Alexandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovski: “We need to move forward”



Alexandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovski after practice in St. Petersburg



For the Russian version, see page 2

Для русской версии, посмотрите следующую страницу


Alexandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovski are the 2020 European and Russian Champions as well as the 2021 World bronze medalists. They placed fourth at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. Although the skaters are still young at 20 and 22 years of age, they already gathered experience. In this interview for the German magazine Pirouette and Sasha and Dima talked about how they experienced the Olympic seasons and what their plans are for the new season and the new Olympic cycle.


*Why do we report on Russian skaters and publish interviews with them in spite of the terrible war (which is even not allowed to be called war in Russia) in Ukraine? We believe that these horrible events are not the fault of the Russian people and we feel that the civil society in Russia should be strengthened and not excluded.*


Let's talk about how you experienced the past season, which was your first Olympic season. How much did that experience change you?


DK: We didn't just finish an Olympic year, we finished a full Olympic cycle. I can't say that it changed us in any way globally. In fact, we were already approaching the Olympic season, the Olympic Games in Beijing, and we were adjusting to a different emotional state. Surprisingly, the Olympic Games were easy from a psychological point of view. I do not know why it was like that, maybe because of the Covid restrictions, or because of our long stay in the Olympic village in Beijing. In general, I personally did not have any crazy emotions. It was just an ordinary competition. Yes, with soft boards, with the Olympic rings, but inside I felt like I was at one of the regular events, that are held extremely often, not just once every four years. I've said it before, I'll say it again: Russian Nationals were much more emotional, and I can name a number of other events where the emotions were stronger.


So it was disappointing in a way? It's any athlete's dream to get to the Olympic Games. You went there, and basically it was no big deal?


AB: I think it just had to do with Covid restrictions. When you skate for a month on the same ice - two arenas, but still on the same ice - and then you perform on this ice, you feel like you're at your home rink, you just went out and skated in costumes.


DK: At the Beijing Olympic Games, there was almost no emotional feedback from the audience, due to their practical absence. There was no energy, it was empty. For me, in many ways, emotions in sports are coming from the spectators, they give those unforgettable feelings, memories, passion. But since we didn't have them, we were trying to do our best, we were trying to give our energy to the audience, to fill it, but for that the athlete must also feel the energy flow from the audience in the stands, but nothing came back. There was an emptiness, and all this resulted in a somewhat confused memory of such a special competition as the Olympic Games.


But I guess that gives you even more motivation to prepare for the next Games, it should be different.

AB: Of course. We are really hoping that the Games in Milan will have a different scenario, and that it will be a happy and joyful event for us in general, such a festive occasion. And hopefully by that time all the Covid restrictions will be gone. Dima and I like to perform in front of an audience very much. It doesn't scare us, on the contrary, we get a lot of emotions from the audience. And it's important for us. I hope, that everything will happen and we'll show ourselves at our best. Moreover, we love Italy.


One Olympic cycle is over, a new one begins. How do you approach this cycle?

DK: I think with the experience that we already have, we enter the post-Olympic season, the first season of the new cycle, with the goal and the challenge that we need to try something new. We need to move forward, we need to definitely evolve. And not just in the direction of natural things like skating, choreography, but to go forward in the technical direction. Speaking of this, I mean first and foremost  elements of highest difficulty. That is the future of our discipline. Elements of a higher level of difficulty are necessary for pairs skating in order to finally give the push that will provide a new vector for its development. You see, frankly speaking, we have to admit the fact that the pair skating lags far behind in terms of systematic development of new elements of higher level of difficulty in comparison with, for example, singles skating. And that happens because of an artificial suppression of technical development, by adopting unfairly low base values of high difficulty (quad) elements in pairs. Without a fair evaluation of such elements, pair skating, with the exception of a few outstanding teams, will stand still technically, leading to its gradual stagnation in the future.


AB: It's understandable that many people are afraid to do these elements, because of the high risk of injury.  But another problem is that, unfortunately, they (ISU) do not raise the (technical) value (of the program). On the other hand, the value is not increased unless we start doing these elements systematically. It's a double-edged sword. And that's why it seems to us that it would be more logical to start doing them systematically, and then the heads of figure skating will think that pairs skating should also be somehow promoted and motivated to include more difficulty.


"Hit the Road Jack” and “Anna Karenina”



Alexandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovski and at practice in St. Petersburg


You got two new programs, “Hit the Road Jack” for the short and “Anna Karenina” for the free. These are very different programs. What can you tell us about them?


AB: Both programs were choreographed by Nikolai Moroshkin, and we are very happy to work with Nikolai, because he sees us at the rink every day, he knows all the nuances, knows how and in what way to highlight us, and what to hide from the audience. He feels us, and this translates into great teamwork. For example, Nikolai Yurievich has done three or four show numbers for us and they were all very popular. And so this season we decided to trust him and our coaches, and to have the competition programs choreographed by him.


So you wanted that yourself?

AB: Yes, we really wanted to work with Nikolai, and our coaches agreed that this was a good idea. The short program, as we said, is “Hit the Road Jack”, but not in the classical version, but in the epic version. In my opinion, the German band called Zwei performs this song. Originally, we wanted different music, but when we started building the program, we were playing different music, I would even say everything. And Nikolai included this song at one point. Dima and all the coaches liked it so much that everyone decided that, yes, this is the right one. I felt a little uncomfortable at first, because I felt that I’m not up for it. There's a smoothness to it, a kind of sexiness to it.


