Dmitri Aliev: “When you skate with your heart on a sleeve, there’s no control”
European champion Dmitri Aliev on how to survive the cancellation of the World Championships, injury, coronavirus and non-participation in the national championships.
source: by Tatjana Flade for olympicchannel.com dd. 1st February 2021
This season is, frankly speaking, difficult for you. First, an injury of the hip joint, then an illness.
Dmitri Aliev: The season is really difficult, I would even say the season of contrasts. I got back in shape after injury, everything was fine. In October I skated at the stage of the Russian Cup and knew that I would have the Grand Prix and the Russian Nationals next. But suddenly such a failure before the Nationals in the form of a covid. I was very worried about this. After an injury that I had in summer, I went to Germany, had injections there. And there was faith and hope that I would recover. But when you’re knocked down for the second time, when you are going uphill, and you are thrown down by an avalanche, it is difficult to accept. All of this was unpredictable. But then I still tried to pull myself together.
We took a break, I sat at home during my illness, and we went to the training camp before the Russian Nationals. Four days before the start, when it became clear that it was not possible to come to competitive shape, we decided to withdraw. I didn’t want to go to the competitions and see how things might turn out. I knew that I wanted to fight for the highest places, but for this I should be in good shape. For the first time in my life I had such a situation that I withdrew from competitions because I was not ready due to illness. But after the holidays I rested at home in Ukhta and it became easier. I had an active rest – I was skiing, playing hockey. I wanted to switch a little at home. And it worked, I got a powerful boost of energy. Now I try to stick to my working schedule..
Did you get sick right after the Grand Prix?
Dmitri Aliev: Yes, I felt sick in five days. There was a lot of talk that someone got infected at the banquet after the Grand Prix, but I was not there. I left earlier. Possibly caught it in Sapsan (train from Moscow to St.Petersburg – ed.). This is an unpredictable thing.
Have you spent the whole illness at home?
Dmitri Aliev: Yes. I only went to the hospital for a lung examination. In the first week it seemed that there was a lungs lesion. On the second week, the scan showed even more damage to the lungs. And then it became a bit easier, the state was keeping at the same level. I began to feel the taste, and was cheerful. When I just got sick, I could not move at all. Part of the back was stiff, pelvis, bones ached. I could not sleep, I was woke up in pain, put a blanket on the floor and lay down there – it was easier on the floor. I don’t know if the coronavirus has affected my back pain or not. I did not feel any tastes or smells, then the taste appeared sharply and my body felt better. In general, this is a serious illness. Although I didn’t have a severe form, but probably a moderate one.
In Sochi, when I came to the training camp and went on the ice, I felt that my head was spinning, my state was sluggish, I was sweating a lot, although I did only two circles. When I skated the lay-out of the program without jumps, but the entire program, I realized that I could not focus on anything. When I spin and make elements, there is no focus, no mobilization. You need to control where you go, but it turned out so that I did not understand where I was. Although the jumps – quadruple lutz and toe loop – I did on the first day. Evgeni Vladimirovich (Rukavitsin – coach – ed) hoped that we would perform at the Russian Nationals. He thought that we would work and everything would be fine. But when I did element by element, I barely approached the second one. And such state sometimes happens to this day. But I feel that shape will improve and this state will go away. When in January we tried to skate programs in pieces, it was no longer that hard as after an illness. The condition has improved.
You said that after you decided not to compete at the Russian Nationals, you had a break and went home. So did the training start after the New Year?
Dmitri Aliev: We made a decision that I will not perform in Chelyabinsk back in Sochi. But the training camp continued for three more days. All this time I continued to skate. Why rest? I return to St. Petersburg, and then went to Ukhta. There I just skated, came to coaches with whom I had skated before, to little kids, and there I would I skated and jumped. Just to keep fit. Also played hockey. In general, there was a lot of sports, and the rest was very active.
Have you watched the Russian Nationals?
Dmitri Aliev: Yes, I watched my guys. Those who were interesting to me. I watched all the top-3 in men and ladies. But it was difficult psychologically. I also wanted to be there and skate. I was cheering for our guys, supported Evgeni Vladimirovich. I tried to be with them as much as possible.
Of course, it’s a shame that you were not able to perform in Chelyabinsk, but new events are coming now: the Channel One Cup, the Russian Cup Final, and the World Championships will also take place. What are your plans now? How is the preparation going?
