Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov: the story behind

December 25, 2012
By Reut Golinsky
Photo © Eva Maria Jangbro (EMJO), Reut Golinsky

For the 2011 World Junior silver medalists, Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, the move to seniors didn't go smoothly. Their 2011/12 season started with only 7th place at 2011 Trophée Eric Bompard and 4th at a home event, 2011 Cup of Russia. It improved later when they won their first senior national medal, silver (in absence of two Russian leading pairs though). And the highlight was their podium finish at Europeans 2012: being first alternates they came to the event, following the withdrawal of Kavaguti/Smirnov, and debuted there with bronze.
The 2012/13 season has had ups and downs so far with silver at Cup of Nice (where they were favourites and were definitely expected to win), bronze at Cup of China and only fifth place at Trophée Eric Bompard. After the competition Ksenia and Fedor found some time to talk about goals for the rest of the season, new programs and more.

Please, evaluate your performance here: what was good, what still needs to be improved.
Ksenia: Overall everything was OK. Those things we were working on lately we were able to show. Of course, we need to work more on our programs. We will change our short program, not completely, but we will change the order of a few elements, because it was indeed too difficult to have the two most complicated elements at the end of the program. And we will work more on cleaner performances in general.

Coming here, what placement did you assume you could get?
Fedor: The roster here was strong, the strongest out of all six events, in my opinion. That's why it didn't make much sense to guess the placements, it was clear that there would be a serious fight for every place. We were as likely to have placed third, or even lower than we placed. We didn't skate our short program well, that's why a good long wasn't enough to raise us higher. We got what we deserved for how we skated.

Indeed since the beginning of the season the short program troubles you more. That's why you decided to make changes?
Ksenia: Well, if something doesn't work you need to think about what's wrong with it...
Fedor: But in general we love our short program, and we've got positive feedback on it. Simply we haven't succeeded in performing everything as planned, even once.
Ksenia: Yet... but soon everything will be fine!

You've tried the arena in Sochi already (at Russian Federation Cup in Sochi, in October, they were second after Kavaguti/Smirnov -ed). How was it?
Ksenia: Really cool! Everything was great, way to go to the people who worked on that.
Fedor: But it was really hot, not only outside but also at the arena. I hope they will fix that and the temperature will be fine. Except that everything was good, the arena, and the ambience. We can't wait to perform there again.
Ksenia: You understood that he meant in 2014, right? Everybody is allowed to dream...

In addition to that competition in Sochi you've also competed at Cup of Nice. Was it your plan to try a few smaller competitions before you start at the Grand Prix?
Ksenia: Yes, we decided to travel to the seaside, to get some sun, to relax. We took out all our emotions there and with fresh vigour we flew to Shanghai (to Cup of China). I think it helped us, because in Nice we didn't skate that well, but did better in China.
Fedor: Everybody does it [senior B competitions]. It's necessary because such international competitions give you points and rating in the standings.
Ksenia: And we also gain the experience.
Fedor: Yes, and we can try out new programs. During the Grand Prix there is not much time to change things; you already have to bring results, so it's better to try everything before that.

I read that this season you were planning to add more complexity to your jump content.
Fedor: Yes, we started this season performing two triples: triple toe loop and another triple toe loop in combination (till now they usually tried to include 3T-2T-2T and 2A - ed).
Ksenia: But it's difficult to combine everything...
Fedor: Yes, it was hard because we were learning too many things at once: the triple twist, we also changed a lift and some other elements, as a result all things together are hard to combine. Maybe not this season, but we still practice them and plan to have two triples.

Tell me more about your programs. Where did you get the ideas? What inspired you, as I know you're very much involved in the creation of your programs?
Ksenia: For our short program... Last season I saw Artur Gachinski's long program and I fell in love with the music. I was crazy about it! So I came to our team and said: "That's it, this is going to be our short program next season!"

And if Ksenia decides something...
Fedor: Yes, it's absolutely useless to argue. (both laugh)
And about the long program... Nikolai Matveyevich, the husband of Ludmila Georgiyevna (Velikova), proposed this music to us already in the middle of last season. He said that he had found the music which he thought might suit us well.
Ksenia: Especially because he really is a wizard and did magic with it adding some special effects and sounds. We really like it and skate to it with pleasure.

So it's just by chance that both your programs are "macabre".
Ksenia: But actually the themes are very different, I think. "Interview with the Vampire", the short program, is more serious, and the long is more crazy and funny.

