Tilda: Hello, this is Tilda. I have spent this weekend in Helsinki, and I have to say that it was an amazing experience. I had the opportunity to sit down and speak with Alexei Krasnozhon, as well as Carreira/Ponomarenko. I also got to ask a couple of questions to Emmi Peltonen right after her stunning Short Program.
START: Alexei Krasnozhon Interview
Tilda: This is Tilda. I’m here with Alexei Krasnozhon, who’s just come up from his final practice before the Men’s Short Program. So, how do you feel about today?
Alexei: I feel pretty good. Today’s I guess a big day because this is like my first official Senior Grand Prix. I’m excited, and I feel pretty good considering probably today was the best practice that I’ve done so far this week, so I’m excited.
Tilda: You said this is your first Senior season, so how different does it feel to transition from Juniors to Seniors?
Alexei: I mean it is difficult. But the easy part about transitioning from juniors to seniors rather than transitioning from like in junior is that once you’re in seniors, there's really nowhere else to go, so you’re constantly improving, and that kind of makes me happy. It’s that you start [in Seniors] but don’t have to move up like a next level, so really, you know, you just keep perfecting what you can while you can, and I think that's different realizing that you're at the top and now you got to get to the really really top, so I think that's kind of cool, and it just takes time.
Tilda: What are the main major differences between the Junior Grand Prix and the Senior Grand Prix?
Alexei: Okay, well it’s different. I say that like everyone enjoying them [in Juniors] praise [them] like, “they’re hustling way too hard” and like everyone wants to beat each other, and [they’re] young and just wants to go out there and like, “let’s go, let’s go!”. Whether as like this year, it’s more calm, and it’s more of a, you know, I don’t want to say the old guys, but I want to say the guys that have experience, they’re taking this, they’re saving their energy for the performance. In Juniors, it’s like a bunch of kids and they’re excited and they want to compete, and it’s funny to see that, but like you get to the top level, and everyone’s just calm.
Tilda: Are there any major lessons you’re taking with you from Juniors?
Alexei: I mean I think in Juniors, once you get to the top of the Juniors, the biggest lesson that you learn is that everything is the process, and in Juniors, like a lot of people [ask] me, “how's it coming from the top of the Juniors into the Seniors?” I think that when I started in juniors, I was not very close to the top. I was alright in 2015, and you know, the next year made it to the Final and the next year, I won the Final. In Seniors, I want to say this is the season for me just to skate and to kind of adapt to see what I need to improve on and then really kind of get together the plan for next season, so I'm not very nervous, or I guess, like not that I don't care about my results, but I just want to put out my best performance, and for me, it's more for the performance that I put out there earlier than the score that I get.
Tilda: You recently switch coaches, so the new ones are Alexei Letov and Olga Ganicheva, right? So how do you feel about that transition, has it changed anything in your skating and your training?
Alexei: I think that for me, I was very happy to switch coaches because I wanted something different. I think that Peter and Darlene [Cain] are great, but unfortunately, I wanted to be somewhere else, and so for me, what was different is that I came back to the Russian way of training, the Russian technique. And I think I really like it because for me, what Olga and Alexei have done as of right now is a lot, because I started training very recently, and I say six weeks. For me, in six weeks do what I’m able of doing right now is a very, very good result, and I think not only do they kind of guide me through jumps, but they also help me guide for my adulthood, as I'm becoming an adult, and I start living on my own, and it really helped me kind of figure out how to train, how to handle myself, and really help me pace myself to be on the right path to success.
Tilda: So what is it in the Russian style of coaching that you like?
Alexei: I think that to me, I got used to the American a little bit way, but I think that the Russian style, and that’s how my parents are like; there’s no “I can’t, I’m tired”, it’s like you just go and do it, like you get along nice, and you trust the coach a hundred percent, and you don’t say no, like you just do what you’re told, and you get the results, and I think for me, that’s what I like. In the back of my head, I trust them, so if they tell me that’s going to happen, then I know that’s going to happen as long as I do what they tell me to do. And I like that.
Tilda: So it’s four years now until the next Olympics, do you have a long-term plan for those four years?
