Daniel Grassl: “It took me a while to decide to go to Tutberidze. But I was very sad after Nationals and I thought that new environment, a place where they jump a lot of quads can motivate me.”
Interview with Daniel Grassl. About the conclusions he made from the World Championships, the attitude towards the points received, cooperation with Jason Brown and training in the group of Eteri Tutberidze.
source: Sport-Express dd. 26 March 2023 by Anastasiia Pletneva
How do you feel after the free program?
Daniel Grassl: I feel good. I was very happy with my performance because I fought. Of course, the scores were not very high, but everything is fine. Now step by step everything will get better. I am already happy that I competed at this World Championships, as it was difficult for me from a psychological point of view. I wasn’t even sure if it was worth going. But now I’m really glad that I’m here in Japan, that I was able to show two good performances. There remains the World Team Trophy, which I look forward to, but I’m already looking forward to the new season and new programs. I have a whole summer to prepare. I am sure that with all the work that I am doing next season will be better.
What did the coaches say after your performance?
Daniel Grassl: They were happy to see that I was fighting. Of course, all the work now is aimed at my improving, on those things that need to be worked on, for example, on the lutz. They were also a little upset about the scores, but we can’t do anything about it, just work even harder. Next time I have to skate so that the judges have no doubts. We will continue to work, I have only been with Eteri for two months. Everything is only getting better, and I am immensely happy.
The judges saw a lot of under-rotations on your jumps. Do you agree with this? Do you feel it yourself when the jump is not fully rotated?
Daniel Grassl: Yes, I feel it. As for the judges, I landed a quad lutz, got a quarter underrotation, and some gave me -2 or -3 for the jump. This is one of the things that lowered my score. On the first axel that I managed to land, I got an underrotation, and on the second one, which I couldn’t land cleanly, there was no underrotation. But I didn’t think about it that much, only about enjoying my performance, the World Championships. I didn’t care what points I got, what place I took, I just wanted to become more confident in myself. This season, I lost it a little. I also did two quads in the free program again. The last time this happened was at Skate America. Quite a lot of time has passed. Next season I want to do three or more, we’ll see.
Did you get your confidence back?
Daniel Grassl: Yes, it did. My goal was to land the jumps. I knew that if I landed them, even if not all of them were fully rotated, after a while I could make them more clean. In training, I already jumped them more cleanly, but in competitions I was nervous: I felt pressure, restrained myself and did not show everything I was capable of. I’ll work on it next season. I want to give the judges no reason to doubt my jumps.
They say it was hot at the rink. Has this become a problem for you?
Daniel Grassl: Yes, it was very hot. Especially in training. But I like it when the ice rink is warm.
What are you going to work on first?
Daniel Grassl: First, on the programs for the next season. I want them to be very good. This year it was difficult to skate the programs as I didn’t have much time to work separately with Jason Brown on the short and Benoit Richaud on the free. It was hard. So I’m looking forward to new programs. Also, of course, I want to work on jumping technique, on how to perform it more clean.
Did you like working with Jason Brown?
Daniel Grassl: This year I wanted to experiment in everything: in changing coaches and working with other choreographers. I wanted to feel something new. I thought about Jason – he is one of my favorite skaters, I really wanted to work with him. He helped me a lot – I watched a lot how he skates, how the best skate. We worked on artistry and emotion, as well as on hand movements.
What was it like for you to compete with your choreographer at the World Championships?
Daniel Grassl: In the short program, Jason skated before me, so I watched and thought: “Here is the choreographer of my short program.” This is a funny, but interesting, exciting episode. He congratulated me and said that he liked the way I skated, the way I interpreted the program.
Have you already thought about choreographers for the next season?
Daniel Grassl: I think that Eteri will decide with whom to work on the programs for the next season.
What general conclusions about the past season can you draw? There were difficult moments, and good ones. For example, the first victory for Italy in men’s single skating at the Grand Prix.
Daniel Grassl: In general, I’m happy with the season. Of course, this is not the best season. But after participating in the Olympic Games, it is difficult to continue, to find motivation. This was missing at the beginning of the season. But I am happy that I managed to show some of my best performances at the Grand Prix in Sheffield and win. It was important for me because I could become the first Italian to win such an event and qualify for the Final. That performance worked. Then it was necessary to look further for motivation, there were difficult times. But now I understand what I want, so I’m waiting for when I can focus on the next season. This year I wanted to experiment, to understand where I want to go before the Olympic Games in Milan. The goal is to get a medal at the Olympics. It’s a dream.
