Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Monday, December 20, 2004


by Marina Semenova of Russian Language Newspaper "Novie Isvestia" ("NI") ( published on November 12, 2004.


Maria Petrova and Alexey Tikhonov have been permanent members of the Russian National team for the last 6 years. They have a great number of fans, no less that any other world class pair, (with the exemption of Chinese - due to demographic reasons). And all of those fans are happy that Maria and Alexey were the first Russian winners of the current season at NHK Trophy in Japan. "Novie Izvestia" talked to the famous figure skaters.

MS - The next Grand Prix Championship - the Cup of Russia - is going to take place soon, but you are not participating in this event.

MP- We are really eager to compete in our motherland. Usually we write down our wishes where we want to skate. This year we selected Japan because we like it there, France, because we have never been there, and Russia. We got most of our wishes with the exception of the last one.

AT - It is a rule that at home, the right to participate in the Cup of Russia competition is given to the first pair of the country. Thus, not everything depends on us. (The world Champions Tatiana Tomjanina and Maxim Marinin were supposed to participate in the Cup of Russia, but withdraw due to the lady's trauma).

MS - Where do you like to skate most?

AT- Of course at home - in Petersburg or Moscow. We are skating there for our spectators. And also, as Masha said - in Japan - it is our lucky country. Counting the last tournament, we have won there three times. Personall,y I like it very much in Canada. Canadian spectators are very much like ours. They deeply understand figure skating, and even at the practices, there are a lots of people present there. Whatever we would do on the ice, even if we are just skating in circles, they applaud us. Last year we had a good reception in America. And in general, it is great everywhere, but it takes too long to fly to some places. We do not always want to fly far.

MS- Please tell us about your programs, especially the free one. Why did you decide not to develop a new program, but stayed with the old one- "The Princess of the Circus"?

MP- At first about the short program. It is a new one based on the tango. The free program - in reality it is almost new. We made a lot of changes in it. It was designed to meet the new judging rules. Besides, we had never skated 100% of the "Princess" last year. That was why we decided to keep it for some time longer.

MS- Who was the choreographer of your short program?

AT- Sergey Petuchov. It is extremely interesting to work with him. He is a professional dancer, and to make sure that we understood the program "from inside,” he was telling us a lot about it. This was the special way that he prepared us for the performance.

MP- It is one thing to just skate the program, and another when you understand what exactly you are doing. The feelings are completely different.

MS - As long as you touched on the topic of judges, it would be the right time to talk about them. Let's start with a simple question -what do you think about (the new rules)?

MP- I am sorry that there is no more old system. I was always hoping to get a 6.0 mark.

AT- Initially I thought that it would be great. For example, in theory, an unknown skater who skates well and who includes in the program the corresponding elements, may compete as an equal with the world famous champions. With those who would get marked up for in the old system. But now, I am afraid that everything will stay the same. The judges, as in the past, do anything they want. It seems to me that nothing has changed. The only thing is that in the past the process was better for spectators. They were expecting the marks that they were used to - were waiting for the "sixes". But now they are just getting the final total result - one skater got a mark of 156, and the other - 155.

MN- And the spectators do not understand what the marks were given for. It is not always clear to the sportsmen, as well.

MS- But the International Skaters Union (ISU) hopes that the new system would make figure skating cleaner and better.

AT- I do not think that this is a recipe for cleanness. Moreover, I think that in time, figure skating will go back to the old system. Not soon, but it will come back. Although I do not want to be so categorical, let's first see how it all developes. But there are a lot of problems. On the one hand, it seems there are moves toward the introduction of new elements, and this is a good trend sometimes. But, on the other hand, there is a list of existing elements. And it is tempting not to invent anything better, because, as it often happens, there is no time, no strength. And it does not make sense because the new idea may be not appreciated.

MS- The programs of all of the skaters will become similar.

MP- Exactly. People will look at each other, see the elements of someone that gained the highest marks from the judges, and do the same.

AT - In the past, there was an unwritten rule: if you came up with an element, it was yours and for others to steal it was a bad tone. But now, the skaters would not see any other way, but to repeat what the others are doing. And what happens in the ice dancing?
In the past, the sportsmen selected the music, interpreted it and than selected elements to the music. Now it is the other way around. The main thing is to get the highest marks, rather than to do something interesting and beautiful - there is no time for it.

MS- Does the thought that beauty will be appreciated by the spectators if not by the judges, keep your soul warm?

MP- It does, but one would not get higher marks for it.

AT- I read somewhere an old Chinese wisdom: if one person wanted to wish the other one something bad, he would say- "I wish that you lived at the time of changes". It seems to me that the situation in figure skating matches that definition very well.

MS - But would you agree that there should have been some reaction by the ISU to the constant scandals?

AT - Yes, it should have reacted. They wanted to make the system more objective and spent two million dollars. May be in time they would say that everything was done correctly, but personally I do not see any improvement yet.

MS- OK, we will leave that final decision to the historians. Let's talk now about some personal issues. You are skating together for six years now. Is it good for your pair or are you bored already with each other?

AT - Absolutely not! Now, after six years, I finally feel at the subconscious level that we are really a pair. We do not need to say anything to each other and we understand each other just by looking at each other. All our parallel elements are performed practically on "autopilot" .

MP- It was much more difficult earlier. We had to constantly position ourselves toward each other. But now, everything is practiced to such a level, that the elements become parallel without us seeing each other.

AT- And of course, it is easier to express our emotions during the performance of the program. For example, I felt that the short program at the last Worlds Championship, was the best skating in my life.

MS- Tell me what qualities of each other you value most?

AT- Masha is a real fighter. Even when she is bothered by a trauma, she would go on the ice and would fight to the last moment. There are many examples - at the World Championship her hand bothered her; a year ago in Japan she had a food poisoning. But nevertheless she skated under these conditions, and skated well. I have to confess that I do not have this quality. Sometimes it shows, but not often.

MP- I trust Alexey. He is a strong and self-confident person. I like to be next to him and it helps me to get mobilized.

MS- Let me ask you a very personal question. As it is well known, the world of figure skating is full of gossips, and one rumor was that in the summer you were planning to get married….

MP- So far we have not gotten married. But in the future, we certainly will do it sometimes.

MS- Please specify- will you marry each other or each of you would marry someone else?

AT- I understand that our fans want to know if we are a couple in our life as well. My answer is – yes, we are a couple. At this time I can not tell you anything about marriage. When we will finish skating, we will see.

MS- But will you stay amateurs until the next Olympics?

AT- I can not promise anything. But we hope to skate there.

MS- And what about after that? Do you plan to stay in figure skating?

AT- Yes, for now. I hope that by the time we leave the big sport, there will be an Academy of Figure Skating in Petersburg. If it would be possible, Masha and I would like to work there. And occasionally we would like to perform at the exhibition shows, if we would be invited there.

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Translated by Genrikh Sivorinovsky


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