Interview with Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Solovive. Translation. About European Championships, Zhulin’s approach to work, Olympic uniform, as well as why they do not want to become judges.
You just get the outfit. Do you like the Olympic uniform?
Ekaterina: I do not know how to answer this question, because in this situation it was very difficult to come up with something. I thought that the colors would be brighter, so that in Pyeongchang we looked more noticeable. The national team goes without a flag and there shouldn’t be any blue-white-red elements on the uniform. But gray color has been chosen for the basis and personally for me it causes questions. However, uniform is uniform, we will still wear it with dignity.
Dmitri: I will explain. Katya’s favorite color is purple.
Ekaterina: After I found out that there should be no colors of the national flag on the national team uniform, I immediately said that it should be purple. No country has such a color on the flag, it is very bright and beautiful.
You were given two suitcases, one of which has a uniform, which was initially designed for the national team. But it’s forbidden to open it.
Ekaterina: Yes, we were told that it will not be possible to open it until February 25-26, when it becomes clear whether the national team will be able to wear this uniform for the Olympic closing ceremony. So it turns out that we carry two sets of clothes.
Dmitri: Well, there are three sets, because we also carry our own clothes, in which we will warm up – something comfortable. But with no symbols.
Ekaterina: Yes, we know perfectly well that only clothes with the “Olympic athlete from Russia” are allowed and nothing else. We have been consulted in detail on this topic, we have discussed all aspects many times. Now we will go to the training camp in Japan before the Games and we were sure that there we would be able to wear our usual uniform with national symbols. We were told that this can not be done – just in case, what if they take some pictures of it somewhere, and then will put it on the Internet and somebody will think that this photo was taken not during training camp, but at the Olympics. It is better to do everything 100 percent correctly so that it was impossible to find any fault. I, for example, took an opaque tape with me, in order to cover some elements of clothing.
Fedor Klimov said in the interview that at home European Championships he did not have a feeling of serious competition. The proximity of home discouraged him somehow. Didn’t you have the same feelings?
Dmitri: I always approach any start as a serious competition. Of course, due to the fact that the European Championships was held in Moscow, there was a completely different atmosphere. You feel very comfortable – after practice or competitions you can go home, if you forgot something, or just to take other clothes. But still, the approach was very serious. At the same time it’s easier to perform emotionally in native walls, because you feel great support, a warm attitude of the audience. The atmosphere on the one hand, seem to be tense, because all are set on fight, want to show the best results, on the other – a bit relaxed.
Ekaterina: For me it’s much easier to perform at home. For me, as a girl, the psychological factor is very important: if I forgot something at home, or if I need to solve some problem, I know that I can easily go to the nearest store, if necessary, I can ask to bring me something to the rink. The support of my relatives: my parents, my sister, my husband has a colossal importance for me. They often go to competitions with me. But those people who do not have the opportunity to come to international competitions, this year got a chance to come to the arena and look at us at the European Championships. By the way, as a result, a lot of our friends came, although it was hard to buy tickets: either there were very expensive ones, which not everyone can afford, or already on the highest sectors. I am very happy that there were so many of our friends on the stands and so many people saw us before the Olympics, when we are close to the peak of the shape and ready to show our best skating.
What can you say about short dance? Where you were the fourth.
Dmitri: I can say that there are judges, there is a human factor and it’s very difficult to please everyone. Especially if you take the technical side – everyone has their own view on the correctness of the execution of the element. Everything has to be adjusted extremely thinly, so that none of the judges could find fault. At practices and competitions we did what we were ready to do, but, nevertheless, there were certain difficulties, as a result – the fourth place.
How much subjectivity is in judges’ marks?
Dmitri: Depends on the person. Someone is so fascinated by the general picture that he forgets about the technique and puts high marks automatically. Someone is looking solely at the feet, at how the elements are performed. Someone puts an endge like this and someone like that. It seems that both are correct, but one got “yes”, and the other “no”. How many people, so many opinions.
Ekaterina: Our sport is very subjective. Even in synchronized swimming, where artistry is combined with technology, it is much more clear. I still can not understand one moment in figure skating. There’re many falls in our sport. The majority of the audience understands: if a person falls, he will not win. And there is a second mark: the components, the skating skills, the interpretation of the program, etc. There are criteria that are prescribed on paper – 10 points – this is the ideal execution of the element, it can’t be better. 9,50-9,75 – the basic mark that top-skater have. But at competitions it happens that the top athlete falls, but he still gets the same 9.75-10. So I have a question: “How can you put such marks if a person falls?”.
To which of your competitors does this apply?
Ekaterina: Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron had such a situation at the national championship of France. It seems to me that everything is forgivable at the local competitions. There sit their people and everything is fine.
Have you thought of becoming judges?
Dmitri: Oh, no! No way in hell! I know how they treat the judges who did not forgive someone or put not those marks that were expected. I do not want to be in this position.
