Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin: “Zhulin has a genius vision in ice dance.”

Posted on 2023-07-17 • No comments yet


Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin about continuing their career, switching to Zhulin’s team and past season in ice dance.

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source: podcast “Free Program” with Maxim Trankov

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin talked about leaving their coaches Zhuk and Svinin.

In March of this year, two-time Russian ice dance champions joined Alexander Zhulin’s group.

Aleksandra Stepanova: It was really difficult because we are not among those who gained experience in different countries, with different coaches. It happened that when I moved to Moscow, Ivan was already with these coaches.

And then I came to them, and from the very beginning, we were only with these coaches. We spent 16-17 years with one team, so, of course, it was tough. It was almost impossible to find the right words.

Ivan Bukin: Well, there weren’t any words, actually.

Aleksandra Stepanova: Yes, that’s right. To leave properly, gracefully, embracing each other – it’s very difficult. But I think that with time, we will probably… I don’t know, we haven’t even seen them yet. When we left, of course, we had conversations, said our goodbyes.

Ivan Bukin: Sasha did all the talking. I only expressed words of gratitude. Well, because the conversation was very brief – exactly 30 seconds. We went in, Sasha said the most important things, I expressed words of gratitude, and that was basically it. Unfortunately. It happened the way it did.

Internally, I wanted to say a lot, express gratitude, describe all the merits that we achieved together. After all, it’s a whole lifetime. And saying goodbye in 30 seconds was very difficult. But perhaps, it was better for both them and us. Otherwise, there would have been many different questions that would have been difficult to answer at that moment.

Why did we decide to do this? Because, you know, this season we stepped away from the sporting life and realized that there’s not much left. Specifically, this kind of sporting work.

We didn’t receive any other information. And we decided that it’s worth trying to work in a different place now, with a different team, to gain a different perspective on us, a different experience.

Aleksandra Stepanova: Take a risk.

Ivan Bukin: Yes, take a risk. Because it’s a big risk for us. Many people who switch to other coaches don’t succeed. When you’re already 30 years old – that’s a short moment. A short chance for that.

Aleksandra Stepanova: We’ll try our best, and then we’ll see if it works out or not. I think the coaches weren’t really shocked. They would have been shocked if we had come, for example, right after the Olympics and told them. That’s when we would have caught them off guard, probably. Because reaching the Olympics was also not easy.

Ivan Bukin: Yes, and they went through the season without us. They have already adjusted to their new life.

Aleksandra Stepanova: During this time, they were able to let us go a little.

Ivan Bukin: I think that was the best moment to part ways. And for each of us to try our own path.

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin talked about why they decided to switch to Alexander Zhulin.

You chose your fierce rivals as your coaches – Alexander Zhulin. Why him specifically?

Ivan Bukin: I worked with Sasha Zhulin in the “Ice Age”, and I really liked it. I shared this information with Sasha. I really liked how he approaches things.

When a person can sit and mind their own business, and then – bam! They have some kind of genius vision. And they seem to have done something small, but it’s done incredibly well.

And the most important thing is that it’s not artificial.

Ivan Bukin: Yes! It’s simple, it’s natural. And you think, how did this happen?

Aleksandra Stepanova: For example, now we try something 10 times, 15 times – it doesn’t work, something’s not right. And he says, “Come here.” He shows, steps onto the ice: just move a little bit here, open your hip a little more.

I think, how is that possible? But it works! I don’t know how he does it. And we can experience these moments ourselves now, and it’s amazing.

Ivan Bukin: It’s probably a genius vision.

If the situation arises, would you be willing to collaborate with Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov?

Aleksandra Stepanova: I think we would. They have such extensive experience, especially since they know the coach and know what he wants. I think they would help us. Well, if they agree, of course.

They have always been ahead of us, and they know exactly what it takes to be at that level. Plus, they have already helped us a little bit.

Ivan Bukin: We will be at the training camp in Sochi. And at that time, Tatiana Navka invited us to perform in her show. She asked the guys to come and teach us their parts. And we, so to speak, worked a little bit.

They have already taught us how to skate what we will be skating in July. It was, by the way, a lot of fun, fantastic.

Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin assessed how the season went for Russian ice dancing pairs.

How exciting was the season for you in Russian ice dance?

Ivan Bukin: I was so afraid of this question, my goodness.

Well, I can say it out loud: I didn’t find it very exciting.

Ivan Bukin: I followed. I can honestly say that it seemed like everyone was somewhat relaxed.

Aleksandra Stepanova: Well, it was a post-Olympic season.

But none of these guys were at the Olympics. Why would they be relaxed?

Aleksandra Stepanova: I feel like the season was intense for everyone. I don’t know.

Ivan Bukin: I had the impression that at every competition, I saw someone making mistakes.

Aleksandra Stepanova: Well, it was messy, very messy. It seems like it hasn’t been like this in a long time.

The expression “dancing till you drop” even emerged in common use.

Ivan Bukin: Well, unfortunately, in the past season, I didn’t see a serious leader. I mean someone who would just come out and… Or two leading pairs who would be so evenly matched.

Both skating cleanly, a hundredth of a point separating them. I didn’t notice that, everyone seemed relaxed. For me, that’s a fitting description of the past season in ice dance.


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