Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Boikova/Kozlovski

TAHbKA

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Boikova/Kozlovski

EV: At the beginning of the fall the usual question is how did you spend your summer. What is the first thing that comes to your mind?
AB: Very fruitful skate camp in Sochi. It lasted for a month and was rather hard, it's the first time we had such a long training camp, but we did a lot of work.

EV: Can you elucidate?
AB: We completely recovered, tried some new elements which were not going as well in May as they did in Sochi after the break
DK: We were working on the quad split twist and we still do.
AB: And while there we started working on our SP and choreographed our LP.

EV: The Olympic season programmes were choreographed for you by Zhulin and Morozov. Now you are working with Nikolai Moroshkin who is not even nearly as famous. Is it an experiment?
DK: No famous choreographer became famous at the beginning of their career, right? At some point of their career someone believed in them, like Tatian Tarasova believed in Nikolai Morozov and got him to work with her skaters. That was probably the point of him becoming a famous coach and choreographer. We followed Moroshkin for several years, saw him developing his style and it's a style he can offer the mature skaters.

EV: But what made you think you should try working with him?
DK: It's not a secret the choreographer usually doesn't get to make changes in the programme throughout the season. Yet there are a lot of changes during the development of the programme. Working with Miroshkin gives us a lot of advantages here. At the time he helped us a lot with working on `My Way' programme that brought us the work record at 2020 Europeans, was part of the team for our next SP. Everything he offered was not just a shallow path but a whole fragments with the style and the mood.
AB: We also created several exhibition numbers together and they all really suited us. Hence we decided it was time to make the next step and work with the season.

EV: Can you now tell your current programmes are cooler than your Olympic ones?
DK: A good question. I think every programme needs time. The starting date, so to say. On one hand we already tried it out on the public, but in order to compare them with our previous successful programmes we need them to be polished enough. Which takes time. I reckon towards the test skates or the Russian GP series it will be possible to start comparing them.

EV: During the Olympic season your competition with Mishina/Gallyamov was always a theme. Are you still not sharing the ice time?
DK: The single skaters group on our rink became bigger, hence we now do share the ice.

EV: Does it put pressure on you mentally?
DK: It doesn't matter for us
AB: We have so much work to do we need to concentrate on that.

EV: After the Olympics you were saying your main goal is to keep pushing your sport. Now that there are no international competitions do you feel like giving up?
AB: We are motivated to keep skating because we want to show the new complicated elements.
DK: Let me add this season which seems to be lacking the international competitions might be good for the athletes who want to take a step forward and upgrade their skating. It's hard to find the time to make such a transformation when you work in the normal regime. It's not just adding a new transition or add a new step or learn a new lift. The quad elements are injuries prone and they are harder. It breaks the usual preparations, your feeling in the programmes, the way you do the other elements. In order for all of it to calm down you don't only need time, but a whole year when you are willing to take a risk and make sacrifice. Hence it's great we now have time for such experiements.

EV: I know you are practicing your quad split twist. What about a quad throw?
AB: We are practicing it as well.

EV: Aleksandra, which is scaried?
AB: The split twist. It took me a long time to dare it on the ice, even though both Dima and Arthur Minchuk were telling me the split twist is far less dangerous than the throw. But I was scared - if something goes wrong it's not only me who would be injured, but Dima as well, who is underneath me all the time. The throw jump is different - once the throw is done all the responsibility is on me only.

EV: I don't believe your partner or your coach would agree with that if there was a failed attempt.
AB: Hence Dima and Minchuk were so worried. As a single skater I attempted the multirotatoinal jumps. With the harness and without. I.e. it was not scary for me. I understood I have to keep doing it and at the end of the season I would work on various combos to work on the rotation, adapt better in the air if things go wrong. Hence I was physically ready for the quad throw jump. We attempted it without the harness for the first time a day before the summer break - May 13th. I love the number 13. So when the date came I read some horoscopes to calm everyone down.

EV: I imagine you opening the horoscope and reading `Aleksandra, a quad throw jump is awaiting you'
AB: It was something along the lines of `try something new, it will work for you today. So I convinced eveyrone. I understood if am there I should attempt the quad at once - the more you think about it the scarier it becomes. So I came to Dima and said `We are doing a quad. Don't ask anything. Go!'

EV: Was the result satisfactory?
AB: I wasn't able to land it but the attempts were quite good. At any rate we decided we should work on it. It's important: once you don't only try something but add it to the plan the chance to have it done consistently are higher. We are now attempting the element both with and without the harness to feel both the landing and the opening up.

EV: The same question to Dima: is it scary sending your partner into a quad throw for the first time?
DK: Tense. The quad throw was putting more pressure on me than the quad split twist. Even though those are completely different elements. A different speed, a different entrance, a different explosion, a different rotation. Especially when you learn the quads as two adults and not a strong guy and a tiny girl. It's a different story and it demands a different approach.

EV: Is it harder to catch a person who made 4 revolutions rather than 3?
DK: If the split began well the catch is mechanical, it's a move that the muscles worked on for years. It was interesting to see the statistics of how many split twists I have done throughout my career. Anyway, it's a habit and doesn't present any problem.