As an exhibition program you skate to "La Strada", your long program from two years ago. You called it your most favourite program of all times once. Why?
Ksenia: Though the film is sad, we made a joyful program. And it's a favourite because we won a lot of events with it.
Fedor: It was a very successful, very memorable season, the last season in juniors. A lot was connected to it, many emotions, and mostly positive ones. And the program itself is very cheerful. It came out to be a very good program which still sticks in our memory.

Who creates your costumes?
Fedor: It's usually a joint effort.
Ksenia: We always express our wishes; for example, for the long I brought the [idea of the] dress myself and said: "Let's do it like this". For the short we discussed and chose together.
Fedor: We have great craftsmen working with our costumes, they add their input too and we usually like their suggestions. We explain the idea behind the program and they, based on the idea and on the music choice, create such interesting costumes.

Who is working on your programs with you? Alexander Stepin is listed as your choreographer.
Ksenia: Yes, he works with us on a constant basis on the movements, lines, facial expressions. He comes very often to our practices on and off the ice.
Fedor: But we don't have separate lessons with him of, for example, acting skills, we imply everything directly in the context of our programs.

And who creates your programs? Him, your coaches, you?
Fedor: All of us together. But mostly two of us. It's just happened this way, this is how we initially started to work. Our coaches agree that first of all it's we who should feel comfortable with those programs, so we decide how to put the elements together the way they are more convenient for us. Of course, our coaches start with making some suggestions.
Ksenia: ...and we take it from there.

Where do you get your inspiration from?
Fedor: We try to watch others during the competitions, for example, ice dance competitions; try to learn from videos.
Ksenia: But not only from the sport. We go to theatres, watch films.
Fedor: For example, since we took music from "The Addams Family" we certainly watched the film.
Ksenia: ...and try to take some emotions or movements from there maybe.

If you say you watch ice dance, tell me who did you like the most this season. Apart from Bobrova/Soloviev as we'll try to be objective.
Ksenia: (laughs) Actually I don't like everything they have this season! I love their free dance but the short dance I like less, to tell the truth. But way to go for them anyway.
Fedor: I love the Canadians. Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje, I mean. Tessa Virtue/Scott Moir too, but this is kind of obvious, everybody loves them! I loved the free dance from Kaitlyn and Andrew. I love many ice dance couples, maybe because I don't really understand the technical side but mostly decide based on the overall impression. And my impression from many ice dance couples was very good. For example, the Germans, Nelli Zhiganshina/Alexander Gazsi, they have a great choreography for their free dance, very emotional, I liked it very much.

St.Petersburg was once famous for its pair skating. After you is there anybody coming?
Fedor: Tamara Nikolaevna Moskvina has a few junior pairs who compete at the international level, so there is some potential coming from there. In our group (at Velikovs) we have only little ones, they came just recently.

So you're pretty much alone. Don't you want to have someone on your level to practice with?
Fedor: It's always great when you have someone to push you forward. But we know how to motivate ourselves and it's enough for us to meet the competition at skating events, enough to understand that we should skate better. Like it happened here.

The competition in pairs in Russia is tough. What does your pair have that nobody else has? Persuade me that the world must see you in Sochi 2014.
Fedor: We always try to create something interesting and new, try to show some story behind the program.
Ksenia: ...not just to skate, flourishing arms to the classical music...
Fedor: We want the music to be remembered, the costumes, and the character we've created. And we, of course, work on the technical side too.
Ksenia: And will work more.

And the last question. My impression is that Ksenia has a very strong personality. Fedor, my question is to you: how to skate, to work with a strong lady?
Fedor: Simply I'm very patient. (smiles) I bear as yet, setting my teeth on edge, but... No, I'm kidding, everything is OK, this season has been calm, we work and there are no problems.
Ksenia: Well, quarrels happen sometimes, only when there is a good reason. Also sometimes it's even useful...
Fedor: I think, that if something goes wrong and there are some problems, first of all you should look for the reason in yourself and not in your partner. Then everything becomes much easier, when you try to improve yourself your partner sees and appreciates it.

At the moment Ksenia and Fedor are competing at the 2013 Russian Figure Skating Championships in Sochi. After the short program they currently find themselves in third place with 67.78 points. We wish them lots of luck for their long program on Thursday!


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