By H. Olenina
At the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Championships in Taipei, Alexander Samarin capped off his career in the junior ranks with a bronze medal. As the Russian becomes a fully fledged senior skater next season, he reflects on his season and looks forward on where life on the ice has taken him thus far.
How do you feel about how the competition went here at Junior Worlds?
I think I experienced most of my emotions yesterday. There was a certain joy and peace for me. I was also a little bit disappointed because, at this competition, not everything that I had been doing in practice came off.
At yesterday’s press conference, you said, “I cannot say that I am satisfied with this result.” What was the reason that you were not happy with your result and how you skated?
If you look at the elements, I was able to perform them all. However, there were a lot of minor mistakes. These mistakes ruined the overall impression of my programme and affected my second mark. So there are lots of things I still have to work on.
Looking back over this season, how do you feel it went? How would you evaluate your season?
This season was my last as a junior. Due to age, I have to move up to seniors where the level is much higher. To be honest, this season was a brilliant season in terms of events, results and competitions. This season affected me very much. I went to the European Championships for the first time, which left me a deep impression on me. I want to go back there and next time be in the fight for the medals. In order to be able to do that, I need to work hard in training. That’s because next season the Russian Championships will be a very tough competition.
This season you competed at both junior and senior competition. How were you able to adjust?
This season was not the first time for me to do this. Last season I also competed at both junior and senior competitions. It was not something new for me.
So you already had experience.
Yes, I had experience. The only thing that was difficult was the period between the Junior Grand Prix Final and the Russian Championships. There was very little time and it was really difficult to prepare. In general, the other competitions had space between them, so there was time to adjust. My basic training before my main competitions began was done at the beginning of the season. I had that base to work from.
What will you take from this season? How much to do you think you have grown through the season?
You will need to ask my coach how much I have grown this season. My coach has accompanied me to competitions and has watched how I have worked.
At this moment, what do you think are your strengths and weaknesses? What do you think need to work on in training ahead of next season?
I think everyone feels that I have room to improve on my second mark. At this competition, my first mark was third in the free skating, but on the second mark I lost to a few more skaters. Due to that, I was fourth in the free. Because of this I know what I need to do in training. Of course, I will work on my physical form, improving my technical component and then studying how to include new quadruple jumps into my programmes. Next season, I will move up to seniors. My goal for next season is to be consistent and skate filled with confidence throughout the season. The more I am able to show how consistent I am, the more how I am seen by others will change. By doing that, my scores will improve.
You always show us wonderful technique. Your performance at the Russian Championships was also wonderful. When did you realise your talent as a figure skater?
Honestly, I have not once thought that I had the talent to be become a figure skater. This is because when I first started training and even now when I am training I can see people who truly have talent. I got to where I am now through blood and sweat. On the other hand, many specialists and people realise that talent is not just something that can help you. It can also work against you. So to a certain extent I would say I do definitely have talent. Without ability, it is impossible to achieve anything. Of course, the amount of talent you have differs from person to person. However, there is no doubt that working hard physically and mentally is more important than talent on its own.
By the way, how did you start skating?
It was my mother. It was not my wish. (Laughs)
Did your mother herself want to become a figure skater?
No. There was a rink near our house and my older brother started skating first. Four years later, he stopped skating. I began skating in his old boots at the Young Pioneers Stadium (a sports complex built in the Soviet Union, intended exclusively for children and youth training, the largest in Europe of its kind). That kind of rink does not exist any more, but the memories are still there.
Did you like skating right away?
I think there are few people who like skating right away. (Laughs)
When you started learning how to skate, was there something you were good at? Some kind of simple element or something else.
I used to fall an awful lot. As time passed by and I grew up, I began to understand why that was necessary and why I was skating. Then, I was able to fall in love with skating and knew that this would my life’s work.
When you started out skating, you had a tremendous amount of support from your mother. Does she still support you now?
Not only my mother, but everyone is supporting me. Relatives, friends, acquaintances…everyone. I intend to work my hardest to live up to their expectations, support and trust.
What kind of a person are you?
I am not able tell you what my personality is by myself. You will have to ask someone around me.
In the future, what kind of figure skater do you want to become?
I would like to become a skater who will stand out from other skaters and be remembered. Of course, I want to achieve great results at high level competitions, such as the Olympics. I do not think that even needs to be said. I want to become that kind of skater. Apart from that, I want to be a skater, like Yuzuru (Hanyu) and Javier (Fernandez), that stands out on the ice. There are people who come just to watch them skate, even if it is not a competition venue. To be honest, that is the kind of skater I would like to be. Likewise, (Brian) Joubert, (Stephane) Lambiel, from Russia (Evgeni) Plushenko, (Alexei) Yagudin – they stood out and made an impact. Even if they made mistakes, people would come to see them. They left an impression on those who came to see them skate. To get to that high level would be truly a dream for me.
What kind of music are you going to use to make programmes in the future?
That’s a really difficult question. My intention is to skate to music that hooks you from the first few seconds. Music that hooks the audience and judges and not just me.
Out of all the programmes you have skated in the past, which one is your favourite?
That would be “Pearl Harbor” (2015-2016 FS). Even though I was a little disappointed that I was never able to skate that programme the way I wanted to when I needed. To be honest, I like all the programmes I have skated. I am not the kind of person who would be able to skate a programme I do not like for a year. I skate to music that I like.
Tell us about your dreams as a skater and outside skating.
Of course, I have dreams. You cannot live without dreams. I said this at the beginning of this season, but last year’s Junior World Championships deeply affected me. Then I understood that you should not speak about secrets. It is my dream and I have to keep it as my dream. If you speak to someone else about your dreams, then it becomes everyone else’s dream too. So I am going to say “No comment” to this question.
Will you take a break after Junior Worlds? If you will, what will you do?
Yes, I think I will take a short break. That will probably be in May. Now, I have to do the choreography for my new programmes. I will also work on improving my second mark and on improving my technical elements. You have to do these things when you have time in order to achieve good results in the future.
Tell us about how you generally spend your time. Are you always at the rink? Do you do anything else?
Most of my life is spent on the rink. I do not have a lot of time for other pursuits, things I like to do, studies, time off and fun, so I have to use my time well. However, I am always able to find time to do other things. I think I schedule each day pretty well. You cannot have too much or too little free time. You need it to recover, rest and get strength.
Do you have any hobbies?
There are things that I like to do, but now I am putting all my time into figure skating. For me, this is the path I have chosen. It is my hobby. It is my life. Everything I do, even when I take time off, cannot be separated from figure skating. For me right now, figure skating is everything.