A few months ago, Zoé Blanc and Pierre-Loup Bouquet chose to give up competition, ending a career that was perhaps a little bit too short, but during which they left they mark on ice dance. Who, among fans of figure skating, can forget their exhibition to Louise Attaque, or, in a recent past, their FD skated to Grand Corps Malade’s slam ? Generous to a fault on and off ice, they agreed to answer our questions one last time.
AIS : A few month ago, you chose to go into retirement. Why ?
Zoé Blanc & Pierre-Loup Bouquet : It’s too much of a hard decision to sum it up in a few words, but we are going to be as specific as possible. For a while, we had had serious difficulties in competition, and in terms of results. Disillusionment was growing and we had a hard time understanding what was happening. We came to a point where we could no longer find our place in the competition field. Novelty is something difficult to run by a world as conservative as ice dance.
AIS : Was this decision carefully prepared ?
ZB & PLB : Prepared or thought-out ? Of course it was thought-out. You don’t end your career on a whim ! The season prior to our decision had been tough. We had had some bad moments to take in, but we were nevertheless strong and ready to face difficulties. Until we eventually become affected to the point of discouragement.
AIS : Is this decision final ?
ZB & PLB :Yes. We won’t come back to competitive skating.
AIS : Despite you had a lot of support from the public, the wind of modernity you tried to instill into ice dance was never well received by judges. Do you think that your work can now be fruitful for future ice dancers ?
ZB & PLB : Fruitful is a big word. We do not see ourselves as precursors of modernity in figure skating. We aren’t the first and we won’t be the last. If some of our programs motivated others to explore new choreographic horizons, we are delighted !
AIS : Were did your inspiration and your musical choices come from ?
ZB & PLB : We owe our originality to our coach, Karine Arribert-Narce. You should ask her. She is an artist, with a mind full of marvelous ideas. She is inspired by many different things, she is very cultured, and is very rich choreography-wise.
AIS : What memories will you keep of these past seasons ?
They are many :
Zoé : I will always remember our first World championship. First official practice together on the ice with the Russians (Koklova & Noviski and Domnina & Chabalin) and our compatriots (Isabelle & Olivier and Nathalie & Fabian). Our music plays and we perform our routine, I go back to the board with tear in my eyes, thinking “here we are”. It was a lot of emotions, to be shared with Pierre-Loup and Karine. But, of all these years spent together, what really remains is all of our interaction, our laughter and emotions during daily practices.
Pierre-Loup : Every year, we had a lot of fun while we were building our programs. From the musical choice to the completion of our choreography and costumes, it was an exciting daily experience. Karine’s unusual choreographies were each more surprising than the last. During a work session with Igor Shpilband (coach of the Olympic champions and vice-champions) in the United States, we showed him our, still uncompleted at the time, FD to Grand Corps Malade’s slam because we wanted him to help us build some parts. He told us he was loving it but could not help with the choreography for fear of changing its style.
AIS : Ice dance wasn’t your only specialty. Villard de Lans, where you hold membership, also has a Ballet section that has been crowned National champion. You were members of this workforce. Will you skate again with the group ?
Making everything compatible is difficult.
Zoé : I am going back to my studies in Lyon, coming back often [to Villard de Lans] will be hard. But the team carries on and has new members and new programs I can’t wait to discover.
Pierre Loup : I still don’t know if I will stay in Villard de Lans for the forthcoming season. It will depend on the opportunities coming my way (shows, coaching) but if I can accommodate it, I’ll do ballet again this season, yes.
AIS : Shows were a wonderful vehicle for you to convey your free spirit on the ice. Will we see you in galas again ?
ZB & PLB : As far as possible, yes. We will do our best to accommodate galas in our schedules. For us, it is indeed a superb way to have fun and to exchange with the audience who supported us along all these years.
AIS : Where can you be seen in the near future ?
ZB & PLB : We will most probably be at Courchevel and Villard de Lans galas this winter.
We wish them good luck and a lot of success in their future plans. We thank them heartily for the fresh air they blew on the ice along all these years.