Carolina Kostner has enjoyed many highs and lows during the course of her long figure-skating career. Having missed the podium in previous editions of the Games, the Italian approaches Sochi 2014 in the form of her life and with high hopes of success.
Calmness is the watchword for Carolina Kostner the most productive phase of her career. Determined to enjoy her skating rather than focus on results, she conquered all her demons by winning the world title at the tenth attempt in Nice in March 2012. The Bolzano-born skater followed up by claiming silver behind Yuna Kim at this year’s Worlds in London, Ontario, and also won the European title in Zagreb, her fifth continental crown since 2007.
Kostner’s father Erwin captained Italy’s ice hockey team at the 1984 Olympic Winter Games, while her mother Patrizia was herself a talented figure skater who competed at national level. Just for good measure, two-time world super G champion Isolde Kostner is her cousin. Discussing her sporting background, she said: “Half of my family on my father’s side are involved in sport and the other half are involved in the arts. Figure skating was a nice way for me to combine the two.”
Kostner was only 16 when she competed in her first world championships in Washington in 2003, where she came up against her idol Michelle Kwan, who won her fifth world title that year. The teenager quickly acquired a reputation for her joyously expressive skating, her grace and her technical ability. “Everyone said I had this huge talent and that led to me having a lot of personal expectations,” she recalled. “When my career started to take off I wanted more and more. And then came the fall.”
Getting it right on the night
Kostner suffered her biggest disappointments on the Olympic stage, as her challenges at Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010 were undone by a series of falls in the free programmes.
Happily she has put all that behind her and no longer allows little mistakes to undermine her confidence. The success she is now enjoying is the result of the conscious decision she has made to exploit her potential to the full, to have fun and to never set her sights too high, “not even in front of the mirror”, as she herself put it. Contemplating her chances of success in Sochi, she said: “I’ve won medals in Russia before and I’ve got a good feeling. It’s only when an artist becomes a master that they are fully able to express themselves.”
Kostner will make her third tilt at Olympic glory to the sound of Nikolai Rimski-Korsakov’s symphonic suite Scheherazade. And whatever happens between now and February 2014, the Italian will keep on smiling as she makes her painstaking preparations, serenely making sure that every detail, from choreography and costumes to the technical elements she will perform, is just right. If everything comes together, and Kostner makes the most of her talent, Sochi could well prove one of the high points of her career so far.
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