Dmitri Aliev: “When you skate without making mistakes repeatedly over a long period of time, it begins to affect the minds of both the audience and the judges.”
Interview with Dmitri Aliev.
source: RT dd. 31 January 2023 by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya
In the interview Dmitri admitted that he enjoys participating in competitions this season despite an exacerbated foot injury, explained why he cannot yet restore the most difficult of his quadruple jumps, explained the purpose of different “tricks” at the end of a program, and commented on Loena Hendrickx’s behavior after her free skate at the European Championships.
Before your first stage of the Russian Grand Prix in Kazan, you said that due to a leg injury, you weren’t sure until the last moment that you would go on the ice. Is the problem resolved now?
Dmitri Aliev: I remember that competitions very well. It was about five minutes before the start of the free program, and I still couldn’t make any decision. The coach then told me, “If we’re going on the ice, we should fighting to the end.” In general, I decided to go and come what may. Suddenly, it turned out to be the best skate of the season.
And what happened to your leg?
Dmitri Aliev: At the very beginning of autumn, even before the test skates, I was training at that same ice rink in the Figure Skating Academy. I jumped a quadruple lutz and awkwardly put my foot down at the moment of takeoff. Since then, my foot has been bothering me. The exact same injury happened to me in 2018 – also on the lutz. So it’s already a chronic issue. But I have to say that now we have everything under control in this regard. Right after the St. Petersburg Championships, the doctors who are working with me invited me to come for “technical maintenance” and patch up the wounds.
Why didn’t you seek treatment earlier? You could have probably missed the first competitions.
Dmitri Aliev: If I had had a problem with my leg last season, I might have done it, at least to better approach the main competitions. This year, the Russian Nationals is certainly also very important, but not like a year ago where there were some serious tasks. Namely, to qualify for the Olympics. That’s why I decided not to miss the competitions. Now I have enough motivation and strength to overcome physical discomfort.
In other words, you don’t feel as sorry for yourself as before?
Dmitri Aliev: You know, that’s right. I don’t feel sorry for myself. I developed a different interest in figure skating. After the Channel One Cup, the question arose whether I should perform at the city championship in St. Petersburg or not. I decided that I would skate. Not because the city or the club needs it. Why? Probably because I saw how many fans, spectators, and supporters I have. It’s very pleasant for me to go on the ice for them and, in a sense, challenge myself: can I cope with this or that task or not.
Meanwhile, you remained third in the men’s event. Is that disappointing?
Dmitri Aliev: No, not at all. I am very happy with the first half of my free program, the fact that I landed three quadruple jumps well. Overall, this program has served me well throughout the season. In St. Petersburg, I wouldn’t say it let me down, but I definitely needed to skate the second half clean. The big points come from the combinations, which I lost this time.
It seemed to me that you changed the order of your elements somewhat.
Dmitri Aliev: Yes. We had to adjust the content a bit because my triple axel is not going as well as I would like. As a result, in the second half of the program, I do a triple lutz instead. I really hope that we can fix this situation and the axel will become my friend and ally again by the Russian Grand Prix Final.
Do you understand the reason for the issue?
Dmitri Aliev: I don’t quite trust myself in some moment of the jump. Perhaps the reason is that I have been using these blades for a whole season and have gotten used to sharpening them frequently. When a certain layer of metal is worn away, the curvature of the blade can change. To some extent, this can affect how you enter the jump. Overall, I’ll say this: of course, a seasoned skater should not let his performance drop below a certain level. In St. Petersburg, I didn’t let that happen, although I missed a lot of things. I would like to eliminate these negatives. I know for sure that I can skate both of my programs clean and receive high scores for it. Clean skating is always well-regarded.
Even if you’re Jason Brown and don’t have complex content?
Dmitri Aliev: Exactly. When you skate without making mistakes repeatedly over a long period of time, it begins to affect the minds of both the audience and the judges. That’s why I’m so pleased that this season I’ve already performed three quadruple jumps in my free program more than once.
One of the Russian specialists has recently admitted that it requires great efforts to bring athletes down to earth from time to time, whom fans have convinced of their irresistible charm and genius. Have you ever lost your head in this environment?
Dmitri Aliev: I definitely don’t get carried away by euphoria. Although I must admit that I have never felt such strong support from fans before. It manifests not only in people traveling to competitions to support me. For example, once our choreographer Olga Germanovna (Glinka. – RT) brought an air balloon to training, which was passed to her for me by one of the fans, just to please me. Such things can greatly lift your mood. I personally communicate with some people who are worried about me at competitions, and I am really grateful to all of them. There was a time in my life when I was completely alone. I constantly closed myself from everyone, tried to retreat in any situation.
