Rostislav Sinicyn: Sinitsina and Katsalapov were held back last season

Posted on 2016-03-26 • No comments yet


Coach Rostislav Sinicyn about modern ice dance, judges, Gabriella Papadakis – Guillaume Cizeron, Russian duos Elena Ilinykh- Ruslan Zhiganshin and Victoria Sinitsina – Nikita Katsalapov, and shares predictions for the upcoming World Championships in Boston.

Rostislav, you have repeatedly said that now in ice dance is too little of dances, and the emphasis is on technique. In your opinion, something is changing?

Rostislav: Not really. Just during the World Junior Championships was a meeting of coaches, where ISU Technical Committee chairman Galina Gordon-Poltorak was talking about the necessity to dance more. Her proposal – to add a step sequence “B” in the short program, which would give the opportunity to add this dances. Although, there are limitations, I agree that this is the right move.  The fact that the technical mark is too important harms our discipline.  Look, at the World Junior Championships the Russian pair (Alla Loboda / Pavel Drozd) was punished for for the fall in the short dance by loosing the difficulty level, deduction, -GOE for the element itself.  The PCS also was reduced.

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For one mistake they were punished four times. 

Rostislav: Yes. And the duo is very good, they skated strongly. I liked them very much. There were other interesting duets, but you probably noticed a trend: many skaters skate to the music like “My Sweet and Tender Beast” and roll their eyes, apparently trying to read what they have written inside the brain. Everyone is a little bit tired of it, ice dance it’s not only “Romeo and Juliet” in different variations. But this trend is also due to the bias towards technique.


Rostislav: Because the technical mark is so prevalent that people don’t have to do anything original. Perform good elements, receive for them good points. And for the transitional steps by inertia also get high marks. Although, what do they have between the elements? All the same: beautifully rolled eyes, gently putting arm around partner, she put her head on your shoulder. And many can’t do even this. Wrinkle the face and believe that this is emotion. My coach Lyudmila Pakhomova always scolded me for this. She said: “Do not make faces.”

There is an opinion that averaged estimates of the components and their heavy reliance on technical points and rating is present in single figure skating too.

Rostislav: There is. Marks for execution, choreography and musicality depends the most. For example, the skater gives the performance, dance from the heart  – and usually the remaining components are hitched up to them. That is why I always tell my students: no matter what happens, always dance to the end. And I instruct so not only dancers.

ISU chairman of the technical committee Alexander Lakernik said that it’s difficult for judges to evaluate the components separately, because there are too much of them, the brain is just not able to cope with it.

Rostislav: I think that is not the case. Just the judges should be trained. To organize them a meeting with the coaches. Then there will be some kind of understanding. I’m not saying that the coaches are always right, we definitely try to grab the biggest piece of the pie, because we put heart and soul into the students. Sometimes, we think we have been punished for nothing – and then analyze, understand that judges were right and start to work on corrections of the errors. But the judges also must be ready to admit that they are wrong. And I have a feeling that some judges just don’t know some of the technical things.

After all, when there was more objectivity – now or before?

Rostislav: When judged by the old system, we also didn’t always agree with the marks. Just everything was clearer. I have often said that the new system removed the participation of the viewer in the process. Fans sitting on the stands, can’t put their marks, as they did before. Of course, after watching a program. you can say – I would give 75 points. But why 75 and not 77 or 80, it’s not very clear. And before that, a “6.0” system, it was clear. Even now if we had just seen,  for example,  who puts which components separately, we would be involved in what is happening.

Gabriella PAPADAKIS / Guillaume CIZERON

Is it interesting for you to look at the French Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron? Many say that their free dance this season is very similar to last year.

Rostislav: Very similar. And it’s not only because the style is the same. Maybe, they will never change the style, they have chosen it for themselves. The programs themselves are very similar. And whether I was interested to watch……To be honest, I expected that they will surprise. But they didn’t. Now I’m really looking forward to the return of Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Moreover, they will be training in the same group with the French team.

Do you think Canadians will skate in the same style?

Rostislav: Yes, because they have been skating in this style before. Eyes to eyes. I’m not saying that it shouldn’t be, man and woman are dancing, not two trees. But we must try to do something original. With a new system of judging it’s hard.

Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin’s dance “Frida”isn’t it an attempt to move away from the general trend?

Rostislav: To be honest, for me it was a bit chaotic. It seems to me, they didn’t succeed in this program to highlight the most important, to create pictures that would be remembered.

ilinykh zhiganshinHer facial expressions are remembered – she hasn’t been doing such before.

Rostislav: The facial expression must be accompanied by choreographic discoveries. And I wasn’t impressed by choreography in their program.

Why, in your opinion, Lena and Ruslan went to a new coach – Igor Shpilband?

Rostislav:  They are, as far as I know, officially left only for a few months? I think, they decided to change the working environment. But here is the important thing. It is clear that an athlete has a prevalent idea to blame the coach for his failures. There is some truth. But the new coach won’t do anything if the athlete doesn’t change himself.

There are many pairs in Igor Shpilband’s group.

Rostislav: So, Lena and Ruslan won’t have any privileges. Let’s see whether they will survive in this situation.

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A rise of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov this season came as a surprise?

Rostislav: No. And last season, it was clear that they had good programs, they weren’t skating as bad as some foreign judges were trying to tell us. In my opinion, they was seen as a competitors, that is why they were held back.

But have you noticed some changes in their skating?

Rostislav: Of course. With all respect to Victoria, last year she was on another level compared to her partner Nikita Katsalapov. And when at the competition he was adding the expression, she simply couldn’t keep up with him. She’s younger, not so experienced. Even then I said to Nikita: think about your partner, and then everything will work out, everything will be ok. And in pair Ilinykh – Zhiganshin, on the contrary, her experience helped to hide the difference between partners. In addition, by the end of the season Ruslan has improved a lot, he has become a real man on the ice, and I was very pleased with it.

Do Sinitsina and Katsalapov have a chance at Worlds, or they will be again held back? 

Rostislav:  It is necessary to skate and fight. It impossible to hold back forever. They also tried to hold back Navka and Kostomarov  but nothing work out.

ShibutaniAmericans Maia and Alex Shibutani are the favorites?

Rostislav: I was not surprised by their rise. Even last year I liked their free dance a lot. Each step in the note. But it will be hard for them to win the Worlds.  Papadakis and Cizeron, in spite of the similarity to the last year program, skate very well. In general, the company in Borton will be very powerful and interesting.

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Read also an interview with Igor Shpilband


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