Dmitri Aliev: At first, I was getting shape which would allow me to work. Now I’m getting in shape to perform. I think that we should have time to prepare well. The goal for the next team event is to try to get yourself back on the ice, to get back that strong Dimka who can fight and show good skating.
Last season was going well for you, you become the European champion. And just when you were on the rise, the World Championships was canceled. How do you live in this pandemic situation?
Dmitri Aliev: Now everything has become familiar. When it all started, it was hard. We trained at home. But I am very glad that in this situation they find an opportunity for athletes to compete. Thanks to our federation that athletes compete, despite the fact that the number of spectators is limited. How do I feel about the pandemic? This is nature, you need to survive it. It’s good that it’s possible to hold competitions, albeit with restrictions, but there is a sports life, sports live on.
How has the pandemic affected you personally? Has your worldview changed?
Dmitri Aliev: As an athlete, I am in a state of suspense. I do not like it when they first say that competitions will take place, and then they say no. At the beginning it was like this: they tell me that there will be no competitions, and I relax, then they say that there will be, and I hurry up. This causes some kind of psychological, emotional decline. When there was a serious quarantine in the spring, a lot was thought out too. Of course, cancelation of the World Championships was a difficult moment for me as an athlete. I was at my peak and I had one start left, I wanted to give all of myself there. I went to the USA for the training camp before the Worlds locked and loaded, and then they announced that it was canceled. I remember that almost cried. Sports life is very short, and you won’t have time to fit everything you want: injury, illnesses can interfere. And here you know that you are at your peak, and the cancellation is perceived as mourning. In all other respects, I just try to monitor my health. Although I still got ill.
Dima, I know that you write poetry and songs. Have you written anything lately?
Dmitri Aliev: I haven’t written for a long time, since summer. True, now I have an idea to write a story with imaginary plot. I’m such a dreamer. Four years ago, at a training camp in Jelgava, I realized that when I deeply focus on myself, on sports or something else and I’m not ready to share my thoughts with someone, I write something all the time. And now I want to think about something twenty or thirty pages long. To write something. Maybe stories about me, maybe something imaginary, maybe even come up with some characters.
Let’s talk about your programs. You changed the music in the short program and brought back the waltz from the ballet “Masquerade” by Aram Khachaturian, which you skated to in the 2017-2018 season. Why?
Dmitri Aliev: We realized that this season is unusual. And when I got injured in Kislovodsk, it was just the time for creating programs. And I couldn’t go on the ice. The joint hurt, I could not put my leg, but I had to work on programs. We were determined to do a new short. Because of the injury, I was having procedures and looking for the music. And then, it seems, Olga Germanovna (Glinka – coach, choreographer – ed.) asked if I had thought about bringing Masquerade back. I’d already thought about it, but I was afraid to voice this idea.
Why was you afraid?
Dmitri Aliev: I didn’t know how it would be perceived. But then I said. We decided to change the costume, add something to the program. When I skated Masquerade, I was still an 18-year-old boy. Now, in this classical program, I want to show stateliness, sharpness, something so masculine.
For the free program, you first chose the song “S.O.S. d’un terrien en détresse “, then you changed it to” L’Immensita “. When I heard about the first version of the music, I thought that it might be hard for you to skate to this kind of music, because you skate emotionally, and this music is also very emotional, kind of fatal. The deceased Denis Ten performed his last program to it.
Dmitri Aliev: Yes, that is what happened. We started to do the program, and the music began to take over, but at the same time there was some kind of stupor. Some people can skate like that. But when I skate with a heart on a sleeve, then I have zero control. I need to jump, I need to be focused, but I understand that this is the same story as in the 2017-2018 season, when I had a short program, to the music which Denis Ten also skated. That was also such a strong music, lyrical, sad. And for some reason these programs do not work for me. They are really heavy for your souls. We realized that we urgently needed to do something. Look for something new in this program, try to change steps, etc., although everything was beautifully choreographed. For me it was a pleasure to skate it, but there was some kind of stupor and that’s it. And we came to the decision that we will change the program. Sometimes when this music is played on ice, Olga Germanovna’s eyes fill with tears. The music is strong, and you try to lose yourself in it. I am also a sensitive person, I skate and I get goosebumps, but you don’t need it in skating.
Your current music is also emotionally strong, but to a lesser extent.
Dmitri Aliev: Yes, less touching, but I like that it has strength and no decline. In terms of emotions, this music is similar to the music of last year’s program. The styles are different, but music is similar.
Perhaps you will do an exhibition program to “S.O.S.”
Dmitri Aliev: If I participate there, I will consider it as an option.
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