Savchenko/Szolkowy: „Our programs are definitely competitive“

(Skate Canada 2012)


Aliona Savchenko, 28, and Robin Szolkowy, 33, started strongly into the season with their win at Skate Canada.


Q: How excited are you to have started the season? You once said that you are happy when you start competing again after the summer.


Robin: Now we are here and everything is great (laughs). It is correct, and it was the same this year. We had some other things in between this year, for example our training camp in Florida and a few shows here and there. Now we had time to really prepare without distractions in Chemnitz for the new season. We've trained our programs in parts a lot, and we've started rather late with our new free program.



Q: How do you feel about your first competition with Aliona battling a cold?


Aliona: I thought at first that I won't even be able to do the short, I felt that bad. I woke up at night like a thousand times, my nose was clogged and my throat was sore. But when I was at practice I felt better than in the room, maybe because it was colder in the ice rink. I am really proud that I was able to push through like this. Robin was very supportive. I never felt as bad. Considering that we did only the third full run-through of our program and that it was the beginning of the season, we are pleased. If we include the elements that we plan, everything will be fine. The emotions will come once the elements are there.


Robin: You don't wish for it, but maybe the illness made us a little calmer.


Aliona: Distracted us.


Robin: Exactly. We were very calm, very focused, really checked off one element after the next. There were a few shaky moments, but overall we are happy. We still have to improve the elements that weren't completely clean. It was a working version of our free program and it wasn't easy for us with Aliona's cold.


Q: What other elements do you plan?


Robin: The (throw triple) Axel is still in our program. The (triple) Salchow as a solo jump is back. Sometimes you have to leave elements alone for half a year. In practice the Salchow almost has a higher success rate than the double Axel, for whatever reason. We'll see if it is worth doing it in the program because then it obviously has to work. If we miss it or double it, then it is tough to skate the rest of the program. Sometimes it is better to take a step backwards and skate the program with joy.


Q: Did you change something in your lifts?


Robin: Not really. We just tried to adapt our lifts in order to always achieve a level four. Actually we had a level four for most of our elements last year. You cannot change much the basic character of a lift. A lasso lift most of the time is still a lasso lift. We could, like the Russians, change the position after each turn and get a level four this way, but in my opinion this is taking out the flow of the lift.



Q: How do you feel about your new programs?


Robin: Good. These are definitely programs we are competitive with. The first competition is always the baptism of fire. The elements are one thing, but it is about the whole package, if it is received as we want it to be received, if it works. Or, if people are saying 'o my God', also with regards to our costume. That could happen. In the worst case they say about both programs, the program is crap, the costumes are crap.


Q: Your costumes definitely drew some attention. How was the collaboration with the new designers?


Robin: They are from Chemnitz, therefore it is easy to communicate. They designed the costumes for both programs, we met often, looked at it, discussed it, add this, add that, this has to go, more in that direction or completely new. I personally think the costumes are great. You have to like this kind of art, I am honest. There were for sure a lot of people who said 'what the heck is this?' But I am standing behind it, that's it. We are figure skaters and we need to feel comfortable. I wouldn't go out like this, but as long as it goes with the music, it's fine. Now everybody is talking about us and that's okay.


Aliona: I think that we'll do new costumes. I watched the videos of our programs and I think that the costumes didn't bring out our body lines. There is still some time before the next competition, we'll see what we'll do.


Q: Unlike many others you don't shy away from trying something different.


Robin: That's simply part of the game. All three of us have a character strong enough to deal with it when someone says 'I don't like it'. When we say, okay, let's try it, then we do it and we are behind it. On the other hand, we don't have to push through it by all means. We can discuss about it. We took a step backwards with the face paint (in the 2010 „Send in the Clowns“ short program). But we are doing these things and that's good. I remember the Kerrs (ice dancers Sinead and John Kerr) had a program where they used hair spray to colour their hair grey. These are little things but when it is suitable and not too much, then you can do it.


Aliona: Not everyone can wear such a costume. Stéphane Lambiel told me he wants the same costume (laughs).


Q: Thank you for the interview and we wish you a successful season!




Coach Ingo Steuer: „The cards are shuffled in a new way each year“


Q: Originally you wanted to keep „Pina“. Why did you do with „Flamenco Bolero“ another program after all?


Ingo: We originally planned to keep the „Pina“ program just because we wanted to be able to focus more on the elements that we train with regard to the Olympic Games. There is the new reverse lasso, we wanted to work on the (triple) Salchow and on the throw (triple) Axel. But the rules were changed and the spiral sequence has become a spiral step sequence, something completely different. I tried to incorporate that into the „Pina“ program. However, when a program is basically perfect and you try to make it better with another element it can backfire. We realized soon that it won't be an improvement. And if there is no improvement, we just do another program, a program that we had in our repertoire, one we didn't do yet but always wanted to do. It happened to be the Flamenco Bolero. It has nothing to do with Torvill/Dean. We don't want to compare us to them, but we just want to interpret this music which is not easy.


Q: What about the throw triple Axel?


Ingo: Of course, it is planned to do the throw Axel at the end (of the free program). The program is constructed this way that we always can change it. We want to do it in the short program and in the free skating. This (Skate Canada) was our first competition, we don't have to do everything now. The throw Axel is definitely better now than last year at this time. We continue to train it.


Q: How did you choose the short program music „Kismet“?


Ingo: This is another music from our repertoire. We decided to use it for a short program this year. We have a lot of music that for example we felt it wasn't right for us three years ago but we wanted to do it now.


Q: How did your preparations for the season go?


Ingo: I don't recall anything major (like injury or illness). But the older you get, the harder it is. Therefore it is important to take breaks in between.


Q: How close were you to withdrawing because of Aliona's cold?


Ingo: She asked me whether she was able to skate the free or not. I said of course you are, because you are strong. It was critical, especially before the short as she got fever during the night and looked really sick in the morning. We said, we're doing the short, then we'll see. We had to take it step by step, because health is important. When nose and ears are clogged you lose your balance and this is dangerous. But I saw that she was strong enough and so I said, Aliona, I trust you, you can do it. I told them to do a double Salchow. We don't have to risk that. The (free) program was just a fight from one element to the next. We got all the levels, which was important, because we trained a lot at home and we understood all the rules. I don't remember that we ever got all the levels in our first competition.


Q: Can you say that you are in a better position compared to last season at this time?


Ingo: The cards are shuffled in a new way each year. This year we've started like this, now we'll have to see how it continues. We have a certain base to build from, and as four-time World Champions you have a certain standard. To score 200 points in your first competition in spite of some mistakes is great but it doesn't mean that the others (the competitors) are weak. We started well and we are focusing on ourselves. We'll see what happens next. We have major goals.


Q: Thank you for the interview and all the best for the rest of the season!