Alexander Uspenski - "I just try to do my best on the ice."


By Helga Dobor and Daphne Heij
Photos by K. "Bird" N.
Interviewed by the "O&A Sisters"


Sasha Uspenski is a very promising skater from the "home" of figure skating, Russia. He is very young but is already popular among fans and his place on the podium is guaranteed at every Junior competition he competes in. Sasha wants to portray himself as a skater who tries to skate beautiful programs.

How did you come to skating?
There was a sport complex near to our house and one day we were walking there with my mother. We saw children practicing outdoors and my mother asked me, "Do you want to take up a sport?" I answered, "Yes!", but I didn't realize at that time what she did, that it was a figure skating group. Now I'm very happy that I became a skater.


My mother didn't participate in any sport herself. During his schooldays my father was a sprinter. But there is another skater in our family - my brother, Vladimir who is 2 years younger than me.

Do you remember your first time on the ice?
Oh, I remember that very well! - laughs. I walked out to the ice, and there I tripped over my toes and fell down. That was very painful.

Did you ever think about skating in a different discipline?
Well, there were just abstract thoughts about ice-dancing, but it was never a serious matter. Although I used to work with coaches, who are pair skating specialists, but the idea of not being a single skater never came to my mind.

Which is your favorite program and why?
I like every program; otherwise I couldn’t skate and perform them at competitions. But I try to skate better from season to season, and I think I succeed. So now I can say that both of this season's programs are my favorites.

What do you want to improve in your skating?
My spins - definitely.


How do you prepare for a new program? How much input do you have in choreography?
Firstly, I choose the music - together with my coach and the choreographer of course. I can’t skate if I don’t like the music. Then we make a program plan: jumps, spins, footwork and other elements get their time and place. Finally we work on the choreography. I consider it as one of the main things in all the programs. Good creative choreography and sharp-cut movements play the key role.

What is your dream/goal in skating?
I can’t say that I have a particular dream or goal in skating now. I’m just working hard on my technique, there’s still a lot to improve.

What is your favorite competition and why?
The Junior Grand Prix event of this season in Gdansk was my favorite, the best competition for me. I skated very well, my scores were good and I won it!

And what about your best skating memories?
I would mention also the competition in Gdansk.

Where did you skate this year, or where will you or want to skate?
At the end of November I skated at the Junior Grand Prix Final, and I will be at Russian Nationals and Russian Junior Nationals. Most likely, I’ll also go to the Junior Worlds. I wish I could skate at the Olympics, but it’s very unlikely.

What do you expect from this season?
Nothing special... Time goes on, and we’ll see what it'll bring.

All your personal bests in the last season were from the Junior GP in Budapest. What do you think of that competition?
Yes, your words about Budapest are true for the last season, so I have the warmest memories about that event. My best personal results of this season are from the Junior GP in Gdansk.

Who do you think will get the second spot for Russia at Olympics and Worlds?
I think, it’ll probably be Klimkin or Griazev. I would love to go to the Olympics, but that’s impossible so far (laughs).

What do you think of Russian skating overall? Are you optimistic?
I think Russian figure skating is on an average (mediocre) level, and it tends neither to improve, nor to get worse.

Could you say something about your coach, Natalia Dubinskaia and your work with her?
I don’t know what to say - it’s just our joint work and we try to do our best. We have a very good relationship so there are no problems..

What is a typical day look like for you?
Well, I wake up at about 7 o’clock; have breakfast, then comes the morning practice, general physical training or choreography (three and two times a week) and then dinner, a little rest and the evening practice. And I also have to go to the University and study at home too.

It’s not an easy day. Where do you study?
I’m a student at the Russian State University and I study Physical Training, of course in Moscow.

What is your relationship like with other Russian skaters?
I have a good relationship with all my peers.


Is it the same with skaters from other countries? Can you be friends in skating at all?
Of course there can be friendships in skating! Talking about foreign skaters, I would mention, that I have a good relationship with the Italian junior skaters.

Where do you keep your medals? And which is the most important for you?
I keep them at home. Some of them - the most important - I hung up on the wall. They are: my first gold medal from the National Novice Championships, 3 medals from Poland (gold medal from Gdansk 2005 and I also have the silver and bronze medals from there) and the gold medal from Budapest 2004.

Although you're a very young skater you already have lots of fans. How do you handle the success?
Sasha smiles - I don’t do anything special for that, I just try to do my best on the ice - I’m happy that there are people who like my skating.

What is your your relationship with the fans like?
I can’t say that I communicate too much with them - only if they catch me somewhere at a competition.


Do you have any favorite skaters, who are they?
My favourite skater is Alexei Yagudin, he always inspired me. I also like Plushenko and the skating of Johnny Weir.

You have a great website. Do you also use the internet?
Yes, I use the Internet, but not too often - usually to get information.

What is the biggest treasure in your life?
People whom I love - my family and friends.

How could you live without your skates?
It’s more or less possible to live almost without everything. I could live normally without skates - I would be a ballet dancer for example.

Without sport?
That also would be ok, but I definitely would keep myself fit.

Without music?
That would be hard, I love music.

Without credit cards?
It’s not possible to live if you have nothing to support yourself with.

Without computers?
That would be ok.

Without friends?
That would be extremely hard.

Without dreams?
My dreams are my goals and I’m on my way to reach them. I don’t know if it’s possible to live without goals at all.

Which of the above would be the worst?
I think, the worst would be to live without family and friends and without money for a living

Please associate with one or two words:

Figure skating is

Family is ...very close people to you, who give love and support to each other.

Friends are ...people close to you, who can give support and a piece of advice and with whom you can share things you can’t share with parents.

Money is ....means subsistence and means help to achieve your goals.

Sport…is contention and competition. Personally I can’t see myself in that fight, with hatred towards the other skaters, in a “war” against the opponents, as they call it “competitive rage”. I’m just a skater who tries to skate beautiful programs for the people who like watching them.

Love a beautiful feeling, it helps, inspires and gives power to live and do something in this life.

Peace one of the components of happiness.

Belief is ... It’s impossible to do anything if you don’t believe in the thing you are doing.


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