Sinitsina and Katsalapov: “Next year is Olympic and this is not the time to take risks”
Interview with Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov. About World Championships, World Team Trophy, new programs and upcoming Olympic season.
source: fsrussia.ru dd. 1st June 2021, by Olga Ermolina and Tatjana Flade
Have you already realized that you have become world champions?
Nikita: Well, there is no such thing that I wake up at night and my first thought: I am the world champion. I realized the only thing, for our entire team, this is a great victory. So much work has been done, so much effort, work, emotion has been invested. That’s cool!
Victoria: I don’t think about it at all, and after the World Championships everything started for me like from a clean slate. Trainings, work, without thinking about being a champion.
Nikita: I agree. It is rather difficult to answer this question clearly, to explain what we have experienced inside in connection with the victory at the World Championships. And it is not necessary. The only thing, I repeat, we are proud of our team, I am very proud of Vika that she walked this path with me, and we did it together. It’s really a “victory” when you win such a championships. It’s great. But all this is in the past, we continue to work as usual.
What are your brightest moments of the victorious World Championships?
Nikita: Before the Worlds and when we just arrived in Stockholm, we did not completely understand how this all would happen, competitions of such a scale and without spectators … But when Vika and I went to the first training session, still in training clothes, and skated so freely, then there was some unforgettable and indescribable feeling. On the first day. I thought: everything is going better than it should and could be. But I tried not to go deep into these thoughts, so as not to affect the motivation, because it was necessary to work in training, show ourselves and win training.
And then there was a short program. And in terms of emotions it was a bit nervous, but we worried a bit then got together and did it. Satisfied, and without spreading ourselves too thin, went to rest.
But before the free program, I saw that Vika was very nervous, because we have the last starting number, it takes a long time before going on the ice, skating last is a big responsibility, and so on. In addition, we won the short dance, and it is always more difficult to keep the lead. For example: Nastya and Sasha (Mishina – Galliamov) skated their short program in Stockholm imperfectly, and they had nothing to lose. They went to the free program, skated like it’s nothing to loose and won. And our strategy was different, because the situations are different.
And so I look at Vika after five minutes and I see that something is not right. I walk up, try to set her up, she nods, I walk away and understand that it didn’t work. But there is still time before going on the ice. After a while I come up to her again, say some words that, it seems to me, should work. Not weak words, but not super-motivating, so as not to burn out. She answeres: yes, yes, and again I understand that it did not work. In short, I walked around Vika until we took off the guards, put them in special baskets and joined hands to go on the ice. And even then I saw that nothing had changed. It was such a tense moment, I said, “Let’s rely on what we have already done. God help us, let’s go.” And when we started to skate, the nerves, and everything that bothered me disappeared … But this state before the performance – super-tense – such has never happened before.
Victoria: The state was like this: you prepare, you set yourself up, and you have, well, not tears, and not even panic, but anxiety. But when the music started, I did the first element, I let it go. And this performance was on such adrenaline …
Although, there were no spectators in the stands.
Victoria: Maybe that’s why it happened, because there is always an emotional exchange with the audience: you give them, they give you their energy. And here we skated “on our own.” And it seemed to me that before the free program, my training wasn’t the best and I was worried.
Nikita: It’s Vika who thinks that the training wasn’t good. The training was very good.
Victoria: I just got used to the fact that in training everything is smooth, perfect, but here I got a little nervous. Maybe responsibility. May be something else. I can’t even explain. I saw that Nikita wanted to calm me down. He tries this and that … But we went through that tense moment together, and this is the most important thing.
The audience only sees what is happening on the ice, and you reveal your inner feelings, it’s very interesting. We can’t see it from aside. And after the World Championships, you went to the World Team Trophy in Osaka in the status of world champions, but these were already different competitions – a team ones.
Nikita: Well, actually it’s the same competitions. We set ourself up the same way, worried. We knew: some teams lack the strongest skaters and the Russian national team has a chance to win this competitions for the first time. And all our guys understood this. The most important thing was not to relax, to support each other, to be a team. But our training and performance schedule did not coincide with the singles and pairs, so we did not see our captain Liza Tuktamysheva much. But in any case, everyone tried to kindly help each other, the special atmosphere of the team event was felt, but this did not mean that someone was skating half-heartedly. All gave all the best as at the World Championships. And they were worried as before the usual competitions. Our performance in the short dance turned out more “stressful” than in Stockholm, and this motivated us to skate the free program better. Strategically, we all aimed at good performances, an overall result, a victory that our team had not had yet.
At the team event we skate our same programs, but the difference between the Worlds and WTT is that at the World you compete one-on-one with rivals who go to the last warm-up and everyone is in anticipation of the fight. And at the team event you go on the ice and see your guys in the team-box, and you’re not one-on-one with the rivals, here one for all and all for one. And the thought your head: “Now I’ll show everyone”, as if you are competing not only in your discipline, but in all at once.
Victoria: And it was immediately felt at the first training session in Osaka, when we went on the ice together, with the whole team. It immediately united us, set the mood.
