“There isn’t much of our sports career left, and we want to try something new. I hope everything will get better, and we will be able to compete internationally.” Ivan Bukin about switching to Zhulin
Interview with Ivan Bukin. About moving to Zhulin’s group, Alexandra Trusova and World Championships.
source: Sport24 dd 26 March 2023 by Konstantin Lesik
Two-time Russian champions Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin have changed coaches for the first time in their 16-year joint career. After a long collaboration with Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin, the duo will be working with Alexander Zhulin. This news is the loudest transfer in Russian figure skating in 2023. Sport24 correspondent Konstantin Lesik met with Ivan and got from him the details of the transfer, as well as found out why he learned a double loop, what is the feature of working with Alexandra Trusova and Mark Kondratiuk, and who impressed him among foreign colleagues at the World Championships.
You have a brilliantly executed double loop, and over the summer you did a single axel with Mark Kondratiuk. Did you decide to switch to singles?
Ivan Bukin: Haha, no! I’m remembering my childhood, so to speak. I really like it, it’s cool to feel that flight. I would like to learn some kind of triple, I think if I practice for a month, I can pull it off. I have that feeling.
And which jump is closer?
Ivan Bukin: It’s definitely not salchow. I can’t even land a double. Maybe a loop or a toe loop.
What’s the hardest thing when you start jumping after a long break?
Ivan Bukin: The hardest thing is realizing that you won’t fall below the ground. I know how to do doubles, I’m just scared to start. I even have a video where I fell. It’s funny.
You changed your style and got a new haircut.
Ivan Bukin: I wanted to do it for a long time. And when I got a haircut, I realized that my new image didn’t quite match. I’ll grow it again, maybe it will be a little shorter than usual. I just can’t get used to it. I look in the mirror and think, “God, who are you.”
Let’s move on to the main topic. There have been big changes in your career recently…
Ivan Bukin: First of all, I want to thank our coaches once again. We have come a very long way. Sasha and I are immensely grateful for everything in our sports career. It’s all thanks to them. We still have a great love for our coaches. It was a very difficult decision. We decided to try something new, to learn something new. There isn’t much of our sports career left, and we want to try ourselves somewhere else.
And you turned to Alexander Zhulin?
Ivan Bukin: Yes, we are going to work with him now. We had a very good talk with him and we will start training with him in April. We will prepare for the next season, and hopefully in May, we will perform in a show with Ilia Averbukh. We’ll see, but I hope it will work out.
Why did you choose Alexander?
Ivan Bukin: It was interesting to us. I worked with him on “Ice Age”. I really liked how he sees figure skating, how he coaches, feels, and points out mistakes. These are important criteria for me. We decided that it would be nice to work with him in our main sports career.
How difficult was it to say goodbye to coaches with whom you worked for 16 years? How did they take it?
Ivan Bukin: It was really difficult. Before that conversation, I didn’t sleep for a couple of nights, it was very hard. They are very close to us, and we have a huge respect for them. They are more than just coaches. We are connected by a lot. It wasn’t easy. The conversation itself was short because no one wanted to torture each other. We quickly talked, brought flowers, and everything was fine. We talked, and that was it. Our cooperation ended.
Do you have anything planned besides performances in Ilia Averbukh’s show?
Ivan Bukin: You know, we really miss it. Seriously. We’ve missed it insanely. We want to feel that competitive spirit again, the preparation and everything that goes with it. It’s always challenging, but it’s such a special feeling. We want to come back because when you step onto the ice, you have fans supporting you, and you enjoy being in that atmosphere. It’s hard to live without it.
Of course, shows are also a very interesting experience, but a sports career is a little different. It’s very important to me, I miss it, I’m looking forward to it, and so is Sasha.
Are you happy with how fans reacted to the news of your transfer?
Ivan Bukin: That’s an interesting question. Everyone has their own path. For me, it’s probably wrong to rely on someone else’s opinion. Two opinions matter here: mine and Sasha’s. Someone could be offended or react differently… It doesn’t matter – it’s our choice. It could be right or wrong. We haven’t figured it out yet. We decided, chose this path, and I’m grateful to everyone who supported us and to those who didn’t, because everyone has their own opinion, and that’s great. But we have our own way. We chose it.
