Katsalapov: Arguing during the practice is a waste of time for sport-express.ru
Ilinyh/Katsalapov finished the last season beating all the Russian skaters in Nice becoming 5th in the Worlds. Their current season preparations were kept almost a secret: the skaters spent the summer in the USA, didn't participate the Russian test skates and their first official competition will be in November only in the Moscow Grand Prix. Their goals for the season were summed up by their coach Morozov: if Ilinyh/Katsalapov will not aim for a medal in the GPF and the Worlds it would be a failure in his books.
I met the skaters last Saturday. The ice was packed, as it is usually with Morozov's group in Novogorsk: at the beginning of September a group of 10 increased to 11 with the 2010 world champion Takahashi joining in. Right after the morning practice the Japanese went to the airport to spend some time home before the Skate America, while Katsalapov and I began our talk.
EV: You and Elene Ilinyh are almost isolated. Do you miss the competitions?
NK: Very much. Lena said so as well several times. Perhaps it's a good thing we have so much time till the first competition - we look decent during the practices running through both programmes, we work on our technique, but the more we skate the more I realize just how much I miss skating for the public.
EV: What were your feelings at the end of last season?
NK: Hardly accomplished. We were unable to complete quite a lot of things. All and all the season was not bad, so the mood was fine, set to more work.
EV: Lena and you were critisized a lot during the first part of the season and you have to agree it was justified. Don't you?
NK: Well... But then there were Europeans where we skated decently and became 3rd. Despite my mistake.
EV: That mistake didn't influence the impression of your progress. Everyone who is related were commenting on that. Did you feel that change?
NK: Sure. I really wanted to become a better partner than I was before. I thought a lot, was working on it, skated alone, worked off the ice and asked the coach again and again what should I do to become more mature and not feel juniorish on the ice.
EV: You really felt juniorish?
NK: More like I felt some energy was missing. I think it started appearing last year, while the season before, when we first participated the seniors with the Don Quixote something was lacking.
EV: Where would you put the border where you stopped being a junior?
NK: I think the change began in the USA before the last season. Morozov was explaining me a lot how should the male partner see things, how should I move, stand and most importantly, it shouldn't be a list the learned elements, but the inner state. I consider Scott Moir the perfect partner - everything he does works out so good! When you see him on the ice - he's the rock, the man, the pillar. Any female skater would skate with him! He doesn't need any particular choreography to attract the viewers, just his energy is enough.
EV: The conclusion from what you are saying is the man should lead in the pair
NK: I think so.
EV: But agree he has to do all in his power so everyone looks at the female partner.
NK: Exactly. Though it's not always easy.
EV: Was there a time when Ilinyh and you were trying to get all the attention yourself rather than show the advantages of the pair?
NK: I think that time comes for every pair. Usually it's not that obvious during the competitions as it is during the practices. You are trying to prove something, skate out of your skin and don't notice the partner at all, so the stronger one wins. Yet what you have to realize is that the pair is for two and you must help each other to dance.
The male partner has more responsibilities there: to lead, to twist, to lift, to dismount from the lift... Hence I reckon the male partner is the lead. The female partner is the beautiful wrap up. Of course she must be technically brilliant if aiming for the medals.
EV: The coaches love repeating how hard it is working with the girls who go through the puberty. But it must be quite hard to be a partner of such a girl?
NK: Frankly we didn't have any problems with Lena. I think she've always been very mature inside, even when she was a kid. More than that I kept having an impression she is the older one, she was so wise and always set the priorities right. She also learned more things in the process.
We always had minor disagreements during the practices - each of us has a temper. But it's allright, it's a part of the working process. I don't mind such things at all. Usually the most I would say is `Lena dear, let's try to finish the practice as we should, then we can shout out side the rink if you like. Or talk'
Usually that would be the end of the conflict. Arguing during the practice is a waste of time
EV: Do you ever get tired of each other?
NK: Sometimes. But then we are hardly in contact outside the rink. Or during the weekends. We might text each other at the most just to see how are things.
EV: You were skating for quite a while to Vysotski's `Picky horses' during the practice. Is it an exhibition?
NK: No. This is how we get into the shape. We don't always want to skate to the LP music - hearing the same piece over and over during several months is tiring. Morozov offered us to pick any music. We picked the `Horses' we like the mood.
EV: By `shape'' you mean the ability to skate the programme from the beginning to the end without getting slower?
NK: Not only. We work on the lifts and so far we are not always able to complete the lift on time according to the rules. We measure it with the time stop on every practice with Denis Samokhin. We work on being in sync, on the twizzles. All of the sudden I started accelerating on the 3rd revolution, though I don't do anything for it. Yet we want the twizzles to be synchronized. So all and all there is still plenty of work.
EV: Will you keep training in Novogorsk till the Moscow Grand Prix?
NK: No, the whole group goes to the USA at the beginning of October. Amodio and Leonova have to overcome the jet lag before Skate America. Morozov doesn't want to leave Elena and I alone in Moscow. So we'll train in the same group. Takahashi will join us there as well.
EV: Does another good skater joining the group bother you?
NK: Frankly, Lena and I started running through the whole programme during the practices only thanks to Takahashi. He goes on the ice skates the LP three times, with two quads, the 3A and everything... no matter how he feels. First we were curious: how will he practice when he's tired? Yet he becomes even more fierce and skates even better and easier!
Of course we didn't want to look worse near him. Nor the other single skaters who train with Morozov. We all set a goal to skate the LP as if it was easy - so it wouldn't differ whether you skate the LP or the SP.
EV: Was it hard at first?
NK: Surprisingly not. Having so many skaters on the ice many times you'd skate your pgoramme to someone else's music. So you skate and don't mind the other, hence you don't think of it as of `oh no, a run through!'
EV: Do you like the new programmes?
NK: Yes. First of all we feel very comfortable with the choreography: the steps, the transitions. Secondly it's a pleasure to skate to the music that was composed for you personally. Just hearing the music makes us smile - we like it so much. Unfortunately when they were recording I was ill and couldn't be in the studio, but I saw the video later and it was awesome. Fun, refreshing. And it is all in the recording.
EV: There are many changes in the Russian ice dance this year. Did you have a chance to see the other teams and learn what you are facing?
NK: Frankly, I didn't really want to see anything. During the test skates we practiced - we decided not participating the test skates because of Lena's shoulder injury, which prevented us from skating as we should. As for seeing the others... Don't know. There was no desire.
I'd love to see Viture/Moir though. I always liked watching them skating. I'd also like to see Davis/White, Pechalat/Bourzat, Weaver/Poje - everyone who beat us at the worlds.
EV: You seem very confident. I'd really like to see you competing.
NK: You have no idea how much we are looking forward for that!