Tatiana Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov: “We didn’t want to be European champions with bad skating.”

February 9, 2012
By Titanilla Bőd
Photo © Eva Maria Jangbro (EMJO), Johanna Welnicki - JOLUSKATING

They won their first European title but they admit it was hard to find their motivation because of the absence of their main rivals. We talked to Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov in Sheffield the day after the pairs’ long program.

This is the first day that you’ve woken up as European champions. How does it feel?

Maxim: It feels good, but nothing has changed. We still think about the future. Now we don’t feel as excited as right after the competition. We are happy, but nothing special.

Was there any celebration?

Maxim: We were in a small group with other Russian couples and just sat for a few hours talking.

How did you feel throughout the competition?

Maxim: It was a special competition, because we didn’t feel that much pressure as the Germans did not compete. It was not so hard to win without them; there was no fighting; we just had to skate.

Was it hard to find your motivation after you learnt Aljona and Robin had withdrawn?

Maxim: Yes, it was, because we were focused on our competition with them and we looked forward to it. We worked hard to beat them and after their withdrawal we felt a bit disappointed. But then we had another goal: to skate well, because we didn’t want to be European champions with bad skating.

Was it kind of a satisfaction for you? Maxim, you have already been on the podium at European championships, but never won before, while you Tanya, had never won a European medal.

Tanya: Our dreams are coming true. For me it is the first time on the podium and I got the gold. Now I want the same at the World championships.

Maxim: I have more pleasure when I skate than when I receive awards. But for sure I’m happy to be a European champion, because we’ve made many people happy in Russia and in other countries, who cheer for us. We received a lot of messages on Facebook and other websites, also many text messages – all together we got about one thousand congratulations!

Fans already dreamed about your partnership while you were skating with different partners. How does it feel to you to skate together?

Maxim: It’s the best time for us for sure, the best moments. We skate together only for one and a half years, but we have had a lot of good moments and a lot of medals. We lost only two competitions, Worlds and Grand Prix Final; at all the other competitions we won the gold. We are very happy to be together, everyday is a pleasure to skate and work together.

Tanya: But of course we will be even happier when we beat Aljona and Robin.

What do you think are your strengths compared to Aljona and Robin, and in which aspects are they better than you?

Maxim: Aljona and Robin are very technical couple. They are special, they have huge experience. They have skated together for eight or more years, while we’ve been together only for one and a half years. Those experiences are their big plus. But I think we have maybe more choreography on the ice; we have some energy connection together; people feel it and we also feel it when we skate. I think we can show relationship of a man and a woman on the ice. Choreography is our power part.

Both of your programs for this season are very intense and dramatic. Who chose the music, Bring Me Back to Life, for the short program?

Maxim: Last year we performed in Switzerland in the Art on Ice show. Our friend, Stephane Lambiel had a show program to Bring Me Back to Life. It was live music with an orchestra, but during the practice before the show, the orchestra played without the singer. It was great; when I heard it I said: “It is a good music, somebody could use this for a program.” But it was just a quick thought. In the summer we tried to find some music for our short program with Nikolai Morozov, but there was nothing. One day I just remembered this song, it was like “Eureka!” in my brain. When I gave it to Nikolai, he immediately said: it will work.

What about the free program music?

Maxim: I went to the cinema to watch the Black Swan movie, because I love ballet so much. And I thought this story is also about Tatiana. She is very white, but sometimes she has to be stronger, “blacker”. With our choreographer we often push her, when she has to be more aggressive. So I told her: “You have to go to the cinema and watch it.” She went and she liked it too. It happened in the middle of the previous season, before the Worlds, but when we watched this movie, we were ready for this program. We couldn’t wait for the next season. We sometimes put on this music at practice, or just tried a few movements…

Tanya, do you really feel that it is hard to find your black side?

Tanya: Of course, it was difficult for me, but Maxim and our choreographer always help me. So I try, but it is hard, because I feel more like the white swan, not the black.

Maxim: In the second part of the program she must be black; she starts to go crazy. And she is very good, sometimes she can even surprise me, when I say: “Wow, Tanya, you are so black, it’s not like you!”

When you started to skate together, which elements worked immediately and which ones did you have to practice for a longer time?

Tanya: We started from the jumps.

Maxim: It was not easy. There wasn’t any easy element, but we worked hard.

