Deniss Vasiljevs: I really appreciate every opportunity to skate, to perform for the audience
Interview with Deniss Vasiljevs. About his performance in Graz, Stephane Lambiel, Shoma Uno and cooking.
by Ludmila Orlova for Blossom on Ice dd. 2d April, 2020
At the European Championships in Graz, you took a fairly high sixth place and significantly improved your result compared to last year. How do you think of your performance?
Deniss: To be honest, I’m very pleased because, let’s say, my warm-ups there weren’t good (laughs). Due to small sores, it was very difficult to skate the entire program. Maybe it was difficult more mentally than physically. Still, overcoming the pain is a very difficult and, probably, laborious task (smiles).
If I’m not mistaken, you got an ankle injury at training almost a few days before the competitions. Did you think to withdraw?
Deniss: Honestly, I probably gave up in my head, but … (thinks). Let’s just say that you can’t be completely prepared for anything all the time. Even if something gets out of hand, I still work with what I have. For me, this is not an option to give up and not to come to the competitions. I really appreciate every opportunity to skate, to perform for the audience, for myself. To show how strong I am. I am very proud of myself and the very fact that I came and I think I coped well, with what I could, and with the pain I had.
During your performances Stephane Lambiel always supports you very emotionally and, you can say, skates programs with you. We still know Stephane more as a skater, but how would you describe him as a coach?
Deniss: As a skater and as a coach, he is very different. As a skater, he seems to me more “hungry”. When you are an athlete, you are always driven, energetic. But when you are a coach, as I see it, it’s the other way around. Stephane gives you the opportunity to feel some kind of confidence. I trust him very much, we have been working together for a long time, and when he sees that my emotions are flying at an all-time low, he still continues to support me, to be with me, to stand like an impenetrable wall. It helps me a lot.
For me personally, this style of work, this understanding that even in the worst situations you can’t give up – this is a huge find. And I am very glad that I’ve already skated with several coaches, and all of them gave their knowledge to me, and from each I’ve taken something. Stephane has one of the most important skills that I have taken – ability to go all the way. The ability to have self-discipline, the ability to withstand, hold out. As a coach, he is patient and fully devoted to work … (pauses) Well, how to say – completely. Completely, if not misses with the training time (laughs). But this is not necessary to say.
Shoma Uno also trains in your group now. How is your training time planned?
Deniss: It seems to me that when you have matured, the work becomes more independent. At least that’s how figure skating system works in Switzerland. This is not the situation when you are still a child and you someone to watch you all the time. You have a coach – a supervisor, a “supervisor” in a certain way, in a positive sense. In training, I know what I need to do. I go and work on what I need to work on. At the same time, I have help.
When we work together with Shoma, firstly, it is a great pleasure for me to see him jumping. In some way it’s enviously (smiles). This gives energy. Personally, I always felt that I was suffering a little from a lack of competition in the group. And the opportunity to train with skaters like Shoma Uno, Koshiro Shimada really gives me an additional level of motivation. Shoma is also very kind and we get along pretty well.
But what about the language barrier?
Deniss: The language barrier .. (thinks). He loves to play. In video games, we get along well (laughs). He mainly plays on his phone, so when can play Mario Kart it’s great.
As for the language barrier – of course, it is difficult for now. But I’m sure that he will either learn English, or I will learn Japanese faster (smiles). In general, Shoma is very amiable in friendship.
Many people know that you love cooking and cook very well. Please tell us how you got this hobby.
Deniss: When I moved to Sochi, I was 14-15 years old, I began to live alone. My diet, for the most part, consisted of cottage cheese, sausages and sweets with cookies (laughs). And, of course, when you eat like this all year, you get bored. Once, my friend Dmitry invited me to visit him to cook something. It was panna cotta. And since then we started to “have fun” like that. Tried to make pasta bolognese … in our version (smiles). We baked our famous “Sochi” bread, which I still have not been able to repeat due to the complexity of the ingredients. Cooked at Dmitry’s place, since I lived in a small room then, and he had an apartment with a kitchen.
And then I got to Switzerland. At first I lived with Stephane, watched how he cooks and I wanted to help him. It was also a great opportunity to spend time outside of training. At that time I was not a big fan of salads, let’s say, for me it was all grass. And then he began to re-teach me slowly to be more responsible with food, to change my diet. Now I love cooking, probably a little more than Stephane. Especially baking, because I’m still a sweet tooth (smiles). I watch a lot of videos, I began to be interested in recipes, I note them. Now for me, this is my third or second favorite hobby.
After drawing, probably?
Deniss: I really like to draw. I like to live in other worlds – for example, Star Wars, something else. And it turns out that I do a lot of sketches and .. (thinks) .. I draw, but not quite like a picture. I rewrite ideas, study my anatomy, everything around figure skating – all this goes to paper. If you look at how much time I spend on cooking and how much time I devote to drawing, it is likely to be 50 to 50. My day, in fact, for the most part consists of figure skating, painting and cooking.
Would you like to open your own restaurant in the future?
Deniss: Honestly, I am very keen on figure skating right now (smiles).
Well, in the distant future.
Deniss: In the distant future – with pleasure. In general, I like cakes, pastries. And recently, for me it was a very pleasant surprise, I was asked to choose a pie recipe that I could offer to cook. I was very pleased with the reaction of the fans. Even my friends have joined. For example, Satoko Miyahara, she also baked this cake. And now I would really like to collect more of these recipes, so that in the future, if I have a restaurant, to combine all these recipes in one book. Stephane and I laughed that he would like to be my barista (smiles). Chris would work for me on the financial side, I would do everything in the kitchen, and Stephane would enjoy talking with the guests and making coffee.