Translation of an interview with Maia and Alex Shibutani, given to Russian correspondent at the Four Continents Champinships.
Did you manage to avoid the feeling “year before the Olympics” at the Four Continents Championships in Gangneung?
Maia: We would be happy to say that we did, but it would be untrue. Everyone was talking about this, all these posts in social networks … On the other hand, it’s great – anticipation of the Games. It would be great to consolidate this feelings with Olympic emotions next year.
Did you like Korean audience?
Maia: We were born in America, but we often compete in Asia and always feel support here. Actually, we always feel it: there are people who support us wherever we compete. In addition, there were generally pleasant impressions of our performances. The feeling that the programs are at the level at which they should be at this point in time. And again, there thoughts in my head: how will it be in a year?
Alex: And we really liked the ice rink. The arena is beautiful both inside and outside. Before the World Championships it is important to feel that with every skate programs are getting better and better. We fully got this feeling. So in Gangneung we charged with positive emotions.
How are you finding working in current Marina Zueva’s group?
Maia: We have a special relationship with Marina. We have been working together for a long time, and we really like our current group. It’s always very interesting and nice to see different people, different energetics, it’s useful to observe how others work. For example, Patrick (Chan) he is an incredible skater and a great professional. From communication, from observing such people, you develop both as a sportsman and as a person.
Alex: I like it when there are a lot of different people around. This increases the overall level, emotionally it also contributes to the work, at least for me. Well, as for Marina, it’s a great happiness to fully trust the person you work with and to feel how this contributes to the growth of skill, to the growth of results.
Do you remember the first training session under her guidance?
Maia: I remember Alex couldn’t do something … (laughs). But it was so long ago, we were teens.
Alex: In my defense, I can say that I was 15 years old (laughs). But seriously, we immediately respected her. We knew how many figure skaters she worked with, knew her programs, the names of the guys who succeeded working with her. As for the first training, we immediately felt that there would be a lot of work on technique and immediately felt that she works considering all the niceties of your nature and respectfully treats you as a person.
She says that all pairs are the same, but Shibutani … That you are different … What is your feature, how do you perceive it yourself?
Maia: The last two years we have worked hard to find ourselves, to determine who we are in figure skating. After the first successes in the beginning of our career, we did not stop working, we worked a lot. And in the process of this work, Marina helped us to reveal our personality as a couple, to learn how to show our individuality, because this should not be explained in words, it should be seen in our program. What you just said is the biggest compliment, it’s so nice to hear it, because there’s a huge work behind it. It is especially pleasant to get such compliment from Marina, from the coach who worked with the best! If we are really able to show in the program that we, as a couple, are different from the others, it is, first of all, thanks to her.
Alex: Really there’s a lot of work behind this. She listens us and we listen her. This applies to everything from working on the technique to the actual choice of music, choreographing, to the smallest details. Marina and we have putted our souls into this work so that people not only visually perceive us as a couple that looks different, but feel it in our programs.
How did the story with YouTube channel start?
Alex: It was pretty funny to come up with all this (laughs). We live in an era of technology and social networks. We like to share something interesting with the audience.
And what interests the audience the most?
Alex: I think they are interested in how we grew up as sportsmen, how is it, to be an athletes who grew up in the same family. I gladly share my experience, I hope it will be useful to someone. Well, besides, we travel all over the world, we communicate with people in different countries, we have friends and fans all over the world. And thanks to this channel they always know how things are going with us.
Maia: In fact, if someone gets involved into watching figure skating thanks to this channel, this will be the best compliment for us.
But it takes a lot of time!
Alex: Of course. But positive emotions from the fact that you are doing this and positive feedback from fans, our friends compensate everything with a vengeance. In addition, so many interesting things remain behind the scenes. On TV, viewers see only our programs, and here we have an opportunity to show the entire backstage. And, by the way, returning to the previous question, this will help people to understand us better.
Reveal the secret, who was the first figure skater in your family?
Maia: We started to skate at the same time.
At one day?
Alex: We started to skate at the same time, but, Maya, you were the first skater in the family. Even when I took my first steps on the ice, when I learned how to skate, I did not have such an interest.
Maia: That’s for sure. When I learned to skate, immediately realized that I want to do this all my life. It became my dream, and I was incredibly passionate about it from the very beginning. He was not (laughs).
Alex: Yes, I’m not one of those who was inspired by the idea of becoming a figure skater, looking at someone’s programs on TV. But when I saw at the rink how much Maya is passionate about it, how much joy it brings her, that’s when everything changed. I decided to try. At first we did single skating, but we liked to spend time on the ice together. So the decision to team-up has already been a logical step.
And now you are preparing for the Olympics. How do you assess your potential the year before?
Alex: We never allow ourselves to doubt our potential. We know that we can improve till the Olympics. We know how our competitors improves, so we can’t have doubt in ourselves right now. We just work and will try to realize our full potential.
by Veronika Gibadieva rsport.ru