During the 2018 Winter Olympics, I don't know anyone that wasn't utterly mesmerized or impressed with the ice dancers. Out on the ice, the graceful & powerful 22 year old French athlete Gabriella Papadakis, along with her partner, blew the competition away and secured a well earned Silver medal.
This feat was all the more remarkable, when in the opening moments of the performance, Gabriella suffered an awkward wardrobe malfunction, which forced her to compete whilst wrestling with her outfit.
We had a few moments with Gabriella after her success in PyeongChang to quiz her, on how she fuels her performances at the highest level...
Gabriella, ahead of a competition like the Winter Olympics, what sorts of food/snacks are you having, & when are you eating? "I always have a very little appetite before competing and have trouble digesting because of the stress. So I stay away from eggs and meat mostly. I like having oatmeal at breakfast, some plain pastas at lunch and cereal bars and lots of fruits (especially apples and bananas). I also drink electrolytes, pre-workout drinks".
So what do you eat after competing? "It's always hard to find time in the few hours following competition to eat cause we're busy with press, medias and official duties. So if we have a competition THE NEXT DAY I'll try and eat cereal bars and fruits that I always keep with me, and protein powder. If I don't have to compete the next day, I'll just eat whatever I feel like".
Does your diet change much between off & on-season? "It does. During the season, or whenever I have hard practices, I am very careful to eat enough calories and nutrients. I have to find the hard balance between being healthy and not losing weight. I tend to lose weight too easily and lack energy if I am not very careful. I had to learn how to eat properly to be able to build muscles too. When I don't have hard practices I'll just eat whatever I want, whenever I want... It doesn't happen very often!"
What are your thoughts on protein bars & shakes? "They are a good solution for me because I am always on the move and I rarely have time between meals to prepare something at home".
What does an ice dancers gym session look like for you (lots of weights and strength training or cardio, or a mix)? "It's a lot of strength work, with body weight and cardio. I never lift weight. I do a lot of circuits that combine strength and cardio".
What is your cheat meal? "I love pizza, milk chocolate and cheese. Sometimes when I had a hard day I'll eat nutella by the spoon. I have a very soft spot for foie gras and when I go back to France I can have it for every meal".
What meal(s) do rely on the most at home? "I try and eat as diverse as possible, and to eat a little of everything. I guess when I don't want to think too much that would be some salmon, green veggies and pastas or rice".
Do you have a favourite recipe? "I absolutely love risotto! I got my mum's recipe and I love it".
Is there anything you actively avoid? "I am not very tolerant to dairy in North America (I train in Montreal, Canada) and digesting meat tires me a lot, so that's what I avoid if I need to be performing. And of course, fast food, anytime".
How important is hydration at your level? "It is very very important. I made a habit of constantly having a water bottle, even if I'm not active. In my purse, or next to me when I'm home. Whatever I order at the coffee shop or at the restaurant, I make sure I also ask for water.
I'm also a tea freak and I can drink liters of it during the day, which is also a great way to stay hydrated".
Do you have any pre-race rituals? "My partner and I have a very specific ritual of warm up, mental visualisation... I also love listening to music, the one from my ice dance program or any in the same style, to get in the mood".
Do you have a favourite place to compete in? "I love competing in France of course, because we train in Montreal we aren't there very often and it's always nice cause we are very supported.
In two weeks we will participate at the World Championship in Milan, Italy, and I'm very excited because I know quite well the city, a lot of people there and love Italy in general".