Translation of interview with Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin. About first half of the season and preparation to the main competitions.
Alexandra, Ivan, this season you surprised experts with significant professional growth… What is the reason of such creative and sporting growth?
– We changed a lot this season. Including a new view on competitions. We have chosen hip-hop consciously. We knew that mainly duets prefer classics. But we were ready for a new short dance. Free program tango choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev is also a new look at us. Both programs are very strong. Season passes for us under the slogan “New we”. Maybe that’s why there is progress. But we do not stop and continue to work hard.
Weren’t you afraid to take hip-hop?
– We have been dancing it on the floor for a long time, during our dance classes. Therefore, we weren’t afraid. Our choreographer for the classics is Alena Samarskaya. And for hip-hop Katya Vinogradova. Alyona works more on the ice. Katya works on the floor. Katya is not always with us. We take some dance classes. Hip-hop was not a novelty for us. We have been dancing it on the floor for a long time and wanted to include it in our programs earlier. It is a part of our dancing preparation.
How to understand your motto “New we”?
– This is new awareness of the programs. And a new look at each other. We specially prepared for this. We’re pleased that we have succeeded. Not quite fully. But we continue to work on it.
I, unlike other reviewers did not think that in the past you had a junior skating. You skated on respectable senior level. The level of the first “ten” of world ranking with a crazy competition this is an indicator of senior skating.
– We just did not have experience. You can do nothing in ice dance without experience, you need to be making a statement during several years, so the judges acknowledged and noted you.
But in juniors you started to win from the very first international competition.
– Yes, we won all the starts of the junior Grand Prix in which participated. But this is a completely different level. In seniors it’s much more complicated and harder to move forward. We have been growing up with each competition at this level, especially because our coaches are constantly looking for something new and give us an opportunity to express ourselves.
But you were able go all the path with twizzles from the first to fourth level. Have you managed to convince the judges in your rightness?
– But we were working and took into account all the comments, correct all mistakes and made sure that the judges could not find fault.
Do you have elements not on the level four?
– Yes, for example, step sequences. But this is a very difficult technical element and it is almost impossible to reach the highest level. But we will work.
How do you assess the season?
– It still runs. We started decently. But the main competitions are ahead.
Have you expected to qualify for the main competitions?
– We haven’t expected, we just worked a lot to solve the problem with selection. And we’re glad that we were able to implement our plans at the Russian Nationals. We do not set ourselves the task of winning over duets who are stronger than we. But we have our own clear goal to show maximum readiness to a particular competition, skate qualitatively, beautiful and spectacular.
Moreover, we do not see this season any explicit breakthrough showed by any pair. Yes, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are back. But they win out due to experience and authority. Other pairs don’t have such progress compared to last season. We need to skate on our hundred percent level and we will take the place we deserve right now.
Tell us about yourself. Ivan managed to successfully go along the path of his father, the Olympic champion in ice dance in duet with Natalia Bestemianova.
Alexandra: Vanya’s father Andrew Anatolievich Bukin worries about us and rejoices each our achievement.
Ivan: Dad is very excited after each competition, calls, supports us no matter what.
How did your father take your choice?
Ivan: My grandmother said, “Grandson will do figure skating.” And my father was left no choice but to agree with my grandmother. She was very strict. And parents did not argue with her. I started to train with Andrei Sergeyevich Olekhov. For 10 years I have been training under his guidance. Then at age of 11 I joined the group of Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin. First I skated with Lena Ilinykh. Then for a year I have been without partner. We were actively looking for. Then tried out with Sasha. Everything worked out. We started to train together.
Alexandra: I was 11 years old. It was interesting to skate on the same ice with the strongest duets of that time Yana Khokhlova – Sergei Novitski and Ekaterina Rubleva – Ivan Shefer. This gave a great experience and a strong motivation to skate on a high level.
Ivan: We tried to take a lot from each joint trainings with the guys. And what a great program they had. I particularly remembered “Night on Bald Mountain” for its brightness and originality.
And you, Alexandra, started to skate in St. Petersburg?
– Yes, in a group of Valentina Mikhailovna Chebotareva. She’s very sincere and professional coach. I remember our work in a kind way.
You skated in the same group with the current Russian champion Mikhail Kolyada?
– Yes, first we met at the rink “Jubileynyi” and then in the kindergarten. That’s interesting as fate would have it. Now we are both in the Russian national team. Only in different disciplines. And I’m happy for his successful start and victory at the Russian National Championships in Chelyabinsk.
All these years Irina Zhuk did programs for you…..She did choreo and you just prepare and execute it or you take part in the creation of the program?
– Of course, we take part. We do everything together with coaches. Select the music, listen to audio, watch video, there is an active joint creative process.
Who suggested hip-hop?
– Coaches came and said, “Will we try hip-hop?” We immediately responded: “Yes.” It is our joint decision and we were ready to this choice. And immediately a long process of music search, selection of movements, etc. has started.
How do you manage to complement each other so well on the ice, showing a very beautiful harmony of male and female? What is your “thing”?
– A big pros is that we are together since childhood. This is our advantage.
Haven’t you got tired of each other?
– No! (Simultaneously). We do not get tired of each other. We really know each other. We understand when someone is not in the mood, we try to adapt and somehow to support. We never argue. We can advise each other something. But it’s working moments.
And what about relationships?
Alexandra: We had moments … At first I really liked Ivan. But he did not react to my liking. Then I cooled off and Vanya began to show his feelings to me. But it was too late. As it often happens. But now we are just very good friends in life.
Ivan: This is the real friendship between a man and a woman and it helps us a lot in the relationships on ice.
What are the plans?
– Preparation for the European Championships. We’ll correct mistakes after the Russian Nationals and will try to show at the main competitions even better skating than before.
Interview by Alexei Zubakov