By Matteo Morelli | Skating Photo by Robin Ritoss
Representing the Czech Republic, Natálie Taschlerová & Filip Taschler are a partnership that is continuously improving and eager to show their full potential. They are currently training at the Young Goose Academy in Bolzano, Italy, with a team of coaches that includes Matteo Zanni and Barbora Silná. We met them after they competed at Grand Prix of Espoo, and talked about their journey as siblings ice dancers, how they set up their goals and work towards them.
Natálie and Filip, thanks for finding some time to talk to us at Grand Prix of Espoo. With Sheffield, this is your second senior Grand Prix event. How do you feel after having completed both competitions?
Filip Taschler (FT): We are so happy with both our rhythm dance and free dance! It was much better than Sheffield. We arrived here without expectation and it was more relaxed for us. Overall, it was really nice and we found a way to take another step forward.
Natálie Taschlerová (NT): Yes, I agree. The work that we tried to put in after Sheffield in just one and a half week paid off and we are really happy about it. We made some very small changes that probably no one can recognize.
FT: We are so lucky that our coach (Matteo Zanni) cuts the music. He has his notebook next to the ice and changes it immediately as we go, so we have new music for every competition!
Your free programme presents a strong theme about nature and the planet. How did you come up with that idea and how did you develop it?
FT: This was my idea from already two years ago, when we finished the junior season. I saw this concept with a synchronized skating team. I was surprised they did a climate change theme and found it really strong and inspiring. We discussed this idea with Matteo and he was happy to try to develop it. The music had much more words at the beginning of the season, but we received some feedback that it was maybe a bit too political, so we worked on some changes to keep it more neutral and focussed on nature as a theme.
Let’s look at when you started skating. How old were you when you first put skates on, and how did you end up skating together as a team?
NT: I started skating when I was two, Filip started when he was four. We can basically say we have been skating for whole our lives! We both started in single skating, we tried synchro, and then Filip approached ice dance while I was still in singles, but then I got injured. I broke my arm while doing gymnastics, and from then I was scared to jump, and everyone was telling me that I had good skating skills and I should try the ice dance.
FT: At that point, I was not so happy with my ex-partner, so we decide to try skating together, and here we are!
Do you think the fact that you are siblings helps you to be more direct and transparent with each other?
NT: For sure. It is called family business for a reason! We have a very natural connection and we are enjoying more time together now, which is great.
FT: We have such a strong connection before a competition, and sometimes when I am nervous she can feel it immediately. We have ups and downs of course, but it is normal. We are also working with a mental coach. Overall, we have a strong connection on the ice, and skating is helping us to improve our relationship.
Let’s look at your senior career so far. You competed at some international events already, however the Covid-19 pandemic saw a series of events getting cancelled over the last couple of years. How did you live this particular time in recent history?
FT: We were really lucky because our ice rink in Italy was open all the time. We had really strict restrictions, but we were skating a lot. Our coach is amazing, he keeps saying that in every situation we have to think about the positive side of it. So we used that time to improve and focus on our main goal, the Olympic Games.
NT: And also I think this period of COVID-19 helped us to get more used to living in Italy, to meet new people and get into the life there, because it was the first season that we spent in the country. So, we got closer with everyone and that was nice.
You mentioned the Olympic Games were your goal: you managed to make that dream come true! How did you live this unique experience?
FT: It was very stressful because I got injured and I had to miss the summer preparation. It was hard, I thought my dream was gone, but I worked a lot with my mental coach and we made it happen! We qualified and it was an amazing experience, being on the ice with all the top teams was so inspiring. We tried to absorb everything from our time there.
NT: Going back to the family business we talked about earlier, it was nice to achieve our goal for our mom and for our dad, because we were always talking about it with them. We sacrificed a lot, including spending time with our father in the Czech Republic. We left for the USA with our mom and we kept going, which was really hard but in the end, this is what paid off. Overall, we had an amazing time. The whole month there was quite long, but when we got to the competition it really felt that we were at the Olympics.
Talking about the future and your aims, have you got a clear path in mind that you want to follow?
NT: The goal is that we want to attack as much as possible at the Europeans, the spots are open for everyone right now, and we are excited about that. We set the goals, but we always leave them open because we skate for ourselves, not just for the medals. Also at this Grand Prix in Espoo, we didn’t get a medal and maybe we were dreaming about it, but at the end we were super happy because we skated clean and improved.
Having the right support to achieve your goals is important, and looks like your coaches are very much on your side. How would you define your relationship with them?
FT: I think it is a pretty strong one. It feels more like a family relationship in a way. Barbora (Silná) has been working with us since when we started our junior years. We have a really deep connection with her and also with Matteo, who was the first person who told us that our father died. They are trying to put 100% in for us and to push us working towards our goals to make them happen. Sometimes, it is hard to work with us for sure, because of the pressure we are under and, let’s say, because we are still kids in a way!
NT: By growing up, we appreciate the relationship more than before. Especially me, when I was younger I was quite something for Matteo’s nerves, so we appreciate them working with us!
FT: The team in Italy is amazing and it is starting to grow, and also the ice dance movement in the Czech Republic is starting to grow a lot. In our team in Bolzano, we now have the Georgian couple (Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya) with us, so we are more competitive at training which is better for all of us to push ourselves.
The team spirit was noticeable in Sheffield, where both you and the Georgian couple competed.
NT: We enjoyed it a lot, it was a new experience for us as a team to go with two couples and one coach, but it was amazing. At the practice sessions, we were giving each other the look and saying “let’s go”!