'World Of Figure Skating' articles and interviews with Boikova/Kozlovski, Aliev, Sinitsina/Katsalapov and Kostornaia

Ka3sha

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New issue of the Russian 'World Of Figure Skating' magazine, mostly dedicated to 2020 Europeans and 2020 Junior Worlds
Please, open the link for some :swoon: pictures and articles.
Will translate articles about Boikova/Kozlovsky, Dmitri Aliev, Sinitsina/Katslapov and an interview with Aliona Kostornaia throughout the weekend

'The opening night': Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovsky (written by Boris Khodorkovsky)
Bright. Intelligent. Charismatic ...
A classic representative of the St. Petersburg school of pair skating,
based on refined choreography and flawless execution of technical elements in complex, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitry Kozlovsky had only one unsuccessful outing this season - free program at Grand Prix Final.
In Graz, Austria, they won a short program with the new World record and then executed their free in one breath and deservedly won the event. While watching the performances of the New Russian and European Champions you can't help recalling the statement of two times European champion and two-time Worlds bronze medalist, Alexander Smirnov: "Each of our program - a performance at the Academic Theater of Tamara Moskvina."

Although, Tamara Moskvina herself prefers to talk about choreographic miniatures. Fans of the ballet, of course, will immediately remember the St. Petersburg masters of this genre, Leonid Jacobson and Boris Eifman. “We are trying to pull out their best, get some deeply hidden artistic talents out of the guys,” the coach noted.
And Tamara Nikolaevna emphasizes that without a big team behind them, not a single premiere of the programs of Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitry Kozlovsky would have taken place. Their coach Arthur Mincchuk, choreographers Alexander Stepin and Yuri Smekalov work with the champions of Russia and Europe. The short program was choreographed by Natalya Bestemyanovaand Igor Bobrin, with whom Sasha and Dima had already worked previously. A 'James Bond and his girlfriend' free program was choreographed by Nikolai Morozov. How another student of Moskvina, Olympic Champion, Oleg Vasiliev has joked in Graz - 'James Bond could be close to the failure, but not Dmitrii Kozlovsky playing the role of James Bond'.
Aleksandra and Dmitry are skating together for not so long ago. It is believed that a couple needs five years to gelled as a team. Even with taking into account the junior competitions , it's only their fourth season together for these St. Petersburg skaters. They came to the Moskvina group from Alexei Mishin's group with a good jumping base. Moskvina simply couldn't help but paid attention to the tall guy with all triple jumps, as well as to the partner who was suitable for Dmitry in terms of technique and character. And Professor Mishin also understood that neither Boikova nor Kozlovsky had any serious perspectives in single skating, there were no objections towards their change of discipline.
Good technical base that the guys got while training in Mishin’s group helps a lot in staging "choreographic miniatures" in the Moskvina's group nowadays. Sasha and Dima mastered the technical elements of pair skating very quickly. According to their coach, it was much harder to combine two strong personalities with evident leadership qualities in one couple.
The main result of the previous season, the first one in seniors for Boikova/Kozlovsky, was gaining self-confidence, as the guys themselves stated. To see the strength of their team. It is not even a matter of the bronze medals they won at Nationals in Saransk and at the Europeans in Minsk. Developing the mentality of a winner isn't easier than choreographing a successful program.
A very important role is given to Arthur Minchuk. From the outside it may seem that he is just studying under the guidance of a master who coached four pairs of Olympic champions. But Tamara Nikolaevna herself doesn't think so. “It was necessary to raise Sasha and Dima to the level of the Russian national team very quickly so they could storm the podium at Worlds and Olympics,” Moskvina told us. - "To achieve this goal a work with a young coach was the most effective one. This is Arthur’s first experience with skaters of a that calibre. But he, our club, our city and our country also need a specialist with my experience nearby.”

