Mrázková & Mrázek: From Junior Glory to Senior Dreams

by Matteo Morelli | On-Ice Photo by Robin Ritoss

Czech Republic’s Kateřina Mrázková and Daniel Mrázek are last year’s Junior World Champions, with impressive results collected throughout their junior years. With their first year as senior skaters almost completed, we met with them to talk about their transition from junior to senior and how they intend to develop and grow in the field.

Kateřina and Daniel, it is great to talk to you. This is your first year as senior skaters. How do you feel getting into this season, already with two Grand Prix assignment for you, a European Championships and Worlds?

Kateřina Mrázková (KM): I think I am enjoying the competitions, because we were improving some stuff in the programmes, we try to make them more interesting. The competitions are basically the same as the juniors for me, but I am enjoying the atmosphere in a big arena.

With two Grand Prix assignments already completed (eighth at Skate America and seventh at Grand Prix of Espoo), what lessons did you learn from them?

Daniel Mrázek (DM): We could have done much better in the free. After Finland, we had one week off, because we didn’t have time off since the summer and we felt that getting some rest and doing something different would help us. Then we went home and back to training, working on the programmes again, making some changes and run throughs.

KM: In the free dance, I did a mistake in the one foot. I was a bit sad about it, but I think the programme overall wasn’t bad. We did some improvements on our elements, for example the lift. Until the mistake, we were really happy with the programme, then it got a bit worse I think, but it was a good programme overall.

DM: We learned to always skate programmes with 100% energy, to be in the performance and to keep learning. We were discussing what was wrong, what we should improve, so we work on many aspects that we want to improve, so that we have a plan of work.

KM: It is different to skate in a big arena with a lot of people because the pressure is a bit higher, so it is also good that we are practising skating with a lot of audience.

You also had your first European Championships (with a ninth place finish). How did you feel about it?

KM: I think we did well, we are happy. It looks like the work we have been doing in the months before this championship is paying off.

DM: After Finland, we worked on everything. In juniors we were good skaters, but in seniors it is different, there are so many good skaters, we want to step up and work on our levels, for example on the pattern step sequence, but also all the details in the programmes.

Did you feel any pressure stepping up into your senior career as the Junior World Champions?

KM: No, because we have no expectations from this season. Our coaches told us not to expect anything, we are new and we are young.

DM: But of course we want to do well, because we want to show that we are not just staying the same, we want to improve and we want to show that we can do even better.

While the rhythm dance this season is based on 80s music, you decided to skate on Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake in your free. How did you decide the content of your programmes?

KM: For the free dance, we wanted to do something different, a different style of music compared to last season. Ballet music was a bit challenging, because it is way softer but that is why we chose it, to improve.

DM: We chose something very powerful as we wanted something that will make us grow, instead of choosing the same type of music that we know we can do. We also wanted to find another style and I think we feel pretty well in the programme.

KM: In the rhythm dance, we choose the music because we had to!

Do you like the 80s music in general?

KM: I think it is not bad! We prefer more different styles like tango and waltz, but I think it is okay.

What are you aiming for this season, being your first senior season?

DM: As the season goes, we don’t really have any expectations. We need to improve our skating skills, we have to skate really well in the practice. We also need to improve in the couple connection, in the lifts and in some transitions.

KM: This is something to focus on for the long time.

DM: We are not going to improve in one month!

Let’s take a step back. When did you start skating? What age were you?

KM: I was four.

DM: And I was five.

And when did you start ice dance?

KM: A little bit more than four three ago.

DM: She was thirteen and I was I was seventeen.

What made you decide to skate together?

DM: It was my injury with the ankle: doctors told me that I will not be able to jump anymore, to do any big jumps. I also felt that it would be risky and that probably I would not sustain a lot of years of my career, that I could get injured even more, so I decided to do ice dance. Kate was the best partner for me, of course.

KM: When we were young, our mom was our coach in singles. I think we could skate pretty well for singles, so we just decided to try to skate together and it has been going well so far!

Do you feel that being siblings helps?

KM: I think it is helping. We are both very different.

DM: It has some negative and positive things. We are brother and sister, so sometimes we tend to be more honest with each other, scream a bit more than we would do to other people, so we have to handle it more as if we speak to a coach, but it is great that we have a good relationship, we can tell everything to each other.

Let’s reflect on your junior years. You achieved quite a lot, closing this chapter with a gold medal at Junior Worlds. What did you take away with you from those years, moving into the senior field?

