Placed 15th four years ago at Salt Lake City, Swiss figure skater Stéphane Lambiel will be aiming for a medal in Turin after recent successes in the rink.
World champion in 2005 and silver medallist in Europe in January, the 20 year old has improved his form and moved into the realm of the big favourites.
Speaking after coming second to Evgeni Plushenko at the European Championships in Lyon, Lambiel said he knew what had to be done to beat the Russian in Turin.
"I can't make any mistakes. I need to skate a clean short and long programme," he said.
The Swiss sportsman made some mistakes in Lyon skating a routine to Vivaldi's Four Seasons. He had to step out of a triple jump and put a hand down on another occasion. He also stumbled twice in his footwork.
Nevertheless, four years after his Olympic debut, the skater has proven that he is among the best in the world.
The "magic zebra"
Lambiel will stick with his Vivaldi score and "magic winged zebra" costume for the judges in Turin. He designed the costume himself.
"At the Games, I don't intend to change a thing in the programme that I've put together," Lambiel told the newspaper Le Temps.
In fact Lambiel has been putting the finishing touches to his Olympic showcase for months. The experience he has accumulated through participating in high-level competitions should stand him in good stead at the crucial test in Italy.
As agreed with his coach Peter Grütter – who has been with him since 1994, with one short break – Lambiel will concentrate on conserving his strength in the final run-up to the Olympics.
Grütter was also an accomplished figure skater, representing Switzerland at the Innsbruck Olympic Games. He has tried to maintain a calm working environment for his protégé.
The past few months have been difficult for the young figure skater, who has had to keep up a busy travel schedule while avoiding all risk of injury.
The singles figure-skating competition consists of two sections - the short programme, and free skating. The short programme combines eight prescribed elements such as jump combinations and spins.
In the free skating programme skaters perform an original arrangement of techniques to music of their choice. As judges deduct points for a programme that consists of too many or too few jumps, a balanced programme is important.
swissinfo with agencies
Stéphane Lambiel's main results:
Silver medal at the European Championships in Lyon, January 2006
World Champion in Moscow, March 2005
Five times Swiss champion, 2001 –2005
15th at the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, 2002
Stéphane Lambiel was born on April 2, 1985 in Martigny, western Switzerland. He now lives in Lausanne.
He completed a degree in biology and chemistry in June 2004 but is currently exclusively working on his skating career.
Lambiel is coached by Peter Grütter and choreography is by Salomé Brunner.
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