Simomenko and Samokhvalov's interview with Bobrova/Soloviev `We are so pissed' for rsport.ru
Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitrii Soloviev are certainly not the main news makers of the past season in the Russian ice dance. Yet we wanted to talk to them even more than with those who are starting their new careers with the new partners. It was a hard and a controversial season for the 4 times Russian champions: the Olympic team gold and another national title on one hand and the programmes changes, a huge disappointment in the dance event in Sochi and Dmitri's injury in Japan to close the season. However, the interview of the RSport journalists Andrey Simonenko and Anatoly Samokhvalov began with the jokes.
To a question whether they are to follow the fashion and change the partners Ekaterina laughed but then became more serious in her reply
EB: No. As we all know changing the partner demands a year or two to get used to a different technique. Besides, Dima is my only partner and I seriously can't even imagine how is it skating with anyone else. I never tried. And hope I will never have to.
DS: We are not going to follow the other's fashion. We might as well our own. Something nice. In skating or programmes. As for changing partners - no, it's not in the books ,we have a wonderful team with the coaches. Everything is great, there are no working problems. I guess some others experience such problems and look for better things. We can't wish for anything better.
Q: Alexandr Zhulin was asked in a recent phone interview about your health and he said all is good, but you still have some groin pains. Please tell us how things are going and if possible, tell what happened in the worlds.
DS: We were practicing, all was going good. The last 2 days were great. We came to the practice before the competition, warmed up and started skating. And then suddenly on the lift when I started lifting Katia I felt a sharp pain. My whole leg all the way to the groin. I understood I can't continue the practice but I should try the blocking injections and skate our last season competition with the pain killers. I wanted a right finish for the season - we were ready for that competition. We wouldn't make a single mistake during the practices, our set of mind was right. The doctors gave me several injections but I couldn't feel any difference. I asked for more injections but someone told me to stick my heroism elsewhere and recall I skate in a pair and if something should happen, for instance Katia might fall from that lift. I had to stop and think and understood no way am going to risk Katia. We'd better miss the competition. Of course it was a shock. Together with that injury the whole season was bad. But we came to terms with that -every athlete has such situations. In general that season taught us a lot, we understood what we did wrong. It's a huge experience, for our coach as well. He knows us better now. We will not do the same mistakes again.
Q: How are you now?
DS: Last week I slowly came back to the ice. First I didn't do much and was afraid to injure myself again, but starting this week we will be choreographing the new programmes and I will slowly come back. The stress on slowly. So it will not happen again.
Q: If we are talking about summing things up let's continue. This season you had falls, changes of programmes and an injury to conclude it. The disappointing 5th place at the Olympics. But you also had a team gold medal as a repay for all the hardships you went through. Which weights more in the end how would you colour the season - positive or negative?
DS: Neither. As I said - it's an experienced. It's just as well we had a kick, we are so pissed now. We are going to choreograph the programmes and go back into the working routine. We will not dwell in the bad things. Of course it was great standing on the top of the podium of the team event. The rest we should just forget. Yes, things didn't work out but we are not going to give up now. It drives us now. I can't even tell you how much.
Q: Before we let the previous season go we have to voice some questions many of your fans would like to get an answer to. First of all: when did the programmes go wrong? We were present in the first public skate in August in Rublevka when you showed your new SD and the plans for the FD. Did you already have a feeling it would be wrong? In the end you changed the SD and after some hesitations the FD as well...
DS: There were hesitations. I think it's because it was an Olympic season. Everyone want to create a masterpiece, but there is a chance it'll be a flop. Guess in a way we had a flop.
EB: Our coach claims you need 3 years to get to know your pair. We had a good first season and a miss up on the second. The 3rd, 4th and all the seasons to come Sasha will know for sure what do we need and don't need. How to create the programme correctly for us. We had a great programmes `The mad' and a not so great `Birds'. Even the way the elements are placed there.
DS: For instance the single skaters don't do quads at the end of the programme because they can't really do it physically. It's the same for us - we have to spread the elements correctly. We missed even that. Guess we didn't say things we needed to tell and it all went wrong. The previous season, in that way, was great. Two programmes we love and will never forget.
