Boikova and Kozlovskii: “When in one group several athletes claim the first place, it doesn’t matter for the coach which of the athletes will win this fight. This is normal, and you shouldn’t have any illusions about this.”
Interview with Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovskii. About Olympics, programs, development of pair skating and rivarly with Mishina-Galliamov.
source: russian.rt.com dd. 29th March 2022 by Elena Vaitsekhovskay
When several athletes in one group claim medals, it is not so important for the coach who will win this fight. This was stated in an interview by the bronze medalists of the European Championships Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovskii. According to the skaters, they respect all their competitors, including Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov. The athletes also told about new jump combination, explained how they survived their non-inclusion in the Olympic team event, and shared their plans for the future.
I want to start with your new combination of two triple salchows. I know how many attempts you made to complete this combination, so I congratulate you that you succeeded in Saransk (at the Channel One Cup).
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Well, the program in general was successful for us. As for the combination, we have already made attempts to put it into the program – at the Channel One Cup a year ago, at test skates and at the American stage of the Grand Prix.
Aleksandra Boikova: Mostly, I was the problem: sometimes the first jump turned out to be double, then the second one.
Did you also jump on the off chance in Saransk?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: I don’t know what happened to us after the Olympic Games, but somehow we decided for ourselves that we would jump this combination. Not just try whether it will turn out or not, but namely jump.
Aleksandra Boikova: We decided that it would work out for us. And everything really suddenly fell into place.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: When we returned home from Beijing and started to work a lot on jumps, the combination was pretty stable in training. Therefore, one of the main tasks at the Channel One Cup was to show that the new combination is not the set of jumps that we have today, and don’t have tomorrow. This is an element that has already firmly entered our arsenal and we are not going to refuse. So the good performance of the combination in Saransk was not accidental.
I noted how seriously you prepared for this performance.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: The Channel One Cup is often positioned as a show, but for us it was a competition at the level of the Russian Nationals, where the strongest pairs in the country competed. Plus there was a very strong desire not to let our team down. All this added adrenaline.
Your pair has always been distinguished by the ability to do very well at competitions even those elements that are not very good during training. Maybe it was worth taking a risk, trying a more complex combination at the Olympic Games, and maybe the result could be different?
Aleksandra Boikova: We have heard so many times the story of how Ilia Kulik jumped his quad toe loop at the Nagano Games… He never jumped it successfully, but he did it the only time in his career – and became a champion. But really, we didn’t want to risk it. The Olympics are too serious competitions.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: But we really thought a lot about this combination. And the fact that we did it now was exclusively our personal initiative.
By adding a new element to the program, have you reached the limit of possible complications of your content?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: No way. We just don’t want to show all our “cards” ahead of time.
What has changed for you since the Olympics?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: We realized that first of all, you need to trust yourself and believe in yourself. And have no illusions. If you don’t help yourself, no one else will. In our sport, an athlete, if he is thinking, experienced and understands what he wants to achieve, must solve most of his problems himself and build training, relying primarily on his thoughts and feelings.
Doesn’t it seem a mistake to you now that you were preparing for the main competitions of the four-year period without actually seeing your main competitors – Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov? Doesn’t it feel like you’re working blind to some extent when you practice on separate ice?
Aleksandra Boikova: For us, on the contrary, this option was the most preferable. Over the years, it was very important for Dima and me to understand that we are in the center of coaching attention. Probably, this can be compared with a purely everyday situation, when a second child is born in a family and the older one involuntarily fades into the background for some time. And of course, feels offended.
Sounds like you’re the eldest in the family?
Aleksandra Boikova: No, I’m just the second child, but when I grew up and they began to ask me if I wanted another brother or sister, I always answered “no”.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: In addition to what Sasha said, I would like to note that our sport is individual. And first of all we need our personal victory. You need to understand a simple thing: when in one group several athletes claim the first places, it does not matter for the coach (with rare exceptions) which of the athletes will win this fight. In the same way, it makes no difference for a country who exactly brings medals. This is normal, and you shouldn’t have any illusions about this.
For some reason, it seems to me that it took you a while to understand this.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Yes. By the time Nastya and Sasha joined the group, we had worked with Tamara Nikolaevna for five years, in fact, since the creation of our pair. We went through junior sports, experienced successes, failures, got to the elite of senior skating, and it seemed to me – perhaps purely childishly – that we are closer to the coach than those who are just starting to work with her. It seemed to me that we had not just a partnership, but also a real trust. But already in the course of the first joint season, an understanding started to appear: if we don’t move forward ourselves in order to win, then no one will do it for us.
So you realized it out too late.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Yes, we lost a little time. But nevertheless, our difficult experience of performing at the Olympics, like all previous experience of unsuccessful performances, is extremely valuable. When an athlete goes to the goal solely through victories, this does not mean that he works less than the rest, but there is often a feeling that all this is easy enough for him. And if a defeat suddenly happens, the athlete may not be ready for it. Look at Aljona Savchenko – she suffered a lot to get her Olympic gold medal.
And she did it herself.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Absolutely right. Such victories, it seems to me, are achieved by very great efforts. By people who have no illusions about sports life, but simply take this life very hard into their own hands. Need first place? So, we need clean skates. And you have to fight for it.
The fact that you wasn’t chosen for the Olympic team event, is it a drama?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: No, it was not a drama. We knew that this was going to happen.
