`The gap between the leaders and my team is not so huge anymore' Vaitsekhovskaya talks to Zhulin for sport-express.ru EV: Alexandr , many of your colleagues are leaving Russia with their pupils (for the summer). You, on the other hand, prefer to train in Moscow. Why? AZ: It's just a tradition in our group. We finish choreographing the new programmes in May, then go for a short vacation and then gather in Latvia and start working on the Original Dance. The conditions in Moscow are perfect- we have 7-8 hours of the ice a day. What's the point going somewhere? Besides, I have a little kid. EV: I had an impression you had some ideas for Bobrova/Soloviev's FD long before the season was over? AZ: Since January. I have to thank Igor Orshuliak, who I've been working with for several years now. Many of our ideas happened thanks to him. Including Bobrova/Soloviev's previous season FD. That, by the way, answers the question what shows such as `Ice Age' contribute to the skating. They contribute a lot. It was there Orshuliak and I and I choreographed the `Requiem for a Dream' for Tatiana Arntolts and Maksim Staviski - it was about an addicted girl and her beloved. The same idea was taken for Bobrova/Soloviev's FD. It was Orshuliak's idea, he understands there must be a beginning, culmination and the ending of the story. It's exactly what I always thought. EV: Taking the CoP in the account many think the programme should, first of all, be choreographed according to the rules. AZ: It's not enough. Look how many talks Katia and Dima's programme inspired. Some loved it, some hated - but it was talked about during the whole season. It was taken as a piece of art. Not just a set of elements they had to do. The programme with no theme will be taken as that by the viewers. I.e. it will not really be accepted or remembered. Orshuliak gave us an idea for the Olympic season as well. It is also one of the ideas we had during the `Ice Age' period. EV: Have you met Igor in the TV show? AZ: No. He choreographed Navka/Kostomarov's `Michael Jackson' exhibition dance. Marat Basharov introduced us. he was working with Orshuliak when Igor was choreographing the dances for the `Ladies night' show. I only had to see that show once to understand how well he `hears' the music and how similar our views on the process are. There were many times we argued till we became voiceless and we couldn't agree, but we learned to compromise with the time. Our best programmes were choreographed together. EV: What will change in your team for the Olympic season. AZ: Nothing. Besides Orshuliak I will go on working with Oleg Volkov, Sergey Petukhov , the two times RockNRoll world champion Dmitrii Ionov who helps us with the lifts. Artem Kudashev works with with the juniors. Maksim Staviski works whenever he has time - he still trains himself. The same with Navka/Kostomarov. It's a huge help. When during the last season we were working on the key points in the polka Tanya needed just 10 minutes to understand what it was about and show it on the ice, even though when she was competing with Roman there were no key points. Just as they were none during Rahkamo/Kokko dance, who were the ones to introduce the finnstep - this year's OD. EV: I'm trying to find words to explain the readers what is it about. AZ: Key points are the clean and defined edges during the elements of the original dance. They are not easy to perform clean even during the practice, without the additional pressure of the competition. Besides the stress one must skate exactly to the music during the competition. There are several such key points in the OD. You can get a level 4 for it, but you can also get a 1. What level 1 means? That you might as well stop and not bother skating - you loose about 7 points in every half a dance. Hence many prefer to sacrifice the style of the dance but do the key poitns no matter what. EV: Can you comment Zlobina/Sitnikov's leave? AZ: It was an order of the Azerbaijan skating federation vice president - Fuad Galiev. He was not satisfied with their progress and claimed the programmes I choreographed were no good. I completely disagree and really don't understand the real reasons behind that decision. We parted with tears in our eyes - it wasn't easy for us as well, we put so much time, effort and soul in the work, we created a fine pair with a unique style. In one of the GP events Peter Krik asked me to let Zlobina/Sitnikov perform their FD in the exhibition. He said it's against the rules, but not only the viewers loved the programme, but the ISU president Chiquanta. EV: It was for the same reasons - the federation pressure that the French Pechalat/Bourzat left your group. AZ: I could understand their motives: they fell in the Worlds in Moscow, lost the bronze medal which was almost theirs. In such a case you need someone to blame. Usually it's the coach. EV: They had just switched the coaches again. Does it surprise you? AZ: I guess Nathalie and Fabian felt they needed a change. A new blood. At such an age towards the end of the career it might be a good thing to do. But it's their business. I tend to look into my plate rather than outside now - a days. There is enough work there. EV: I.e. you don't care what your colleagues are doing? AZ: I usually rewatch the previous season's leaders programmes when choreographing. To compare and come to conclusions. There are lots of doubts, especially during the olympic season. EV: Are you satisfied with the paste of the work of you leading pair? AZ: I don't want to talk about it yet. We will show in the test skates in August the programmes and then it'll be possible to sum things up. EV: Till then it's all your intuition? AZ: Usually it is. And it doesn't always work. I remember in the 1990 when I was skating with Maya Usova we had a tango programme which I loved and thought was a perfection. The same season the French Duchenau/Duchenau had a Chilly music and skated their famous `indians'. Maya and my programme became second best at once. The same happened with Klimova/Ponomarenko's programme. Duchenau's were so spot on with the dance and the characters that they swept us all. EV: It was the same in the last year worlds where Davis/White overtook everyone, including the Olympic champions Virtue/Moir. How serious this swap is? AZ: I never hid I like Tessa and Scott better. Their charisma is amazing. Bud Davis/White were much better prepared for the worlds. I don't know why, but it was obvious Virtue/Moir can't skate their `Carmen' to the top of their abilities. I think should they had been in a good shape anyone would be a competition for them. But frankly, it's another thing that made me happy. A year ago no one considered comparing another pair to the Canadians or Americans. This year Bobrova/Soloviev are very close to them. The gap is not that huge and it's inspiring. Though, of course, there is still a huge work to be done.