Deniss Vasiljevs: “It’s not enough for me just to show elements. I need this emotional content, expression, integrity, beauty, a sense of music, to show what I feel.”
Interview with Deniss Vasiljevs about Olympics, difference between Soviet and European mentality and things which are dying in figure skating.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 9th February 2022 by Dmitri Kuznetsov
Deniss, what are you impressions about the Olympics?
Deniss Vasiljevs: I really missed Stephane Lambiel here, my coach, who got a positive test and was at home. This is complete bullshit. Stephane arrived three days after me. It was difficult in trainings. Maybe that’s where the doubts came from. A person you trust is very necessary at such a competitions and in general in life. When we were doing mathematics with my grandfather, it was worth him asking: “Are you sure?” – and I began to double-check, even correcting the correct for the wrong. It’s the same with a coach, the main thing is to trust the one you work with and the work that you do. And when something is missing, you especially understand the value of this thing. But now everything is fine, he has arrived, and we can talk.
It is a huge opportunity that we basically have the Olympics during the pandemic. I’m very grateful and happy. This is a milestone, a step in the career of every skater. Being here means a lot. Ice here is just a candy! It’s a pleasure to skate. Competing with my results, with the 90 points that I got at the successful European Championships, with stress, is very interesting for me.
It seemed that you almost hit the board during the short program.
Deniss Vasiljevs: I love skating close to the boards! (Smiling.)
What are the goals in terms of results, if not to talk about competing with yourself?
Deniss Vasiljevs: I’m very glad that I did the quadruple jump in the six-minute warm-up. In the short program, it was not needed, but in the warm-up I did it for the first time. And little by little I’m building confidence. My goal is to gradually get to the level of other skaters who do several quads.
Doesn’t it feel like you’re losing because of a system that encourages difficult jumps but not artistry? You are more like a skater, and your coach too. And everything goes into figure jumping.
Deniss Vasiljevs: It’s more fun to call it aerobics on ice. Yes, jumps requires a lot of concentration, it eats up the emotional content that attracts me to this sport. That is, expression, integrity, beauty, a sense of music. It’s not enough for me to go and show how the movements are worked out. I need this emotional content, to show what I feel, and not just to perform the elements. And it is especially important that there are people around. Because I skate not only for judges, but also for spectators. It’s a pleasure for me.
Now we have more and more emphasis on jumps, and the education of judges is dying: what are correctly executed turns, figures from the skating point of view? The system changes, there will always be up and down waves between the technique and the second mark. I wish that the art of controlling your body did not die. Because controlling the skate softly and smoothly when you make turns is a completely different story than being explosive and fast when jumping. This is a different kind of skill.
Do you propose any changes?
Deniss Vasiljevs: I do not offer anything at the moment, I respect the system, I try to follow it, not forgetting what I like. I love to skate. You can’t call me a showman, but I perceive sports as a show. Maybe in the future there will be rules that will change. But I love figure skating not only as aggression and being a gladiator performing elements, it is important for me to share my impressions, feelings, understanding of music with the audience.
Have you watched the team event?
Deniss Vasiljevs: Yes, a little. Most of all, it is a pity that Sashka [Galliamov] lay down from the last element. I really liked the men’s short program. What Uno did, what Nathan did! They showed the effectiveness of the current system in all its glory. It was nice to see ice dance. I didn’t understand a little what happened in their both programs …
Do you mean, why did Sinitsina / Katsalapov lose?
Deniss Vasiljevs: I don’t understand the system well, I just like ice dance. I like to choose something for myself from past content, I’m inspired by them, although I don’t understand the system a little. But I can finally enjoy it as a fan.
Did you have any thoughts about switching to ice dance?
Deniss Vasiljevs: While I’m a single skater, and I’m not going to change this.
You were born in Daugavpils, a city with a predominantly Russian-speaking population. Your parents grew up in the USSR, now you live in Switzerland. Are you more Soviet or European?
Deniss Vasiljevs: I definitely grew up in the Soviet mentality. But how did I get to Switzerland? Through Paris, Sochi, rode around the world. And I find that every culture causes respect. Everything has its place. Having more choices is very valuable. I respect such, not exactly aggressive … but culture of being determined, purposeful.
Deniss Vasiljevs: My mother called it all the engine of success. She could not know something, but, laughing, gave a kick. Motivate, so to speak. But I also have a lot of respect for Swiss culture. If you don’t want to work, you don’t work, it’s your choice. At home, with a strong mother, I lacked the understanding that I’m responsible for myself.
If you bring together the best of each culture, you get a wonderful personality, very developed. You seem to be not only a mathematician, but you also understand art. The grandfather I was talking about was the head of the department at the university of physics, and I really like that I found something that combines art and physics. Figure skating just perfectly unites it. On the one hand, jumps are pure physics, the movement of an object in space, you can calculate the energy, speed, degrees of angles for your body, but there are no identical people, everyone has their own way, and everyone will cope with himself in his own way.