Lara Naki Gutmann embraces her new style

By Matteo Morelli, Team FSO contributing writer
Photos by Giada Arioldi, Matteo Morelli and Robin Ritoss

Italy’s Lara Naki Gutmann is a skater that has been growing a lot over the last few years, developing her own personal style of skating. For the first time in her career, this season she competed at two Grand Prix events, Skate Canada and Grand Prix of Espoo. We met with her at Grand Prix of Espoo and talked about the current season, how she feels about entering into a new comfort zone with her latest programmes, and a look back at her career from the early days to the recent years.

FSO: Lara, thank you very much for talking to us. This is your first season competing at two Grand Prix events, with the second allocation being communicated to you with a very short notice.

Lara: I found out about it exactly on my birthday (November 6), what a great present for me!

FSO: You were on the reserve list, and nothing was certain until you found out. How did you feel when you heard you were assigned a second Grand Prix?

Lara: I was hoping for it, but a lot of time went by and I thought that a second Grand Prix was not in sight. But then, at the very last minute, it happened. I was very happy about it! Somehow, it was better not to know before because I had less time to think about it, so I approached it in a much more relaxed way and with the right mood.

FSO: Grand Prix events are great events to compete at and gain experience from. Are you already able to share if you learned any lessons from this first part of the season?

Lara: One thing I am sure of is that I am learning to approach competitions better. At Skate Canada, I put too many expectations on myself before my short programme, I really wanted to do well but when this intention is too much it can become a negative thing. But overall, that Grand Prix was a great experience: it was my first time in Canada, Vancouver is a beautiful city, the rink was great. I was happy with the fight I put up after my short and how the long programme ended up.

FSO: Have you changed your programmes between Grand Prix events?

Lara: Not really, the programmes remained the same, I was not planning to change them anyway. I started to use new skates, but I couldn’t take them to Finland, having used them for only a few days before!

FSO: Let’s look at each programme, starting from the short: how did you create this original routine, which is a bit different from what we have seen you skate on?

Lara: Last season, I skated on two programmes that were out of my comfort zone. However, this has now become my new comfort zone, I am enjoying exploring new themes. The short is a new challenge for me: my coach, Gabriele Minchio, found the music, he looked for something a bit different. I worked on them with him, my other coaches Stephanie Cuel and Linda Mariotti, and with Prisca Picano, which helped me a lot with the storytelling side of it. I also worked on the programme in Trento with the choreographer Riccardo Morelli, and in Champéry (Switzerland) with Stéphane Lambiel from a choreographic perspective, and with Ghislain Briand and Angelo Dolfini on the technique. In the very early days, this short was a real challenge for me: I didn’t know if it could work for me, but I really like it now and have fun skating it. The final music selections for both programmes are the result of the work I did with Hugo Chouinard.

FSO: You took the decision to keep the same free programme from last season.

Lara: Yes, the free programme is the same. I felt really good skating it last season, so we decided to keep it and just apply a couple of small changes to it, to give it something more.

FSO: Have you set any objectives for the current season?

Lara: Score wise, my objective is to improve my best scores from last year and definitely from this year so far. I also want to have a triple-triple combination in my short programme, get confident with it. We will see what happens, it is difficult to anticipate the results but the best I can do is to give my best in every competition and keep training.

FSO: Let’s take a look back at the past: what age were you when you started skating?

Lara: When I was four years old, I watched the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin (Italy) on TV. I was very young, and asked my parents to take me to a skating rink. There was not a skating rink where I was living, so we had to go to Trento where the closest rink to us was. At the beginning, they made a mistake and signed me up for speed skating! But we changed almost immediately, and I’ve been skating in Trento since.

FSO: How do you see your career evolving, now that you have been a senior skater for a few years?

Lara: That’s a good question! It is not easy to answer it, there is always something to improve, in every sport I guess. The more you go up in your career, the more you have to work on something, you can never rest. But that is a good thing, it means that training is never boring, the sport is always interesting. In terms of my career, I had a stop in 2020, when I had an ankle injury and had to have surgery. That was the year I won my first Italian title and it was very unexpected, because I only got back to training a little while before. From there, I have kept working, that is the main thing!

FSO: What is the best memory from your career so far?

Lara: I think my first World Team Trophy in Osaka, Japan (2021). That was such a great experience! It was a bit different than usual, it was still during the pandemic and I couldn’t visit Osaka, but the atmosphere in the competition was fantastic: I told myself that I wanted to do this kind of competition again! There was such a good atmosphere and great team spirit, something that is not easy to see in other competitions. Another great memory for me was of course competing at the 2022 Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, China: I was very happy to compete there.

FSO: What are your favourite and not so favourite elements?

Lara: My most favourite element is definitely the step sequence, in both the short and free programme. Least favourite is a bit difficult to say: for example, I can’t pick a specific jump, it very much depends on how I feel on a certain day!

FSO: Off the ice, are you studying?

Lara: Yes, I am currently in my third year of the Exercise and Sports Sciences degree. It is an online course with pre-recorded classes, because I train during the day and can’t go to classes in person. I definitely wanted to study and not give this up.

FSO: And besides skating, what are your passions?

Lara: I really like watching sports, in particular basketball and tennis. During the summer, I go to the lake every day, catching as much of the sunshine as I can! It is only twenty minutes away from me, so I go there a lot.

FSO: Thank you so much for sharing all this with us, Lara. Is there anything you would like to add?

Lara: I would like to thank Fiamme Oro, the sport section of the Italian Police Forces that I am part of!

Editor’s Note: The 2024 Italian National Figure Skating Championships is Dec. 22-23, 2023 in Pinerolo, Italy. You can find the results at