Translation of an interview with Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin. About results at European championships and plans for Worlds.
Did you have any disappointment after the European Championships? Probably the expectations were quite different …
Alexandra: I can not say that we had some specific expectations, we just didn’t understand a little bit what happened, because such has happened with us for the first time. But if we talk about the results, what place did we take at the European Championships 2016? Fifth? And we remained fifth.
Alexandra: Yes. Of course, we always want to place higher, but apparently that is not our turn yet.
Ivan: In general, the European Championship was very interesting. There were so many events. Everything was changing so rapidly in ice dancing. Someone failed the program …
Alexandra: It’s a pity to lose to those whom you have never lost. It’s the only thing I can say. This is really unpleasant.
Ivan: To lose with clean skates.
Alexandra: Yes. We didn’t feel that we made big mistakes. Just such levels, we didn’t understand that. In principle we lost because of these levels.
You have been so many years in the sport, so everything that was happening with the scores hardly was a surprise for you?
Ivan: We have such sport … I don’t even know how to call it …
Ivan: I do not know. Probably. From competition to competition can be completely different results. It is very difficult to predict. If there was betting on this sport, no one would guess, I swear! Even the athletes! There are leaders, but even among them can be changes. Actually it’s a very interesting sport.
Alexandra: Guillaume and Gabriella were third after the short dance, but became first.
Ivan: Cappellini Lanotte were first in the morning and in the evening came second.
But do you like such unpredictability?
Ivan: I think it’s always interesting. Interesting for the audience and interesting for athletes to participate. Competitions are always interesting. You show yourself, you’re getting ready, you spend a lot of effort, energy and emotion to show people what you can do. And when the fight starts, it’s interesting. You’re happy or upset.
Whe you were choreographing programs for the season, did you have a goal to change something, to amaze viewers or you just did what you like?
Alexandra: We had a task to show ourselves, to show that we’re no longer juniors.
Ivan: To change ourselves it was a main task. In everything: how we can live the program, how we can skate it. Peter (Tchernyshev) has invested a lot in this free program, we have worked very hard. We spent a lot of time. We were choreographing, then removing, changing the entire pieces.
Alexandra: I still keep some pieces in my phone, that wasn’t included into the program. I think there are enough of Petya’s ideas on my phone for a completely new program.
Ivan: And then we worked a lot with our coaches, with (choreographer) Alena Samarskaya. Then dad (Andrei Bukin) and Natasha (Bestemianova) came. There were many people who helped us, a huge thanks to them, as well as to our entire team. We worked a lot on the free dance, changed a lot, including in ourselves.
Was it easier with the short program?
Ivan: Yes. We immediately liked it, we liked its spirit. There was less work.
At the first Grand Prix in Canada, also were some questions to the judges.
Ivan: Well, it was our first serious competition and all the judges were looking what has changed since last season. And the list of participants there was so serious, that it was hard to fight for something. But still we got good scores. Almost like in Ostrava.
Alexandra: There we didn’t have such levels!
Ivan: The components were lower.
Alexandra: In fact, the PCS at the European Championship was more a joy, because we worked a lot on it. So, all this work was not in vain.
Ivan: In Canada, it was the beginning of the season, we had some small mistakes. We have changed a lot since then before the Grand Prix in China.
Alexandra: We were changing something from competition to competition. Maybe some very small detail, but there have always been changes.
In China performance was better?
Alexandra: In China, everything turned out well for us. We skated well and judges gave us good marks.
Ivan: Generally all had good levels there, all skated well.
As a result, in the Grand Prix ranking you were very close to the six finalists.
Alexandra: I think that now we are just gaining an altitude.
Ivan: We took off like a plane (laughs).
Alexandra: Yes, we’re trying to make a statement, who we are and prove from competition to competitiom that we are getting better and better. This is our main goal, to be recognized like Tessa and Scott. Or Papadakis with Cizeron.
Ivan: Strong words.
Alexandra: Well, I’m talking about the fact everyone knows them!
Ivan: Right, right, Sasha! I like the way you think!
Alexandra: Or Pechalat and Bourzat, all knew their programs with interesting ideas.
Ivan: Speaking of examples, I would call Nelli Zhiganshina Alex Gazsi.
Alexandra: They also had their own style. I want us also to have it.
You still have time, you are very young.
Alexandra: Yes. Actually we are doing well, we have a lot of time. We’re not going to go anywhere. After the Olympic season someone usually leaves – temporarily or for good. For us everything is ahead.
When you got the feedback on your performances at the Grand Prix, was there a lot of criticism?
Ivan: Of course. But they was not serious. All responded positively to our new programs. There were different comments. They will always be! It is impossible to do the program and say this is perfection.
Did you have other options of the dress for the free dance, not the red one?
Alexandra: Yes. We had other variants.
Ivan: We had, but I said “For the tango it should be red!
Alexandra: I also think that no other would suit. It had to be simple, without sequins, but look stylish.
Ivan: I really like Sasha’s dress. When Peter was choreographing the program, I imagined it exactly like this, a dress for restrained tango.
Alexandra: It’s not a restrained tango!
Well, it’s not even a tango in the classical sense?
Alexandra: Tango can be different. If to compare us with Canadians (Piper Gilles / Paul Poirier), who also have tango, they have more classical tango, they don’t have some sharp movements, it’s more restrained, accurate. Vika and Nikita’s tango is also more restrained than ours.
Ivan: And we have our own.
Alexandra: Such passionate! There are three different types of tango. Everyone can choose what he likes. We like ours.
What do you think about Virtue and Moir’s comeback?
Alexandra: They are very cool! Once we saw them live, realized that they look differently on TV. On TV you may not feel something. But when you watch them on the ice, live …
Ivan: You feel the energy! Inside energy, it presents everywhere. If they are close, you just feel it. It’s very cool!
Alexandra: They skate together, don’t play to the audience, well maybe a couple of glances at the judges, and the rest of the time they are only with each other. And it is very cool. It’s like you’re watching through a chink.
Harmony, that you want for yourselves?
Alexandra: Yes, but we do not have to do everything like they do, we just also want to skate with each other all the time, without being distracted, so the program would go as one big story.
What did you learn from the European Championships that will be useful for you in preparation for the World Championships?
Alexandra: That everything should be done on one million percent! That’s all. So it would be impossible to give us another level than we intended.
So, remains only to work?
Alexandra: Of course, as usual. Even if the result of the European Championships had been good, we still would have worked.
by Elena Diyachkova rsport.ru