Free Dance with Russia's dream team: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov


November 24, 2011
By Nadin Vernon
Photo © Eva Maria Jangbro (EMJO)

Tatiana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov have been going from strength to strength since pairing up last season. Having won Skate Canada and now also gold at the Trophée Eric Bompard, they are through to the Grand Prix Final; and with two strong programs – both technically and artistically- they are clearly aiming for the very top.

I caught up with Tatiana and Maksim in Paris. As trying to find some quiet time to talk during the busy competition schedule was difficult, we ended up watching the final group of the Free Dance together, and chatted in between performances.

Congratulations on winning here. Are you happy with your performances?

Maksim: Yes, we’re happy. There were some mistakes, but we also had some good jumps, three Level 4 lifts in the free program and we improved from Skate Canada. So we’re really happy. I now have medals in all colours from this event and Tanya has a gold medal. The audience was really good here, they cheered for us and we’re happy to win in this beautiful city.

What are your plans between now and the Final in Quebec?

Tatiana: Maks had some problems here with an injury.

Maksim: Yes, I have pain in my adductors which I’ve had since the start of the season. It was bothering me at Skate Canada and again now so it’s good I have some free time now to take care of it. After Paris, we will go to Cup of Russia and cheer for the skaters there and then we will start to work hard for the Final.

Are you planning any more changes to your programs?

Maksim: Only some very small changes to the free program, like for example the ending of the free program. Nothing major, probably just some transitions.

You started skating together last season, how have you grown as skaters since then?

Maksim: It was very complicated when we first started to skate together but month by month we’ve improved and have been feeling better together. We also have good conversations off the ice and have become very close, like best friends. This has really helped us to become a good couple on the ice. We spend a lot of time together.

Tatiana: And we have a very good training plan from our coach Nina.

Maksim: Yes, there are many things coming together and we’re just really happy that we made a good choice. We found each other and our coaches and choreographer and we get a lot of help from many people in Russia. So there is a lot of support and we really feel that people believe in us.

Tatiana: And it’s very important for our work to have that.

Maksim: This is the best time for us in our sporting life.

Tatiana: We really enjoy every competition.

Maksim: And every day we’re happy to go to our practice.

Tell me a little bit about your daily practice schedule.

Tatiana: It’s boring! (laughs all around)

Maksim: Usually we wake up around 9 and then take our dogs for a walk. Then we have breakfast and shower and go to our first practice at 10:15 which goes on until about 12:30, 1 o’ clock.

Tatiana: We live in the same building and it’s very close to the ice rink.

Maksim: Yes, it’s a two minute walk. And after we have a rest for four hours or so where we go home and have some food, maybe sleep. But actually I’ve been using that time to go to the hospital (laughs). And then we have our second practice.

Tatiana: That starts at 5:15 and finishes at 7:30, 8 o’clock and we go back home and we have a rest and go to sleep, so that’s pretty much our day.

So you don’t have much time for anything else?

Maksim: We like to go and see shows, like musicals or the ballet. Sometimes we get invitations and we like to go to events like this.

Tatiana: And the cinema…

Maksim: Yes, we go to the cinema quite often as it’s so easy.

When you saw Black Swan at the cinema, did you think of using the music straight away?

Maksim: Actually I watched this movie first on my own and I said to Tanya: “Tanya, she’s like you, so soft and sometimes she must be stronger. It’s a movie about you, you have to go and watch it”. And so she went to see it and liked it and we talked about the music. I said that the music was good, it was special Tchaikovsky and maybe we could use it, so I got the music from the internet and put it on during the practice and everybody really liked it.

Are you using this season and next to try out different styles, so you have a better idea about what you may want to do during the Olympic season?

Maksim: We don’t know yet what we want to do, but…

Tatiana: …we have some ideas.

Maksim: Yes, for sure we think about the Olympics all the time. Next season will be very important because we must know what we want to do. Next season will be the rehearsal for the Olympics and it will be very important for us to find something good for the Olympic season.

What are your goals until then?

Maksim: Oberstdorf was our first competition this season and we won it. So far we have won all our competitions and we won silver at Worlds last year, so we are really happy. We want to win ever competition now, it’s our goal and what we really want now.

And how do you push yourselves when it comes to technical content? Your triple throw twist is so high, will you be trying a quad any time soon?

Maksim: We don’t know about quads because we’ve never really thought about them.

Tatiana: We did a new throw in the short program.

Maksim: Yes, we did a new throw and we also did a new death spiral in the free program which sometimes gets a Level 4, which we’re really happy about. We’re also planning to do two difficult throws, the flip and loop in the free program. Then we have three new lifts which are very difficult, so we have many changes from last season. Last season our programs were quite easy, still with high level elements, but the programs were a lot easier than this season. We have good jumps, we do two different triples – not every couple can do that. And we’re also doing a combo with three jumps in practice. We haven’t shown this in competition yet, but maybe we will use this combination in competition later in the season. So we have many ideas, but they’re not about quads.

Are you aware of how the skaters who go on the ice before you have performed?

Tatiana: I never watch.

Maksim: Well, we need to know when we must put our skates on, so we may watch some elements, but that’s it.

And how do you get ready before the competition, do you share any rituals?

Maksim: We just have our warm-up really, and then wait and start to be concentrated.

Tatiana: Yes, I think everyone has to do this for themselves.

Maksim: We never do anything special together to get ready. I’m usually in my own space and Tatiana will do some movements that help her, so it’s different for everyone. We try not to be too nervous but just be concentrated and find courage for our skate.

Seeing Tatiana and Maksim live in competition, has really confirmed to me that the Pairs event will be the one to watch at Worlds this season. This team has it all: very high technical content with beautiful skating skills, strong interpretation and emotions on the ice, as well as huge likeability factor. I wish them a successful season.

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