Q: `The mad' dance - think some of the audience in Iceberd didn't understand it.
DS: First. They understood it through the dance.
Q: But there was a loud laugh when your face was shown on the screen. Did you hear it?
DS: Yes. But not all the viewers are following the season. They didn't know the programme and didn't know yet what will be the story. They saw an idiot with a moronic face and laughed, they thought it will be a funny programme. When we finished the skate and I looked around I saw people crying. I was touched.
Q: Lets go back to the `Birds'. I am sure you saw the original in the `Ice age' where your coach took the original idea from. Am sure you were trying to show the drama. Did you understand how hard it would be?
DS: Indeed, repeating what Alexey Tikhonova and Oxana Domnina created was hard. Besides, their skate lasted just for a minute and the theme was obvious. We had to spread it over 4.30 minutes. The dogs barked, the birds flew, the shots, death, a tragic ending.. but to do all that with the elements proved to be too hard. So it wouldn't look like a hard labour. We tried changing the programme and the music during the season but in the end we gave up - we just couldn't show that story.
Q: Will you ever try to work it?
EB: No point. It's not our theme.
DS: We went back to our old `Mad' programme because we knew for sure we can skate that programme and make people understand what is it about. We understand there is no point going back to the `Birds'.
Q: How did you come to that understanding?
EB: We can feel it. We've been listening to `The Mad' music, we put it again and felt we wanted to skate that in the Olympics. We had goose bumps and wanted to skate it again and again. That's the hit. We didn't feel any of those with the `Birds'.
DS: With the `Mad' it was like that: we came to Alexandr Viacheslavovich (Zhulin) at the beginning of the season, he put the music and I told Katia immediately `hurry up, agree to that!'/
EB: We had several ideas for a dance to that music. For example Sasha had a version of me being a girl and Dima a ghost.
DS: There were several ideas, but the music - it was stuck in our heads. I downloaded it to my iphone and would listen to it while driving. I listened to it the whole season. And couldn't get enough.
Q: How come you didn't get goose bumps from the `Birds'. It's an awesome idea...
DS: The idea is. But we were unable to project it. Perhaps we lacked the acting abilities for such a theme.
Q: Many wonder whether you blame the coach.
DS: Not at all. We blame ourselves. Not the coach. Yes, Sasha misunderstood us, but it's because he didn't know us well enough. That's all
EB: The first season we never disagreed with Sasha because we were sure: he knows better. The second season we tried to do the same, but it didnt' quite work and now we understand we have to communicate. If we feel something is wrong we have to voice it to the coach. We know he will understand, will talk things through with us and his assistant Oleg Volkov and the other coaches. Sasha is so creative he can choreograph such things.... but if Dima and I feel it's not our things we have to tell. This is our new, let's say, lesson.
DS: We will be participating our preparations a bit more now. Of course Sasha listened to us before as well, but we tried trusted him completely and let him try any ideas on us while we would just comply. Now we will be a bit more equal participants in the creative process as well. Of course it's hard creating a champions programme without communicating.
Q: Communication on the level of an argument?
DS: Not at all. For instance Sasha offers something, Katia and I do it and ask whether a different version would be better. He would say `indeed, that's better'. It happened before, we did tell what we thought during our first year as well.
Q: Yet you said `were afraid'...
DS: Were afraid as in didn't want to spoil. Sasha has his own vision and we wanted him to open up towards us completely. Now we understand how hard it is for him to be opened and not having us voicing whether we are comfortable.
Q: Some assume Zhulin's participating the TV shows takes away from working with you. Some think it's the opposite - he gets his ideas from the TV shows. What do you think?
DS: Just so you understand: he does not disappear for days. He might miss half a practice once in a while, but the rest of the time he is with us all the time and is willing to work day and night. As for whether it helps or bothers... Imagine the coach who comes to the ice rink every day and sees the same programmes every day. The TV shows are a breath of the fresh air, he can find some interesting ideas and bring it to us. So no, I don't think it bothers.
EB: He comes to the practice sometimes and says `Gosh, it's a pleasure, everyone on the TV is a lousy skater'.
Q: Another hard question: you skated really well in the Olympics. But you still finished 5th with rather low marks. How disappointed were you?
