Valentina Marchei and Pj after the show

Valentina Marchei and Pj after the show

If I am to believe that energy breeds energy – then I am still running off my recent encounter at Rock the Ice IV with  Italy’s Valentina Marchei.

I didn’t know very much about her beyond what I had access to in the ISU bios but was always impressed by her strength and speed on the ice. She reminds me of a thoroughbred race horse – always ready to run and finally getting the chance to show what she can do.

Not only is Valentina a four-time national champion, she finished in fourth at the recent European championships.

It’s gratifying to see hard work pay off and Valentina is nothing if not a hard worker. I admire the way that she talks with gratitude about the support from her family. I also admire the way that she talks respectfully about her competition. Her humility is refreshing in a world where many people are unwilling to acknowledge that they didn’t get to where they are solely on their own efforts.

Marchei is working in Detroit with former World champion (and blade goddess) Yuka Sato and husband/coaching partner Jason Dungjen. It has taken a bit of time to find the right situation to bring out the best in Valentina’s skating. It appears to me as if she has found it in Detroit.

“When I am not skating, I am studying and I babysit. I am 26 now and know how to manage my life better.”

Marchei started skating as a 7 yr. old and was taken by the sport from the very first time. At this point in her career, what seems to have evolved is her ability to compete – to savour her time on the ice and not be racing to the finish. I like the way that Yuka and Jason have been able to bring out the interactivity with the audience in her skating. Valentina seems to be reaching so far into the audience with her presentation style that it is impossible to overlook her on the ice.

“I didn’t believe I could be 8th at Worlds.” Last year’s was her best result at Worlds.

With London and this year’s Worlds just around the corner, how does Valentina sum up her chances?

“It will all be good going to Worlds. I am working on improving my difficulty. I will be working day by day at Worlds.”

She talked to me about trusting her coaches and the training and credits Sato and Dungjen along with Franca Bianconi with helping her to realize her dream of getting to Sochi  in 2014. Valentina was so close to making the Olympics in 2006 and 2010 and is determined to not watch from home this time.

I can only believe that making the Olympic team must have a special significance for Valentina whose father is a two-time Italian Olympian as a marathon runner in 1980 and 1984.

“My head is working in a different way. I am having so much fun!”

When you let the skating happen joyfully and naturally; as if by magic, the results seem to follow.