“Hard rock, something with obscene language… Well, no, judges won’t appreciate it.” Interview with Azerbaijani figure skater Vladimir Litvintsev
Interview with Azerbaijani figure skater Vladimir Litvintsev. About Olympics
source: championat.com dd. 24th June 2022 by Ekaterina Avdonina
This season, Litvintsev had a hard time: a serious injury overshadowed the preparation for the Olympics, and the incredibly tight schedule of competitions in Beijing completely deprived him of sleep. However, Vladimir did not give up and, through pain, performed at the main start of the four years. Moreover, he had the honor to carry the flag of the Azerbaijani national team. According to him, the feelings were incredible!
This season has been special for all skaters. How did it go for you?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Difficult (laughs). I had to qualify for the Olympics. I skated for eight months with an injury. Performed at the Olympics, at the World Championships … For me, this is the most difficult season of those I had.
Injury – fibula stress fracture?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Yes, exactly.
Did you manage to recover before Beijing?
Vladimir Litvintsev: In China, it was almost not painful anymore. I had a very moderate load, so I was able to perform well. I was taking a lot of painkillers.
Tell us about your impressions of the Olympics. What was the most difficult thing about performing in Beijing?
Vladimir Litvintsev: The hardest thing was to wake up at five in the morning and get ready for the performance at six. We skated the short program, I think, at six or five in the morning Moscow time. This, of course, is a stressful situation, any person will worry, because of this, for example, you cannot fall asleep. We had only one workout and during the day you don’t get particularly tired, but at the same time you worry, so you almost don’t want to sleep. This was difficult – acclimatization, I could not readjust.
There were problems with the schedule, but in general, did the organization at the Games suit you?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Of course, everything was wonderful.
How do you assess your result?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Not bad. Decent is the right word.
Tell us about this year’s programs. How did you prepare for them?
Vladimir Litvintsev: When did I prepare for Joker this year? Watched the movie several times. Especially the moment when he enters the stage, his greeting – how he does it, what facial expressions he has, what gestures. I paid attention to how he dances when he goes to shoot people, how he suffers … All this is in my choreography. It was practiced both on the ice and on the floor – everything to the smallest detail. To smile, to look, to catch the viewer.
Have you taken any acting classes to improve your performance?
Vladimir Litvintsev: No, and there was no desire. My irresistible charisma is enough for me (laughs).
There were not many experiments with programs in Beijing. Do you think there are themes, music that are not suitable for figure skating?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Some kind of underground, Russian rap. It is unlikely that it will be possible to create a competitive program to such music, few people will appreciate it, after all, figure skating is an aesthetic sport. Some genres of music are contraindicated. Although Nathan Chen did combined. However, rap is more pop there, it fits. But hard rock, something with obscene language… well, no, they will not appreciate it.
So the focus is on judges.
Vladimir Litvintsev: Exactly. And I won’t say that they limit directly, but there are some patterns. It’s like ballet – a ballerina will not perform to rap. There are some measures, parameters that need to be followed.
Regarding music, you talked about writing your own, and even offered to make beats for Dmitri Aliev. How is this going on?
Vladimir Litvintsev: This morning I worked on it a bit, but, you see, this needs time, and I am not always able to do it. However, music is really important to me. I definitely won’t stop doing it. I like it, I have an interest, I want to develop, maybe even earn money. But so that it does not interfere with the main business. It’s a hobby. While I’m thinking about creating a YouTube channel, uploading my beats there from time to time (smiles). I don’t do classics, of course it’s possibe, but I’m not that professional.
In theory, could you write music for figure skaters?
Vladimir Litvintsev: I could do some kind of introduction or middle part, but I definitely can’t do the whole composition. If someone takes a trendy arrangement for the step sequence, then I can, but this rarely happens. I can do a remix.
Choreographer Nikita Mikhailov suggested the idea of writing custom music for figure skaters. Would you undertake to help athletes with arrangements and musical accompaniment in general?
Vladimir Litvintsev: I would definitely try.
Due to an injury, you could not seriously increase the load during the Games. But what happens when a skater’s physique doesn’t match the proposed choreography?
Vladimir Litvintsev: They simplify the element, do something similar to look just as beautiful.
Does the same thing happen when ultra-c elements appear, in other words, do they limit the choreography?
Vladimir Litvintsev: It seems to me, yes. That is, if you have four quads, six, and even three, then, of course, this will limit, because some athletes, most of them, cannot make a beautiful entry, they need to jump, concentrate so that nothing interferes, this, of course, affects the program. Therefore, skaters who do not have ultra-c or do one, bet on choreography, they simply have no other choice.
