Figure skating: Bruno Massot, the battered course of a champion on ice

At the time of the European Championships, which begin this Wednesday, January 12 in Estonia, the French skaters are under no illusion: the podium hopes are almost non-existent in the absence of the star couple of ice dance Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, who preferred to ignore the competition so as not to risk contamination with Covid-19 within a month of the Beijing Olympics.

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This zero point on the medal table reflects the state of hexagonal skating under reconstruction. On the side of Normandy in particular, where, however, a beautiful story has been told in recent months: that of Bruno Massot, the native of the country who went to gild his reputation in Germany, Olympic champion under the Germanic flag in 2018 at the PyeongChang Games, back today in his club in Caen with a project in line with the desire for federal renovation. The realization of a dream, which took very devious ways to come true.

Olympic gold for Germany

First fork in 2014. Bruno Massot flies to Germany, to join the skater with whom he wants to relaunch, Aljona Savchenko. Leaving his long-standing club, the Caen sports and leisure artist (Acsel), was not the first idea. With his trainer Jean-François Ballester, Bruno Massot was thinking rather of bringing his future partner to France. Except that the French Ice Sports Federation is dragging its feet. On the contrary, his German counterpart offers the champion all the facilities to move. “The difference was huge, and I first thought about my career”, says the skater.

Bruno Massot settles across the Rhine. Jean-François Ballester, after twenty years of service in Caen, set out to found a high-level training center in Switzerland, while continuing to coach his foal. Four years later, the consecration. It was written ? Not really. “For eighteen months, the French Federation refused to release me, emphasizes Bruno Massot. I trained, but without the possibility of competing. I was living on € 200 per month. Obviously, it was not the ideal for skating serenely. When the situation was resolved, there were injuries, nothing was ever easy. So yes, the medal is beautiful, but what sacrifices! “

It does not appear on the 4 minutes and 30 minutes of the free development of the couple in PyeongChang. The tandem is weightless, succeeding in tricks and carried to perfection. At the time of the verdict of the judges, it is a torrent of tears. “I had enormous stress, I skated like a lion, with rage, Bruno Massot saw again. Twenty-three years of career that were played out there, in a few minutes. Afterwards, everything gave up. “

The return of the child prodigy

Bruno Massot finished in style, with a world title in stride. Time to put away the skates, to go train with Jean-François Ballester in Switzerland. But his mentor died six months later. “All my life, I never made a decision without his advice, loose the champion. I was lost, without landmarks. “ The Covid also complicates the situation. So with his wife, Bruno matures the idea of ​​returning home. At the turn of the year 2021, he called the president of Acsel in Caen.

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“Bruno’s phone call presenting me his training center project was timely, indicates Ludovic Le Guennec. With the Covid, we had lost nearly 40% of our young people. We had to start from zero, on detection. Bruno was helping us to come out of a rather depressive period. “ It was still necessary to organize new occupancy slots for the ice rink, to obtain the support of local communities, of the federation. But this time, all the planets align. “I arrived in May 2021 on a red carpet, with a federation determined to rebuild by betting on new talents that I want to develop”, rejoices the gold medalist.

The center already has a dozen students. Bruno Massot is looking to recruit skaters and hopes to eventually have six couples. The structure must gain momentum, with a second training track that will have to be built by 2026, says the municipality. “In the meantime, we have to adapt and be patient, but we are on the right track”, assures the champion who already sees one of his young couples with astonishing progression skating in Milan in 2026. Bruno Massot believes in it. With determination. And also a lot of emotion: “I am in my ice rink, where it all began, and at the edge of the track in place of Jean-François Ballester who would have wanted so much to found a center here in Caen. It’s done. Let’s be up to it. “


Reduced numbers at the European Championships

In Tallinn, the blue delegation will consist of three pairs, a skater and a skater. But getting a podium would be a miracle. The last time the Blues posted a virgin record at the Euro, it was in 2014, the first continental competition of the ice dance tandem Gabriella Papadakis-Guillaume Cizeron. Since then, the duo has always held its place. The Blues will still count on the two champions at the Beijing Games to win a medal. They will be accompanied by the two skaters Adam Siao Him Fa and Kevin Aymoz, to complete the weakest French delegation in the history of the Games.



Football: Bruno Martini, former goalkeeper of the Blues, is dead

A discreet and appreciated man. The Montpellier club announced Tuesday, October 20 the death of Bruno Martini, former goalkeeper of the France team, aged 58. His death has given rise to many unanimous tributes, from French clubs as well as football personalities.

AJ Auxerre, where Bruno Martini has spent most of his career, was moved by the disappearance of “One of the greatest goalkeepers in the history of French football”, a “True legend” in Bourgogne. “The MHSC mourns one of its own”, responded Montpellier, where Martini held the post of deputy director of the training center.

“What a sadness, what a great man. Football loses a man of integrity, honesty and passion ”, bowed Luis Fernandez, ex-player and coach of Paris SG.

Victim of a cardio-respiratory arrest, Martini had collapsed at the beginning of last week while returning to his car after a training and had been evacuated in intensive care at the intensive care center of the CHU of Montpellier.

Invincible at Auxerre

Born in Nevers, he joined AJ Auxerre at 19 for 14 seasons (including two on loan from Nancy) and took over from Joël Bats, another emblematic goalkeeper of French football. He also ended up replacing his elder in the France team, aligning 31 selections between 1987 and 1996, playing in Euro-1992 and remaining on the bench in 1996.

Martini was also European Champion Espoirs in 1988 with Laurent Blanc, Eric Cantona, Franck Passi or Bernard Casoni. In a club, he has a Coupe de France to his name, the first for AJA and Guy Roux, won in 1994 against Montpellier (3-0).

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With the Blues, Bruno Martini participates in the Grand Slam qualifying for Euro-1992: eight wins in eight games under the direction of Michel Platini, who became a coach. But the Blues leave the Swedish Euro after the first round. After his long reign in Burgundy, he ended his career in Montpellier (1995-1999).

For more than 10 years, he then coached the goalkeepers of the France team (1999-2010). At the National Technical Directorate (DTN), Bruno Martini also worked on setting up training for high-level goalkeepers.

Chess player, great reader

Renowned for his great discretion, the one who lived in La Grande-Motte by the sea, near Montpellier, was a singular character in football in the 1990s. Chess player, lover of reading (he evoked Goethe, Gide, Céline or Montherlant), he also preferred the great ancients in music, citing “Mozart, Wagner, Bach but, above all, Handel”. He was also classic at his post, excellent on his line, reluctant to go out and play kicking like goalies do today.

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Bruno Martini almost did not become a footballer. Major in the competition to become a physical education teacher, he could not validate it because he failed his baccalaureate D. Spotted by Guy Roux at the AJA, he was loaned to Nancy to get tough. The start of one of the greatest careers in French football.