Alexander Samarin: In men’s skating few people perceive quad toe loop as a really complex element

Posted on 2020-03-17 • No comments yet


Elena Vaitsekhovskaya’s interview with Alexander Samarin. About past unsuccessful season, boots problems, quad jumps and loyalty to the coach.

by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for dd. 11th March 2020

photo Vasily Fedosenko / Reuters

I still can’t believe that you lost the chance to go to the main competitions of the season already in the short program at the European Championships in Graz, taking 13th place. What did you feel at that moment?

– Of course, it was unpleasant. But I have already learned how to deal with such things. I already had a similar experience – in the Olympic season, when after the European Championships I did not get to the Games in Pyeongchang. I didn’t give up in Graz, I tried to win it back in a free program, but it were a hard competitions.

In a free program, you closed the top ten …

– Yes. And it was a good kick and, I would say, a timely one, because the next two seasons will be very important to me. We discussed everything with my coach Svetlana Sokolovskaya, set goals and these goals are more than just serious. So once again I want to say thank you to both the coach and all those who supported me and continue to support even when not everything works out. It gives strength.

Did boots problem have something to do with your failure in Graz? And could this problem be avoided?

– I do not want to blame the result on boots. I did not go to Graz as complete zero. I did all the jumps in training, skated programs … Yes, it was harder to perform in new boots. Probably, this condition can be compared with a situation when you buy new shoes and wear them all day without taking off. And figure skating boots are much tougher, and you need time to break in.

Maybe you should have risked and skate in old boots?

– I thought about it. Perhaps I could have skated better. Or maybe, I would have completely broken them during the free program. And what would I do then? I did what I did – there’s no sense to talk about it now.

You already had a similar negative experience at the Russian Nationals in St. Petersburg, when the boot broke during a free program. Did not think about solving the problem radically? Switch to another model, for example?

– It is unrealistic for me to break into two pairs per season, since this process is always difficult. If I start preparing two pairs at once, I’m afraid I’ll be left without legs. As for the model, Edea is just the only one of all I tried that fits my foot. I used to skate in Risport, then my leg grew, but remained narrow. Therefore, we settled on those boots in which I have been skating for many years. And it’s tribute to the representatives of the company, they are always interested, asking if it is necessary to change something, to redo, to make it easier to skate, they always meet any wishes.

I know that you have never been a supporter of the easy path in sports, but when you failed the short program at the Russian Nationals, having failed all your quad jumps, didn’t you thought that this was unnecessary difficulty? Was it worth it to remove the second one? Still, a short program is not a program where a skater of your level is allowed to make mistakes.

– I agree. That is why, right after the New Year, we eased the content, keeping the quadruple lutz, but replacing the quadruple flip with a toe loop. This set of jumps turned out pretty stable in trainings. It did not cause concern, so to speak. And still, at the right time it didn’t work out.

What prevents you from concentrating? Maybe the coach should take away all mobile devices before the performance?

– I don’t use social networks during competitions, if that’s what you are talking about. I don’t read anything that they write on the Internet. I think about the upcoming performance a lot, well, and everyone thinks about it, as it seems to me. In general, I would not really like to talk about it now. For me, my inner mood is a rather personal moment. But I’ll say that we are constantly working on concentration. After the European Championships, we rethought a lot of things.

And after your performance in Graz, were you not afraid that you would come the board and hear from Sokolovskaya that with all the love and trust, she is tired of fighting for the result, tired of too frequent failures, tired of working with you?

– I’ve never thought that such a thing could happen. Of course I was thinking: “What have I done?” But Svetlana Vladimirovna and I so many times have gotten out of the bottom, so many times we have stumbled and rose again and went forward … It seems to me that she will never leave me, the same as me. I always feel that the coach believes in me and will support me. After all, we have one goal.

Is it hard to force yourself to train when you realize that the season is actually over?

– It’s hard, yes. For a couple of days after returning from Graz, I have been coming back to senses: I had to calm down, exhale and make a clear plan in my head before going on the ice. Now I am very motivated. We have a very busy schedule. We learned a lot of things, at the last competitions in Tallinn we tried a new jump – quad loop. I learned it fast enough.

Now you jump lutz, flip, loop. Could you explain why several previous generations of skaters tried to jump only toe loop? If this is really the easiest of the quad jumps, why is it now less and less popular?

– Everyone wants to win, to do something that others do not. Toe loop is really the easiest. I would even say that in men’s skating few people perceive it as a really complex element, it is rather on the same level with triples.

For example, I don’t even need any special training or warm-up to jump it in training. Other quadruples require much more serious efforts and serious preparation. The same lutz takes a lot of energy. Therefore, now in training, I am learning to properly restore strength during skating, breathe correctly, and be able to relax between the elements to make the muscles rest.

Girls often say that an extra 500 grams of weight can be a critical barrier to performing quad jumps or triple axel. And how do you feel your weight?

– 500 grams definitely will not stop me from jumping. But a kilogram already changes the sensations: everything turns out more slowly, I would say viscously. In such cases, the first thing you do is go to the scales.

Yuzuru Hanyu unexpectedly returned to his old programs this season, each of which he had already shown for two seasons. Do you understand why he did this?

– Probably because it comfortable for him: the programs have been run-throughs for many times, they consist of convenient transitions. But I myself see no reason to return to what has already been done. I think that the skater should constantly develop, do something new. When you show the same program for the third season, it seems to me that it will not cause a strong impression and will not give a crazy effect. Accordingly, the reaction of the audience will no longer be what it could be. Although I also had programs that I wanted to keep for a longer period.

For example?

– “Showman”. But to return this program, means to take a step back.

Talking about Hanyu, there is another option: perhaps he is trying to return to the most comfortable environment for himself in order to realize the idea that has already become obsessive to him – to be the first one in the world to perform quad axel. Do you believe in such a perspective?

– The quad axel is, of course, a symbolic element, but will Hanyu make it? If so, it would be cool. But I’m afraid that even in the case of a successful execution, the quad axel will remain a one-time action. Trying to jump it at all costs simply does not make sense: now the rules encourage clean skating, not excessive complexity.

Does this disappoint you?

– It’s not for me to judge. Of course, I would like the quadruple jumps to be more expensive, so that there is no feeling that you are working in vain. On the other hand, to make five quads in the program according to the “run up – jumped” pattern is also wrong.

Why did you need to change the music in your free program before the final competitions of the season?

– I really liked the program that Nikolai Morozov did for me, Good News by Apashe. It’s cool, but as I skated that program, I understood more and more that I simply couldn’t cope with this music. Therefore, for the performance in Tallinn, we decided to take the Keeping me Alive that was more understandable for me. Just before that competitions, we did not have time to change the arrangement of the elements and choreography, but now we are doing that. And we are actively looking for music and an idea for a short program. In May there will be a short rest, then we will continue to work at the summer training camp.

If I ask you to recall the most positive moment of your unsuccessful season, what will you answer?

– There was such a moment, and more than one. I began to train differently, learned what I could not do before, and most importantly, the failure that happened at the European Championships brought our entire team together even more, gave my coach and me a very big charge of the right energy, and I hope this mood is enough for more than one season.

You are now training at CSKA on your own, since your coach was at the junior world championship in Estonia. Have you ever had to compete without Sokolovskaya at the board?

– No never. In training, by the way, it is more difficult: sometimes it is very necessary that someone nudge you, shout and help you quickly get involved in the process. But in competitions I don’t even know how I would have felt without a coach. On the one hand, I’m already mature enough to understand what needs to be done without a hint, and on the other, it’s always calmer when I have my coach at the board.

What are you ready to do for your coach?

– Everything.


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