Everything is new for Estonia's Elena Glebova┬á
January 23, 2012
By Ia Remmel (Pia)
Photos © Ia Remmel (Pia)
Elena Glebova’s season has gone well so far. She has won the Merano Cup and the Crystal Skate at Braşov and was second at the Finlandia Trophy. Since her last season, which was not as successful, her life has changed a lot. She has new coaches, has moved to America and now trains at Hackensack.
After being only third last year at the Estonian Nationals she thought about what was wrong and what she needed to change. This year, everything has been different and Elena returned confident, determined, full of passion and has done well despite minor foot problems.
What did your win at the Nationals mean to you?
It meant a lot. Not only in terms of getting a spot for the European Championships but also psychologically. After my unsuccessful last season, I was upset and worried but I still believed that I would be able to progress and had not reached the limits of my potential. Changing my coach was a very difficult decision and I had no guarantee if it would work. However, so far I have had a very good season. I achieved a personal best in the short program and also in the free program and I gathered 500 points for ISU world rating. Everything has gone better than I could have expected.
You said that your previous season was unsuccessful, why do you think that was?
It was probably destiny. I had never had such an unsuccessful season and if I hadn’t placed third at the Estonian Nationals I would never have had the courage to make this U-turn, to leave my home country and go to live and train in America. Up until then, I thought that everything was going well, that I was doing everything right. However, I was made aware of my problems and realized that my potential could be better realized by working with new people.
How did you meet your current coach Igor Krokavec and when did you decide to move to America?
I never intended to leave Estonia at first. I had always thought and still think that Anna Levandi is a very good coach and that I had very good training conditions in Estonia.
During the last season my coach Anna Levandi sent me twice to train with Morozov’s group.
Then the Tokyo Worlds came closer and I went to train in Japan with Morozov’s group. However, after the earthquake, we moved to Hackensack where Morozov had a training base. There I met Igor and we worked together for a while. My jumps began to improve and I was able to do my triple lutz, which I had not been able to do for years.
I was really surprised that someone could improve my jumps in such a short time. Igor offered me a training opportunity at Hackensack. I was not sure at first but after the Worlds I began to think that maybe I would try since I had nothing to lose.
At first, I planned to stay there for just one summer but in July I realized that the environment at Hackensack was just what I needed. I realized that I had to stay there.
Igor is not the only one working with me at Hackensack. In addition to him, there is my second coach Craig Maurizi and choreographer Olga Orlova.
How did you handle the transition to a new coach?
It was a very emotional transition. Anna had worked with me for so many years and she gave me a lot. However, I had reached a crisis and wanted to try something else.
Would you say that every skater should change coaches during their career?
Hard to say, I believe it depends on the person. For example Sasha Cohen switched coaches almost every season. I am not like that. I had the same coach for a while. My first coach was Irina Kononova between the ages of 5 and 12 and then Anna Levandi for 10 years, so I cannot say that I switch coaches very often.
How does it feel to live and train in America? How are the conditions there? Was it hard to get used to life in America?
I must say that the conditions are superb. A big ice-rink along with a gym and an athletics track – everything that an athlete needs.
And the move has not been very hard for me. I was lucky to meet good people who helped me.
Who else trains with you at the same rink?
At the moment, some skaters from Ukraine and Israel and ice dancers Cathy and Chris Reed from Japan. Johnny Weir has announced his comeback and also trains here and during the summer there is also Morozov’s group. Also, my friend Elene Gedevanishvili trained here but she left last summer to go train with Brian Orser in Canada.
Tell me a little about your coach Igor Krokavec.
He comes from Slovakia but has lived in America for 10 years. He is a former single skater but he has also tried pairs skating and ice dancing. I am the first international level skater he has. He is a young coach but very ambitious and passionate.
What are your largest faults that he intends to fix?
Oh, there are many problems but he also sees lots of potential. He corrected my jump technique and has improved my jump stability. He has many ideas to improve my skating even further.
Did you have to completely change your jump technique?
Not completely. I am already 22 years old and I have practiced most jumps for 10 years already. It would be foolish to start everything over from the beginning. However, there are things to improve with every jump.
What ideas does he have about your skating style?
His favorite skating style is one resembling Carolina Kostner’s. He likes the style of skating where everything is elegant and clean. My style so far has been athletic and forceful; however he wants to change it to be more classical, soft and feminine.
Do you agree with him?
I agree but one of my two programs still has a more powerful style. I’m not very feminine in my short choreographed to the music of “Angels and Demons” by Hans Zimmer. In that program, I am a demon more than an angel. However, as a compromise with my coach, my long program is classical and feminine instead.
You have two very vivid and beautiful programs this year. They both have an interesting structure, clear and pleasant images, a beautiful choice of elements and very nice transitions. Who found the music for your programs and who chose the images?
We all chose together, my coach, my choreographer and me. We sat together and listened to different types of music. I remember well the evenings when we all gathered together to listen to all sorts of different music.
Your long program is based on Khachaturian’s ballet “Spartacus”. I’ve always thought that it is very good music for figure skating. Who do you portray in this music?
First I am like a warrior, then a poetic part follows; a romantic story and finally there is another battle, which ends in victory.
Could you tell me some more about your choreographer Olga Orlova, the one who created your beautiful programs. I haven’t heard a lot about her…
Olga comes from Russia. She is a former ice dancer and works in the same ice rink where I train. She has worked with USA juniors and has choreographed for Crystal Kiang from Chinese Taipei.
Do you think it is risky to take on a choreographer who has made few programs for international level skaters?
I have seen how she works, she has a very rich fantasy and she’s original, professional and has made quality programs for me. When she sees something she wants to change in my choreo then she will point it out to me. When we need to change the jumps in the program, she changes the choreography to fit them.
Before, you have designed some of your dresses yourself. Who designed your current costumes?
For the last two years, a young Estonian designer Olga Rattik has created ideas for my dresses. But this season, I have met a designer here in USA who has made both of my dresses. I’m very pleased with the results. I like both of my costumes very much.
It seems that skating is getting more and more popular in Estonia. The Estonian Nationals this year was a big event and also had live TV coverage. The ice hall was full and there was real tension in air when you were in a duel with Gerli Liinamäe. Do you think the rivalry between you two is a good thing?
It’s very good to have capable rivals! It gives me a drive to improve that I didn’t have during the years when I was a clear leader. This rivalry pushes me to new heights.
I have followed Estonian skating for years and you have done a lot to popularize figure skating. Do you feel that skating has become more popular in Estonia?
It really has! Before this year’s Estonian Nationals, the newspapers and online resources had plenty of articles and pictures about skating. This would have been unthinkable just a few years ago.
Gerli and I even have our own fan groups.
I also asked Elena for some of her favorite things, skaters and cities. Here are some of her favorites:
Favorite skaters: Daisuke Takahashi, Stéphane Lambiel, Tara Lipinski, Joannie Rochette, Aliona Savchenko-Robin Szolkowy, Tatiana Volosozhar-Maksim Trankov, Meryl Davis-Charlie White
Favorite music: U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Coldplay “Fix you”, Björk
Favorite city: New York
Favorite movies: “Remember me”, “A Perfect Murder”, “The Thomas Crown Affair”, “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo”