Whenever I talk to my girlfriends about how strong and fit skaters are, the name "Denise Biellmann" always comes up. Denise, now age 45, was a three-time Swiss national champion (1979-1981), the 1981 European and World Champion, and came in fourth at the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, NY. She is also famous for the "Biellmann spin," (see bottom right, Denise in Biellmann spin position) where the skater does a one-foot spin while holding the other foot extended over their head and behind them, forming a teardrop shape with the body.
Denise did many professional shows and competitions after winning Worlds (including the below 1997 Legends competition where she skated to great choreography by Robin Cousins), and it was always amazing to me how much she worked out! There was one television special where the cameras followed her into the gym and she ran, biked, lifted weights, I mean, this lady just loved working out! She actually inspired me to look into strength training early on because back then, it was not widely recommended (for women anyway), and here was this slim woman, definitely using weights as part of her regimen. Catching up with her was a real treat as you can imagine.
1. What was your most memorable experience as a skater?
Of course, that's winning the World Championships in 1981, but also, there are lots of memorable moments when the chemistry starts working with the audience.
2. Are you doing any coaching/choreography now?
No, I'm not coaching at the moment because I still have lots to do myself as a skater. I want to direct all my attention to one thing and give 100% and not try to do two things at once. Coaching is a 100% endeavor.
3. Do you watch skating now and if so, is there a skater who reminds you of you when you were competing?
Sure, I still watch skating and the major competitions. No one particular comes to mind. I think it's always important to try to be unique or develop a style of your own
4. Have you had any embarrassing skating moments?
Yes, there was one moment when I was skating in Holiday on Ice and the bra part of my costume broke - and something fell out for a second or two. :)
5. What is your exercise regimen? When I talk to friends about skaters being fit and in shape, your name automatically comes up. I think a lot of us think you work out seven days a week!
I tend to be doing something most days. I train three hours a day, five days a week.
That happened whilst I was working in Katarina Witt's Stars on Ice (kind of like Skating with Celebrities) and my partner (actor Patrick Bach) kind of tripped me up during our live performance (link to video). I fell flat on my stomach but tried to stop myself with my hand which then jolted my shoulder out. I recovered pretty quickly and managed to skate the next show (link to video).
7. If you woke up one morning and realized you didn't have to do anything that day, what would you do?
I would go on nature walks and now that it's summertime, I would love to hang out at the lakes sunbathing.
8. What is the last movie you saw?
Sex and the City.
9. What is your favorite food/meal?
I love Indian food and one of my favorite dishes is Paneer Makhanwala. [I looked it up it a cookbook which describes it as "Tender pieces of paneer (cottage cheese) cooked in a mild but rich 'Makhani' (creamy) sauce with a hint of nutmeg. Best served with naan bread or chappati's." Yum...It does sound good!]
10. If we looked in your iPod right now, what kind of music would we find?
You'd find all different styles, but mainly house music.
Apart from the projects I am involved with on the ice, like Skating with the Stars which finished in February, I'm also involved with organizations like World Vision (see right), projects to sponsor and support talented sports persons, and will soon be involved with Breast Cancer Awareness too. I also am working with companies to endorse products like Nintendo Wii Fit and Swiss dermatological products.
12. Will you be on tour anytime soon? Are you continuing with your television appearances?
Touring is one of the things that I've done quite a lot of, so I'm taking a break from that at the moment. I still enjoy doing the one evening only events and television shows. There are quite a few things in the pipeline for the coming season so stay tuned to my website!
13. How is your personal life doing? Or is that too personal a question?
No, not at all - don't be shy. :) I'm dating the man I've been happily together with for the last 24 years.