Aleksandr Galliamov: “Pair skating is being artificially hold back in development and entertainment.”
Interview with Aleksandr Galliamov.
source: Sport-Express dd. 6 February 2023 by Alexander Nevzgodov, Timur Ganeev
Is figure skating an art or still a sport?
Aleksandr Galliamov: This is a sport only in the early stages of an athlete’s development. As soon as you move into siniors, you start to comprehend the elements of art.
When does a skater cross this line?
Aleksandr Galliamov: It’s different for everyone. If we talk about pair skating, then at the time of the formation of a coherent program. This happened to us when we moved to Tamara Nikolaevna Moskvina. The set of elements should match the music and not look like something separate.
You started in single skating. When did you realize that you were more comfortable in pairs?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I switched to pair skating at the age of 14 because a transitional age started. The coaches in single skating already foresaw that I would be tall and become a pair skater. Multi-rotational jumps with a height of 187 are quite difficult to perform.
By the way, what jumps did you perform?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I jumped all the triples and combinations. For my 13 years old, this was the maximum. At the age of 14, my knees began to hurt due to the load. For two months, I did not skate at all. Together with my parents, we came to the conclusion that we should try pair skating. I knew how to jump, and I was tall, which is especially appreciated in pairs. Thus, I changed the “direction.”
Is pair skating more beautiful than single skating?
Aleksandr Galliamov: For me, it’s more pleasing to watch pairs. Even if something didn’t work out for me in single skating, I was able to realize it in pairs. As a child, I was very upset when I did not succeed in this or that element on the ice. I feel more comfortable doing pairs, there are more diverse elements. It’s more interesting. When I got my first permanent partner in skating, the excitement appeared to start competing as soon as possible.
So, what makes the women’s single skating so spectacular then?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I don’t know why, but they try to artificially hold back pair skating in development and entertainment. For some reason, they do not want to return the high base value of quad elements. Yes, I understand that partners have a high risk of injury. But if the pair consciously takes this risk, then, of course, the element must be consistent.
Now throws are being learned on the harness, like in single skating. Previously, there were no such technologies, but now, with the right approach, any risk can be minimized. When choreographers start working with skaters, it is difficult for them to perceive the movements of athletes. At first, they hardly perceive the steps performed on the floor.
How much is figure skating similar to ballet?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Pretty similar. We begin training in figure skating with basic ballet elements. As a child, I frequently attended choreography classes to work on arm plasticity. In figure skating, this is very important. So I am very grateful to my choreographers and my mother, who paid a lot of attention to this aspect. She prompted, helped, and reminded me about the correct posture. In her youth, she was a ballerina.
Did she perform at a high level?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I would not say so, but the knowledge remained. For example, during the New Year’s holidays, my parents and I went to the Nutcracker ballet, and if one of the artists made a small mistake, my mother immediately noticed it, although I did not pay attention to it. I liked the Chinese dance very much. Mom says it’s a very difficult part in the ballet.
Did your parents want you to do ballet?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Mom says that there were such thoughts. Like, now she would go to all my ballet performances. I laugh at these words. Before figure skating, I studied for six months at the choreographic studio in Yekaterinburg, but I wasn’t excited. I felt a completely different chemistry on the ice.
Would you like to dance in the ballet?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I could take part in the Nutcracker. Still, this is a classic; it is very difficult to spoil it. When I watched the performance in Alexandrinka, I put myself in the place of the artist. I felt music and movement.
Do you have a good ear?
Aleksandr Galliamov: So-so. I can’t say it’s perfect.
What other form of art do you like besides ballet?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Hard to tell. A lot of things can interest me, whether it’s painting or modern dance. I can start to dig into the biography of an artist in order to understand his worldview.
What is your favorite program with Nastya Mishina?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I will single out a very difficult program to the composition “We are the Champions.” A lot didn’t work out at first. When we moved to Tamara Nikolaevna, it was a different style for us; there, you needed to skate in one breath for all four minutes, but we coped. And gradually we began to enjoy our skating. At one of the shows, we performed a program Party like A Russian, which was remade from a short program. It was bold and funny.
