It has been a rough year for French star Kévin Aymoz. Diagnosed with athletic pubalgia (sports hernia) in the summer he was unable to skate for two months and only resumed training in early September. A few weeks later he competed at French Masters, where he finished third with a watered-down program.

Despite his misgivings, lack of training and preparation, Aymoz was sent to his first Grand Prix, Skate America. A disastrous short program left him in last place, and the following morning he withdrew from the competition citing an injury to one of his toes. “I had a really bad summer into September and October. It was really difficult for me to get everything together,” he explained.

His second Grand Prix on home soil also began with an error-filled short program, where he again finished in last place. However, the next day Aymoz turned it around and while his routine was not up to his usual flashy style, he was rock solid on the elements.

“I’m really happy. I worked a lot the last three weeks. Yesterday I was really stressed but I had nothing to lose today. I just got everything together and skated, he said post event. “My coach (Silvia Fontana) was there for me last night and found the right words to help me put be together. This is my rink. I trained here since I was 5 years old. All my friends, family, and the people who work at the rink were here today and I didn’t want to show them a ‘bad Kévin.’ I wanted to represent my training center, my rink and my country, so I had to fight.

“It was my first long in front of an audience with all the elements so it was a bit difficult with the cardio. Now I know what is not good with the choreography and the technique in the program so I am going to go back to work and change some things in the program. ”Aymoz said that while he can do the quad toe and quad Salchow, he has not been able to do the quad flip or Lutz since his injury and has replaced those jumps with a triple Salchow-Euler-triple Salchow combination and a double Axel.

When the pandemic hit in 2020, Aymoz left his Florida training base for France and was unable to return to the U.S. until early October in 2021. While in France, he trained with Françoise Bonnard, who he has known since he first began skating. “I’m really happy I trained with her but my training camp is in Florida. They are the people who brought me to the top — maybe not the top of the world — but to a good level internationally,” said Aymoz.

“I started working with Sylvia before the Olympic Games in PyeongChang, so it’s natural that I should finish the four years of work with her and go to the Olympics. I found my spirit again when I returned to Florida. It is a really good place to train. I have everything I need to skate — with technical and choreography.”

At his final international competition of 2021, Golden Spin of Zagreb in early December, Aymoz sat in a distant 14th place after the short. Though he received Level 4s for his spins and the step sequence, his jumping passes were on the low end of the scale: triple toe, triple Salchow-triple toe combination (with the toe being an invalid element), and a double Axel.

The free skate was up and down affair but a vast improvement on his earlier appearances this season. Aymoz opened the routine with a clean quad toe, doubled the next toe jump, received a slight deduction on the first triple Axel and midway through the program tacked a single toe on the back end of a second triple Axel. The final jump, a triple flip, received an edge call but the day was saved with three other clean triples — including the triple Salchow-Euler-triple Salchow combination — and Level 4 spins and step sequence. Aymoz finished sixth in the segment and wound up in seventh-place overall.

His next competition is the French Championships, which take place this week (Dec. 16-18) in Cergy-Pontoise, the results of which will determine the 2022 Olympic team. While he is virtually guaranteed a spot, Aymoz will be looking to head into Beijing as the number one guy from his nation.

Ed. Note: Aymoz won the French Championships by a 19.96-point margin over Adam Siao Him Fa.