Tanya: The most difficult was the twist and the throws.

Maxim: And jumps. But the most horrible was pair spin. At our first three competitions we missed them completely - we got no points for it!

Is it harder for the man or for the woman to learn a new technique for throws?

Maxim: For both, because we have different techniques. Tatiana did throws with Stanislav with Stanislav holding her hand, while I have my hand on her body. But I think for her it is even harder, because she tries to use my technique.

How long did it take to get adapted to each other’s technique?

Maxim: One week. It was fast.

Tanya: I always concentrate on this; I have it in my head.

One of your coaches is Tatiana’s former partner, Stanislav Morozov. I’ve read in an article that at first Maxim thought: “I’ve always defeated him, what can he teach me?”

Maxim: I didn’t mean it like this. Everyone can teach me something and Stas has lot of experience. The question for me was: how I can listen to him, how will it work? I think a coach must be higher than an athlete, even if you are challenged; you have to listen to him, because he is your coach. I just was afraid because of this. I didn’t want to be bad with him, I didn’t want to say: go away, I skate better than you! I’m sure he can teach me a lot, he is older than me, he was at two Olympic Games; this is amazing.

Tanya: Stas was already kind of a coach for me when we skated together. He helped me and taught me a lot. Now it is more as if there are two different lives, one on the ice and the second one in my private life.

In Russia there was a rivalry between the skating schools in St. Petersburg and in Moscow. Maxim, after leaving St. Petersburg for Moscow, do you feel this rivalry?

Maxim: St. Petersburg is a classic figure skating school, with a long history and a lot of Olympic champions and good coaches, celebrities of the sport. When I moved to Moscow, I was scared. I was going to coaches who never had champions. I was going to skate with a new partner from a different country, and I didn’t like Moscow as a city. I’d lived all my life in St. Petersburg and those are two completely different cities. But now I can say all sports organizations in Moscow are very helpful, they concentrate on the sport and they support me. This year I had lot of health problems, but I got a lot of help from the Russian federation, the Ministry of Sports or other organizations. In St. Petersburg I never felt it.

Tanya: They care about our results.

Maxim: There are a lot of people who want our victory and they help us with everything we need. We just have to call and the problem will be solved. I love it in Moscow. In St. Petersburg it is not like this. I can’t say anything good about St. Petersburg sport organizations, because they never helped me. Only our skating school, but it is very difficult to find all your power in your skating school. Alena Leonova is also moving to Moscow from St. Petersburg and she feels the same. I love St. Petersburg as a city, but for the sports it’s easier to be in Moscow.

Why is Russia so strong at pairs skating? In Sheffield, there were three Russian couples on the podium.

Tanya: It is our tradition.

Maxim: We were very happy to be together on the podium. Last time it happened in 2005. We are happy for each other.

Maxim, you said very nicely at the press conference, after the long program that you don’t plan to practice a throw quad or triple axel, because you care about your partner. How can you avoid the danger during throws and lifts?

Maxim: I have to concentrate. I must be in a very good shape. You have a small girl by your side on the ice; you have to care about her.

Isn’t it sometimes frustrating in pairs skating that it’s not enough to clean skate yourself, if your partner makes a mistake?

Maxim: We skate together. We can’t blame each other when there is a mistake. I can fall, she can fall. If somebody makes a mistake, we will work on it. It doesn’t matter who made the mistake, the couple makes the mistake.

Tanya: We have a very good relationship, and we are always a team on the ice.

To change the topic, it is known that you love animals. You both have dogs and Maxim has a cat, too.

Maxim: Our dogs are by this time best friends and when we go for a walk, they wait for each other. I have a Yorkshire terrier, it has roots here in England, and Tanya has a Pomeranian. I also have a cat; it’s a naked cat without fur. My dog plays with the cat, they are like brothers, and Tanya’s dog is also very friendly; it starts to play with everybody, so it’s no problem with the cat.

Tanya: But the cat always wants to be close to Maxim.

Maxim’s other hobby is football and he mentioned that he will try to visit a football match in England. So which is your favourite team?

Maxim: It is Zenit from St. Petersburg and in England I cheer for Arsenal. I’ve liked football since I was a little kid. It was my big dream to watch a game in England, because I think it’s the best league in the world.

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