The best pair in figure skating?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I will name Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze. They were ahead of their time. Even now, if you do those sets of elements, it will be complex and modern.
And who is the best skater in terms of artistry?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Indeed, there are skaters whose technique is not the best, but whose presentation and choreography are at some cosmic level. As a child, I was fascinated by Florent Amodio. He skated amazingly, and he always chose chic music. I will especially note his program to Michael Jackson, with which he won the European Championships. By the way, it was choreographed by Nikolai Morozov. The whole arena was delighted by his performances.
Do you take part in working on your programs with Tamara Moskvina?
Aleksandr Galliamov: It happens that we can discuss some elements. I offer my vision; she offers her vision. Sometimes we are confused about the choice of the best option to do in the program. First, we try one thing, then another. It can be difficult to come to a conclusion, but I want to note that Tamara Nikolaevna is always right.
Are there disputes with Nastya in training?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Every year, we understand each other better. We try to smooth over rough edges and unpleasant situations. Three years ago, if something didn’t work out in training, I got upset. Now there is a different approach. Every time I tell myself, “If it doesn’t work out now, but we know how to do it, at the crucial moment this element will definitely be fulfilled.”
Were there any misunderstandings at the competitions?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I’ll tell you a funny story. European Championships 2022. We were in a six-minute warm-up. We have a certain number of elements that we always train. The triple-toe loop was left for last. There is one minute left, and Nastya says, “Let’s do [a triple toe loop].” I answer, “What toe loop? We have been jumping it for many years already.” For some reason, there was no desire to repeat it. Nastya laughs, “You are so lazy.” It seemed to be said in a joking manner, but I thought about it. For a long time, the thought sat in my subconscious: what if this particular element would not suddenly work out? But, thank God, it worked out. We became the first. I imagine what Nastya would have said to me if I had failed. (laughs).
What was your first reaction when Nastya uttered the already famous phrase, “I didn’t understand any fucking thing,” after a question from a BBC journalist at the 2022 Olympics?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Everyone who was standing nearby, including me, was shocked (laughs).
Would you say that?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Usually I try to think well before saying something, but we were on emotions. In euphoria. Still, the winners are not judged.
Did you remember that incident afterwards?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Of course, it was very funny. When we were going back to the Olympic village, almost all the conversation centered around this phrase.
Do you already consider yourself an experienced skater?
Aleksandr Galliamov: We have such a joke. I went to the Olympics at the age of 22 as a young, promising, and talented figure skater. This season, I am already an experienced, seasoned athlete. At least that’s what the media says. But being serious, as I said above, I began to look at some things more calmly, but the energy has not gone away. I understand how to use my energy correctly.
Do you have an idea what you will do after the end of your career?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I’m studying to be a coach, but now it’s hard to guess. The next big goal is the 2026 Olympics. Then we’ll see if health will allow us to keep a high bar. With every passing year, a regime, proper nutrition became even more important in order to recover.
Are you careful about your diet?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Yes, even my grandmother prepares diet food for me. I need to control my weight. In pair skating, lightness is important, so you can’t eat junk food. After all, we’re jumping the 3S+3S combo.
Can you allow yourself fast food?
Aleksandr Galliamov: If only several servings of pancakes. I am not an ideal athlete, but I am purposeful. I don’t like being content with what I have. I will rejoice at a victory or a medal place, but I will always try to improve my result. Take a step forward.
Do you understand that you are already an idol for many children?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Sure. When we won the 2021 Worlds, many people probably thought that we were lucky that we skated cleanly and accidentally climbed to the highest place on the podium. It is unlikely that anyone expected that we would continue to win at the Russian Nationals and Europeans and skate great four times at the Olympics. These competitions gave us a lot of confidence and an understanding that we are able to move our sport forward, showing children that nothing is impossible.
In your opinion, what makes figure skating so popular in Russia, apart from the results of athletes in the international arena?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I will name “Ice Age” project. Especially “Ice Age. Children”. I am sure that after watching this program, many parents have a desire to engage their children in figure skating. This is very good. Also, it is important that we have a lot of cool ice shows.