DM: Because we didn’t start doing ice dance when we were small and we only started three years ago, what I take is that we were able to go to the top in juniors in a very fast time and that always make me think that we have that potential. I hope that we can also do it in seniors, one day. So, this is motivating for me.

Can you already see a change from your last junior to your first senior season? Do you feel you are already more mature and stepping up?

KM: I will say we improved a lot of things, but still we are not mature enough to compare ourselves to someone who is older than us, so we still look a bit young. But I think it needs time, it is not going to happen in a few months. We need more time, but we are working on it!

Do you have any long-term objectives that you are working towards already?

DM: We want to achieve as much as we can. We will try to get as high as we can and we will work for that. We will see what we can do!

It seems that the ice dance movement in the Czech Republic has been growing significantly over the last years, with two top ice dance teams (alongside Natálie Taschlerová and Filip Taschler) achieving important results. What do you think about this?

DM: It is not really the Czech Republic, it is Italy! (laughs) It is Matteo (Zanni, their coach) of course. It is a coincidence that Natálie and Filip also started as a brother and sister and that then we started. They were the first to start this Czech Republic doing great in ice dance. When I got the injury in singles, I immediately thought that I really love to skate, so why not do ice dance? Of course, Matteo is helping us to achieve it because here in Egna (where they train, at the Young Goose Academy), we have a lot of opportunities.

KM: Yes, we are happy to have him and of course also the others there.

How does it feel to train at the Young Goes Academy with all these good teams around you?

KM: When we started ice dance, we were for a few months in the Czech Republic with our coach Barbora Řezníčková and then we did the move to Italy. We don’t know how it works in other places, but we like it here. For example, in the Czech Republic, on one skating rink we don’t have enough time to work on the ice.

DM: The difference that I can feel from singles is that when I was single and I was on the ice, there were five other coaches and there were students but they were not really helping each other, they were all by themselves. And here it is one team. We now have three on ice coaches and some off-ice coaches. Everyone helps each other, which I think is the best way. So that is what I feel is different and I think that it is a very good way to achieve things.

Do you like to live in Italy?

DM: We just skate here. We basically live on ice!

KM: I actually prefer to be in the Czech Republic because I understand everything and we have family there. But it is also nice to be in this small town in Italy, the mountains and the view are nice, I prefer a village because in the Czech Republic we live in a village.

You talked about your coach Matteo Zanni: how many years have you been coached by him?

KM: It has now been three years, since the beginning. He did everything with us.

DM: We did ice dance for three months and then we got to him, so he is responsible for everything we do.

Are there any currently competing or retired teams you look at and are inspired by?

KM: I think each couple has something, for example someone has a very good technique for the lift, someone has good angle bending. I would not say that there is just one couple we look at, I think everyone has something good.

DM: We want to try to take something from many different couples. If I have to mention names, I think we can say Scott Moir with Tessa Virtue, we both really like them. I think that is how ice dance should be done. But it is also true that, as a skater, you cannot try to be like them, it doesn’t work like this.

KM: We still try to be ourselves.

When not skating, are you busy studying? And do you have any passions other than ice dance?

DM: Yes, we both study. I study at University, I am in my second year. I do it online and it is just for professional athletes, they make the schedule compatible for us so we can study.

KM: I study in high school, I have two more years, including this one. I don’t have really much time to spend on something else, but of course I like other things. For example, Daniel is passionate about singing and playing piano.

Maybe one day you are going to skate on one of your musics!

KM: I don’t think so, but we will see!

DM: I prefer to play something different than what we skate on.

Is there anything else that you would like to share?

KM: Actually, yes! I heard that many people are confused with our music for the free dance (Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake), because we skate on ballet music. It is really a ballet story, but many people think that we skate on the ballet from the movie, Black Swan. It has nothing to do with that! I don’t know how this came up, but I just want to say that we skate on the real ballet music.

DM: It is the one from the orchestra. It is hard if you want to do the ballet story, we want to make it like in the theatre. We are really trying hard to make it look like a ballet!

KM: It is really hard to sum up two hours of ballet on four minutes on the ice.

Have you actually had ballet classes before?

DM: Yes, we had. Basically, from when we were younger, but it is normal for every skater, you have ballet classes. Now we have a ballet teacher that came here two years ago. I think she is the best teacher so far in ballet in terms of technique, you can see that she is really good at it. And this year, we decided that we want to try something new because we never really skated on ballet before. I think it is working great, also for the future, when we come up with some other ideas, I think programmes will be very interesting!