Silver medalist's Anna Duskova CZE and Martin Bidar CZE in the Pairs Free Figure Skating competition at Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre during the Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lillehammer Norway, 15 February 2016. Photo: Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC  Handout image supplied by YIS/IOC

Dušková, Bidař: They changed the history

When a promising junior Anna Dušková began to try pair skating category with Martin Bidar six years ago, she did not feel very well at the winter stadium Hasa in Prague’s Vrsovice. “I was a little afraid and ashamed. Everyone else skated themselves and we had to hold hands and shuffle around,” remembers the seventeen-year-old figure skater.

Martin Bidař used to be coached by his mother Iveta in České Budějovice since early childhood. However, then he left to Prague to start cooperation with a coach Eva Horklová, who also trained his older brother Petr – also in the pair skating category at the time. “Our coach thought that I fit in this category. So she started looking for a partner and finally chose Anna,” he says.

They started to skate both together and individually since that time. Especially Anna was successful also in the youth, junior and adult competitions and she likes combining both events up to now. Last season, she finished third at the national championships among women and she almost could represent the Czech Republic already at last year’s European Championships in Bratislava. She lost this opportunity due to her unsuccessful long program.

“Sure, at that moment I felt upset that I failed my program. But on the other hand, I cannot imagine what would happen later at the World Junior Championships in pair skating if I had trained and competed in singles. It would be terribly too much,” she evaluated with a time delay. Yet she did not want to entirely leave the singles category. “Although now the pair training has the priority, personally, I still like to go single as well. But surely those races will gradually wane.”

Her partner does not have ambitions in the singles category. „I am satisfied in pairs. I am not a good jumper and I would not manage the crazy things what are asked from the top skaters. There are less jumps in pair skating, they are simpler, it is filled also with other elements – so ideal for me,“ says Bidař.

Who is a leader in their team? „It should be Martin, but… When I feel that we need to move forward, I ask him but it is more-or-less a declarative sentence. And it works,” smiles his partner.

Last year, they managed a major breakthrough in results. Actually, it was the first season when they did pairs fulltime. “Definitely we decided in April before the season. Until then, we have devoted a third of training to pairs, rest belonged to single skating,” a coach Eva Horklová described the couple. The decisive impulse was the initiative of a successful Canadian coach Richard Gauthier, who invited the Czech figure skaters to camps overseas after the eighth place at the World Junior Championships in 2015.

Successes then came right at the fall races of the Junior Grand Prix. After December’s finals of this competition they finished second. And there were also silver at Youth Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, where they after short program even led, but after mistakes in free skating they ended close behind the Russian pair Borisova-Sopot.

Silver medalist's Anna Duskova CZE and Martin Bidar CZE in the Pairs Free Figure Skating competition at Hamar Olympic Amphitheatre during the Winter Youth Olympic Games, Lillehammer Norway, 15 February 2016. Photo: Jed Leicester for YIS/IOC  Handout image supplied by YIS/IOC

“Such mistakes happen. We have always said that life goes on and that once it will be all right,” Dušková said. Her partner said: “The important thing was that we saw that we can challenge them and that we can fight with them at the World Junior Championships.”

And they did. At the Championships in Debrecen, Dušková and Bidar were matchless and won both parts of the competition. It was a landmark in the history of the Czech figure skating. After all, it was the first time that the Czech national team member reached the world’s gold in this age category.

“We took the title from the world power, which is not used to losing,” recalled the coach Horklová. “A lot of people went there to congratulate me. Not only because we won, but also for that had we beat the Russian opponent. Because at these events it often happens that they play the anthem of the big country from the east even four times. But now they suddenly played the anthem, which almost nobody knew. However, all honor, Russian coaches also congratulated us.”

The pair Dušková and Bidař is already unique for the fact how they managed to achieve such success in the young age. They are both only 17-year-old. “It’s a meteoric rise; other couples at their age are overjoyed when they get into the top ten. It’s something absolutely extraordinary, “said the general secretary of the Czech Union Karel Oubrecht.

Already after returning from Debrecen they spoke about the fact that they plan to attend the home European Championships in the adult category in January. “Let’s try it, even if it is rather an obligation. They are young and still can go three World Junior Championships. But we’ll keep working hard and try to show a good result in Ostrava,” said their coach.

In preparation for this season they completed a training camp in Bergamo and again went to Canada to Richard Gauthier, this time for three weeks. “Which is actually the longest time we’ve ever spent on training camp,” said Dušková.

They take their world title as a past which is sometimes rather jokingly reminded by their friends. “We know we’re in for the new season, in which we go with a clean slate. Everything begins again,” said Dušková.

And it started well: with a victory at the Junior Grand Prix in Ostrava …