DS: I will speak just for myself here. The Olympics is a different kind of a competition where anything can happen. I was setting myself both for the 1st and the 20th place. To anything. I don't like whining about the judging. They are more experienced and knowledgeable, it's their job. It means we have to work harder so there will be no questions and nothing to downgrade. So they will not have a reason not to give us 10, 9.75, level 3 and GOE +3.
Q: Ok, so what were you lacking?
DS: We have to work on our lifts. We have to come up with something that will leave everyone breathless. The lifts are very important, thanks to them the whole impression of the programme might be different. When the lifts are good all the other elements look better.
EB: Though now it will be harder to do - we have one lift less in the FD according to the new rules.
DS: I think it will not be harder actually. Think it will allow more creativity and acrobatics.
Q: Do you come up yourselves with your lifts?
DS: Sure. It happens in different ways. Sometimes you see a person playing with their dog and you think: if you turn the dog that way it will be a new dance lift.
EB: Sometimes you can dream a lift. Sometimes you look at the other skaters and think: I would put my leg here and an arm there. We are trying to do that, it comes up differently but so interesting. I get on Dima and start sliding around and looking for a good looking pose.
Q: Are you influenced by Davis/White and Virtue/Moir's lifts?
DS: They are inspiring and pushing forward. The stuff they do...
Q: Anissina/Piezerat did even more interesting stuff : she was lifting him
EB: I think it looks wrong. The guy should be carrying the girl in his arms, not the other way around.
DS: There are different families, Katia...
EB: It's not about that, it's about Juliette carrying Romeo around. That is just wrong.
Q: Did you want to do something as daring as Virtue/Moir's last lift in their Carmen?
EB: There are various ideas, but we can't always implement. We want to do a triple back flip on the ice, but it doesn't happen.
DS: Enough. All will happen the next season.
Q: Many pairs turn to the professional acrobats from `Circle du Soleil'. Would you like to work with them?
DS: We never worked with them, but we would love to. Those who work with those guys look different in the lifts. We would really like to try. But it's kind of .. .general. We like the acrobat who we work with, he gives us ideas, comes up with new stuff. We ourselves will be working differently this year. We will reevaluate and rethink things.
Q: Another ethernal theme for the ice dance: the n.1 in the team, who, as it is usually assumed, is supported by the federation. When you were going into the personal event in the Olympics did you understand you no longer were Russia n.1 and someone else got that support?
EB: Of course not. No one beat us before the Olympics for Russia n.1 We had our SB in the Olympic team SD. The guys (Ilinyh/Katsalapov) had their SD in the FD. There was no competition.
DS: We proved through the season we were Russia n.1. Just take the competitions where we all competed and compare the results. In general I think you should fight for that title (Russia n.1) all the time. It's everyone's goal.
Q: Many thought the marks gap at the Olympics between you, Ilinyh/Katsalapov and Pechalat/Bourzat should be very small. Had the gap been small and you still had finished 5th would it be equally painful?
EB: What's the point pondering that? It's like saying `had Elena and Nikita not falling at the Europeans, had they not made a mistake at worlds they would win both competitions'. They haven't, and I dont' see a reason talking about it now just as I don't see a point talking about the Olympic marks.
DS: We actually did fall as well, but still made it to the GPF.
Q: It's not about that. It's about being beaten by a margin but in a fair fight.
DS: I see. Well, perhaps it would be different. But the place woudl still remain the same. Elena and Nikita were 3rd and we were 5th. I.e. they were better. That's it.
Q: Better in what?
EB: The judges saw in what. It's their decision.
DS: It's a sport. You have to be much better than the others to beat them. Then there will be no questions.
Q: You sure it's a sport?
DS: Everyone has their issues withe the political side of it. Especially in the ice dance, the most vulnerable discipline. But we don't want to discuss it. Our job is to skate.
EB: Breaking the boundaries.
Q: Is it painful being, as you called, the most vulnerable discipline?
DS: Sure. I'll switch to the pairs after the 2018 Olympics.
EB: And I will become pregnant.
Q: You might be bored in the pairs after the ice dance...
