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“It all comes down to the price of one mistake”: Sinitsyn on the favorites of the European Championship in figure skating among dance couples


There is not much difference in class between the dancing duo Gabriela Papadakis - Guillaume Sizeron and the two strongest Russian couples, and they have equal chances to win the European Championship in Graz. This was stated in an interview with RT by the famous dance coach Rostislav Sinitsyn. He explained how Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin were transformed this season, expressed his opinion on the controversial free dance by Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, and also told what methods he resorted to when creating productions for his students.

- On the eve of each major start, among the dancing fans, there is growing talk that the four-time world champions Gabriela Papadakis and Guillaume Sizeron are a very overrated couple, and in fact they should not be out of reach. Are you ready to share this opinion?

- Based on what I saw during training in Graz, I would say that there are three couples who have equal chances of leadership in this competition. In addition to the French, this is Victoria Sinitsina - Nikita Katsalapov and Alexander Stepanova - Ivan Bukin.

- But who can be called a favorite?

- Which of them will make more mistakes in his rent, he will lose. To whom the judiciary will be a little more supportive, that will be withdrawn to the champions. But in training, all three duets looked very good.

As for the balance of power, I always said that I did not see at Papadakis and Sizeron such a big gap in the class. It all comes down to the price of one mistake - according to current rules, it is too large.

- Explain.

- I made a tiny inaccuracy - you are lowered the level of difficulty, you lose the judicial allowances, and with it the score for the components goes down. In this regard, you begin to understand very well what the concept of "subjective sport" means. If the judges want to be strict, you lose. Decided to regret and not touch the second assessment - consider it lucky.

- There is no feeling that the ISU would be good to revise the criteria for the second assessment? So, in the short program for men, the Frenchman Kevin Aymoz did not make a single jump and did not qualify for the finals. Moreover, the rating for the components was almost the same as that of the leader Michal Brezina.

- Then let's understand what components are. Unfortunately, many judges interpret this concept quite freely. In addition to the elements, we have a composition, choreography. Referees watch how athletes skate, put a skate on the ice, on which edge one or another step is performed, whether it “walks”, how complex and interesting the transitions between the elements are. I believe that all this should be very carefully evaluated. One mistake should not cost a person medals.

- What do you have in mind?

- If you remember, Tomasz Werner became the champion of Europe, having completed the fourth jump with an error, but he did everything else perfectly. I believe that this situation is correct. Judges should pay attention to good skating. It’s just that sometimes they don’t do it.

- Do not you think that often the rating for the components reflects the athlete's length of service and the number of his titles?

- It was and always will be. Nothing to do with this. Nobody canceled skating at the same time. I had a very interesting, but error-prone Czech couple, and every time after the competition the judges came up, sympathetically clapped me on the shoulder - like, sorry, old man, nothing personal. And I was not offended by the estimates - I realized that people just do their job. If you want to win, ride cleanly and don't give anyone a reason to punish you.

- Regarding the Russian duets, many this season pay attention to how brightly suddenly a couple of Alexandra and Ivan began to play ...

- Stepanova and Bukin have a spark and harmony, chemistry. I really liked everything that I saw in their performance in training.

- When the technical forces of the rivals are equal, the statements come to the fore. In your opinion, which of the favorites is it the most successful?

- Here it is difficult for me to give an assessment, because I have my own views on how dances should develop. But I would not like to talk about this, because, I hope, someday I will realize my ideas myself. One of the directions is what my German couple Nelli Zhiganshina, Alexander Gazhi, once showed. Many people still remember their Zombie program.

- After all, this duet had one more unexpected find - to combine short and free programs with one plot.

- That idea was not mine - belonged to Ilya Averbukh. I immediately agreed with him, because, firstly, it was interesting to try something unexpected, and secondly, we got the idea to implement it. Although it was very hard.

- Why?

- Because it was necessary to maintain a single style, but at the same time make sure that one program did not repeat another. We succeeded then. I think every coach will find where to take the next steps. Papadakis and Sizeron tried to retreat this season from what they did in the last three years. Although I did not see a strong innovation in their short dance. Still, they are four-time world champions, and this is obligatory. When Lyudmila Pakhomova, Alexander Gorshkov, skated in dances, they did something completely new every year. As for the French, Sinitsin and Katsalapov, they are also very good in this style. No worse than Gabriela and Guillaume.

  • Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov
  • © Daniel MIHAILESCU / AFP

- Yes, but when a couple tries to repeat a particular style, many a priori find a copy worse than the original.

- Here it’s not necessary once or twice - a lot of details matter in dancing. Much depends on what the athletes, the choreographer are ready for, and how successful his ideas are. It should all coincide. If Sasha Zhulin wanted his wards to defeat the French with their own weapons, then the team was also ready for this strategy.

- Remember the 1994 Olympic season, when Jane Thorville and Christopher Dean set a completely brilliant original rumba, but the free dance didn’t go to the judges. Don't you think that the same thing happened with the number of Sinitsina and Katsalapov?

- In 1994, I also thought so. And not so long ago that dance was revised and amazed: there were a lot of all sorts of interesting things in it. Criticizing other people's productions is easy. But I try very carefully to evaluate the work of my colleagues. In addition, I do not think the production of Sinitsina and Katsalapov is not interesting enough. It’s just that Stepanova and Bukin turned out to be successful too and looked brighter at some starts. I do not presume to predict how it will be in Graz, because in training I saw arbitrary dances in pieces, but I need to watch them whole.

- In addition, you should not sweep away the psychological component ...

- Yes, a lot will depend on the mood with which the dancers ride their programs. Sometimes one small mistake can blur the whole impression. A man swayed - and that’s it. See for yourself how complicated dancing is. Every 15 seconds there is an element, and each blot is very important. There should be one hundred percent concentration and a very great ability to endure.

- Your colleague Marina Zueva noticed that the most difficult thing is to stage the dance program not for singles or a sports couple, but for dancers.

- And there is. In dancing, everything is too much subject to work on difficulty levels. Therefore, there is too little time left for creativity. Making elements and dancing is getting harder and harder. And refereeing is getting stricter.

- Is the success or failure of a production always a lottery?

“Often, yes.” Sometimes it’s not at all clear where these or other ideas come from. Remember, there was such a German skater Silvio Smalun? He once came to me to put on a program. We agreed to work at night so that there was no one on the ice, and several times left training after 20 minutes after they started.

- Why?

- To this extent, we did not work, despite the fact that the music for the program has already been selected. Silvio was nervous to shake, so was I. On the fourth night I was driving a car in the pouring rain, stopped at a traffic light on Wenceslas Square and suddenly I clearly saw the start of the program. That night they staged in two hours.

- You didn’t always do performances for your athletes yourself?

- For some time now I have stopped. I realized that the coach is almost always limited by the fact that he clearly knows the capabilities of his wards and obviously does not offer them any things. And a stranger comes in, gives something that you yourself would never give, and the athletes suddenly meekly carry out all this.

- For instance?

- When Averbukh set up programs for Zhiganshina and Gazhi, he did everything as he considered it right, not worrying too much about whether athletes would be able to perform twizzles from a certain call or not. He tried not to change anything even in the details - he made the skaters very carefully work out what wasn’t working, raise themselves to a higher level.

“Are you trying to do something similar?”

- During the period of cooperation with Werner, he told him: “Bring the idea of ​​the program, five euros from me.” When Tomas came to Lori Nicole with his version of tango, she said it was a great idea. He immediately responded: “Lori, you have five dollars!”

- Is it legitimate when the coach starts redrawing someone else's production at his discretion?

- Choreography is not a constant. If the athlete does not have a support call, then it needs to be changed, that's all. No matter how brilliant the director, the coach is always responsible for the result. So he must have the right to make changes.

- According to this logic, Alexey Mishin was right when he took the production of She-Lynn Bourne, made for Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and transferred it to other music?

- If he is responsible for the result of Lisa, then he had the right to act at his discretion. Then after all, they returned the original? So, they considered the replacement a mistake.

- Returning to ice dancing: if all the leaders perform their free dance perfectly, how would you arrange them?

- If some technical mistakes do not happen, my pedestal is two Russian couples and the French.

“And you admit that the first step may not be Papadakis and Sizeron?”

- Why not?

Source: russiart

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