Kevin Van Der Perren, 30 years old, wanted to end his career in his wife country, at the European Championships in Sheffield. But things didn't go as expected: Kevin injured his wrist and made our hearts broken with what seemed a painful farewell.
Kevin was first to skate in the third warm-up group then, and showed his sportsmanship by letting his fellow competitors know what might happen. "He told me in the dressing room that there was a chance of him withdrawing, so I adjusted my warm up," Brian Joubert noted. "In fact, I prepared as if I was to skate first in the group. Kevin showed great sportsmanship for telling me and I want to thank him for that. Not everyone would have done that."
That wasn't the farewell from his public he had expected, so Kevin decided to end his competitive career in Nice. But before his last bow in a world championship, Van Der Perren skated one of his best performance ever, with two quads, a triple Axel and seven other triples, three of which in combination [A/N: he is the only one in the world to do such a feat] in a nearly faultless performance.
"It's exactly what I've always wanted to finish my career with," the Belgian skater told Jean-Christophe Berlot, special to icenetwork.com. "It was not easy because it's so hot in here. After the first step sequence, I just felt I was burnt out already; my legs were burning, and I thought to myself: "Whoa ... I still have 2:40 minutes to go!" My initial plan was to leave the scene at the Europeans in Sheffield, but I broke my wrist, so we decided that I would do worlds. I preferred to end my career at a European championship, because I could get a better result than at worlds, obviously."
So Kevin ended his world eligible career in the same city where he started it. Nice, 2000: it was Kevin's first year on the international scene, and he ended up 31st. "In fact, I was not ready to come, but Belgium had no one else to present but me," Kevin remembers. "I was 18 years old, and I was so happy to see Alexei Yagudin and Evgeni Plushenko live! That's all I remember, really."
"At that time, I was practicing skating only twice a week, and mostly for fun," Kevin recalls. "At that time, I was more involved into swimming. But after Nice I decided to focus on skating and forget about swimming."
On the neverending controversy about the judging system, Kevin has his idea: "These last years, you really can tell which skater was raised with the old system and who has really started with the IJS (International Judging System). It is really difficult for the former to compete with the latter, really. We [A/N: the older generation] learned jumps, whereas they [A/N: the younger generation] learned jumps with transitions. We learned spins, they learned spins with positions, etc."
About the so-talked-about components, Kevin said: "Today, there is so much attention given to components. The best skater can miss his jumps, he still gets high components. The athletic aspect of the sport has decreased significantly." Personally, I wont add anything on the subject. You know very well what I think about it [you can read The night they killed figure skating - Thus spoke Stojko... and The quad separates men from boys!].
Kevin is now a full-time coach in Belgium, with wife Jenna McCorkell. "I will coach them [A/N: his pupils] in the new system. It will be completely different from the way my own coaches did educate me. But it's mandatory now; otherwise, my skaters will have no chance. I made the choice of jumping, rather than working on components, simply because jumps were the reasons why I came to skating. A practice session, for me, is doing quads, triples and combinations, not 10 minutes worth of steps. It has not been easy for my coach, I am sure. She needed quite some patience with me."
Patience, something that is not Kevin's gift, at least according to the same Kevin, who says his wife is way more patient than him. But I'm sure Kevin will be a great coach. And we wish him all the best for his future!