Alexander Zhulin: “With Papadakis/Cizeron missing the European Championships, it was insanely important to remove their direct competitors -Sinitsina/Katsalapov as far as possible.”
Interview with Alexander Zhulin. About his autobiography “Dancing on the ice of life. I know everything about love” and preparing for the Olympics. Zhulin also told who he considers Sinitsina’s and Katsalapov’s direct competitors.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 21st January 2021, by Ekaterina Zvenigorodskaya.
What was the starting point for writing your autobiography?
Alexander Zhulin: There were two moments. Before, I tried to write something, it seemed cool to me. I sent it to one of my friends, she said: “Well it’s not very good.” It just killed me. Then the second moment: wrote, wrote, wrote. I looked it up and thought that something was wrong. These were fictional themes about someone in the third person.
And here I decided: a pandemic, there is nothing to do, let me try to write about myself. I started making notes on my phone. When I realized that, in general, it wasn’t bad, I showed to my wife. The wife said, “Very interesting.” She is, of course, a very wise woman, she likes everything I do. Therefore, I realized that this is not an indicator, I need to show it to someone else.
I wrote another 10-15 pages, sent it to my very close friend, Olympic champion Viktor Petrenko. He said – super, bomb, continue. All the friends whom I sent what I wrote supported me, no one said: “Stop, this is terrifying.” I immediately felt the strength in myself and since then I have become a writer.
Do you have a favorite chapter in this book?
Alexander Zhulin: I really like all these American stories about the Tom Collins’ tour. This is the most humorous chapter ever.
Are there any more books planned?
Alexander Zhulin: If only something completely unrelated to figure skating and me.
In what direction then?
Alexander Zhulin: I absolutely do not understand, I need a screenwriter. I am a director. If the screenwriter is serious and he will captivate me, I will write in such a way that people will be in awe, I just feel it.
The writing is close to journalism. Don’t want to go there?
Alexander Zhulin: You know what’s the matter, I’m 58 years old. To rush about, even in some kind of journalism …
Well, as a hobby.
Alexander Zhulin: I can, of course. Now I have a very serious task: I have a close friend Igor Nikolaev (Composer, musician. – ed), I love him very much. I want to write a couple of songs, but I don’t understand anything in the notes. There are a lot of things in my head. I don’t understand how yet, but I want to convey a couple of my songs to him so that he writes poetry for them.
If he says: “Sasha, you are an idiot. Your songs are catastrophic,” then … But I have such a feeling after I wrote the book, sang with Gagarina (Russian singer – ed.) that I’m a talented person. It seems to me that if I bring a couple of songs to Igor – and they are quite talented – then he will not be ashamed to say that Alexander Zhulin wrote the music. This is the final story for me now, which will help me to fulfill myself as a person who has done everything.
A talented person is talented in everything.
Alexander Zhulin: Sure. But you can imagine that I come to Igor Nikolaev and say: “Igor, I wrote a song.” And he says: “Sasha, yes, this is cool!” So far this is my dream. I gave up on books for the time being.
I can play the guitar, I’m close with Nikolaev. Of the children, I have three daughters, but no son. Other than that, I’m just in awe.
Maybe then you will write music for the performance of your pair?
Alexander Zhulin: I don’t see the point, because, I think, we skated to an absolutely wonderful composition by Dima Malikov (Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev tried it as their 2014 Olympic free program, but then changed. – ed), and a our competitors skated to Tchaikovsky’s Swan Lake. We were destroyed, because Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky is still better than Dima Malikov.
But this is a bit of a hackneyed story – to skate to Tchaikovsky, with all due respect to him.
Alexander Zhulin: This year I listened to so much material for Sinitsina and Katsalapov, so much we tried to be fashionable. And suddenly Nikita brings Rachmaninoff, and that’s all, goodbye to everyone. There is Shakespeare, there is Rachmaninoff, Tchaikovsky. This is not Milokhin and not Morgenstern (Russian tiktoker and raper – ed).
You see, these people… God bless them health and 16 more pink Mercedes, but there’s nothing to even talk about. And this is Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff, and you can’t get away from this. I will be insanely happy if the same Rachmaninoff and Tchaikovsky remain in people’s memory for another 400 years. I’m dying for it to happen, not this “Look at me, do as I do.” But I understand that it’s cool, fashionable, I’m not an idiot.
There is something eternal, and there is something fleeting.
Alexander Zhulin: Well said.
After European Championships, you said: “I am satisfied with the scores, but Olympics are coming and it’s felt, and no one really needs strong Sinitsina and Katsalapov.” That is, the scores in the rhythm dance were underscored?
Alexander Zhulin: Of course, without the participation of Papadakis – Cizeron at the European Championships, it was insanely important to remove their direct competitors – Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov as far as possible. Therefore, their scores were not as high as we all would like. This is predictable. The Olympic Games are a completely different event, where there is a lot of political context. But we are starting the Olympics from scratch.
General question. How is the preparation for the Olympics is going, which started the other day? When are you leaving for Beijing?
Alexander Zhulin: All the recommendations of the doctors have been fulfilled, all injections have been made for Nikita’s back. Now we are all recovering, on the 23rd we fly to Krasnoyarsk, on the 24th we begin to prepare for the Olympic Games in Beijing.
The already mentioned Papadakis and Cizeron – they had more time to prepare, since they did not perform at Europeans. How will you fight the French duo?
Alexander Zhulin: In my opinion, as a coach of a Russian pair, there are two outstanding duets: Gabriella Papadakis – Guillaume Cizeron and Victoria Sinitsina – Nikita Katsalapov. How they will skate there is a question for the skaters. Any of them would dream of winning the Olympic Games. Each pair will do everything in their power for it. And we, the coaches, can only stand behind the board and get a pre-infarction state.
The Americans also performed strongly at the National Championships: Hubbell – Donohue, Chock – Bates. Are they competitors?
Alexander Zhulin: They are all very good, wonderful. But you asked me who, and I answered you. And then everyone else: Americans, Canadians, all are luxurious, all are wonderful. At the Olympics in Pyeongchang, Gabriella and Guillaume lost to Virtue – Moir. And it was fair. Or maybe not, I don’t know. But it was a fight between two pairs.
If now there is a fight for gold, then I really hope that it will be a fight between two pairs. They have shown with their skating over the past four years that they are a different planet. There is Messi and Ronaldo, and there is I’m not going to say who.
Considering Nikita’s recent injury, will the guys be ready to skate both programs in the team event? Or will a replacement be needed?
Alexander Zhulin: Yes, they will be ready. Let them skate without replacements.
Will Nikita and Vika be able to spend another Olympic cycle?
Alexander Zhulin: This is a very big question.
If the answer to this question is no, is there anyone with whom you would step into Italy, where the next Winter Olympics will be held?
Alexander Zhulin: I wish I knew. As a result, I may end up without students at all, but I’m good. The situation is this – there are three pairs: Davis – Smolkin, Morozov – Bagin and Stepanova – Bukin, who will never leave their coaches (laughs).
But I really hope that one of the serious pairs will come to me, with whom we will storm the 2026 Olympic gold. Maybe I should take someone from these three pairs? (Laughs.) If I don’t take any, I’ll leave. To be honest, rather than fight for 15th place, I would rather leave if there is no coronavirus.
Mai Mihara: “I was amazed by so many high quality quads performed by Russian ladies. I’d also like to be able to jump a quad.”