Javier Fernández has garnered the reputation as one of figure skating’s most dominant competitors on the global stage.
The two-time World Champion won back-to-back titles in 2015 and 2016. Although Fernández fell to a fourth-place finish at the 2017 world championships, he’s been one of the more consistent elite skaters.
In the past two seasons, Fernández has earned two Grand Prix Final silver medals, and five straight Grand Prix series wins.
As Fernández aims to fulfill his goal of capturing an Olympic medal, we explore more about the 26-year-old figure-skater.
1. Fernández Began Skating at 6 Years Old
Fernández discovered his love for skating after his older sister began taking lessons.
“My sister, Laura, started skating and I went to watch her,” he recalled to the Golden Skate. “When I saw her skating, I wanted to skate too.”
He also tried his hand in other sports— playing soccer, tennis, and ice hockey, but by age eight made the decision to focus solely on figure skating.
“I got hooked really quickly but I don’t know why it took me so long to get on the ice,” he told El Pais. “Sometimes my mother had to physically put me out there, but once I was on it, I couldn’t stop.”
He skated at a small rink in the San Martín district before switching a year later to a rink in Majadahonda.
One of his first coaches was Carolina Sanz, who told El Pais that he had natural talent, but initially lacked discipline.
His natural talent was hard to ignore. Fernández landed his first triple jump at the age of 12.
His sister, Laura was offered a spot at the Jaca skating school in the Pyrenees, where her costs would be covered. Six months later, Fernández joined his sister in Jaca.
Fernández progressed to the senior level in the 2006–2007 season, but failed to qualify for the free skate at the European Championships and the World Championships in his debut season.
After two years training in Jaca, where he had been teased, he returned to Madrid and considered switching to hockey.
“He was discouraged, he hadn’t improved and he didn’t feel supported by the coaches or the clubs,” his sister, Laura explained.
2. Fernández Finished in Fourth-Place in Sochi
Fernández missed a historic bronze medal for Spain in Sochi. A simple mistake was costly when he repeated a jump at the end of his free skate— earning zero points for the element.
Fernández, who missed Spain’s first Winter Olympic medal in 22 years by just 1.18 points, is setting his sights on a podium finish in PyeongChang.
“Of course, I’m going to work and I’m going to train to be the Olympic champion,” Fernandez told NBC. “But then at the competition, I cannot put a goal that I don’t know if I’m going to reach. Because at that competition anything can happen. So I would rather set up a medium goal that I know I can get. … If you say, I want to be Olympic champion. What if I don’t get it? You’re going to be sad the rest of your life because you didn’t reach your goal?”
3. His Sister Is a Former Competitive Figure Skater
Fernández’s sister gave up skating at 20 to study nursing. However, she had a successful figure skating career in her own right.
Laura, who competed in ladies’ singles and ice dancing, is a four-time Spanish Junior Champion, and represented her country in several international events, including two senior world championships (2005, 2006).
She recalled her figure skating career to Pink Ladies Skating, a figure skating blog.
“As in everything, not every moment is a good one, you have highs and lows, but it gave me the opportunity of living great experiences that helped me to grow as an athlete, but mostly as a person.”
Laura explained that she will always have a passion for the sport, but is now focused on her career in healthcare.
“Now I’m a nurse and I enjoy my job helping kids and their parents,” she said. “But I also love figure skating, so I try to keep linked to it as much as I can.
I feel that thanks to what I decided, now I have in my life two very different things that I enjoy.”
4. Fernández Does Not Plan to Compete in the 2020 Olympics
Fernández, who has represented Spain in the past two Olympics, does not plan on skating in 2022— making 2018 his last shot at an Olympic medal.
Figure skating is a rare sport in Spain, making Fernández’s success story even more remarkable.
There are fewer than 500 competitive Spanish skaters, and there are only 17 skating rinks in the country.
“The word miracle doesn’t even begin to describe it. It’s as though Messi had been born in Indonesia,” said Pedro Lamelas, the journalist behind the website, Hielo Español.
The support Fernández has received from his home country has been unprecedented in the nation’s history of winter sports.
After defending his world champion title in April 2016, Spain’s royal family sent an invitation.
“They said they wanted to meet me in person,” Fernandez told NBC. “I was like, really?”
Fernández visited King Felipe VI and Queen Letizia at Zarzuela Palace in Madrid on April 22, 2016.
That same month, he received the Gold Medal of the Royal Order of Sports Merit by the Spanish government in recognition of his achievements.
5. Fernández Lives & Trains in Toronto
Growing up, Fernandez’s parents worked hard to provide skating lessons to both of their children— his mother, Enriqueta worked as a mail carrier, and Antonio, was an army mechanic.
Their father stated, “Between the two children we were spending €450 a month when my earnings were less than €1,500,” according to El Pais.
During a summer camp when Fernández was 17 years old, he was approached by Nikolai Morozov, a Russian figure skating guru.
Morozov offered to take him to the United States for training. He would not charge him for training, but his family would have to pay the expenses.
When Javier went to the United States to train, Antonio took a second job repairing helicopters to cover the expenses.
Fernández relocated to Hackensack, New Jersey in the United States in the late summer of 2008. He moved to Toronto, Ontario, Canada in the summer of 2011 where he currently trains under the tutelage of two-time Olympic silver medalist Brian Orser.
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