Who makes best shows in the country?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I like the show of Ilia Averbukh. We have performed there several times. Ilia has a chic team, amazing performances, and amazing athletes. You can say the idols of my childhood: Kostomarov, Marinin, Tikhonov, Yagudin, Shabalin and Stavitsky. I remember what special feelings I had when we skated there for the first time. Then our highest achievement with Nastya was a bronze medal of the Grand Prix Final. I sit in the locker room with Olympic champions, world champions, and they turned out to be very kind and sociable people. We quickly found a common language. During the break in the show, they found time to kick the ball in the hallway. Sometimes Averbukh himself joined us.
Do you think he’s great?
Aleksandr Galliamov: He has done so many shows; he does a lot in order to popularize our sport! Of course, he made a great contribution to the development of figure skating in Russia.
How do you imagine the future of figure skating? Quad combinations or top-level choreography?
Aleksandr Galliamov: When you see that a person with almost no quadruple jumps can claim a place in the top six, questions arise: can figure skating progress further? Of course, the quality of skating is improving. Jumping will develop. For example, Malinin performs a quadruple axel, which Yuzuru Hanyu tried with all his might to perform at the Olympics. Single skating is not hold back in terms of points, as it is done in pairs. The pairs will develop style, energy, and drive. But will this be enough for development? Will it contribute to the emergence of new stars? Still, the quadruple axel is spectacular when artistry can only be admired.
You are a big football fan and play often. Are you not getting enough loads in your workouts?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Enough, but sometimes I need to change the scenery, get distracted from the skating rink for a while. For me, this is a real vacation. Cool, emotional. I rest on the football field, not on the chair in front of the computer.
What are the main principles that drive you?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Discipline, perseverance, prudence. I’ve looked up to the elders since I was a child, and I’ve taken the best qualities from them.
What is your main disadvantage?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Perhaps, stubbornness. Sometimes it ruins me. When I was still doing single skating, I didn’t want to leave the ice until I did this or that element, and sometimes I got injured because of that. Now, most of the time, I control myself in this regard.
Have you ever used your status to solve some issues?
Aleksandr Galliamov: No, I try not to be impudent. I am shy to ask someone for help. I calmly solve all my problems myself. My parents raised me to be independent.
Have you ever used your status to solve some issues?
Aleksandr Galliamov: No, I try not to be impudent. I am shy about asking someone for help. I calmly solve all my problems myself. My parents raised me to be independent.
And there was not even a temptation?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Honestly, I never look for profit. I try to do everything from the heart to be a good person. I believe in karma.
How did you come to this?
Aleksandr Galliamov: I saw how karma overtook others.
What can tick you off?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Already nothing. Although a few years ago I was quick-tempered. Now I try to think ahead like a winner, not like a loser.
What kind of music do you listen to?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Different. One in free time, during the warm-up—a completely different one.
Give me a couple of examples.
Aleksandr Galliamov: I enjoy listening to rock. For example, Hollywood Undead and Fall Out Boy, Nirvana, Linkin Park. Or rap – Tyga, Kid Cudi, Migos, Travis Scott.
These are, let’s say, musicians that your generation hardly listens to, no?
Aleksandr Galliamov: Agree. In my opinion, modern music is fast food. Not all, of course, but most of the performers are literally one-day. If you look at the top charts a year ago, many artists have already been forgotten. Their problem is that they are all very similar to each other and create music on the knee. At first, when you listen to this musician for the first time, it may even sound cute, but it’s impossible to listen to this for a long time.
Are you following the industry closely?
Aleksandr Galliamov: When TikTok was not yet blocked in Russia, it was a good platform for promoting music. I went to the top charts, listened to 10-20 songs, but nothing touched me. The quality was low-grade, the lyrics were very weak. Everyone was basically betting on the chorus, but not putting anything else into their track.
How hard is it for you now without international competitions?
Aleksandr Galliamov: We are competing at the Russian level. We have someone to compete with, the competition is still high. When we are admitted to international events, the athletes of our country will continue to take leading positions. Of course, I would like this to happen as soon as possible, but you definitely shouldn’t lose heart.
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