Anastasia Mishina/Alexander Galliamov:
„You have to make the best out of every situation“
Anastasia and Alexander following a practice session at their home rink
Anastasia Mishina/Alexander Galliamov have a successful Olympic season behind them and are now preparing for the first year of the new Olympic cycle. The young team talked about recharging after the demanding Olympic year, about their coaching team of Tamara Moskvina and Artur Minchuk, about the new programs and plans.
*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.*
This season will be different from previous years due to objective circumstances. What are your plans?
Anastasia: This season we would like to try new elements, different lifts. Maybe we’ll try in principle some harder elements in order to see what we can do and what we will be able to add to the program. We don't have the task to skate completely clean the whole time, we just want to try and find out what we can and what we can't do.
In other words, you see this as an experimental season with an outlook into the future?
Anastasia: Yes. This season we don't know if we will have any competitions like World Championships or Europeans, that's why we want to try some new elements.
Is this an additional motivation?
Anastasia: You just have to get the best out of every situation.
Your new programs are very different musically and stylistically. The music for the short program, the Waltz No. 2 by Dmitri Shostakovich was suggested by Tamara Moskvina. How did you feel about the idea?
Anastasia: When Tamara Nikolaevna suggested this waltz, my first feeling was that it was trivial, a lot of people had skated to it and it would not be interesting. But when we choreographed the program, I changed my mind. Now it seems to me, it captures the audience, and the program flies by very quickly, to my mind, it seems even faster than two and a half minutes.
And "Elvis Presley" is a totally different program, very lively and very good. It's very different from the short.
Which of the new programs is closer to you?
Anastasia: The free program for me.
Alexander: I like the short program better. Nastia liked to skate funny and upbeat programs since she was young. This style is closer to her. When we teamed up, we did this kind of program with fast, choreographed moves, so it became more or less familiar to me.
And as for the waltz for our new short program, I already skated to it in singles. As soon as Tamara Nikolaevna turned on this music, nostalgia came over me, I remembered my old program. I was about 12 or 13 at the time, and at that time it was the sunset of my singles career. (laughs).
There were a lot of different options when transitioning into pairs skating, but fortunately Nastia and I were able to find and choose the right path together.
Shostakovich's Waltz is a classic, and the audience should be educated to that level, especially since you're from the cultural capital of Russia.
Alexander: I agree. It's not for nothing that they say classics are eternal and we confirm that.
“Our coaches complement each other”
Anastasia and Alexander with coaches Tamara Moskvina, Artur Minchuk and choreographer Nikolai Moroshkin at the test skates in St. Petersburg
There are two leading pairs training in your group - you and Sasha Boikova with Dmitri Kozlovski plus there is the new team of Yasmina Kadyrova/Valeri Kolesov. Does that motivate you, push you or irritate you in a positive way?
Alexander: All together. We have been training together with Sasha and Dima for two seasons on the same ice. And, probably, like any skater, when strong athletes train next to you, there will always be the motivation to do better and better, to grow. That’s sport and that's normal.
You have a great coaching tandem - the experienced Tamara Moskvina and the ambitious Artur Minchuk. How do they complement each other?
Anastasia: In pair skating it is very important to have both a male and a female coach, because you need the perspective for both partners. Of course Tamara Nikolaevna can help the male partner as well and teach him everything because, as she often says, she's been coaching for more than 50 years. However, Artur Leonidovich is able not only to give advice, but also to demonstrate things.
He can lift me or Sasha Boikova and feel what is wrong, advise my partner and me how to improve the element after doing it himself. He can also demonstrate spins. Basically, he can do everything.
Alexander: Artur helps a lot with the technical elements. If we are learning new lifts then, as Nastia said, he can do it himself and show how to hold the partner so that it is as it should be. He also distributes and monitors the workload of the athletes to make sure everything goes smoothly.
Anastasia: In a sense, he and Tamara Nikolaevna balance each other out.
Alexander: Indeed, they complement each other.
“I needed to reboot”
Anastasia and Alexander at the test skates in St. Petersburg
A new Olympic cycle is beginning and the Olympic Games 2022 are behind you. How has this experience changed you?
Anastasia: The Olympic Games are a point at the end of a four-year cycle, that's what we were going for all these years and we reached our goal. Now after the Olympic season we are setting new goals, we are looking ahead and planning for the next four years. Of course every season means new goals, but all of them still lead to the next Olympics. As for changes, an experience is never in vain, and this season we will start at another level. Let's say, not from the first floor, but from the second floor. (laughs).
After the Olympic season you had the longest vacation in the past years and spent almost a month off the ice. Did you manage to recharge your batteries?
Anastasia: Honestly speaking, after the Olympics I had to rest for a long time, because right after I didn't know what do you want to do next... After the Olympics I did not want to do anything at all, I just wanted to lie down and, figuratively speaking, not give a damn. Too much energy was spent.
I really needed to reboot, to realize that I wanted to skate, I wanted to achieve new goals, to become motivated, to want to work further.
Alexander: It was especially difficult to get myself motivated for the final competition of the season - the Channel One Cup. In fact, it was even hard to listen to the music for their programs. During the whole season we were constantly skating programs, listened to these tunes a million times, and we had to set up ourselves again for a clean and consistent performance, because the competition was a team event. And in Saransk, we performed everything automatically, without thinking about anything. We knew that it was the last event of the season, and then the workload would reduce a little, so we wouldn't have to perform any more programs and after that we would slowly start building a new program and gradually switch to a vacation.
True, when we resumed work after the vacation, we could not avoid small problems. On one of the practices I hurt a finger on my hand.
Anastasia: We were learning a new spin.
Alexander: No one is immune to it. It's a sport. At the beginning of the season you need to be very focused, not to relax, but it is not always possible.
Anastasia: After the vacation the work load grows rapidly. And you feel some muscles, some ligaments. But gradually everything comes back to normal.
Nastia, you went to Italy on vacation, didn’t you?
Anastasia: Yes, I spent time in Italy with my parents. We went to Rome, Sardinia, Florence. We're glad we could get away, because now it's a problem.
Alexander: And I went to Ekaterinburg, to see my relatives, visited my grandmother. Then I was on vacation in Turkey. And after that I devoted time to my studies, because I had catch up at the institute. But all the same, we rested and switched our minds from figure skating to other things. At the institute, I met up with friends I hadn't seen in ages. Everyone was asking me it was at the Olympics, there were a lot of questions. It was nice.
"We're not pioneers, but we want to develop pairs skating."
Anastasia and Alexander perform their Short Program at the test skates in St. Petersburg
Last season you established yourself as the top pair in the country thanks to your consistent results, how much extra pressure does that put on you?
Alexander: There was the same talk after (we won) the World Championships in Stockholm, but there is absolutely no pressure on us. On the contrary, it gives us confidence that we need to further develop our skating to make it more interesting.
In the sense of quadruple elements?
Anastasia: Yes, we are not pioneers in this business, but we try.
Alexander: At our first performances in the new season is not realistic to show everything we have learned and worked on. In the course of the season we will add a little bit. It always happens that way. If you look at our first season with Tamara Nikolaevna and compare the test skates with the performance at the World Championships, you can understand how much our programs were different, and, by the final event, for the better. We hope it will be the same now.
Anastasia: In June, we planned to change everything, wanted to do a lot of new elements, so that nothing would be repeated, but then, when we began to put it into the programs, we realized that all together and at once will not work. All year, all season and maybe next season we'll add, change, improve.
The Russian version of this interview has been published on the website of the Figure Skating Federation of Russia here.
Anastasia and Alexander during training at their home rink in St. Petersburg