Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) GPFS FIN ©International Skating Union (ISU)  1056976412

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Helsinki (FIN) 2018 ©International Skating Union (ISU)

The current season marked a breakthrough for Italian Ice Dancers Charlene Guignard/Marco Fabbri. The amicable couple from Milan has been close to the podium at the Grand Prix events in the past few years, but this season they claimed their first medals, silver at Skate America and another silver at the Helsinki Grand Prix. They went on to take the bronze in what was their debut at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.

“It simply feels fantastic,” Fabbri said about their results this season so far. “Every athlete dreams of reaching great results in his sport, but only few of them come close to the achievement of those dreams. We worked very hard throughout these years to get to this point, and now we finally feel rewarded for all the efforts we made. The funniest part about our successful beginning of the season is that it made us even hungrier. We want to improve and achieve even more, and we don't want to let the feelings we experienced go,” he continued.

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) EFSC 2018©International Skating Union (ISU) 907109366

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) at the European Figure Skating Championships 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)

Since starting skating together in 2009 following the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships, French-born Guignard and the Milanese Fabbri, who also competed in Single Skating at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships before switching to Ice Dance in 2007, have progressed season by season, year by year. They started out with a 19th place in their debut at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in 2011 and worked their way up to 9th place in 2018 at the event. The dancers, that found each other on the website Icepartnersearch.com, first skated in France and Italy, before deciding to represent Italy. They have been training full-time with 2001 World Ice Dance Champion Barbara Fusar Poli ever since.

Charlene Guignard and Marco (ITA) with their coach Barbara Fusar Poli GPFS CAN 2015©International Skating Union (ISU) 495009336

Charlene Guignard and Marco (ITA) with their coach Barbara Fusar Poli at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Skate Canada (CAN) 2015©International Skating Union (ISU)

In December, the Italians claimed the National title for the first time. “It was a weird feeling,” Charlene explained. “As we said, being among the top athletes in your sport and winning a National title is something extraordinary and unique, something that is difficult to describe through words as it's the fulfilment of a lifelong dream. We've been waiting for many years to become national champions, and now we feel extremely proud to represent our country internationally with this title,” she shared.

Guignard/Fabbri have explored a variety of styles throughout their career, ranging from somber to lyrical and entertaining programs. Their programs this year turned out to be very successful and were well received. For the Free Dance, the Skaters chose selections from the “La La Land” soundtrack. “As far as the choice of La La Land is concerned, we might say it was an easy and fast decision. We were thinking of selecting that music for the Olympic season, but then we heard some Skaters announced they would have skated on that, which is why we abandoned the idea. However, since last year nobody skated on La La Land, we talked to each other and said: ‘Ok, this year we are going to create what we intended to create one year ago’,” Marco noted.

It wasn’t that quick for the Rhythm Dance, though. “The choice of the Rhythm Dance was much harder and it took much more time. We heard a lot of music before we came across the pieces we really liked and wanted to skate on, but now we are sure we made the right decision,” Guignard said.

The Italians are skating to the Tango pieces “Miedo a la Libertad”, “La Chanson des vieux amants” and “Tanos” in the Rhythm Dance.

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) GPFS CAN©International Skating Union (ISU) 1069658752

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Vancouver (CAN) ©International Skating Union (ISU)

Following the Grand Prix Final it was a quick turn-around to Nationals the week right after. Then, finally, the dancers had some time to catch their breath. “After Nationals we took a few days off to recharge the batteries and enjoy Christmas with our families,” Charlene shared. “As soon as we returned on the ice, we immediately started to modify all the things we intended to modify right after the Grand Prix Final and that we couldn't do since we had only two days between that competition and Nationals,” she added. Her partner agreed: “We worked really hard since the first day of practice as we wanted to have enough time to get used to all the adjustments we made. We tried to work on everything: technical aspects, transitions, choreographic nuances, execution of every element… we know that everything could make the difference and that every single part of the program is crucial.”

During the Christmas and New Year holidays, the team participated in some shows in Italy and enjoyed performing in front of a crowd.

Now the focus is on the next big event, the upcoming ISU European Figure Skating Championships 2019 in Minsk (BLR), January 21 to 27. “We are trying to change some things in both programs, but we are mainly focusing on the Free Dance since we already modified several elements of the Rhythm Dance throughout the season,” Fabbri pointed out. For example, the dancers had changed their lift, the diagonal step sequence as well as few transitions earlier on. Skaters are constantly developing and fine-tuning their programs throughout the season to be able to present the best possible version at the ISU Championships.

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) GPFS CAN©International Skating Union (ISU) 1070226780

Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri (ITA) at the Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final in Vancouver (CAN) ©International Skating Union (ISU)

“During the first part of this season we didn't have much time to make all the adjustments we would have liked to do in the Free Dance, since time to revolutionize both programs wasn't enough. After Nationals we finally had more time to spend on the Free Dance: we created a new lift and modified some transitions in order to make the program smoother, and we added some choreographic nuances,” Marco continued. “We obviously worked on the Rhythm Dance too, mostly on the choreography of the Tango Romantica to create more connection between us and to make it look more natural,” Charlene added.

Following their success in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series, the Italians are looking to improve on their fifth place finish from the ISU European Figure Skating Championships in 2018 and have a positive mindset. “We feel extremely confident as we know that we are working very well. However, as we always say before any competition, we don't like setting any goals in terms of results. Each competition is different, and also the opportunity to achieve a specific result is different every time,” Fabbri noted. “This is why we don't want to think too much about the result in order not to put much pressure on ourselves. Obviously, we will do our best to fight for the podium, even if we know that it will be a tough competition. But we feel ready for the battle!”