Alexei: Yeah, I think like for me, the biggest thing is first of all, I want to see how the new judging system plays out, because it’s a little bit confusing what you saw in the Grand Prix and what you saw in the Junior Grand Prix. Because in the Junior Grand Prix, the new system really hasn’t changed much. I don't know why, because you look at the scores, and like those guys would be doing no quads in the Short Program, because they're not allowed and they’ll be getting like 80 points or high 70s. Where[as] last week and the week before, at Skate America and Skate Canada, the guys were doing quads, and for some reason I’m getting like 78, and clean programs, great programs. So maybe, kind of see and adapt to how to get the most scores, and I think that, for me, the biggest goal is to actually get that consistent quads, and it's kind of been difficult with my injury, because that's kind of like, you know, it's dragging, it’s kind of stopped me from training in the summer, so I had to really learn fast. Not only learn fast, I have to like - I didn’t realize that whenever I go back onto the ice, I thought that “I’m gonna get on that ice and do a couple of laps and do everything.” I got on the ice, and I couldn’t do anything; I couldn’t even land triples, right? So for me, I had to recover my jumps, I have to get them back to a consistent level, and then I had to learn the quad, so I think for me, the biggest goal, especially for this season and long-term, is learn as many quads as I can while staying injury-free, and also working on incorporating good choreography, good transitions, and stepping up my program components, and incorporating that with quads together.
Tilda: Yeah, because last season, you attempted quad loop and quad Salchow, and now you planned quad Salchow for this competition. How do you feel about your consistency with these jumps? Are you training the quad loop again, for example?
Alexei: So as far [for] the quads, it’s really getting close. I’ve fallen a couple of clean ones, I learned a couple of you know, I land most of them at 70%. It’s always the loop, but I don’t really practice the loop that much because of my foot, and it kind of stops me from that because I also have to practice my combos, flip, and whenever I do a quad loop, it kind of irritates my foot. Not so much pain, but my foot just can’t at the moment. It can’t handle that much of pressure. So we’re kind of working on a triple loop and kind of getting it more up in the air and preparing for the quad. As far as the quad, I’ve been very careful with that, so we’ve tried a couple of times, and it’s been very good, but you know, Alexei and Olga want to make sure that we’re staying with the plan for the injury, so I have no pain.
Tilda: Are you planning any new elements this season?
Alexei: Maybe quad toe (Tilda: Okay!). That’s been kind of a discussion, which is really fun, because Alexei and Olga, they’re like - Alexei was like, “quad toe is very easy, everyone does it.” And I start doing my triple toe, and he goes, “oh you can do it, easy”, but for some reason, I am scared of the quad toe. So I tried it a couple of times, and it was very good, and I’m like, okay, I can actually do it, and he puts me on the pole harness or something like that, and now they’re clean, and then I go do it on my own, and he goes, “when you’re scared, you can’t do it,” but I’m like, I don’t know, there’s something about this jump, so maybe if I can get over that and trust myself to do it, maybe quad toe would be my new element, and nobody would think that I would do it.
Tilda: Is it the force of the take off that is?
Alexei: I don’t know. I just don’t like triple toes or quad toes from my childhood, I just - toes are not my thing, but I guess I have to like it.
Tilda: Okay, so final question, you talked about the rule changes before. Do you have any opinion about them and has it changed the way you look at, including more quads in your programs, for example?
Alexei: I think that the rules, everything, it's kind of like some people don't like it, some people like the new rules, but to me, it's very interesting because it really, really changed the sport. So now that we’re looking into this, it's much much easier to lose, and it really comes down to you cannot fall, and you cannot make mistakes, and I think personally that when you look at the last two Olympics, the gold medal - most of the podium guys did not skate clean programs, and I think that’s something that they’re trying to get rid of. I mean you know, like you’re looking at 2014; there’s two or three falls I believe for Yuzuru in the Long Program?
Tilda: Yes, I think he did quad toe and quad Salchow.
Alexei: So like the old system, all you had to do is, if you have the jumps, if you rotate them fully, you would be able to afford those mistakes, and I think for the skating and for skating to be popular in general, that was kind of hard for people, like how can one guy fall couple of times and beat somebody who didn’t fall, but like, he did quads, you can do anything. Like they understand, and I think that’s kind of interesting now, because now, what you have to do is go out there and skate a clean program and I think that the whole idea of this new systems is that nobody wants anyone to take the risks and do what you can do at your best, and that's what makes it interesting because at some point - let’s say right now, some people are trying to do quads like me or any skater and eventually, you know, like you do them. Sometimes you fall and you lose a lot of points, but once you get used to them and you start perfecting them, you can get huge scores, but I think that right now, it's like if you fall, that's like a huge mistake. So you can either go safe - with the new system, you can either go safe and always be ready to beat somebody who possibly could fall, or you can try stuff and kind of catch up, and once you can do that, you'll be unbeatable. So I think that this system opens the possibilities for some of the skaters.
