Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin: “The most challenging element to restore after come back? It’s probably the twizzles.”
Interview with Aleksandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin. The duo told how the training is going, what they like about the changes in the rules in ice dancing and how they feel about the competition in the new group.
source: Sport24 dd 30th April 2023 by Anastasiia Loginova
Tell us how it feels to skate together again?
Aleksandra Stepanova: We made a gradual comeback. We started with one training session, then began to increase gradually, without rushing. We were incredibly happy during our first practice. I remember it very well because it happened with our new team. There were new impressions from all sides: new coaches, a new rink, and both Vanya and I were there. Vanya also gained a lot of experience during these seven months and came back as a different person. Even with a new hairstyle (laughs). I, too, have probably changed in some way.
Now we have reunited again, and our first performance will be on May 4th. I think it will be very exciting for us. At least for me, it certainly will be. We hope to present a very tender routine where everyone will remember that it is possible and necessary to dream.
If you followed the competitions, can you name the MVP of the season?
Ivan Bukin: Go ahead, Sasha. Everyone has missed you, so go ahead and talk. (laughs)
Aleksandra Stepanova: I watched the Russian Nationals and remembered Elizaveta Pasichnik and Maxim Nekrasov. I liked them.
Ivan Bukin: It’s hard to answer that question, really. I really liked the guys. (points to Vasilisa Kaganovskaya and Valeri Angelopol)
How does it feel to be together again in front of the audience?
Ivan Bukin: You know, honestly, when we got back on the ice three weeks ago, I want to say that we missed this so much. We agreed that we would go out and skate calmly, recover without rushing anywhere, but it doesn’t work that way! You’re so charged up, filled with emotions that you go out and work, and after three hours you’re like, “Let’s take a little break.” It’s like you’re earning it, you come to the realization that you love this and missed it so much.
Can we say that you’ve found your second wind?
Ivan Bukin: You can call it the 25th wind already. We’ve been in this sport for a long time, so I guess it’s a deeper understanding.
Aleksandra Stepanova: It’s a different wind.
Sasha, how challenging is it to make a comeback, to recover?
Aleksandra Stepanova: It’s fine.
Ivan Bukin: Actually, it wasn’t difficult for her at all. I thought she would have a hard time, but she came out and started skating better than me (laughs).
Aleksandra Stepanova: Oh, he’s exaggerating.
Ivan Bukin: Just a little bit.
Sasha, which element is the most challenging to restore?
Aleksandra Stepanova: I can’t name a specific element. It’s more about skating as a whole. We’re now working with a new team, as you already know. Of course, there’s a slightly different technique there, and we’re still learning something new. Difficulties arise along the way, but if we’re talking specifically about elements, it’s probably the twizzles because there needs to be a balance that I didn’t achieve right away.
In Alexander Zhulin’s group, there are now three duos from the top 4 of the Russian Nationals, plus you. How do you feel in such a competitive atmosphere?
Aleksandra Stepanova: Competition is always good, especially when it’s within the group. We had a similar experience with our previous team: there was a senior pair skating for another country. When you’re at the same level, in the senior category, it’s always interesting. You always observe and watch each other.
The rhythm dance for the next season will be to 80s music. How do you feel about this theme? Do you already have ideas for the program?
Aleksandra Stepanova: Actually, the 80s had so much diverse music! We really want to create some characters, but we’re still considering it.
Ivan Bukin: We’re in the process of developing it.
Aleksandra Stepanova: We’re in search of ideas, music, and costumes. We really want it to be something interesting.
Do you have anything for the free dance yet?
Aleksandra Stepanova: The free dance was choreographed a year ago. We actually created it for the season we didn’t compete in. The program turned out to be interesting.
In the 2022/23 season, the mandatory pattern was removed from the rhythm dance. How did it affect the development of ice dances?
Aleksandra Stepanova: It depends on how you look at it. Now, it seems to me that the rhythm dance has become more similar to the free dance. The difference we wanted to show before and strive for has diminished, but perhaps that makes the dance even more interesting.
Ivan Bukin: Rhythm dances have become more dynamic and diverse. The mandatory dance used to impose the task of performing specific steps. It was an indicator of your skating and skill level, but now it’s more fun.
Aleksandra Stepanova: If we look at it from the perspective of judges and spectators, it probably wasn’t very interesting to watch 20-30 pairs skate the same thing. Of course, the dances were different, but that identical piece of the mandatory dance wasn’t very watchable or interesting. Now it has become much more diverse, and you can come up with a lot of different things. The dance is still there; it has just been slightly modified to make it more interesting.
Did you follow the international season? Did you like any of the foreign pairs?
Aleksandra Stepanova: I watched the first three pairs at the World Championships. I stopped watching some in the middle because I was watching recordings. The post-Olympic season…
Ivan Bukin: It was predictable for me. That’s why it wasn’t very interesting.
Aleksandra Stepanova: Yes, it was predictable.
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