The Marvelous Majorovs, part 1¬†
There are many talented skating families in Sweden and you are about to meet one of them.In such a small country it's not unusual that the kids' parents are also their coaches, which is the case for the Swedish champion Alexander Sasha Majorov and his little brother Nikolaj. Alexander Majorov senior is their dad, but also their coach, and their mom, Irina, does the choreography and teaches them ballet. In this first part the spotlight is on Sasha.
Alexander 'Sasha' Majorov: "I would not be where I am today if it weren't for Adrian and Kristoffer"
As much as it was expected that Viktoria Helgesson would win the ladies' titel, the same went for Alexander Sasha Majorov winning the men's titel at the Swedish Nationals. It has been an eventful autumn for Sasha competing at the senior Grand Prix for the first time, and even getting two GP events: Skate Canada and Trophee Eric Bompard. However, he found out that the transfer from junior to senior is not so easy, and having suffered from back problems during the summer training did not exactly help making the transfer smoother. Sasha tells more about that, and about having Brian Joubert at the summer camp in Lule√• in this interview. He also tells why he used to not watch Patrick Chan but now thinks what he does is really good.
First, can you tell me about summer camp and Brian Joubert!
I was in Stockholm to have my back checked, and since I had some extra time I had lunch with the Neuman brothers (skating friends). I got a phone call from mom telling me that Brian Joubert is coming to Lulea and that "he is staying with us, so we will need your room". I said "what, Brian Joubert, are you joking?" I was very surprised, didn't really believe it. Then I went back home and we didn't know for sure if he would come or not. Well, the Russians came, they always do, but suddenly Brian and his mom were there. The stayed at the hotel of course, that about my room was my mom joking as usual. We wanted to take then sightseeing and went to √Ąlvsbyn to show them Europe's biggest white water river. It was extra fun for me as well since I hadn't been there since I was about 10 years old...
We also served them some typical Swedish food. It's called surstr√∂mming. (It's salted, fermented fish and considered by many to be a Swedish delicacy. It is however a required taste, as it has a rather strong smell¬Ö)
It was inspiring to have Brian here or as mom says: "he is a super Worlds star in figure skating". But at that time I didn't skate much due to my back problems. I would glide around and sometimes it would feel good, but then the pain would come back. I had therapy every day. I could lift my legs behind my head but not get them back again. You know if you are on your back throwing your legs up and behind the head
I know the exercise, not that I do it that often anymore¬Ö but when did you start noticing that your back was not ok?
It was around Worlds, it was a disaster. I had had back pains since Junior Worlds, I was very tired and then I had to train for another month and a half for Worlds. The qualifications went ok and the short program at practice was ok, but in the competition it just didn't work. The back healed in time so I could attend Mishin's camp in Spain, where I had new skates, very hard ones. They make you land on the heel because you can't bend. At the same time I had problems with my back again, so I started to feel the pain already the first week at camp. I was there for two weeks but unfortunately that was a waste of money since I could not skate. I felt weird not being able to skate like the others. When summer was over and it was time for the national team camp in Sweden, my back was ok. Right now it's mostly ok, but sometimes it bothers me.
What kind of exercises do you do to help your back?
I do lots of training to strengthen my upper and lower back, which relieves the pressure on the vertebrae. My upper back was really stiff, but now I am way more flexible. I do lots of stretching to increase the thigh muscles. I even started swimming once a week, but I am not very good at it, like after 10 laps I am dying. I am too heavy so I drown (joke). No, but my feet pull me under the water no matter what kind of leg movements I do. I would rather skate the free program than swim 10 laps, that's how hard it is for me, I am not a swimmer. But the beginning of this season has not been good.
Well, is the start of the season great for anyone?
Perhaps not, but the truth is that I put myself in a deeper hole than it really was. Last year I competed against the juniors, and I thought I was better than I turned out to be. I didn't skate good or bad, but after the transfer to senior skating and having back problems at the same time, I started feeling sorry for myself. I thought I could do nothing. I went through two or three months of doubts, where I thought my skating was no good. After Skate Canada it got even worse. We added steps to the programs to change them, and I had not skated like that before, it was new for me. But in France, at the Trophhee Eric Bompard it felt much better and in Dortmund at the NRW Trophy, it felt ok. I could do the jumps, I didn't fall, but I did a lot of step outs since the landing didn't hurt as much then. My leg was till stiff and did not open up or extend well, which was my body's way of protecting my bad back. But now I am forcing myself to land the jumps and not do the step outs. And there is one positive side effect to all this: it has made my triple Axel more secure! I started to slow down, put on the breaks as others do to lessen the strange things that can happen when you are up in the air. It didn't hurt when landing, so now I do it that way. I think I might have the strength to put the triple Axel in the second half of the program now, I feel that strong.