Moskvina - Minchuk coaching duo prepared their students for the main events of the season very competently. As Arthur noted in the conversation, the guys added technical difficulty in their programs. Unlike many top skaters figurists Boikova and Kozlovsky didn't compete at Challenger events this year. The premiere of their new performances (or 'choreographic miniatures') took place at a commercial event in China. There were some flaws at the Canadian Grand Prix event, but the skaters managed to fix it by the Rostelecom Cup.
They were one of the favorites before the Grand Prix Final, but their Tamara Moskvina didn't consider their unsuccessful skate there a failure. For yesterday's juniors being among the six the best couples in the World was already a success. And conclusions from that failure were also made and everyone saw the results of their work on mistakes at Russian Nationals and Europeans.
This season, the Boikova/Kozlovsky team, as the skaters themselves assured, has become a real couple. But not in the sense that many could have thought. “We had a very tight approach towards out relationship from the very beginning: respectful, friendly, but at the same time providing some personal space for each other” - said Dmitry. “During our shows in Italy, we enjoyed travelling to Venice together, but it is not necessary to travel everywhere together.”
Although, Moskvina asked to specifically note that Boikova and Kozlovsky are only learning how to become a real couple. Often, even on the ice, they sort things out and try to prove to each other who is the leader of the team.
For both skaters the connection with their home city is very important. “I like to be in Moscow and get sone energy from there, but in St. Petersburg there is some kind of chamber and intimacy, lack of fuss, and the opportunity to attend ballet at the Mariinsky Theater and go to the Hermitage,” Kozlovsky said. “We find inspiration in such things, which is necessary for our sport that is so close to art.”
Their lives are not limited to figure skating. Kozlovsky graduated from high school with a gold medal (with honors) and enrolled in one of the country's leading universities - the Academy of National Economy and Public Administration under the President of the Russian Federation, studying at the faculty of state and municipal administration. He wants to get a quality education and values his student's company very much.
Aleksandra dreams of becoming a journalist. She has her own blog on social networks, shares her thoughts and interesting stories. This year she has to pass the state exam, and this, according to her, is no easier than winning the European Championship. And Sasha doesn't want to lag behind the partner who received his first gold medal for school success. Although, by her own admission, she perfectly understands how difficult it is to combine studies at the faculty of journalism with professional sports. On behalf of all sports journalists, I would like to wish Boikova/ Kozlovsky a long career together!
She laughed at the the provocative question of the correspondent - wouldn't she want to interview her partner for the creative assignment at the entrance exams to the university - “I already know everything about him”.
 

Ka3sha

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Pursuit racing: Dmitri Aliev (written by Andrei Simonenko)

Newly crowned Russian and European champion decided to focus on figure skating only at the age of 13. His parents are skiers, his father os also one of best coaches in the Republic of Komi. His elder brother is also a skier. It would have been natural if little Dima had been growing up and dreaming of beating Petter Northug's records, not the ones of Alexei Yagudin and Evgeny Pluschenko.

But it was thanks to Alexei Yagudin that Aliev grew up not only with the dreams of catching up with the great Norwegian.
" I locked myself in a room, turned “The Man in the Iron Mask” on - my favorite program - and repeated every movement - said Dima. He (Yagudin) went for the toeloop - and I imitated that and also took off. He executed the spin - and I did the same."
In general, the story of Dmitry Aliev is a ready script for the film. A boy is just having fun on a horizontal bar in his native town of Ukhta, and right there he was noticed by the figure skating coach Vyacheslav Maksimov, who was just passing by. A coach thought: what a dexterous, coordinated one. He invited Dmitri for training, just a try out on a frozen lake. There was no other place back then. The boy arrived to the lake, he and the coach cleared ice from the snow and ...
And a big sporting story begins here. As expected, there were some ups, downs, and doubts. He mastered some basic steps even during his first "lake" training. After some time, his father made an indoor rink for his son - inside their hangar. Having mastered all double jumps, he naively tried to learn triples - using videos of Julia Lipnitskaya. But at the same time he continued to do skiing and already achieved some serious results. And then came the moment when it was necessary to make a final decision.
It would be to say that Aliev’s choice in favor of figure skating didn't seem logical at all. Just imagine - for him
skiing was like wearing a comfortable pair of slippers in a cozy house where your parents feed you deliciously. And it was obvious that in order to continue skating on a serious level Dmitry would have needed to go to a top coach and to move to another city. Alone. And to throw yourself in a zone of tremendous discomfort. After a series of try-outs with Evgeny Rukavitsyn Dmitrii ended up in St Petersburg. And his pursuit race started there. But if in skiing you see the leader’s back in front of you, can feel his breath and adrenaline rushes over you, in figure skating Aliev had to motivate himself with his own thoughts. Thoughts that other skaters of the same age can already land quads, so you have no other choice but to follow this path but at an accelerated pace.
This situation made Aliev is a 'thinking' athlete. “When I go to bed every evening, I try to think about what I did today and what I should do tomorrow” said Dmitry after his very first senior Nationals, at the age of 15.
"I try to streamline everything in my head - how did I did the jumps at practices, how I executed spins and steps. I try to put it in my brain so that I have everything in there - to know what I strive for and what I’m doing to achieve this.”
As a result, he learned a quad in one year after moving to Rukavitsyn's group. He placed in top ten at his first senior Nationals, he was third at Junior Nationals that same year. And next year (2015/16 season) he won Junior Nationals, won two junior grand prix event and was second at JGPF. Only Nathan Chen was ahead of him.