Where did the victory bring more emotions – in Stockholm or Osaka?
Nikita: Of course, in Stockholm.
Victoria: Emotions were there and there. They are just different. Very strong and pleasant.
After the “team event” you took part in the show. You’ve had a long season.
Nikita: We performed in two shows – with Eteri Georgievna (Tutberidze) and in Poland. Of course, after a busy season you felt tired, but if there were more shows, Vika and I would be only happy. At the same time, the next season is Olympic, and you probably shouldn’t spend too much energy on shows. It is better to focus on preparation. Two shows it’s great. We went and performed. Then we completely focused on the most interesting, but no less complicated working on new program process. Interesting because it’s creative. Difficult because you try new things and the main thing here is not to overdo it. Like learning new lift, you repeat it three, four, five times, and the next day you cannot get up.
Nikita today you were a “demonstrator” on the ice, the others watched from the side, then you discussed it together. Do you always choreograph your programs like that?
Victoria: During choreographing process, there is always one who shows.
Nikita: But that doesn’t mean that only this person. Anyone who has an idea can show it, try it. Chief, Alexander Vyacheslavovich (Zhulin – ed.), Vika, me … After all, it is important not only to hit with the music, element, but also to show the pattern of the program. You can just skate in the middle of the rink, or you can use all the ice, every corner. And today we listened to all the coach’s suggestions, then I said: “Wait” and went to show it on the ice, to make it clearer for Vika and me. It’s clearer and faster to remember this way.
Victoria: And it is immediately clear how the elements are arranged according to the music.
Nikita: I like to show myself, I really like to improvise, to show how I see it. Vika also offers her ideas. And this process is the coolest, because something new is being born. Then you show your ideas to the coach, the team and they tell you: cool, let’s try, or not good, we won’t do that.
Victoria: And the more ideas each team member has, the more interesting the program can be.
Why did you choose Rachmaninoff’s music? Has it something to do with your free program, which was prepared in the last Olympic year?
Nikita: We decided that it would be Rachmaninoff long ago, more than a year ago, and it will be a completely new program. About what? About our journey with Vika, from the first minute of our acquaintance to … We don’t know yet how to end this phrase, ellipsis. And since this program is about us, then Rachmaninoff of course is present in our life. We really liked the free program to the Rachmaninoff’s concerto, which we performed in 2018. And the unfinished story may someday be embodied as some kind of program.
Victoria: But we did not start from that program. This one, as Nikita said, is brand new.
Decided not to experiment in the Olympic season, like with Michael Jackson this season?
Nikita: To take Jackson or something like that, you had to gain experience a year ago, skate this program for the entire season in order to understand whether we can take this new artistic images. And since the Olympic year is ahead, going all-in and trying what we have never done is unjustified. I’d be better to collect the best and show things our pair is known and loved for. Although in the new free program everything will be new – elements, lift, and the program itself.
Touching and deep free program…
Nikita: And a bouncy, stylish rhythm dance.
Victoria: Because next year is Olympic and this is not the time to take risks.
Any ideas for the rhythm dancing?
Nikita: I came up with a word that gives the key to creating “street dancing”. I don’t want to say it yet, but our whole team agreed. “Street dance” as such is not spelled out in the rules. And you can skate tango to the blues, Latin to hip-hop, mix it all up.
Victoria: And we have already started working on the short dance a bit.
Nikita: We have definitely not done such before, we haven’t moved this way and we will have to learn this. So there is a lot of work to do with professional dancers. But this is interesting. Even looking at the guys from our group, we can see how different their short programs are. And it will be curious to see the original ideas, the choice of music and so on.
After all, you have already participated in the Olympics and you can take something from that experience.
Nikita: Yes, but there Vika and I performed with other partners. The Sochi Olympics and the upcoming ones in Beijing will be very different. Even on schedule.
Victoria: If the free program starts at 10 am, then the practice will be at six.
Nikita: So I wouldn’t take anything from our old baggage. I took only the best in preparation. Moreover, from the preparation for the World Championships, when we were able to get in shape in just two months. Naturally, we analyzed how, how much we worked, how many run-throughs we did, in what pieces … Of course we’ll remember these things, take them into account and use the next year.
Victoria: Most importantly, this year we realized that no matter what difficulties arise, both in sports and in life, we should not and can not panic. You can’t stop, and if something went wrong, you just need to understand and accept it. Think how to get out of the situation, what needs to be done for this and decide as quickly and correctly as possible. And to unite with the whole team.
Nikita: This season has shown that Vika and I are very strong. Some of my acquaintances, if they found themselves in a similar situation, as happened to us this season, would refused and would not try anything further. But Vika and I trusted the coaches, the team, each other and were able to overcome what someone had already put an end to. And I think, having overcome all this, we became stronger, more confident in ourselves and began to trust and believe our coaches even more. Yes, when we are on the ice – we are together with Vika, our coaches are behind the boards, but this does not mean that they are not with us. We are all together.
Related topics: Victoria Sinitsina Nikita Katsalapov