I did notice at TEB that there has been a big change in the free program since the Finlandia Trophy in October.
Oh yes, to be honest I took a little from Patrick Chan. Not imitating him, but inspired by him. I made something that is me, so it doesn't look like him. I used to be a bit annoyed, wondering how he could get those high points. At first I didn't even want to watch him, but then I thought I had to see what he did to earn those points. The judges were also complaining about my programs so I thought I would look at Patrick. I realized he is really good, what he does is very hard!
Yes, I saw you watching Patrick Chan practice in Paris. What did the judges say about your programs?
They said my free program was empty; that there wasn't enough there, and that was true. I was not ok with the jumps which perhaps made it look even worse. What Patrick does with step, jumps and all is really difficult, but he does it very well. So after I tested that, I developed my own steps and style that suits me better. We used the time between Skate Canada and TEB to change the programs. My dad said "you will never make it" because I could not do jumps from steps, I had to prepare and jump, prepare and jump. But now all the jumps are from steps, even in the short program, and after landing the jumps I just don't finish them and turn around but do a step there too.
You had listed two new programs in the beginning of the season.
We started out with a new short program: Moonlight Sonata. But I can't skate to it, it did not look ok, so before a competition in Tallinn we went back to my old short (Austin Powers). It is a little juniorish though...
I don't agree. I think it is a relief to watch funny, light programs. It sticks out from all the others short programs and I welcome that. It also shows that you are versatile. My guess is there are two camps, for and against, but I think the majority is for.
It is a little different. It is more dancey and not so much skating, but with the jumps I hope it is ok.
You also added the quad toeloop in your free program.
Yes. I have yet to land it cleanly at a competition, but I am fully rotated so it will happen soon, I hope. In Dortmund I was fully rotated but fell.
At the Swedish Nationals press conference you said the goal for the season is receiving over 200 points?
Over 200 points, yeah. In the beginning of the season I thought about how bad I am; I kept getting the same points as last year even after I raised the level of my programs, like a triple combination in the second part of the program, which is also rather difficult. I want to get those 200 points, yes, and it is not difficult, but I have yet not skated well enough to get them.
Is that a bigger goal than a good placement at Euros?
I will not place in the top three at Euros this time, but if I skate well I will place well. I think about both points and placement; anything can happen! It is embarrassing of course if the others have like 220 and I have 180. It is better if they have 220 and I have 210 if the competition is fierce. The goal for the season is skating well at the big events, if I get the spot for Worlds as well. I have not yet competed well at Worlds, except for junior Worlds. That was the most wonderful feeling, not only that I was in the top three, but the big change that happened there. I was in a good shape the first four days, but during practice I lost all my jumps except for the triple Salchow. I could not do any triple combinations, not even a double ¬Ė triple! At the warm-up before the short program I had a bad feeling, but somehow I made it. Then my form starting to return, and during the free I was like "what's happening here, how could this go so well too?" It was such a great feeling, it was awesome!
How about you and Adrian Shultheiss, are you friends?
Well, people made things up, like that we would backtalk each other. But we have discussed it and found out it wasn't like that. We are not enemies. We shared rooms at the Nordics too, so we talked about it and there are absolutely no hard feelings. We're back to how it used to be; we were good friends when we were younger. I mean, if it hadn't been for Adrian, I would not have practiced the quad toe or the triple Axel. But I wanted to beat both Adrian and Kristoffer. It pushed me for sure in my development. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for Adrian and Kristoffer.
You were lucky to get two Grand Prix evens; they must have added to your competition experience.
Yes, that is true. I am so grateful I got two, especially Paris. TEB gave me my self-confidence back. It felt big, like Worlds with a big audience, more yelling, more TV and media... I would love to skate in a full arena. That is a dream I have, or skating in Japan! A few times there and I would have loads of experience!
Well, in Japan everyone wants to go to skating events.
That's great! Maybe someday¬Ö
Yes, we will see. First out on the event list is the European Championships where Sasha will be the only one representing Sweden in the Men's event. He earned a new Personal Best at Nationals: 218,77 points, so that part of the goal is already reached.
We wish Sasha the best of luck at big and small events to come. Now watch for part two of the Marvelous Majorovs, coming soon on Absolute Skating!