Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin: The judge can always say: for me this is not enough
Interview with Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin about the results of the European Championships 2020.
by Andrei Simonenko for rsport.ria.ru dd. 29th January 2020
Alexandra, Ivan, I’m sure that it was a pity to be in fourth place in the rhythmic dance below the Italian pair, but in the free dance you were less than 1,5 points behind the French in components, so you are already very close. Can this be considered a positive outcome of the competitions?
Alexandra: To be honest, at competitions I don’t think much about scores, and if you ask me now, I won’t say how many points we got in total. Apparently, in my head I concentrate more on skating itself. I understand everything perfectly well, but I don’t focuse to much on scores. Although this is the result. We are pleased that we skated both dances clean. The free dance turned out especially emotional, and everyone noted it. It is very nice.
Ivan: We are extremely pleased with the free dance. It was very nice to skate.
Alexandra: Regarding the result, everyone said that the French are unreachable, and even at the previous competitions, Russia was very, very far away. And here it happened. Russia got close and even won, despite our fourth place after the rhythmic dance.
And you are not 15 points behind the French in the total score, as at the Grand Prix Final, but 9.
Ivan: In ice dance, nine points is a lot. Well, even half point is a lot. All perform at a very high level, skate cleanly. So it’s very difficult to compete when you have a 5-6 points gap after the rhythm dance. It’s almost impossible to compete even if you win the free dance. It’s almost impossible to catch up.
When you saw this gap, did you want to throw something heavy into the wall?
Ivan: Of course we were upset that they did not allow us to compete. They didn’t let us be close. But we decided that we want to perform in a free dance in a way to be satisfied, to prove once again that we can and are ready to compete.
It is often said that dances are subjective, because there are no such explicit criteria as, for example, jumps in single skating. But actually there are criterias, and there are experts who will analyze any dance to every step.
Alexandra: Of course, those who work in this will understand.
Therefore, Sasha, I will ask you a very specific question: why do you have level two for your one foot step sequence in the free dance?
Alexandra: I don’t know, let’s see, we discuss with the coaches.
Ivan: We’ve already watched the video. We did not see the level two.
Alexandra: It seems to us that it was possible to give us at least level three, we did not see level two, but again we did not see it. Those judges who work in competitions have other cameras. And the judge can always say: for me this is not enough. So, you need to skate 200 heads and shoulders above the rest.
You have been competing in ice dance almost 15 years, where experts, for example, when they give predictions for competitions, openly say that a lot will depend on the draw of judges. Isn’t this situation offensive?
Ivan: We should do our job. Judging is not our concern. Of course, we are already adults, we understand how they judge, we understand that it is necessary to execute elements so that any specialist says that this is correct. And we do this work every day in Moscow. So that every person understands that, for example, twizzle is done qualitatively, the steps are very good. This is very difficult, because everyone has their own opinion on execution, and you have to adapt.
But the situation seems to me like this: a carrot is in front of you, in order to reach it, you do your job well, but the carrot is being raised higher and higher. Is it so?
Ivan: It’s very hard to say. Firstly, we have a room for growth, there are moments that need to be fixed. But situations are different. In general, we want to skate better from competitions to competitions, we want to progress, we want everyone to see our growth. We want to be stylish, be like no one else, we want to bring something new to figure skating. This is very important for us.
It seems to me, and to many others, that you can already fight on equal with everyone.
Ivan: It’s very nice to hear, but we are athletes, and everything can always be better. If an athlete says that I skate like a king, that there’s nowhere else to grow, it’s wrong. Every athlete always wants more, wants to progress.
Turns out he can’t be satisfied?
Ivan: I think not. You always need to look for some mistakes in your programs, in yourself, to fix them. Do not compare yourself with someone, but be better than yourself. It is very nice when you come to another competitions, skate the program better and enjoy it.
And you don’t want ask that technical specialist who gave you level two why? I know that rules don’t allow it…
Alexandra: Well, we do not want to.
Ivan: I think that our coaches have already found out why. They always do that.
Alexandra: All coaches do so, after competitions a meeting is held at which all questions can be clarified.
So you don’t return home in ignorance?
Alexandra: No, of course. The coaches know everything, they are in charge of our team, they tell us everything.
So how did the European Championships end for you?
Alexandra: With a great desire to exhale and prepare with even greater strength and energy for the World Championships. There is time for this. I think that the European Championships was a significant start for us, and we must make something from it that will change us even more, will give us more strength.
Ivan: We are a little tired, the European Championships was long, we spent almost a week in Graz. I want to relax a bit, and after that, of course, let’s get to work.