Maxim and Albena interview by Viktoria Poplavskaya, 26.03.2013
- Maxim, do you think that top 5 at the Olympic Games will be the same as at these World championships?
M: It's too early to talk about the Olympic Games, because so many random or logical things can happen. It's hard to plan ahead for such a long period of time. But, in principal, probably, yes. At least, there are no other favorites, priorities: Canadians, Americans, Russians. Who is next to come into the battle - who knows. Maybe the Turks [nods at Alisa Agafonova standing nearby].
- Were they very upset?
M to Alisa: Were you very upset?
Alisa: It will just make us angrier.
M: Right, good girl, our school. Her partner is Turk, is already sharpening his sword, so everything is okay.
Actually, it's the right reaction of a true athlete. If the judges are unjust, underscoring, some people would despair and leave eventually, but some people stay and fight and get something in life. We have two such teams: from Turkey and from Azerbaijan, that, I think, placed much lower than they should have, which was shown, by the way, at the European championships. It looks like they scared someone.
- But, as a rule, results at Euros and at Worlds are completely different.
- And you aren't subjective?
M: Subjective? I think, not. I see who did what. Take the Germans: they really stand out, plus the makeup, the dance, and artistry, it really suits them, but I think, the level of skating is a little bit dated. No innovations. No glide, no stroking, but they do the job. Their skating skills became worse, they are more walking than skating. I like the program Ilya made for them, the images suit them well. That's why they had a break-through this season, but, I'll repeat, the skating itself became worse.
- About gold and silver: who did you like the most? Zhulin said Tessa and Scott are better artists, and Davis and White are better technically.
M: I agree. They both started lacking in technique when they left Shilband, because Shpilband gives good technical base. I like Tessa and Scott's program very much - Carmen, I cannot even compare to Davis and White's. Although these two teams just skate in different dimensions. There are programs that it's hard to compare.
- Okay, but which team would you put higher?
M: For all it's worth – Tessa and Scott, Carmen.
- Pechalat/Bourzat, such an unsuccessful skate. How can you explain it - lack of proper training because of fabian's injury or their potential is exhausted? are they really already past their prime?
M: I don't think their potential is exhausted. They are a good strong team. I don't know, maybe it is the coaches' mistake, maybe it's their mistake of some sort, because an injury is a consequence of either too little or too much work, or wrong approach to work. They had injuries when they trained with Sasha Zhulin, too. I can say they are fighters, and if they couldn't skate at competitions because of injury, it means the injury is serious. If it was just some pain, they would go and skate. This year, their program does not impress, and it's like they are not present. They are blending into background. People who try every year to be creative, to amaze - with music, choreography, lifts, but this year nothing of the kind. I don't know why it is, I don't want to blame anyone, I don't know the details, how they work with Anjel[ik]a, Pasquale, but they missed the goal this season. Let's see what next year brings.
- Bobrova and Soloviev lost the free to Cappellini and Lanotte?
M: I've liked he Italians for a long time already, back when we were preparing for the Olympic Games in Torino, we skated in Italy on the same ice with them. They were always very attractive, excitable, the girl is cool and he is very attractive. It's always, like - there are two teams, both have the same programs, so to speak: Carmen vs Carmen - you start comparing. And the Italians lose in comparison, but, besides, they are skating, and then there is step sequence, and it feels like they stop and start doing figures. It really hurts the eye. I can't say they were better than Bobrova/Soloviev, I think they are equal, they competed, and overall, Katya and Dima won. It is the second time they lose the free dance, they lost in the free at Europeans, too, but won overall. It is an unpleasant trend, of course, we'll try to learn from mistakes in the future.
-Are you going to take part in choreography for next season?
M: I hope so. It depends on how it all comes together, my plans with Ilya and Sasha's practice schedule. But, in general, I finish the performance with Ilya, and immediately go to Sasha's practices, and help any way I can. Setting a program - it's not a week's work. At first, Sasha makes a draft to the music, then it starts growing muscles, then something will be moved around, or taken out. It's a long process. This is what's called setting a program. Probably, if i don't like something, I tell Sasha, if he agrees with me, we'll change it. I can't say for sure if I will take part or not, but Sasha wants me to be there. I also want to, we'll see how it works.
- You said in an interview that you like to coach. Would you like to have your own students?
M: First of all, I can't be coaching full time now like Sasha Zhulin, because I am always on a road; secondly, I don't want to be a coach, precisely. It is an ungrateful job. And thirdly, everyone thinks I am coaching them, to some extent, anyway, because I work, I like it, I put some effort into it. For now, it is enough for me.
- Why is it ungrateful?
M: Why ungrateful? Because, if an athlete does well at a competition, he is a hero, and if he skates poorly - coach is to blame. It was always like that. Believe me.
- Yes, often they are blamed. By the way, what about Joubert?
M: He's great, an awesome guy.
-He's got such low scores at Worlds….
M: Well, maybe they try to take him out of the game. It's good for him that he fights. He skated well, I hope, he will get better for the Olympics. He had some kind of a decline, and after that, it is difficult to prove to the judges that you believe in yourself. Last year, he had set his feet on a stable step. Now he has to climb the steps.
- He didn't contact you? About the next season.
M: He has our program, he can skate it.
- He didn't invite you?
M: We haven't talked about that. It's too early, the season is barely over.
- I want to ask about Monko/Khaliavin. Zhulin has many experts, will he work with this pair to try to get them on Russian national team? Or is it a goal for after the Olympics?
