Petr Barna was born in Prague, Czech on March 9th, 1966. Petr can remember the night that his parents first took him to skate at the age of 6 to the outdoor ice rink in Prague called Psinec. It had lamps on wires swinging in the night breeze, and his parents were hopeful that their son had inherited his aunt’s skating ability. Private lessons soon began in the oldest ice rink in Prague, Stvanice, then group classes, until his father finally chose a permanent coach, Dr. Kanka.
The new coach made a significant impact on Petr’s first years of skating, laying the foundation for a world-level champion. He would not allow Petr to jump for almost a year and taught him how to fall, and how to skate. At the age of 8, Petr entered a difficult time in his skating career. His beloved coach, Dr. Kanka, had mysteriously vanished from Petr’s life (not an unusual occurrence under the Communist regime). Petr was then assigned to new coaches, but his new coaching relationships did not last long, as both women claimed they “could not handle him". Then he was accepted to the TSM Center for Youth (at the age of 10, he was admitted into the National Training Center for chosen athletes).
Between the ages of 6 and 10, Petr had already won many competitions while at TSM, and he was being coached by Vlasta Koprivova. It resulted in another personality clash, until Petr was assigned to his second outstanding coach, Eva Salanska/Doubova. She was a positive force, happy and fun to be around, always encouraging. Eva taught Petr all his doubles and how to remain optimistic, and he won his first Junior National title with her as his coach. Petr emulates her coaching style today with his own students. He says, “She was always exaggerating her coaching points, so that's why I do that now with my students.” Eva was not the diplomatic sort and had no patience with the subversive, oppressive controls put on the skaters and their coaches. She was removed from both TSM and the National Training Center and Petr lost her as his coach.
After receiving and again splitting with another coach, Mrs. Cadkova, Petr was finally assigned to a young man named Frantisek Pechar, who had just finished his skating career as a world competitor. Petr was a fan and had already learned much from him by simply watching Frantisek skate in competitions and shows. Petr, with Frantisek, won his second Junior title at age 12. In the next year, they went to Nationals for the first time, competing at Senior level, and Petr placed fifth. He struggled with his double Axel for about 3 years and was almost removed from the National Training Center because of it. Criteria plans dictated goals for every skater, particularly final placements at competitions, and those not meeting the plans were sent home for good.
By this time, Petr was training almost 8 hours a day five to six days a week. He finally landed his double Axel and in an astonishing breakthrough for a skater, consistently landed all his triples within a year. He had also landed the triple Axel at 16, but experienced a hard fall on it, and it was never the same. He was subsequently handicapped for not being able to include it in a program. So he made up triple, triple combinations and started to work on the quadruple Salchow and later the quadruple toe loop. He could land both of them, but the toe loop was safer.
By 1985, Petr had won his first Senior National Championship and he would win it again for a total of 7 times. In 1989, with a severe ankle sprain, he won his first major medal, a Bronze in Birmingham,England. In the early 1990’s he claimed 2 silver medals at the European Championships and twice placed second in short program at Worlds. Petr considers his most important success to be winning the hand of his teammate, ice dancer Andrea Juklova. They were married in 1990.
For the 1992 season, Petr was choreographing his programs with Milada Sittova, a prima ballerina from the National Theater and Mr. Wiesner, who designed Petr’s captivatingly comic Chaplin number, complete with toothbrush moustache (see it onhttp://www.youtube.com/ ). Petr had won the European Championship over Victor Petrenko (Gold ’92) and Alexei Urmanov (Gold ’94), and he performed the Chaplin number for the Gala Performance at the end of the competition. The number is a departure from his usual demonstrations of strength, power and dramatic artistic presence, revealing a skater with a broad range of talent.
At the 1992 Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, Petr won the Bronze medal and became the first man to land a quad in Olympic competition. Petr’s and Andrea’s daughter, Sofie Barnova, was born in April of 1992, two months after Petr’s Olympic success. Petr was performing on the Champions Tour when Sofie was born. Petr recalls, “I had turned professional, but I found a pro career to be much different than competitive skating, and I missed it, so I started to teach and slowly stepped away from pro show skating. Now I teach full-time and travel to seminars and other events."