EB: Not really. Next season they are allowed to use lyrics. Funny, I thought everyone would jump to an opportunity, but everyone I spoke to said they are afraid. It might destruct. I keep telling them `guys, you do all your exhibitions to the music with lyrics, nothing destructs you there'. Besides, it's not as if you were listening to the lyrics when you are skating. Really weird. I thought everyone would try to push the limits of their imagination.
Q: You have changes in the rules as well starting the next season...
DS: Yes, one less lift in the FD and one pattern in the DS will be compulsory, while the other is a creative with the compulsory dance moves.
EB: As usually at the beginning of the Olympic cycle there are changes. First they changed the judging system, then the compulsory and the original dance were combined into a short dance. Now except for the changes Dima mentioned the steps and the twizzles will change. We are waiting for the ISU communique with the explanations. It'll be so interesting.
Q: Do you think you have your own style as a pair?
DS: We hope not. Let me explain: there are pairs whose routines look the same. When last year we switched to Zhulin and came to the first competition in Finland people approached us and said `we didnt' recognize you on the ice.This is what we want - not to remain within one style and keep changing. To create something new every year. Just like we did with the Waltz and the `Mad' programme we want to do it every year. We hoped the `Birds' would be the same, but not. Oh well, it will work next year.
Q: We understand you will not reveal the programmes, but can you give some hints?
EB: Yes. Even the Paso doble is an intrigue. Last time we skated something tango-like was in 2007 and we were 17y.o. Of course those are different dances, but the styles have a lot in common. Not the steps as such, but the mood. It will be very interesting and we can't wait to start choreographing. Main wish is to be different from anyone else, though it will be hard. I tried searching for the music - all sounds the same. I guess most of the pairs will use the same music and be creative in what they are depicting. Someone will be a bull and a red cloak, but surely not the standard Carmen.
Q: Have you started learning the steps?
EB: Dima is still recovering, but we know the steps. We danced paso doble before as juniors and at the beginning of our senior career.
DB: So yes, we don't really need to learn the steps. We'll work on the key points and deeper edges. It will be ok.
Q: Do you have ideas for the FD?
DS: Of course.
Q: Zhulin mentioned having 2 ideas.
EB: We know of one. Guess he is keeping the other idea in the back just in case. See, we are not the only ones learning from our mistakes.
Q: We began the interview with a joke, but indeed the situation in the Russian ice dance is weird. It seems there will be 2 new pairs from the switch and you will become leaders again.
DS: The situation with the new teams is still not certain, but even should the old teams go back together we will fight for being the first again. We will keep proving we are Russia n.1. Previous when we were asked whether we feel we are n.1 we were not quite sure, but now we are sure. Switch partners or don't - we will give a fight.
EB: We want to keep that title. To become 8 times Russian champions. And not only Russian.
Q: Zhulin says he plans winning the 2018 Olympics with you.
DS: He is into the strategy. When we became European champions and world bronze medalist in our first season with him I think he didn't expect that. So he was very careful in what he said. Now he knows we are able and it's nice. He can see our potential. It aspires us and the goals we set are higher.
Q: Did you expect such a success when you switched to Zhulin?
DS: Frankly yes. I had that feeling we can do a lot when we choreographed the first programmes and participated the competition in Finland which I mentioned before. Just half a year before that everyone were writing us off telling we are done.
Q: It seems people are not very optimistic about you now either. Tarasova when commenting the Ilinyh/Katsalapov split said Russia missed the Olympic 2018 gold and she didn't recall having you.
DS: We dont' care what they say. We are used not to mind - not to read the commends nor the interviews. I just want to do my job and improve. As for what they say... you can't even imagine what is being said about the athletes, who is being written off or not counted. So what?
Q: Taking all the hardships we spoke about had you received an offer to go through your whole journey again knowing what is expecting you - would you?
EB: I would
DS: Of course I would. It's so interesting.
Q: Would you change a lot of things?
DS: Yes. I would change a lot. But it's not as if there wouldn't be any other mistakes. We would just make them
Q: Last question: why do you want to become just 8 times Russian national champions and not 12 times? Are you going to retire after the 2018 Olympics?
EB: I told you: I will become pregnant and Dima will switch to pairs. Remember?