WEST ORANGE, NJ – When competitive figure skating coach Mickel Garcia came to the United States in 2008, he brought more than just a career of successful coaching years with him. With Garcia, came Javier Fernandez, an amateur skater with dreams of becoming a world champion.
Since coming to America as a 17-year old, Fernandez has reached all of his goals and then some. When he takes the ice on February 13 in Sochi, not only is the Spanish skater a medal contender, many experts believe he will compete for the Gold medal.
“I have never seen such a talent,” Garcia, Fernandez’s former coach and current skating director for Essex County’s Codey Arena, said. “I’ve been doing this for over 20 years. I’ve never seen such a talent, not only in the technical [aspect], but also in competing. He has the right mind. He sees this as a challenge. If he is prepared, he has a 90 percent chance of making a good program.”
Fernandez began is athletic career as a young, multi-sport athlete in Madrid, Spain. As a young boy, Fernandez took to the ice as a skater and hockey player, all while taking up tennis and soccer. It wasn’t until he was in his teenage years that he gave up everything to be a figure skater.
However, convincing him to stick with skating was as difficult as winning an Olympic medal.
“Skating is a way of life,” Garcia said. “He was thinking about quitting. I was coming to the US because I was going to work with one of the big coaches and he said to bring Javier. I talked to his parents, told them to talk to his coaches and make it in a professional way. He decided he wanted to come.”
With his coach’s convincing, Fernandez and his parents agreed to allow Javier to make the jump from amateur skater to professional. When Garcia got a job as a coach under famed Russian instructor Nikolai Morozov at the Ice House in Hackensack, Garcia brought Fernandez with him, and the rest is history.
Fernandez has blossomed into one of the best skaters to ever come from Spain. When he appeared in the 2010 Vancouver Games, Fernandez became the first Spanish skater to compete in the Olympics since Dario Villalba in 1956.
Additionally, Fernandez became the first Spanish skater to win the European Championship, claiming the Gold Medal in 2013 and 2014.
His path to an Olympic Gold Medal might be difficult, however Garcia and the rest of Team Fernandez and Team Spain believe Fernandez can make history in Sochi.
“Javier has a chance to win the Olympics,” Garcia said. He begins his quest on Thursday.