Aleksandra Boikova: But until the last moment, we did not believe that there would be no replacements in women’s skating. This came as a shock.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Therefore, I immediately told Sasha that we need to set ourself up to individual competitions, let the shape go a little, because we actually reached the peak by the beginning of the Games, in order to be ready to come as a substitute if necessary. There was no longer any point in holding the shape for 20 days.
What’s next, have you thought about it?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Now we are in the process of understanding the work done and what lies ahead in order to continue moving forward. On April 1, we will perform in show in Moscow, then we will start working on new programs, we will come up with new interesting details to decorate our programs. Now it is very difficult to predict what the next season will be like.
Are you afraid of losing the ability to compete?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Not really. In general, I would say that for those who have been intensely preparing for the Games, have gone through the entire Olympic cycle and plan to continue their careers, the first post-Olympic season is a time of experimentation.
Do you plan to continue working with Nikolai Morozov in order to be able to develop not only in technique, but also in choreography?
Aleksandra Boikova: Of course. Pair skating is a unique sport. In the sense that it combines all the possible qualities that a skater needs. Including the ability to dance. Our task, I think, is not only to learn more complex technical elements, but also to advance our sport even more forward. Including in terms of interaction on ice. Look at the dancers: they don’t jump, they don’t do overly complex elements, but they go on the ice – and you can’t take your eyes off them. You want to look at them.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: It seems to me that senior sports generally favorably differes from junior sports in that people do not just skate, but sort of bring everything that they have experienced into their programs. This is a different skating, deeper. As for the combination of pair skating and ice dance, I generally think that this direction is the future. But for this you need not just to combine the performance of some purely sports exercises with individual dance steps, but to skate the way top dancers do. It’s incredibly difficult. Perhaps even more difficult than learning a quadruple twist or throw. In general, I think that pair skating is bound to change in the near future.
In what respect?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Look what is happening: for ten years people have not done anything new in terms of technique.
In general, I would say that the reputation of this discipline was greatly saved in Beijing by Sui Wenjing and Han Cong with their quadruple twist.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: I absolutely agree with you and I am very glad that we all saw it. The artificial holding back of pair skating, which they are trying to present to us as a concern about athletes’ safety, actually looks strange. A simple example: in Saransk, within the framework of the Channel One Cup, three world top pairs performed. And now try to put next to them the top three of the World Championship in Montpellier, where two out of three pairs did not go beyond two hundred points. What does it say?
That in the absence of the national teams of Russia and China in pair skating there is extremely weak competition.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: Exactly. In programs, by and large, there are only a few relatively complex elements – jump, combination, throws. Everything else can be done by any athelete of the 1st sports category, and at any time of the day, even been woken up at night. Therefore, we are already thinking where to take the next step. But here it is very important that the International Skating Union supports these initiatives. The difference between a triple and a quadruple throw cannot be only two points. If figure skating is not developed in this direction, degradation will start. People will just stop watching it.
If you compare your Olympic Malaguena with previous programs, where did you feel more comfortable?
Aleksandra Boikova: In fact, we love all of our programs. For example, we are extremely grateful to Nikolai Morozov for supporting our idea to take the theme of James Bond for the free program. We liked that program so much that it partly migrated to a gala program. And in Malaguena we got the opportunity to show all the passion that we have.
Alexander Zhulin choreographed it, right?
Aleksandra Boikova: Yes, but Nikolai Alexandrovich (Morozov) was finalizing it.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: In the Olympic season, Zhulin was fully focused on the preparation of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov and could not afford to distract at other athletes.
The programs that Tamara Moskvina chose for the Olympic season were criticized by many in early autumn. Did you have no desire to take something different, more original, perhaps more fashionable than the classics and Spanish folklore, at least at first?
Dmitri Kozlovskii: When we were just starting the four-year cycle of preparation for the Games, we choreographed five different programs just in order to understand what was good and what was not very good. It would be simply unreasonable to experiment during the Olympic season.
It is important to understand that figure skating is still a sport. Any program is perceived through the prism of quality of the elements. When a pair- it doesn’t matter we or someone else – skates a clean program with the most complex content, at high speed, I don’t know which of the technical specialists, judges or just spectators could say: “You know, it’s necessary to change the program.” Of course, there are programs that are so cool that they leave a powerful impression even with not the best skating. But there are few of them.
Can you give an example?
Aleksandra Boikova: “White Raven” by Misha Kolyada.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: I would say that it’s more difficult for single skaters to stand out, since jumps make up most of the program, but I understand Sasha’s choice: Kolyada’s program performed by him is one of the best programs of recent years in men’s single skating. It’s really cool. Especially when Mikhail performs everything clean with jumps to the height of the board.
In the next four years, perhaps you will have even tougher rivalry with Mishina and Galliamov than it was before the Beijing Games. Does this greatly complicate human relations? I ask because I know that Nastya and Sasha Boikova have been growing up in the same group from childhood and were friends for a long time.
Aleksandra Boikova: Usually the relationship gets aggravated as the competitions approaches. So it was in childhood, and in adolescence. Now we are all calmer. We realized that no one wishes harm to anyone and that the best thing we can do is to support each other. Sometimes it’s hard. I think not only for me.
Dmitri Kozlovskii: We treat all our competitors with respect. After all, each of us has come a very long way to get to where we are now, and by no means should it be underestimated.
Mark Kondratiuk: “Almost every athlete dreams to get to the Olympics or to win Olympic gold. It may sound strange, but I have never aspired to it. I just skated for fun.”