So it’s all about motivation after the Games?
Daniel Grassl: Yes, because participation in the Olympics has always been my goal and I achieved it. The performances were good. After that, motivation dropped. I went to the World Championships, showed an excellent short and then realized that I was very tired psychologically. I needed a rest, but I went to a show in Japan. There were leass and less motivation. The Olympic Games are a motivation in itself, and then it becomes difficult. Perhaps I needed such bad skates to find it again, to tell myself: “Next season I will skate better.” Now my goal is to return everything, I feel quite comfortable in achieving this.
You said that this is an experimental season for you. How is this experiment going anyway?
Daniel Grassl: There were many difficulties when moving to Moscow. And the decision itself was not easy. After the National Championships, I was very upset, a lot of things happened in Italy. I had to find a place to continue my career before it was too late. This is the best season to do this. I changed coaches in the middle of the season, which was a little risky: new coaches, new environment, new everything. It takes time to get used to. But I needed to do it now, as things weren’t going very well. The president of my club in Italy told me about the possibility of working with Eteri. We met in Boston but didn’t really want to go to Moscow at first because of the whole situation. But the president of the club pushed me to this decision. I took a risk and it motivated me a lot. There girls jump quads and all that. This is great. After two months of training with Eteri, it has already become much better, so I’m waiting for what will happen next season.
How long did it take you to make the decision to switch to Eteri?
Daniel Grassl: I always had a dream to train with her, even two years ago. But I didn’t have the opportunity – there were various problems, for example, a pandemic and all that. But Eteri knew about my dream. It took me a while to decide. But since I was very sad after the Italian Nationals, I thought that the only thing that can motivate me is a new environment, a place where they jump a lot of quads.
How did your family and friends react to this decision?
Daniel Grassl: They supported me because they knew my whole story. I trained with them so they understood how I feel every day. Everyone supported me, including my family because it was the best decision for me.
Is Training in Moscow very different from what you had before?
Daniel Grassl: Of course, this is a completely different system. It is very difficult from a psychological point of view to train there also because I don’t have a lot of friends yet. The system is different, but it helps a lot in work. In training, it’s like a competition every time. I’m very nervous, but it’s good for me. At competitions, I get too nervous, I make mistakes that I don’t make in training. Often we warm up for six minutes and then show our programs one at a time, as if it were a simulation of real competitions. We do a lot of skating of our programs: in pieces or full to increase our endurance.
Was it different in Italy and the US?
Daniel Grassl: I skated my programs in training, but not so many times. In Italy, the training lasted 40-50 minutes, and in Russia – 1 hour 30 minutes. It was a little hard to get used to, but it’s ok, it’s better now.
Who are you skating with in training?
Daniel Grassl: With Nika Egadze, Morisi Kvitelashvili, Adelia Petrosyan, Kamila Valieva and Sofia Akatieva. And with Arseni Fedotov.
Do they motivate you, challenge you to some extent?
Daniel Grassl: Certainly. They jump a lot of quads, they are very persistent. It motivates when we skate our full programs.
At the European Championships, you said that you feel pressure. Are you still experiencing this?
Daniel Grassl: It’s already better. There are always difficulties, different thoughts that flash through my head. But after the European Championships, I became stronger in this regard.
How do you like life in Moscow?
Daniel Grassl: In fact, I have hardly been outside. Sometimes I feel very lonely, I have few friends. Usually I study. My life is usually just an apartment and a skating rink, when I come home I try to study or call my friends.
We talked about it after the short program and some skating fans asked if they could meet you somewhere and show you the city.
Daniel Grassl: Yes, sure. (Laughs) It’s very nice, thank you. I would like to explore Moscow, I love traveling and discovering new places.
Returning to figure skating, what are your goals for the next season?
Daniel Grassl: The main goal is to do two quads in the short program. I’ve been trying to do this for three seasons now. But so far I’ve only had one, because that way I feel more confident and don’t feel as much pressure. Now we must try to do it, even if there are mistakes at the beginning. And in the free program there are three or four quads, as I said. I also want to work on artistry.
You also said that you felt more pressure because Eteri was at the World Championships. Why?
Daniel Grassl: I still have to get used to the fact that Eteri is nearby. But I think it will get better. She tries to calm me down and all that. I’m nervous because she always has the best athletes, so I also want to do well. But in training everything is fine, I feel calm.
Alexander Zulin: “Quads alone are not enough for Malinin to win? Well Sasha Trusova at the Olympics is your answer. After all, you need not just to run between the elements, but also to own your body.”