What are you leaning towards? If you could jump many quads, would you choose them or a choreographically integral program?
Vladimir Litvintsev: If I could, I would make sure that there were quads, and the program did not seem boring. To avoid: entry – jump – entry – jump.
During the performance, the skaters sometimes have to change the order of elements. What to do in such a situation? Is there a plan B?
Vladimir Litvintsev: This happens when you, for example, fail the combination. I have had this several times. I think at the Olympics and at the selection there I had a flip – euler – salchow, and twice I failed to do it. I had to add salchow to the second lutz. You understand what to do in the process. But those who have a lot of quads have detailed backup plans. For example, you fail something, do a triple, add 3-3. This is thought out in advance.
Does it affect the pattern of the program?
Vladimir Litvintsev: No. If the changes fall into the musical accent, then you should skip this moment. Who will sacrifice an element? It is better to sacrifice a musical accent than a jump. If possible, you need to try to collect all this, but if there is no such option in order to get into the rhythm and jump, then it is better to make an element, it costs more.
At the Olympics, you were the flag bearer of the Azerbaijani team. What were the feelings at that moment?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Oh, really, how did I feel? Can’t describe in words. Exciting, because it was necessary to control the flag to flutter beautifully. I thought only about it. I have been entrusted with such a duty, I was worried that everything looks good, and only this flag was in my head, nothing else.
Did the athletes have time to rest? What were you doing?
Vladimir Litvintsev: In the end, I had some, but not much, I sat there for a week. But I can’t say that I just relaxed, I relax a little, no matter where I am.
Have you watched other sports?
Vladimir Litvintsev: No, you couldn’t do that there. You could only go to the short track, but I didn’t go.
Did you cheer for the skaters from your hotel room?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Of course, for many. For Morisi Kvitelashvili, I watched Gosha and Maria (Revia and Kazakova) in ice dance, I watched Aleksandr Galliamov and Anastasia Mishina, Guillaume Cizeron and Gabriella Papadakis, I like how they skate. I rooted for all the guys with whom I communicate, with whom I am well acquainted.
The situation with Kamila Valieva was a turning point at the Games. How did you react to this? Did the general tension pass on to you?
Vladimir Litvintsev: No, I didn’t follow this situation. Of course, all this is unpleasant, a very big stress for the girl, I understand this, but I tried to shut myself off it.
For Kamila, the scandal ended tragically, the psychological pressure was enormous. And in figure skating, such situations are not rare, at the Games in Beijing, for sure. Do you think it is necessary to draw public attention to the problems of psychological breakdowns of athletes?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Definitely. How to do it? Call a good specialist.
Vladimir Litvintsev: Yes. There aren’t many of them, I don’t know them personally. Or somehow you need to try to influence yourself: if you understand that you are constantly in an anxious state, you need to look for some way out, look for what it is connected with, and then work on it.
What was memorable about this World Championships?
Vladimir Litvintsev: I fell on a triple Lutz, it was a shame! I thought I’d land it because I failed the combination, and that’s it … I wasn’t tired, I controlled myself well, I entered easily, I was one hundred percent sure that I would do it, but I fell, lost a few points and lost a couple of places. That’s what this World Cup is remembered for. It was hard after the Olympics, I was a little burned out emotionally, it was difficult to switch to the training process again.
Was the atmosphere there different due to the absence of Russian athletes?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Oh sure. The atmosphere was different, because a lot of Russian fans always come, they always support, but we didn’t have them at this World Championships.
At the post-Olympic Congress, ISU extended the suspension of Russian athletes, at the same time, new domestic competitions are being organized in Russia. The leadership of the federation does not exclude the possibility of inviting foreign skaters. If you are invited, will you agree to come?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Yes.
How is this off-season going?
Vladimir Litvintsev: I’ll go to the summer training camp with Sergei Rozanov.
This is not the first time you have cooperated with Rozanov, so is this your specialist? How has your choreography changed since working with him?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Each choreographer has his own vision, and in this case, I think everything changed for the better. Sergei Alexandrovich speaks as he sees. In a different way … You can, of course, offer something, but I always only listen to him and trust him.
What are your goals for the new season?
Vladimir Litvintsev: Top-5 at the European Championships, top-12 at the World Championships, probably, I would like to get into the top-3 at the Grand Prix.
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