Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov: "It would be a pity to give up! We need to walk through till the end."

March 27, 2014
By Oxana Shkrebtienko
Photos © LMDJ

Dortmund in December: one of the biggest Christmas markets in Germany. The town that hosted the World Championships in 2004 nowadays hospitably receives the NRW Trophy, sanctioned by the ISU since 2007. NRW Trophy is an international figure skating competition which is oddly held in two parts, ice dancing in November and singles and pairs in December. This year we decided to travel to Germany in December, to become immersed in its Christmas atmosphere and to attend the second part of NRW Trophy. The pairs competition was won by Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov. Despite being tired after the free program, they felt quite happy with their result and agreed to give this interview with pleasure. We sat down with Vera and Yuri and talked a little bit about their changes this season, their goals and plans for the future.

What were your goals for this competition and have you reached them?

Vera: We decided to come here in order to keep in shape, because this year we were not selected for the Grand Prix Final, which took place the same dates as this competition in Dortmund. We needed to compete somewhere, to run our programs one more time, especially because it gave us more scores to improve our ISU rating. So, we decided to go to Germany. We're in Dortmund for the first time.

Do you like the competition?

Vera: Yes, I like it. However, the organization is a little bit strange. Our practice took place on the open ice, almost open. I was kind of shocked by such a cold practice rink. Of course, for us it was not as scary as, for example, the Mexican team, which also came here, but still it was unusual.

This season, you joined Nina Moser's group. Do you feel some effects from this change?

Vera: Yes, of course. We have some new feelings. The past 3 years we've reached good shape, but we didn't move  forward.  And now, even if sometimes things went a little bit wrong, we have changed our image, and drastically changed a short program. "Charlie Chaplin" is a completely new style for us.
Yuri: Yes. We planned our work quite differently. We devote more time to practicing our skating skills, choreography. We are constantly working on the programs and hope that the results are visible. Our athletic preparation also changed; we work with many different professionals, including physicians. There is a big professional team involved with Nina Moser's group.

What are your goals for this season?

Vera: The main goal is to be selected for the Olympic Games in Sochi. (They made it. In Sochi Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov finished in 6th place).
Yuri: We need to show, finally, clean skating.
Vera: For this it's necessary to deal with ourselves, to overcome jumping errors, our stumbling block.
Yuri: I think we have time to realize what the problem is, and to focus on training our jumps. Let's see, maybe some elements need to be changed. We're constantly working on the programs; it's never a finished job.

What are your plans for the future after the Olympics?

Vera: We will continue at least one more cycle. We are in fact still quite young (laughs). There are some pairs with partners far beyond 30 years old, and they continue to skate! And then the moment comes when your name works for you. Generally patience is very important in figure skating. After looking at Aliona Savchenko and at the Chinese pairs who will participate in their third or fourth Olympics, you realize that you can compete for so many years, win high placements and get pleasure from skating.

In your opinion, where did it come from, this Russian generation of talented juniors? For example, the whole junior podium for pairs and ladies at these competitions are Russian. And not only in these competitions! What is the reason for this "explosion"?

Yuri: There were always enough young capable athletes in Russia. I remember when we were still juniors - Russian pairs took all three places on podium then, too.
Vera: But of course this is the first time for a situation where 5 Russian pair teams are in JGPF! Maybe it's the work of a new generation of coaches.

So these pairs have young coaches, right?

Vera: Basically yes, there are young coaches working under the patronage of more experienced colleagues.

So, the experienced coaches prepare their successor, and these young coaches, in turn, prepare juniors?

Yuri: Yes, that's exactly what we see now, at least in pairs.
Vera: Let's take, for example, our group. Nina Pavlovna also has young assistants. They trained pairs who became last year's winners of the Junior Grand Prix Final, Lina Fedorova and Maxim Miroshkin. Another pair team, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, won the Russian championships, in juniors. All of them train under our young coaches.

Your pair team seems to have a very warm relationship. It's quite rare when the partners are so devoted to each other. You have gone through very difficult periods of injuries, disqualification, but you stayed together. I really wonder what can you say about each other? How would you describe your partner?

Vera: We have been skating as a pair for 8 years. We've become as close as relatives to each other. I can always rely onYuri, he is supportive in our pair.
Yuri: Vera is confident, understanding, without a word, at a single glance. I love her devotion, her aspiration for developing even her stubbornness, in the good sense of the word.
Vera: Together we've been through so much! And now, in this situation with the coaching change, it would be a pity to give up! We need to walk through till the end.

Is the support of your fans important to you, how does it affect your results?

Vera: Of course it is important for us. When we come on the ice and feel the support of the audience, it helps. We especially like to skate at Cup of Russia, when the whole ice rink is rooting for us and we can even see a lot of familiar faces on the tribunes.
Yuri: Yes, it's very nice when you feel the spectators' support, when you hear the applause, even despite errors. Then it makes me feel a little bit calmer to skate.

Some sportsmen take the risk of performing ultra-c elements to earn high scores. Do you think it's justified? Are you ready to take that risk?

Yuri: We thought about it, even tried to do a quadruple twist at the beginning of the season.
Vera: Finally, we decided that for the Olympic season it's too much. We already took all of our risks by changing coaches, changing our image. If we also add a quadruple twist it will be much too much... In the end, we didn't insert it into the program. But we think about it, and make plans, because physically we can do it.
Yuri: You must take any risk only after using your brain wisely, being sure you can do it. You shouldn't take the risk if you can only think about whether it will or won't work before each start.
Vera: So that it wouldn't take away all your energy, wouldn't kill the entire program! If you have a good elements base and clean execution of the program as a whole, normally you don't need the risky element.

How are your costumes created? Do you take part in the process?

Yuri: We discuss the idea of costumes with the choreographer, with the coach. Then they bring us the drafts that we can correct.
Vera: We can always say if we like or don't like something, to alter it. Later it's also possible to change something in an already finished costume, to make it more comfortable during the season.

Why don't we see you perform in shows? Do you dislike skating in shows, or are you not invited? Is it due to some other reason?

Vera: We are probably the only pair that never appears in shows (laughs).
Yuri: Our previous coach was against the idea. She thought that shows discourage athletes.
Vera: We wouldn't mind participating in a show. Hopefully, we will be invited sometime.
Yuri: Basically shows are held at the end of the season or in the off-season, so you can gain confidence and have an additional opportunity to run your program.
Vera: Well, given that it is also a good opportunity to earn money, we'd like to get offers to participate in some shows.

Vera and Yuri skated their different than usual "Charlie Chaplin" short program Wednesday, and their free program the day after, with triple toe loop troubles in both programs, resulting in a 7th place finish. "It's hard to explain our result, apparently we failed psychologically. In practices everything went well. At the competition, no. But now we will try to rest and relax, to collect our thoughts. And we'll set ourselves up for new, serious work." they explained to
We wish Vera and Yuri a well deserved rest and for the next season, all the best in overcoming their difficulties, showing us two nice programs and most important of all, feeling pleasure in their skating.

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