EV: I understand the work on the split and the throw take most of your time now? Or such complicated elements can not be trained time after time?
DK: An interesting question. Indeed you can't repeat them too many times, you have to practice them when your body is ready to explode and ready for the stress.
AB: The lifts and jumps are the elements the pairs skaters often perform when tired. We used to have a practice - we would work normally for an hour and then jump for half an hour - it what gives you the habit of what the coaches describe as `if you are awaken at 3am you should be able to go out there and do it no matter in what state you are'.
DK: You can work when tired if the element is 100% ready. For the UltraC elements the body needs to be fresh so you can be fully in the process. You need to warm up well with the 3 split twist, work on the quad off the ice and be very careful. Certainly it's not the elements to repeat 5-10 times a practice. 3 times are enough.
AB: If there is a hesitation or any pain do not risk it: certainly something will go wrong.

EV: Did you test it?
DK: In Sochi there was a situation when by the plan we were supposed to work on the quad split twist, but I felt my body was not ready that day, I was not sharp enough. I notified the coaches and we postponed it. When we are more used to that element guess it will become more familiar I think the feeling will be different, but when you learn the UltraC you need to know you will be able to enter, do and understand.
We don't practice working till you drop dead here. Figure skating is not an unhuman marathon where you have to overcome. We are an expected sport. I.e. there are hardly any spontanous move. It's not boxing where you go out and have no idea where will your rival hit you next.

EV: So what was the most memorable thing of the summer not skating related?
AB: The vacation. The long awaited trip to Istanbul for 3 days with a friend. I got plenty of experiences.

EV: I thought you were taking the vacation together?
AB: Oh no. We are of course, best friends, but it doesn't mean we would be taking the vacation together. We need to have some time off each other
DK: We see each other too much

EV: What about you, Dima?
DK: Am trying to think of one and can't. The Olympic season was too emotionally draining. It's not just the Olympics, the whole year was tough. Perhaps that's the reason I didn't experience any strong emotions for a while now. Everything is more or less the same, though my life is not about figure skating only - there are obligations and plans I try to fulfill. It's interesting to develop, learn new things and move on. I like it, it makes me happy and motivates, Anyway, guess I don't have a feeling that there is no time to have an interesting life.

EV: What are your current interests?
DK: Am now reading a very interesting book by the Cambridge prof. Ha-Joon Chang `Economics: the user's guide'. In simple words he explains the economy mainly is a science about common sense and common choices. It's interesting to project it on our lives, understand what are the perspectives in the creation of the new currency zones, new geopolitical models, schools idiologies. It influences our life much more than the processes that seem more important to us.

EV: Listening to you I recalled interviewing Aleksand Karelin 30 years ago and him saying it's impossible to live in Russia and not care about the politics
DK: Carrying about the politics is a native process in any politically developed country. And by politics I don't only mean the country politics, but the social connections. In one of his recent books `The stairs to the skies' the economist Mikhail Khazin talks about how politics is almost everything that surrounds us. Anyone who achieved anything is somehow related to politics or the system.

EV: Does it mean you see your after sports life in politics?
DK: I would love to do something my country worthy. Something important. I mean Russia as my country, I can't imagine another one and I don't want to move anywhere. I want to live here, develop here and make my country better. I am not trying to sound much, just that I love my motherland.

EV: Is there a sport that is not figure skating that you would love to try?
AB: Carting, racing. I went carting in Sochi with Dima and other guys from our group. I love the speed. I would love to drive a racing car.
DK: Golf. I love the esthetics, the rituals, enjoying the process. It's not a secret I play tennis. I love everything about it: packing the bag, tying the sneakers, walking on the field, take out the racket, feeling that ball in my hand. Enjoying the process helps switching your state of mind. When you do something professionally you can't only enjoy it - the professional work takes not only the strength but the emotions away. And at some point it becomes a routine. I learned to compensate by developing in other fields.

EV: Imagine Tiger Woods sitting on an ice rink somewhere in California and telling his friend `finally I can put away that damn golf stick, put the ice skates on, take my time tying them, enjoy the feeling of the smooth leather, the blades...'
DK: I very much doubt Tiger Woods knows such details about our sport. In order for that to happen our sport still has to develop a lot
 

soogar

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"EV: Imagine Tiger Woods sitting on an ice rink somewhere in California and telling his friend `finally I can put away that damn golf stick, put the ice skates on, take my time tying them, enjoy the feeling of the smooth leather, the blades...'
DK: I very much doubt Tiger Woods knows such details about our sport. In order for that to happen our sport still has to develop a lot"

Finally, Russian athletes who don't think the world revolves around figure skating! Thanks for posting this interview. They had a tough year last year and it must have hurt not receiving an Olympic medal. I am glad that they are continuing to find motivation to continue and improve. I actually think this ban may be the best thing for these athletes because they have the opportunity to heal their bodies and more time to perfect elements. Both this team and M&G seem to be taking the positive out of this situation and I think that this time will be important for laying the foundation for the next Olympics as both of these teams are very young.
 

hanca

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What season? The internal one doesn’t count, AFAIAC.
It may not count in terms of getting points to world standing, but it definitely counts in terms of getting competitive experience and learning new things. Russian pairs are currently strongest in the world, so competing at home competitions will give them more competition practice than if they were competing against the current crop of international pairs. And if they use the time to learn quad throw or twist, the skills will not just disappear. So yes, wise use of practice time will count, even if they can’t compete internationally for a year or two.
 

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