M: I think their time will come after the Olympic Games. Now all the places are taken, and no one is going to give up. They understand it perfectly well. Their time will come.
- Ilinykh-Katsalapov. Placed very low this year….
M: Big heads. Just enormous. They skate very well, they are natural talents. But they skated tentatively in the free skate at Worlds. I think, at Europeans they deserved to win in the free. They really skated better, with more amplitude, more at ease than Dima and Katya. At the Worlds, not so much. Maybe they despaired because it was impossible to make the top 3, and they deflated. It's no good, not a way to go.
- You have to keep holding till the end?
M: Of course. Here, they keep up the act. It's all the crying, and skating ten circles crossing themselves when they were already announced. Each mind has its own method. It's just, to me, their egos look really inflated. It's my opinion.
- Beside the top 5, who did you like the most?
M: The programs were not very impressive. I liked the Canadians. We don't look at the placement, we look at transitions, elements are good. But to say that some program was crazy good - no, I can't say that. Tessa and Scott had a brilliant program, and I think, Dima and Katya had not so standard program. The Italians skated their Carmen well. And Zhiganshina-Gazsi stood out from the background with their expressions.
- World Team Trophy in Japan is approaching. Do the ice dancers have a chance?
M: Of course, why not. We will fight.
-And in men, it is not clear. There is a letter about not sending Max Kovtun to WTT.
M: It's a strange tug-of-war. I wish they'd just send him. The season is almost over, and they are still bickering whom to send. All our men are of the same level: hit and miss, 50/50, yes or no. The guy went out and skated poorly in the short, well in the free. Everyone does that. If there wasn't such pressure, maybe he would have done better.
- Do you think Denis Ten was better that Patrick Chan?
M: Denis Ten was great. He was just superb. He didn't do better than Patrick, but he skated his program lights out. I really liked the Canadian who did a Charlie Chaplin program. He was a little bit tired performing, he could have simply skated, but he continued being theatrical. Fernandez, too, no comment.
- He finished off the podium.
M: Fernandez outskated everyone at Europeans with three quads, at the Worlds it didn't quite work out.
- Many had falls at these championships.
M: Well, it is slippery.
-Albena, if you are offered the job of president of Bulgarian Figure Skating Federation, will you agree?
A: No, I don't want it.
M: She is so busy: the baby, me…
A: I think it is a very ungrateful job. In Bulgaria, no one thinks about figure skating. I mean the government policy regarding this sport. No ice rinks, no plans to build them. It is a very expensive sport. And, accordingly, no results to maintain the sport and to support it financially.
- It's not more expensive that mountain skiing that is very well developed in Bulgaria.
A: It's very different. Clubs can make money off tourists, renting out the mountains, they get money for rent. There is no such thing in FS, and the government is not interested in this sport. What an ice rink can bring you - it's only waste of money. There aren't as many children skating as in Russia, and no team. No, I don't want to be a president, I've already done that and I don't like it. I like the work itself, I like organizing the events, but I don't like doing it in Bulgaria, because people who work there at the moment are very ungrateful and think only about themselves and see just themselves. They have no perspective and aren't cooperative. And when people are not cooperative, it is very hard to do something.
- Are there any teams that could be competitive in the future?
A: Yes, I think that now in Bulgaria there are many children, relatively, for our country, in the age from 7-8 till 12-13, maybe a little older, I can't say now. It is the next generation, I think, they are talented, they want to work, to learn, to get results. And here comes the Federation, the Ministry of Sports - if they can provide comfortable and normal conditions for those children, to let them develop normally. And the same goes for coaches, if they are able to teach what they need to learn. At this level, I think everyone does well, I can especially note Andrey Lutai. He turned out to be, much to my surprise, a very good teacher, despite his young age. He was a good athlete, and it turnes out, he can work with children. It requires certain skill. I always point at Maxim - he can't and doesn't want to work with children.
- Why is it difficult for Maxim to work with children?
A: He doesn't like it. He lacks patience.
- Maxim lacks patience for children?
A: He likes and can work with more grown-up skaters, who understand what this is about and can repeat after the coach.
- Plans for the summer?
M: To survive until the summer….
- Albena, how do you like your new numbers?
A: I like them very much. I liked the old ones, too. I always try to skate to what I like. Although, I don't like to skate half-baked programs. It needs to be rehearsed to look decent from the first time. Therefore, we spend a lot of time preparing the new program to bring it to the level when it can be demonstrated in front of an audience.
-Why have you decided to skate "Clown"?
A: I liked that number very much, the music gave me chills. When Maxim and Oksana were looking for the music, I offered them to take "Oblivion". They created the idea together with Ilya. I liked it, very touching number. I like tango very much, and there are many our elements in it. It's very comfortable to skate. I liked the number when Oksana and Maxim skated it, I hope it won't be worse when we are skating it. We changed some things, added new lifts, some other props. It's one thing when it is filmed for TV, it's different in tour. Not many props, as they say, "a poor man's version".
M: The dance is difficult, new for us.
- Not new for you.
M: it doesn't matter. Even first steps, when you change them, need to be rehearsed. Everything new is quite difficult. e changed many things; steps, lifts.
A: We did it already for ourselves, and besides, for TV, the ice rink was smaller, the speed lower. And it feels different and works different with other partners.
M: There is more theatricality, everything is smaller, slower. Here it's for big audiences, so it needs different layout and speed.
- Does the second number, to Kamburova, have a name?
M: "The nail". Alternative title, "The girl from the tavern".
-Thank you very much for the interview.
M: You are welcome.