The night would go from elegant to an “ice hockey atmosphere” whenever Helena Kasicka and Peter Vidasic took the dance floor at the 2016 IPC Wheelchair Dance Sport European Championships, creating special memories for the Slovakian couple.
Kasicka and Vidasic swept all three of their events before announcing their retirement from the sport, and their gold-medal performances mixed with a fired-up crowd marks No. 46 in the International Paralympic Committee’s (IPC) Top 50 Moments of 2016.
The Slovakian tandem won European titles in the combi standard and combi freestyle class 1. Although displaying their strengths in ballroom dancing and freestyle choreography, their Achilles heels have been in Latin dances.
They finished second in the combi Latin at the last four World Championships and in the last two European Championships.
So when they heard their names as gold medallists in the combi Latin, and in front of their home crowd, the two had an emotional embrace.
“For us this is a special prize because eight years we have been trying to win the Latin,” said Vidasic after the competition in October.
The pair said they changed “everything” in their combi Latin routine since the 2015 World Championships in Rome, Italy.
“We had some new dances, new choreographies and sometimes I was out of my mind because it was so heavy and a lot of changes,” Kasicka said. “We were always trying something new, and now it finally happened that we could win the title.”
Each turn, twirl and artistic element they performed drew cheers from the crowd, and the opportunity to celebrate their victories with their hometown crowd in Kosice made the moment memorable.
“It is special because we won at home,” Vidasic said.
Although retired, the multi-world and European champions are not completely done dancing.
They will continue to teach, coach, organise lectures and workshops, and also would like to referee – all to develop the sport down the road.
Developing in Asia
European nations have proven to be strong in wheelchair dance sport.
But the sport also saw a milestone this year when the first ever Asian Championships were held in November in New Taipei City, Chinese Taipei.
Around 50 athletes from five countries graced the dance floor, and it was South Korea who stole the show with six gold medals. The home crowd also witnessed two gold-medal performances from Wen-sheng Kuo and Yi-Jung Huang; and Huan-Jan Wu and Chun-Lan Yang.
To find out more about the IPC’s Top 50 Moments of 2016, visit the dedicated page on the IPC’s website.