And his pursuit race continued. Aliev beat one opponent after another and then he qualified to the 2018 Olympics, took the seventh place there and executed a perfect short program to the magnificent music of Khachaturian. He was getting close and closer to the leaders, and this season they were already within reach. In Russia and in Europe Aliev has already become the best. And in the world - a little more is still needed..

"When Dima came to me, I needed only a few off ice workouts to make that decision ” says Evgeny Rukavitsyn. - "He had unique coordination. It was a match between Dima and me in table tennis, and a soccer game that I watched, and also the way Dima was throwing the ball into the basketball hoop. If a boy is so comprehensively physically developed and makes decisions very quickly and effectively in a game situation, this means that he can be taught all the tricks and figure skating. At that time he had some triple jumps. He stood well on his foot. Of course, it was too early to say anything about his musicality and artistry. Of course, he had artistry, and there was a sense of a skate and a natural glide, but all these qualities were as if in sleeping mode. And my aim was to develop these qualities for the top level. My team consists of professionals - choreographer Olga Glinka and Valentin Molotov. They did a great job in this direction.
People talk a lot about the thoughtfulness of Dima. Of course, this quality helps him for one hundred percent. After all, how are we all developing as individuals? We ask ourselves questions, strive for answers and learn something new. Dina doesn't just have some abstract thoughts, he reflects with the goal of knowing himself and others. It's about the versatility of thinking. This is his interest. Of course, he, like any of us, didn't avoid mistakes, but thanks to his ability to think deeply and be honest with himself, he was able to pull himself out of a difficult situation and get back. And he became only stronger and wiser.
He has many strong qualities, and it is the versatility of thinking that impresses me the most. And also his ability to hear. During the training process, when we are working on some technical aspects, we often use associative thinking. He is able to hear, understand, find depth in it. And then he takes his sensation in this process and learns the technique even in more details. He sees the movement not just as “put a hand here, a foot there”, but as a meaningful action in a whole.
Of course, I have to mention his crazy working capacity. He never feel sorry for himself on ice. Leaves the ice only when he completes his task. It captivates me and inspires my respect. Sometimes I have to stop him, but never to force him.
After winning the European Championship, Dima became even more positive. This is in his character. But nothing has changed in our work. We always say that after a big victory there is little time to comprehend it but then you have to leave the podium and start all over again.
When asked about how Dima became a very special student for me, I say that: after all, he came to us at a very young age. He lived without mom and dad in St Petersburg and we also had to discuss various everyday issues. And so we, of course, became closer than we could have been under other circumstances.
And, of course, it's about the path that we started together almost from the scratch. Each step gave me a feeling of a coach's victories as well. Of course, such emotions can hold people together, but nevertheless, a special relationship arises not only because of the victories, but mostly because the athlete and the coach value the path they shared together. Victories are woven into relationships between the student and the coach.
When Dima skated in juniors, he progressed very quickly and achieved first results in a short time, but still - he has just arrived to St. Petersburg, while his opponents already had the experience of competing at Junior worlds and other events. Therefore, Dima had to catch up. You can recall his first Junior Grand Prix event - he competed
against Boyang Jin from China, and then it seemed to us that Dima was so behind Boyang. But, for example, this season Dima competed not only on the same level as Boyang but also won at Skate America. And I believe that the moment will come when Dima will be able to compete on equal terms with the very best ones. He simply doesn't have any obstacles that could stop him."
 
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Ka3sha

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We want more: Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov (by Inna Kovaleva)
Technically it's an interview with Zhulin :)

- As soon as we realized that we had won Europeans, my first thought was "I want more". Victories motivate you to work more. - Nikita admitted. “We felt how everyone around was rooting for us, how people supported us. And for us that was very important. ”- Victoria added.