Tilda: Okay. Thank you very much for your time. Thank you and good luck today!
-end interview- 12:34
START: Emmi Peltonen Comment
Tilda: Hi, so, good job today.
Emmi: Thank you.
Tilda: How does it feel to be here in Finland and skate at a Grand Prix event?
Emmi: It’s amazing and at this rink where I train most of every week, it’s like my home rink besides my club rink. But it was amazing to skate here and I’m so happy that so many people came to watch and just… I cracked like a genuine smile out there too! (laughs)
Tilda: How does it feel compared to skating in a different country?
Emmi: Probably just like how I could go home, you know just chill at home and then go to the rink. Probably that difference. But this competition is really well made, in Helsinki, so it feels like a Europeans or Worlds. So it’s really good training-wise.
Tilda: Thank you very much, and good luck!
-end interview- 13:24
START: Carreira/Ponomarenko Interview
Tilda: Hello, this is Tilda, I’m here with Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko. So, first of all, congrats on your Rhythm Dance. You’re currently in fourth place, it was really good. So I was just wondering how you felt after your performance and now for tonight’s Free Dance.
Christina: We were a little disappointed yesterday cause the skate didn’t go as well as we wanted to. We’ve been practicing it better than what we competed. So hopefully today will go a little better.
Anthony: We’re still really happy with how it went, we’re thankful to compete at this level and at the Grand Prix - it’s our first one, so we’re really excited to be here.
Tilda: So you had a very successful last season, with wins on the Junior Grand Prix, and silver at the Final and Junior Worlds. What goals do you have going into your first senior season?
Christina: Well this season we want to show that we can compete at the Senior level, cause it’s a completely different competition than the Junior, and we want to put out strong performances at every competition.
Anthony: I agree with what she said, Senior is tough. Senior’s a completely different animal or ladder, I should say. So we just want to put out great performances and show that we can compete at the Senior level and we can be mature.
Tilda: I know that the pattern for the Rhythm Dance is quite long and complex this season. So I was wondering if you could tell me some challenges you faced with that?
Christina: Well, the first couple of months we couldn’t get through it. So that was a big challenge. But now I really like it, it’s probably my favorite pattern that we’ve done so far.
Anthony: Yeah, it took like countless hours for us to just skate a single pattern. But now skating it we feel really comfortable like she said, it’s one of our favorite compulsory dances. But it was tough in the beginning, it took us like three months to get one pattern.
Tilda: But you did pretty well yesterday!
Tilda: So I was wondering how you developed the Rhythm Dance, and how you feel about the theme of it?
Christina: So we picked the first piece of music because it was created to that, so we knew that every move would go well to the music, so that would increase our GOE. And the second piece is a piece Igor’s [Shpilband] been listening to for years, and he’s wanted one of his couples to skate to it, so I’m really happy it’s us!
Anthony: We worked with World Champion Tango dancers to really get the feeling going. The first part of the season we worked with them every Thursday, and that kind of gave us the feeling of everything.
Tilda: And about your Free Dance, which you will skate later tonight, so the music is Tokio Myers and it’s a selection of different songs. I was wondering how you chose that, and your inspiration and your feelings about it.
Anthony: I’ve been following Tokio Myers for quite a while so when he came out with his album we thought right away to skate to it. We listened to a lot of his pieces and “Clair de Lune” was a big one in the album, and just because it hasn’t been able to be skated to since the new rules don’t allow no-tempo songs, we decided because this one has a tempo we can skate to it and it’s cool cause it’s “Clair de Lune,” it’s such a famous piece.
Tilda: So it was earlier this year that Pasquale [Camerlengo] teamed up with Igor, right? So I was just wondering if that changed anything in your training environment?
Christina: Well we work with him every day. He did a lot of our choreography for both programs. I really like him and Igor working together, they’re a really good team and he’s really fun to work with.
Anthony: Yeah, they get along so well. He just creates this positive vibe in the ice rink, so it’s really nice to work with him, and he did contribute a lot to our Free Dance and [Rhythm] Dance this year.
Tilda: Well I think that’s everything I had. Thank you so much for talking with me, and good luck tonight!
Christina and Anthony: Thank you.
Tilda: Thank you for listening, and don’t forget to also listen to our episode on Grand Prix Helsinki.