Elegance, passion and technique are the secret weapons which have made roller skaters Natalia Baldizzone and Jorge Granell the most feared couple on the Spanish circuit. The pair, from El Tejar skating club in Fuengirola, have just become Spanish dance champions in the adult category, adding to the collection of titles and medals they have already won at home and abroad.
The maturity they show when they put their skates on (Natalia is 17 and Jorge 19) has been achieved through hard work and sacrifice. They have been training together for 11 years and have travelled all over Europe to find a niche among the world roller skating elite. Last season, competing as juniors, they won the bronze model in the European championships and came sixth in the world championships.
The pair normally train with Angélica Morales at the Juan Gómez ‘Juanito’ sports centre in Fuengirola, but several times a year they go to Italy for master classes with Lorenza Residore, who trained the present world champions. They spend ten days at a time with her, working intensively to improve their technique.
“With Lorenza we always work on the obligatory part of the skating routine, the purely technical aspect which the judges will be looking at very carefully. The creative expression comes from inside you, but the judges will be noticing how smoothly and correctly we make the movements,” explains Natalia.
Family of skaters
Natalia’s passion for skating comes from her family: her mother is her coach and her father works for the Spanish Skating Federation. She was just two years old when she put skates on for the first time, and is highly experienced despite her young age. Jorge Granell, meanwhile, is the only member of his family to be interested in roller skating.
Their next challenges are likely to be the European and World Championships. They are almost certain to compete in Europe now that they have won the Spanish championships, but it will be down to the Spanish Federation to decide whether they attend the biggest competition. “This year it will be held in China,” says Angélica Morales, “so the Federation has to decide who will represent us. You have to bear in mind that it is expensive to travel to China. If the competition were held in Europe, I’m sure they would be going.”
Natalia and Jorge have been working towards achieving their dream for more than a decade, with demanding daily training sessions and stressful international competitions. They are like brother and sister, says Natalia: “I think we know each other better than our own mothers know us.” They do argue at times. “We’re both very stubborn and sometimes we disagree about something, but we always end up with a compromise; Angélica usually helps us to do that,” says Jorge.
Skating is their lives, although they are aware that it is impossible to make a living from it in Spain. Jorge is currently studying Mechanical Engineering and Natalia is still at school and planning to go on to study Robotic Engineering at university. Despite the difficulties of combining their studies with high-level competitive sport, they insist they will continue. “When you are passionate about something you always find time for it. When exams are coming up we try to be more flexible about our training, and at the university I have had to talk to some of the lecturers about sitting an exam on a different date because it coincided with a competition,” says Jorge.
It is impossible to say how far these young champions will go. It’s possible that even they don’t know. Judging from their performance so far, however, it is almost certain that within a few years they will be part of the elite in the world of artistic roller skating.