I'm surprised you feel that way. In the Malaguena program, you flirted quite well with the audience.

AB: Malaguena was easier for me. Here I had to work on myself, to get over all shyness and just skate for fun. I hope it will get better and better during the season, but I already see progress. The story of this program is very simple. We looked at the lyrics. It's a relationship between a man and a woman, a guy and a girl. And the girl wants to leave the guy because she's tired of everything going wrong with them, of not having enough money, and she wants more attention. And it's like I'm leaving Dima, and he's like, no, wait, I'll change, I'll do everything. And we stay together all the same and continue on our way together. Our free skating program is Anna Karenina. We also spent a long time thinking about the music, we wanted to try something new for us. And there are some very dramatic characters.


That also suits you very well, in fact.

AB: Yes, but for us it's harder than just skating around with a smile and projecting lightness and positivity. There are three changes of mood in our program. First we meet on the train, then after the first element Vronski, that is Dmitri, falls in love with Anna. Anna notices him and begins to fall in love with him as well. In the second part, there's we already have happiness and bliss. And literally on the next element, the music changes a little bit. The waltz that begins after the throw jump becomes the turning point in the program. There is a cacophony in it that shows Anna's first change. We, in turn, also show the breakdown of the characters' relationship, which eventually leads to tragedy. In the finale, Vronski literally falls a little short to save Anna. So really we go through the whole book. Of course, it's very difficult to do it in one program, but we will try to reflect all three moods of the story. That’s the first time for us. Sometimes there would be, at most, two changes of mood (in the program), but here we have to go through literally the whole life. And we really like this program. For me personally, the final part makes me shiver and I knew straight away that I'm interested in skating it. I see that Dima likes it too, I see that our coaches like it. Every time you yourself live this story, and it's very, very cool.


"Programs full of ideas and characters."


Alexandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovski at practice in St. Petersburg



Alexandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovski and coach Tamara Moskvina at practice in St. Petersburg

Did you choose this music yourself? Whose idea was it?

AB: It was Nikolai Moroshkin's idea. He gave us to some music to listen to, I won't tell which pieces, because maybe we'll take something in the future. And Dima had the idea to do Anna Karenina, he liked it very much. We discussed it with the coaches, they had some doubts. But then, when we began building the program, the coaches saw it and agreed that yes, this suits Sasha and Dima.


Why are you so enthusiastic about this idea, Anna Karenina?

DK: I like programs full of meaning, story ideas and characters.


AB: Which everyone knows?


DK: Not really. Not the ones that everyone knows, but the ones that have a specific story meaning. It's like theater, you know. There are conceptual productions built primarily on choreography, and then there are things based on a specific idea or story. That's what I like to look at in theater. I find it interesting to compare my own personal perception of a particular piece I know with the choreographer's, director's or performer's interpretation of it. I am more impressed with programs that tell a story. Conventionally, our short has an abstract character.


AB: I wouldn't say that. It's a life situation that a lot of people are in.


DK: Sash, that's exactly what it is, "a lot of people are." It's just one of the components of an abstract situation. And "Anna Karenina" is a concrete storyline that many people are familiar with. Those who are familiar with the characters of Leo Tolstoi's work will watch our program with their own perception of the characters, events, etc. They will have their own expectations. And it is with these expectations that it is very interesting to work. This is why the idea of Anna Karenina appealed to me from the very beginning.


How involved are you in the program building process and the choreography? What do you add yourself?

AB: Often, of course, we suggest our own hand and arm moves. For example, this time we worked with Valeria Chistiakova on the short program and she does mostly dance. She choreographed show numbers for us. But since she has never skated, it's difficult for her to understand which hand and arm moves would be comfortable. So Valeria always asks us first, then she looks and suggests something else. And from all of this we accumulate the best. Two soloists from the Eifman dance company, Elena Kuzmina and Albert Galichanin, have been working on the free program. They are ballet people, and Albert, for example, danced (in “Anna Karenina”) not Vronski, but the part of Karenin. He already was into this story, and helped us in many ways. Particularly with acting - how to convey this or that moment of relationship or madness. And that's what was straight up cool. But as for hands and arms, again, it is us who choose the most comfortable moves. Sometimes we ourselves we suggest during the program building process, what entry (into an element) is convenient, but to a greater extent, of course, Nikolai Yurievich worked on that, because he is the choreographer and he has his vision of how it should be. It should also be comfortable, but it must be beautiful, and not just cross overs for the whole program. It will be a small challenge for us, but we will gradually add things. It is impossible to do everything all together at once and, as we say, try to get through the program.


DK: Let's not forget that, first and foremost, figure skating is a sport, not theater.


AB: It is clear that we will do elements and on top of that also show emotions. But when you hit an element the emotions immediately become brighter. And so if we skate clean, the program looks much better, more interesting. So the main thing here is just to do it.


For the Russian version, see page 2

Для русской версии, посмотрите следующую страницу



 Alexandra Boikova/Dmitri Kozlovski and coach Tamara Moskvina at practice in St. Petersburg