It took six years of skating together for the skaters to win the first title in their careers.
Alexander Zhulin, with Nikita trained for several years with another partner - Elena Ilinykh (later they moved to Nikolai Morozov), recalls:
- When Nikita decided to come back to my group, now with Vika, I asked him: for how long this time? His answer was 'forever'. That is, until the very end of his career. I believed him. I liked their couple. I wanted to fix some technical flaws that were noticeable. Hope we succeeded. Of course, we both changed a lot during those years. Nikita grew up, and I also tried to change something in myself. Most importantly, we have learned how to soften the edges. And we have been working with a great pleasure for three years now.
It was emotionally difficult time for the guys. As a couple they had very little experience in winning. I mean both small victories, and above all - victories over themselves. It was important for them to believe that they can perform cleanly. It's difficult to compete with Vika and Nikita, they are very beautiful and strong! The judges and the fans liked this team, but at the same time the guys themselves gave a lot of reasons for criticism. Although, in my opinion, in order to win they just need clean skates. And their performances at Europeans and at some of the Grand Prix events confirmed my words. I can’t say that their performances in the Grand Prix Final in in Turin was messy. But there were two or three little mistakes that were immediately pointed out, and the guys placed in 6th. We analyzed their performances together, changes some things together and they skated on a completely different level in Graz.
What I like the most about Vika and Nikita - it's their desire to analyze, to think and to look for a problem in themselves. They don't blame everyone around: this one gave us a wrong look, that one said the wrong thing, and the ice was way too slippery! They are very self-critical and react normally to the situation around them.
The role of the leader in this team belongs to Nikita. But only at first glance. In truth, Victoria is a hidden leader
and the strongest core. What we see is Nikita, and what we don't see is Vika. To be precise: Nikita brings power, emotions, energy, Vika - strength and stability. It's Victoria who gives Nikita psychological confidence on the ice. This is an equal and harmonious pair of two strong personalities.
In life, Vika is a very kind and modest person. This quality prevented her from opening herself on the ice. And any created image on the ice looked as if it was drawn with one paint. Modesty on the ice is not the best quality. If music suggests a vivid emotion, sexuality, then it should be shown, not hidden inside! Skaters should also learn this, in addition to rockers and counters. If the character was romantic and lyrical, Vika knew how to portray it. But she had a difficult time when some additional fire was needed. So all our coaching team tried to praise her more often, to say how beautiful she is. At first she was embarrassed, blushed a bit, but gradually began to open.
I always said and will say again: you need three years with a team for them to truly become yours, to get the style of a coach who works with her. Three years have passed and we have reached the point, when they understand me without words, I make comments with my eyes or just raise one eyebrow. And before, everything had to be interpreted and chewed in details. Vika, by the way, is a great student. And very quickly she realized what I want from her in terms od technique. When Nikita was injured and didn't train on the ice for a month, Vika had to train alone. Every day we spent an hour working on her skating skills, because she needed to understand one simple trick. And we must give Vika a lot of credit: in my experience it sometimes happens that I may explain something to my students in the smallest details, but with little sense. Either they can't do it, or they don’t hear me, or maybe I’m not explaining it well. But not in the case of Vika - she understood that missing technical trick in a short time. When Nikita came back on the ice after his injury and they skated together for several minutes, he returned to me with a beaming smile and asked what did we do with his partner? He felt very comfortable skating with his partner. This moment can be called a small turning point in their relationship, they changed for the better. It happens when the skaters feel comfortable next to each other, and they work in the same direction. Nobody likes to suffer! But this is inevitable when two partners have very different techniques.
It happens that a couple could skate in different directions in the middle of the program. This happens when partners can no longer restrain irritation. They all infuriate each other, but they can’t understand the issue on their own. And the coach has to give the couple the same understanding of the technique. So that they become one, mirroring each other's movements. It’s like in synchronized diving: you need perfect synchronization to get the highest score.
There are times when two very strong partners perform difficult elements, but in a different technical manner, as if they were two separate solo skaters. Initially, it was the same for Sinitsina/Katsalapov! Two very strong skaters with different techniques and completely different perceptions of music and rhythm. One started a bit earlier, another a bit later, for example, and they lack the sense of magic because of those discrepancies. Magic, when, for example, you look at the skaters and they skate together like they breathe. This is the end result of the work.
In my opinion, we were able to demonstrate such unity in the “Singing in the Rain” rhythm dance this year. Those characters are a perfect match for the guys. But this program might not have happened: when I firstly brought the music performed by Fred Astaire, its pace was right for the step sequence, but not for the pattern. Fred, unfortunately, sang very slowly. When we increased the pace, we got a singing midget. We had to abandon this idea, Vika and Nikita were very upset about it, and I along with them. But then Vika found this music in another version somewhere - the piano and orchestra version. I increased the pace of the music and it turned out absolutely wonderful! Now this dance looked like one piece. I really loved their last year's tango program, and it seemed that we won't be able to create something that incredible! But this year their “Singing in the Rain” got even more enthusiastic responses! And we will try to create even better programs next season!"
 

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