Francesca Righi is the Italian Junior National Champion in Ice Dance, with partner Aleksei Dubrovin. This past season the pair qualified for their first World Junior Championships, their biggest competition since they started competing together in 2017, where they placed 13th.
The two have competed all over Europe, with podium finishes at the Egna Dance Trophy, Halloween Cup, Golden Spin of Zagreb and a win at the Bosphorus Cup.
We caught up with Francesca just before she and Aleksei begun their final Junior season. She tells us a little more about their partnership, new training circumstances, and what her perfect day would look like.
You and Aleksei made your Junior Grand Prix debut last season as a team and became Junior National Champions. What was that experience like and were you pleased with your results?
Aleksei and I worked really hard throughout the season last year. It was the year of so many ‘first times’ for us – from our debut in the JGP circuit to our first National title and our first World Junior Championship! We were so motivated in order to achieve our goals. We wanted to put a solid base for the upcoming season and with the results we achieved last season we can really say that we were proud of our work.
Song you’ve always wanted to skate to?
I always wanted to skate to ‘Run ‘ by Ludovico Einaudi or music from the ‘W.E. Soundtrack’
Favourite competition you’ve been at?
Definitely Junior Worlds 2019
Favourite costume you’ve ever worn?
The pink one from season 18/19 in the Free Dance
One of your Junior Grand Prix assignments is in Italy. Are you excited to perform an important competition in your home country and what are your goals for the competition? (Are you aiming to medal?)
Our second JGP will take place in Italy this year. We are really excited and can’t wait to compete in our home country! Our main goal (as always) is to enjoy every moment and be happy about our performances, to skate a clean program and to give our best and obviously we are working really hard in order to aim for a possible medal!
Can you tell us a bit about your music choices for this season and who comes up with the ideas?
This season we chose ‘Viva Elvis’ music compilation as the Rhythm Dance and something innovative and different from our style for the Free Dance.
We are skating to ‘It’s A Man’s Man’s Man’s World’ by Seal, ’Back to Black’ by Beyoncé and ‘Party Rock ‘by LMFAO.
Competitions are high-pressure situations and getting your nerves under control is an integral part of a good performance. How do you calm your nerves? Do you have any superstitions or rituals you perform before a competition?
The pressure changes from one competition to another.
Normally Aleksei and I feel more pressure during National competitions than international ones.
Usually we support each other and we are free to talk and say if something feels wrong or just different from always and we try to solve the problem or make the other feel safe.
Before stepping on to the ice we usually put our headphones on and we disconnect ourselves from the entire world, it’s just the two of us, breathing, holding our hands, listening to our heartbeats .
I always put on my left skate first. It’s a thing I’ve always done since I was a kid!
How did you first become interested in skating and ice dance?
Skating is in my blood,
My dad used to be in the national hockey team for about 15 years.
How did you and Aleksei begin skating together and how would you describe your partnership?
We found each other on ‘icepartnersearch’.
We had a tryout in France, Bordeaux and few weeks later we started training together there.
Our partnership is special. We really are like Brother and Sister. He‘s protective of me, he really cares and he wants the best for me! Now that we are both far from our families we have to support each other in order to feel less lonely!
In a recent interview your coach, Stefano Caruso, mentioned you and Aleksei now train with him in Berlin. How has that move been and is it hard training further away from home?
Aleksei used to train far from home so for him it was not such a big difference, he’s independent and knows how to live alone, while for me it was much harder.
I’ve got a really special connection with my family, we used to spend a lot of time together and not living with them really makes me feel so sad.
But since the beginning they’ve always supported me so I know they will always be there for me whenever I’ll need them.
Stefano is like a second family for us.
We are really grateful for how he’s caring about us and he’s helping us with everything!
Inspirational Quote to keep you motivated?
Do not limit your challenges,
Challenge your limits.
Favourite off-ice fitness class?
Modern dance and theatre
The Tea-Time Foxtrot is this year’s pattern for Rhythm Dance, how has it been to learn a newly created pattern?
We learnt the tea-time foxtrot in the last few months and we really like it as a new pattern dance.
It’s totally different from the tango of last season, so we needed to work a lot on that!
The only disadvantage is that nobody knows exactly how the pattern should be done and we had to spend so much time finding the best way for us to make the key points work!
If you could train with any Ice Dancer(s), retired or competing, who would it be and why?
We would love to train with Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.
They are our role models and it would be awesome and such an inspiration to see how they work on the ice!
What are your daily training days like? (When do you get up? How is your training day structured?) Do you practice the rhythm or free on the same day? Or just focus on one program at a time?
We wake up everyday at 6 o’clock.
We go to the ice rink at 6.30 to warm and from 7.00 we work on the ice for about 2 hours.
We have one hour ballet or modern class in between the two practices and then we go back on the ice for 2 other hours of practice.
Normally we have two ice sessions in which during the first one we work on the Rhythm Dance while in the second one on the Free Dance.
After it, we have 1 hour and a half of Gym, three times a week.
Your ISU profile mentions that you like studying languages. What languages do you know and does it help you connect with others in such an international sport?
I’ve been studying English, Spanish and French.
I can understand Russian but I would like to improve it!
I have been wanting to learn German ever since I moved here!
English brings you everywhere, I speak English most of the time and it really helps me connect with other skaters/people from all around the world!
Most played song right now?
Get you the moon by Kina
Favourite ice cream/gelato flavour?
Dark chocolate and pistachio flavour
Do you have any nicknames?
I’m ‘Fra’ or ‘Francy’ to my friends
What’s your favourite thing about travelling and do you have a country that you’d like to visit?
My favourite thing about travelling is getting to know other cultures and mentalities (and of course, people!)
I‘ve visited almost all of Europe and I would definitely like to go to USA and Canada.
After competitive skating eventually ends is there another career you’re interested in doing?
First of all, I would like to finish all my studies and go to University in order to have no regrets and all the chances for a bright future in case ice skating wouldn’t be my path. But at the same time I would love to be involved in the figure skating world!
What is the best piece of advice you’ve received? Has it helped you overcome any obstacles in your life?
‘If you figured it all out today, what would be the point of tomorrow?
Enjoy the process to be a work in progress‘
‘Fight for your goals, and sacrifices will be the cause of a lot of smiles’
This advice helped me especially through the last few months when I needed to overcome the distance from home and I couldn’t find the motivation by myself.
Describe your perfect day from start to finish! (Wakeup time, food, activities?)
I love sleeping and on a day off I would probably wake up at 11!
A perfect day for me would be waking up so late. Having a huge breakfast with my family at home outside in my garden laughing and enjoying our time together.
I would probably meet my friends for an Italian ‘aperitivo’, which I miss a lot, or just for a coffee. I’d love to go to the night club with them, especially with my best friend, we love dancing together!
I’ve always liked simple things where you appreciate the people you spend the time with instead of huge plans!
I really like night life and I would go to bed really late.
You know, you only live once!
Francesca and Aleksei are assigned to JGP Baltic Cup in Gdansk, Poland (18th-21st September) and JGP Egna-Neumarkt in Egna, Italy (2nd-5th October).
All photos courtesy of Francesca’s and Francesca and Aleksei’s Instagrams.
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