You haven’t had any competitions in the last year, but you’ve had a lot of projects. How do you feel about this schedule? Does it take more energy?
Ivan Bukin: Actually, I really like the schedule I have right now. It’s interesting, I meet a lot of people, and I catch up with old friends. It’s great. The workload is different — it’s not physical, it’s more emotional. It’s just as draining as physical work, but in a different way. I’m saying this now and I realize it’s hard to compare. But the most important thing is that I want to continue competing at the highest level.
You worked with Svetlana Sokolovskaya’s group. Can you tell us about your role?
Ivan Bukin: I want to thank Svetlana Vladimirovna Sokolovskaya for inviting me. It was very nice to work with her group. I helped as a specialist in gliding, adding some things to the programs. It was also a very unusual role for me. I felt like I was on the other side — as a coach, as someone who is, roughly speaking, standing behind the boards. I watched all the competitions, rooted for the guys, worried. It was also very hard. I was screaming in front of the TV: “Come on, come on, come on.” It was cool. All of Svetlana Vladimirovna’s kids are wonderful—they’re so responsive, kind, understanding, and they all try their best. I was very pleased.
What can you say about Mark Kondratiuk and Sasha Trusova?
Ivan Bukin: Mark and I worked great together. He’s great, a hard worker — he does, tries, and corrects. It’s very cool. We also worked well with Sasha. We even made some lifts (laughs).
You’re probably used to having a partner named Sasha.
Ivan Bukin: Yeah, Sasha here, Sasha there, ha-ha! But seriously, Sanya is great. It’s not her first time skating in a pair, either. We did some elements together a couple of times, filmed it, and watched it. It was cool. It’s also a good experience for both of us.
There was some information that Sasha wanted to compete in a show program competitions with a partner. Was that partner possibly you?
Ivan Bukin: Well it’s no reason to hide it anymore. We were thinking about performing with Sasha. But the regulations for show program competitions were a little different, so we couldn’t perform together.
But I hope there will be a moment when we can show our program in the future. It would be a really cool experience for both me and Sasha. It’s very interesting to see what we can do together. It’s really unusual.
Did you have any ideas for the program?
Ivan Bukin: We had an idea, but we’re not going to reveal it yet.
Do you have any favorites for the show program competition?
Ivan Bukin: I won’t talk about it because it’s my personal subjective opinion. The competitions are over, and the results are what they are. But Alexei Yagudin brought me to tears. I thought to myself, “Wow! What a great man.”
Many people say that you and Alexandra have not yet shown your full potential in sports. Do you have any dreams related to your sports career?
Ivan Bukin: Firstly, I hope everything will get better, and we will be able to compete in international competitions. I’m sure we should be there. I’m watching the World Championships right now. It’s been a long time since there were no Russian athletes there. I really want to compete in these global events – European and World Championships. God blesses, at the Olympic Games. These are very, very, very different competitions in terms of atmosphere.
I haven’t been to our domestic competitions this season, unfortunately, so I can’t say anything. What I saw was an awesome level. But still, I want to perform in international competitions. I love Japan, we’ve been there many times. I want to perform there. Probably, this is the dream – to perform at the international level.
What do you think of the World Championships?
Ivan Bukin: Very interesting. I watched the rhythm dance in the morning, I really liked it. I woke up at 8:30, turned on the TV at 9, and just caught the last two warm-ups. All the guys are great, they work hard. Something was interesting, something I didn’t like, but still, it’s the World Championships. Everyone is fighting. Chock/Bates are great, they finally skated without any mistakes, clean (interview was made before the free dance). I liked Fournier Beaudry/Sorensen – we always got along well with them. The Italians Guignard/Fabbri skated very well too.
Do you want to say something to the fans at the end of the interview?
Ivan Bukin: Actually, I want to meet everyone at competitions already. I hope we will see each other soon.
Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara: “This season, we had a lot of restrictions and practiced very hard, so now when all the competitions are over, we want to show this feeling of release and enjoyment.”