Alexander Zhulin: Victoria Sinitsina and Tatiana Navka have the same element

Posted on 2018-08-13 • 1 comment


Translation of new interview with Alexander Zhulin about his pairs Victoris Sinitsina / Nikita Katsalapov and Ekaterina Bobrova / Dmitri Soloviev.

I looked at the parts of Victoria Sinitsina / Nikita Katsalapov’s free dance and intuitively felt the beginning of competition with world champions Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron.

– With them? We just changed the style of the guys. The first part of the free dance is Bach, Air. So on the ice everything should be airy. And I really like the second part. It is extremely difficult to find a fast piece of music that suits Bach in style. I understand that sometimes such combinations look simply terrifying, but, unfortunately, the rules force us to change the rhythm. It’s hard to combine, but this time my friend helped me to find a very strong music that matches Bach. This is “Allegro in the style of Punany” by Friedrich Kreisler. And the rhythm-dance tango is entirely based on the Verano Porteño by Astor Piazzolla, performed by Raul Garello.

Both me and the guys are happy with how the programs turned out. They also turned out last season, but, unlike last season, we need to start performing well.

It seems no one criticized last season’s free program to Rachmaninov.

– I didn’t hear criticism either. We were even advised to keep it for the next season, but it seems to me that if we want to grow, we need to have a new one.

Victoria, judging by the communication with her, has become psychologically stronger during the past season.

– She also became faster technically. Yes, she’s getting stronger, more technical. The most important thing that we needed to achieve was an emotional combination of Vika and Nikita. All people are different. I really hope that this year they will show themselves to be a more mature couple. They have a huge potential.

Have they became closer in terms of technique?

– Yes, and psychologically they have changed.

What did it mean?

– They began to train well.

They lacked it last season?

– Yes, they was sorting out their relationship a lot. There were mismatches in technique, which caused discomfort, and we worked to make them fit each other in this regard. Vika showed colossal perseverance. She cleverly behaved.

We talked a lot and went all the way through her history from the American Canton to the “Olympiyski”, and I noticed that she became …


Angry in a sporting way. She talks cute, but there’s a core inside her that she raised herself.

– I hope so. She really needs it! She must have no doubts about anything.

Does this pair need two sources of power? Or will we get a new variation of the Ilinykh / Katsalapov?

– Ilinykh / Katsalapov, actually, was not a bad pair, right? The fact is that the more charisma goes from both partners, the better. Of course, it is always possible to build a program so that a woman will be a woman and a man will be a man.

But is it necessary to “remove” the traditional woman from Sinitsina and put her in other frames, with another charisma – aggressive and evil?

– You know, when Tanya Navka teamed up with Roma Kostomarov, she really lacked sharpness. There was no accuracy in the execution of the movements. All the smooth parts of the program she skated very well, but she couldn’t cope with fast parts. And Tanya was well aware of this. Vika also understands this. Sinitsina’s element, like Navka’s, is lyrical, feminine, smooth skating. But our common element is sport. And in sport you have to be able to do everything.

But in the new free dance you stick to this habitual for Victoria style.

– I wouldn’t say that. There’re fast pieces in tango and one rapin in the free dance. And Vika starts to cope with them. But the main thing is that she starts to cope with the tasks that coaches give her. You can’t perform at such level and say: “It’s not comfortable for me.” Still, Katsalapov is an Olympic champion. And for her, this Nikita’s achievement was always a small problem. Or maybe, a big one. Because she always needs to match him. Because of this, she had moral pressure. Nervous. Failures. It’s not easy to team up with the Olympic champion. But several years have passed, and the couple began to develop as it should, based on the potential. It’s great when there are two beautiful and crazy peopleon the ice. But in sport, first of all there should be two athletes – partly angry, partly lyrical. And Nikita should be able to skate slowly and gracefully.

Does he have any disadvantages?

– Everyone has. But he has more advantages. And Vika really improved, and it pleases me as a coach.

You said they started to sort out their relationship less.

– Yes. Nikita is just so … Well, everyone knows Nikita. no need to discuss … He just needs to live up to his age, understand that he is a man and he will have to marry and be responsible for his family. And if he manages to transfer this awareness at least slightly to the ice, it will be great.

But we talked about this with you a year ago.