You’re talking about those times when you just arrived in St. Petersburg?
Dmitri Aliev: Yes. I lived with my grandmother. But we almost never communicated at home because I was too tired after training. If my grandmother reads this interview now, I would like her to hear this: “I really regret that I didn’t pay a little more attention to her during that period.” After all, she was also always alone. She did everything for me: took care of me, cooked food, helped in every way. And it turns out that I didn’t really appreciate it.
You mentioned an issue with your blades. Will it become more difficult to obtain equipment due to sanctions?
Dmitri Aliev: I think so. For example, Nathan Chen has been skating on blades like mine in recent years. It’s a standard Revolution model, but the toe picks are custom-made. They are more massive and specifically designed for jumps. Obtaining such blades has become more difficult now, so it is possible that I will have to get used to standard blades again.
Why did you switch to different blades?
Dmitri Aliev: I was performing my favorite quadruple lutz, but at some point, I began to feel that the blade at the toe pick was slipping at takeoff – perhaps due to excessive metal wear. As a result, the jump began to fall apart. I discussed the issue with Evgeni Vladimirovich (Rukavitsin), and he said that he would contact the company and discuss the issue with the developers. Consequently, they proposed to keep the same blades, the same curvature of the arc, but to reinforce the toe picks. However, I must say that skating on such blades is not so easy: if the ice is bad, the toe picks sometimes get stuck in it.
If you watched the European Championships, you may have noticed how the Belgian skater Loena Hendrickx skated towards the boards after her performance and several times hit the ice by toe picks quite hard. Is this normal behavior for a figure skater or a kind of moveton?
Dmitri Aliev: I would say that on training sessions, when something doesn’t work out, it’s normal. Believe a person who has hit the boards with his arms to blood several times. By the way, I don’t know what drove Loena. Was it a deliberate undercut towards Nastya Gubanova, who was skating after her, or just a manifestation of disappointment after her own performance, an inability to cope with emotions?
What would you do in this situation?
Dmitri Aliev: If one of the skaters did something like this while on the ice with me, I would stand right in front of the person and look at them like this… I know how to look in such situations. And I know how to make a scandal.
Liza Tuktamysheva once said that she rarely sharpens her skates. You, on the other hand, say that you sharpen your blades often. For what purpose?
Dmitri Aliev: For me, this is a technically necessary thing. If the blade hits a hard object, nicks appears on it, which affect the skate’s ability to hold a certain edge. When entering a quadruple jump, the pressure on the blade is completely different from that on triples. You need to be sure that you won’t slide off the edge. Although, undoubtedly, this is purely an individual thing. Mark Kondratiuk, for example, may not sharpen his skates for a year, and it’s normal for him. I sharpen mine on average once a month.
Which of the upcoming events is more important to you – the already passed National Championships or the upcoming Russian Grand Prix Final?
Dmitri Aliev: Both are equally important. I am glad that there is a certain pause now, which allows me to recover, go through the “technical check”, regain my shape and maybe even introduce some new “tricks” into the program.
What do you mean?
Dmitri Aliev: Smile somewhere, wink at the judges somewhere, jump an extra time somewhere. There is always something to decorate the program, to make it as catchy as possible. By the way, initially when we only did the free program, there were a lot of so-called slides, beautiful glides in different positions. Now it’s not very convenient for me to do them because of my foot: in some positions, my leg starts to hurt.
I would say that all these “tricks” are not so significant in terms of the scores that you cannot do without them.
Dmitri Aliev: That’s true, but there is a nuance. When judges see that a person at the very end of the program is doing something unusual and difficult in terms of balance, they subconsciously note for themselves that the skater is completely in control of the situation and doesn’t seem to be tired. I was impressed by the same Nathan, Yuzuru Hanyu. Or how now at the European Championships Adam Siao Him Fa performed such a step sequence at the end of the short program that you can’t help but be impressed! When you realize that the end of the program doesn’t go down, but an ascent, it always produces a very cool effect.
Do you plan to increase the technical content? Besides returning the quadruple lutz to the program?
Dmitri Aliev: There won’t be lutz because of my foot. As soon as my foot stops hurting, I will definitely restore this jump. I’m not even training it yet. Accordingly, the free program will have a salchow and two toe loops. This is the set with which I can achieve the results that I want.
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