Ekaterina: I do not want to neither judge nor coach. I think this is a very difficult and ungrateful work. It’s incredibly difficult for an athlete to be a judge, because you understand how much people work, train, skate, and simply because of respect, you want to give them high scores. Or on the contrary, you do not like this person and you do not want to put high marks. It seems to me that in such a situation a person should have an iron core, and no matter how heartwarming was the program, he must clearly look down and calculate all the elements in his head. But, for example, my husband, a former sportsman, passed the exams to be a judge and can judge pairs.
Dmitri: In fact, we have a lot of judges and technical specialists who have nothing to do with figure skating. I can not say that this irritates me, but I can not understand – by what criteria they judge, if they do not know how this should be done. We are athletes and we know how to do this or that element correctly. And they judge based on what is written on paper. If I do not understand how the mechanism works from the inside, I will not advise, and, moreover, become a judge. At the same time, there are so competent judges who previously had nothing to do with figure skating, but they can even advise something.
The coefficient for the victory of the French pair Papadakis / Cizeron was 1.01. How to compete with a rival who is in advance declared a winner?
Dmitri: I can’t say that this discourage us somehow.
Ekaterina: We should understand that the ice is slippery and it’s a sport: everything depends on who and how skated. We do not run race with other couples. Now we’re skating four minutes on the ice, they – at other times – before or after. Our main task is to skate the best we can. It is clear that you can not jump above your head – we will not be able to do a quad throw tomorrow, for which we will be get even more points. But we must do our work, and then, as Dima has already said, the judges decide everything.
Ekaterina, does it happen that you wake up in the morning and just do not have any strength to go to practice?
Ekaterina: Every day I get up like this.
In such situation, you can call Dmitri and say: “Dima, let’s call Zhulin and ask him to cancel the training”?
Ekaterina: No, I’m so responsible that I could never do that.
Dmitri: Katya is really hyper-responsible and I’m very lazy, but we do not allow ourselves to skip trainings. If I ever relax and allow myself to sleep an extra hour, and then didn’t work enough, I will always remember that. I do not like this. If you really feel bad, then it’s better to lie down for half a day or a day, and then with fresh strength go to trainings. But even if we’re very tired, then we will go on the ice and show our best.
Ekaterina: We do have weeks when we do two run-throughs every day. Of course, fatigue accumulates. Sasha knows about this, so he reduces physical activities, but we definitely come to the trainings, just adjust the training plan a little, for example, we reduce the number of run-throughs.
In figure skating, all coaches are despots, but Zhulin seems to be a very diplomatic man.
Ekaterina: Why? Each coach has his own approach.
Dmitri: First of all, he is an excellent psychologist. Alexander is a very calm, reasonable and tactful person. He does not see the point in shouting at someone, or in pressuring on the athlete to so something in training. He has a completely different approach to each athlete. He feels how to work – to pressure on someone or on contrary.
Ekaterina, in one of the interviews you said that now you have to force yourself a little bit to train. Don’t you have fears that at the Olympics you may not have enough emotions?
Ekaterina: It’s not like that, I was misunderstood. Recently, we have given a huge amount of interviews, all people interpret our words differently. In this case, I answered a question connected with a break in my career after the Olympic Games. I said that I want to miss figure skating, to feel that you already can not live without ice, get up before the alarm clock or go skating at the public rinks. You want to feel that before returning.
We have been competing for eight years continuously, striving to keep ourselves at the peak of our shape. And even on vacation, when you go to the sea, your head is still filled with figure skating – you constantly think about music, elements that you need to create or about those that need to be changed, because you do not like them. I write all this down and send Dima – we are constantly in contact. And when I said that I was a little tired, this phrase related specifically to such things.
How much time do you need to start missing figure skating?
Ekaterina: I do not know, we’ll see, we have not rested for more than two weeks.
Dmitri: Two days are enough for me to rest and not think about figure skating. But on the third day there are already thoughts how to quickly get back to the ice. Sometimes there are very cool ideas – for example, I saw our upside down rotational lift in the drean and after that I just dreamed of going out on the ice and doing it.
Ekaterina: When Dima came to the trainings and told about this idea, I immediately said: “I will not do this!”.
Dmitri: Yes, Katya very often says so.
Who convinced you?
Ekaterina: Dima convinced. Our acrobatics coach said: “Yes, try it!”.
Dmitri: I just saw this support in my head and understood that it must be done, we will definitely succeed! I did not yet know how to go there correctly, so that everything turned out harmoniously, but I knew that we would succeed. Katya first said: “No! It’s impossible! “. And then it began to work out.
Ekaterina: Usually all the best elements work out after I say that I will not do them.
Dmitri: Katya just has a special flair.
by Yuri Volohov and Sergei Podgornov for sovsport.ru