– And it seems to me that we talked about this seven years ago. (Laughs) And now I really hope that something has happened in his and her minds. Perhaps, they were really affected by Katsalapov’s injury at the Russian Championship. After all they were skating great in free dance. The first three elements were +3! I was told that it was just super. They claimed to be … And then this ridiculous injury … It has strongly affected them psychologically. Thank God, they didn’t break. I was pleasantly impressed that they didn’t blame each other. Vika didn’t say a word to him. Nikita didn’t blame the coaches. They just rethought, and generally began to talk less. In my opinion, they want to prove that they can achieve a lot. But while I don’t say so, I just hope so.

In that ill-fated free dance at the Russian Championships, Nikita had not only physical pain?

– When I saw his foot, it was black. It twisted, it was followed by a breakdown of the lift, then a spin. Everything collapsed.

As it turns put, it all started at the warm-up.

– Yes, but he thought he could make it. But then he told me that at the end of the circle he understood  – that’s over, there’s no leg. I didn’t dig this situation deeply, but I’m tend to believe athletes.

I told Vika that, in my opinion, even she didn’t believe at first that it was an injury. But she explained to me the whole situation, which was difficult before the start of their dance.

– I remember how he went on the ice. He was tormented by the thought of pain. But what sense to talk about this, I want to enter the new Olympic cycle and I believe that everything will be fine. This pair is clearly hasn’t skated enough and hasn’t received what it can.
Another Sochi Olympic champion Dmitri Soloviev told me that he intends to continue his career. While they are together with Ekaterina Bobrova will be involved in the show.

– Yes, the show is a good school. And we already have music for their programs. The question is: how will they feel after the show? Will they want to get on a sports career with new strengths? While we decided to wait. They are preparing. They go to trainings, they are on ice, they are in good physical shape. Tatiana Anatolievna (Tarasova) came and looked at them. She said that they skate great. Let’s see what happens next.

I don’t get it, did you choose music for Bobrova / Soloviev’s programs for this season?

– Programs haven’t been done yet. We skip the Grand Prix, and if we perform this season than not from the beginning.

But Katia took a pause in her career and decided to focus on family.

– At the moment we are in a state of uncertainty about all these issues.

Do you think that Bobrova / Soloviev will return to professional ice this season?

– I don’t exclude anything. In this world, you can’t be surprised by anything.

Are there precondition for this?

– They’re on skates, with four legs. This is the first. I can do the programs fairly quickly. This is the second. Bobrova and Soloviev prepare the programs quickly too. This is the third. Let’s see how their desire coincides with our desire. It’s a difficult moment.

Does Dmitri keep in mind other partners, if Katya decides not to return?

– No, why? I don’t think he will consider other partners. But this question should be addressed to Dima, I’m not ready to answer for him.

How do you think, does it makes sense for them to resume their careers? Or do they need to look for other roles?

– I’m waiting for them to try the shows and then think what attracted them more. Sport is a hard work. Shows are a game. An art game in which, frankly speaking, it isn’t necessary to train hard.

With Bobrova and Soloviev you have worked for more than a year, have made progress, now you have Sinitsina / Katsalapov with real prospects for a new four-year period. Won’t it be uncomfortable for you to work with two duets, which will require total dedication?

– I’ve always loved tandems. I like it when I have two strong pairs. Better three. They motivate each other. I was very pleased with how the work was going between Bobrova / Soloviev and Sinitsina / Katsalapov last year. They looked at each other. Of course, competition can play both in favor and in harm, but I have never been afraid of competition. In the past Olympic season we didn’t have a single conflict on the ice. Never. The work was very decent.

But to have the two pairs on the same ice, you brobably had to apply your pedagogical skills, which certainly were more than just quotes about the benefits of competition?

– Of course, I had to talk. But I was lucky that they all reacted very correctly. Since the first training, we haven’t a single controversial issue. And I gave them an absolutely equal amount of time.

Have you ever had a desire to start working actively with junior pairs?

– I took very good coaches to the group. These are my former students, whom I loved very much – Yulia Zlobina and Lesha Sitnikov. They are creative and hungry for work people. I appreciate their work and to be honest, I relaxed a little. I take the main decisions on music and choreography for all pairs, but they work directly with juniors. There are good pairs, but I cann’t say yet that we have new Virtue / Moir. And my main priority are siniors.

by Anatoli Samokhavol for


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One response to “Alexander Zhulin: Victoria Sinitsina and Tatiana Navka have the same element”

  1. Lotte says:

    He’s working with Zlobina and Sitnikov, yay! I liked them so much in their competitive years.

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