targets.

COVID-19 has had an impact in every sector. Could you start skating together before the quarantine? How did you cope with the lockdown?
CM: Our tryout took place before the lockdown. When training facilities closed we trained together at the park, however, when the lockdown started we both had to follow online classes. We officially started in May 2020, when everything reopened. Starting a partnership during a pandemic was a surreal experience but at the same time, one we won’t forget.

FF: Before the lockdown, we managed to skate together for a couple of weeks, then we had to be apart for the following two months and train from home, making use of technology to connect with our coaches and team for our physical and dance training. It was a surreal situation, I have never experienced a two-month break from the ice since I started skating! Furthermore, I didn’t know when we would be back on the ice, because every week the situation changed and we had to make plans day by day, hoping things would change quickly. When we got back on the ice in May, we could not yet skate as a couple (because of social distancing) and had to spend almost a month skating separately. It was strange and complicated, we did not have time to get to “know” each other as skating partners and find our feet on the ice as a new couple would do, because we had to build the new programmes straight away. However, we are living in that phase now while we practice our programmes, we are also getting to know each other better and improve our synergy as a couple.

You are both coached by Barbara Fusar Poli. Have you seen any changes in your relationship with her since you have formed your partnership?
CM: Our relationship with Barbara has not changed.  She really believes in this project and in our partnership.

FF: We are both very attached to Barbara, we both had a special bond with her even before starting to skate together. I think she is really happy that we are in a partnership, she cares a lot for us. She pushes us beyond our limits as she believes in this project and she knows that we can reach the objectives we have set. We know we can always count on her and that she will do everything she can to help us grow together.

Have you already decided on the programmes for this year?
CM: Yes, hoping that competitions will take place. We have decided to present “La La Land” as RD, while for the free we are being ambitious by taking the decision to skate on a Piano Concerto. We have linked it to an instrumental modern version that allows us to have a programme which is classic and contemporary at the same time.

FF: We have picked the soundtrack from La La Land for the short. It was an easy choice, we both immediately agreed on it and therefore we did not have to research too much. The free will be based on Rachmaninoff’s “Piano Concert No. 2” in the version arranged by David Garrett. It took us a bit longer to decide on this music as we had different options and, not being in a rush with no imminent competitions, we decided to take all the time we needed to try all the options out, finally agreeing on the Piano Concerto. I am pleased with the music and how the programmes have come together, I think they suit our way of skating.

Let’s move to a personal level! What do you like about your partner?
CM: The thing I like the most about Francesco is the simplicity of our relationship. We are friends on and off the ice, working on a common objective together rather than separately is a stimulus for both of us.

FF: I like Carolina’s determination! After almost a year of no skating and being away from this reality, I got in touch with her to ask if she wanted to do a tryout, and the next day she was already in the rink with the same enthusiasm to skate as before she left, if not more! She is challenging herself again, and I admire her for this! It is not easy to come back to all the sacrifices we have to do on a daily basis, after having experienced “normal” life. This shows that she really wants to skate and that we are ready to work hard to reach our objectives.

And some facts about the other one that you want to share with us?
CM: I like how much confidence he instils in me, the connection we feel when we look at each other in every difficult as well as funny moments in our days.

FF: Fun fact: Carolina and I were in a relationship when we were younger, around the time we were both training in Bergamo. Perhaps it is also because of this that we are so connected. Knowing each other so well before starting to skate together was an advantage, as we already knew what to expect from each other, our good traits and our bad traits.

Carolina and Francesco off the ice: what do you do? Have you got other passions other than skating?
CM: I really like cooking and to spend time with my family. Last Christmas I got a food processor and I can really cook almost anything I want now.

FF: There is limited time to fit everything in when we are done with the skating! I am studying Communications at university, have a girlfriend that requires some attention, and friends. I am also super passionate about football and I follow Juventus!

To conclude, what are your objectives for this season?
CM: The start of this season is a big question mark when it comes to which international competitions will take place, however, our objective is to qualify and attend the European and World Championships in 2021. We will start with national competitions that will allow us to test our programmes and our partnership.

FF: As the situation with COVID is still uncertain, we do not know much about what competitions will be planned, particularly those abroad. However, we hope to be able to take part in some competitions in Italy to gain some experience as a couple, to work on our objective for this year which is to take part in the European Championship. We have to take advantage of these months to grow as a partnership and get to the highest-ranking at the Italian Championship in December, where qualification for the team will be decided.