Nicole Della Monica & Matteo Guarise are five-time Italian National Champions in Pairs.
Individually, Nicole has had a 16-year-long career, in both Singles and Pairs, including competing at 3 Olympic Games. Matteo started his career as a roller skater, and switched to ice skating only 10 years ago.
We caught up with them just after Nationals, to talk about their setbacks this season, and some highlights from their career so far!
Last year on the Grand Prix circuit, you earned two silver medals and became the first Italian pair team to qualify for the Grand Prix Final. Does that feel rewarding after so many years working together?
Qualifying for the GP Final for the first time in the history of Italian pair skating was for sure a great achievement and reward for us and we are happy and proud because we opened a new chapter in our career.
Unfortunately, during the warm-up for the Short Program at Worlds, Matteo and French skater Vanessa James, had a collision. How did that affect you when you had to perform just a few minutes later?
Matteo: For sure I wasn’t as focused as I could’ve been, we were ready and we did a good competition anyway but I hurt my chest and it wasn’t easy to skate. Maybe we were lucky to be the first to skate in the group so that we didn’t really realize what happened.
You debuted your programs at IceLab International Cup. Being the first competition back, how did it feel to return to competing and did it help you work out what you needed to do before your Grand Prix events?
We actually didn’t have time to change anything before Grand Prix events because Cup of China was only the week after it. For sure we needed to skate in a competition before China just to go back to the feeling of competing.
During this past offseason Nicole dislocated her shoulder. How long were you off the ice for and how much did that impact your training?
Nicole: Unfortunately, it happened in the first half of July and I had to stay off the ice for two months completely. In the middle of September I started skating again but I had to redo my elements carefully and day by day I added something. Some elements such as backward death spiral and twist I could do them only a few days before the first competition which made our start of the season really hard.
You’ve just completed your Grand Prix, Cup of China and NHK Trophy. How do you feel about your performances considering the shorter amount of training time you had? What are the next steps with your training now?
We decided not to skip GP because even if we were not ready, they have been good experiences for us and we learned a lot. Now we are back home and we can finally practice hard with no problems anymore toward European Championship!
Favourite country to compete in?
Your short program Crazy in Love is choreographed by former ice dance world champions Anna Cappellini & Luca Lanotte. How was it to work with them?
We decided to ask for their help because we think that they have been great in their career in interpretation so they could help us a lot. In fact it was amazing to build this program together which is still growing a lot day by day. We really like it and it was a blast sharing the ice with them as friends, ex teammates and now collaborators.
What was the inspiration behind both of the music choices this year?
We wanted to try something different for the short program, that’s why we chose this music and we think it suits us well, while for the free program we chose music that is more similar to something we skated already before and we love it! [SP: Crazy in Love, FP: Pilgrims on a long journey & Saturn] Massimo Scali suggested us a piece that we liked but it was a bit boring by itself so we listened to the other piece and tried to connect them and finally found out they worked out very well.
Away from the ice you both joined the Gruppo Sportivo Fiamme Oro, which is the sports section of the Italian State Police. Can you talk about your decision to join and the benefits you receive?
For every Italian sportsman it is a great opportunity to join such groups because they become 100% our clubs but the biggest benefit is that we get a salary and we can really make a job out of figure skating which makes it even more enjoyable not having to think about a way how to make money. We have duties such as going to the police school once in a while but while we are athletes we don’t really have many things to be worried about. They really are a big help!
Matteo, you were originally a roller skater and even won a world title. How did you find the switch to figure skating?
It wasn’t an easy switch. The elements are the same but the blades are not really the same as the wheels. The way I use my skates now is completely different from the previous ones, it really feels like a different sport even though many things are the same.
Favourite quality about each other?
Matteo is a perfectionist and never tired of working!
Nicole, you found Matteo after briefly retiring back in 2010 and now you’ve just celebrated 8 years together as partners. Did you ever imagine having such a long career within the sport?
Not at all! I reached my goal in 2010 by attending the Vancouver Olympic Games and I was happy, I was tired and needed to live my life away from figure skating and didn’t think I could go back to competition one day.
But after a year they suggested to try out with Matteo and I realized I missed it so I started to skate again. Of course I didn’t think that my career would be extended so long!!! But I’m really happy about it.
What are your future goals, both in and out of skating?
Nicole: My goal in figure skating is to make people remember me for what I’ve done, unconditionally.
Out of skating is to make a very nice family and live happily!
Matteo: My goal in figure skating is to present ourselves in the best shape in every single event and to get the best result.
Out of figure skating my goal is to live a good life with my family.
Favourite element to perform?
The best thing about Italy is…
The country itself!
Describe your perfect day from start to finish!
Nicole: My perfect day is the one when I don’t even stand up from bed… just joking.
The perfect day is the one when I wake up with the breakfast ready for me on the table, when I don’t waste a minute doing nothing but what I like with the people I love and eating a good pizza!!!
Matteo: My perfect day is when I spend time with my friends, maybe fishing at the lake. And having a great dinner all together, family and friends!
All photos courtesy of Nicole’s and Matteo’s Instagrams.
Follow Nicole & Matteo