By H. Olenina
With a silver medal at the 2017 World Junior Figure Skating Championships, Dmitri Aliev finished his junior career on a high. As he makes the transition to the senior ranks, he looks back on the first part of his career and forward to a promising future.
Looking back over the season, how would you evaluate it?
I would give myself 85 out of a total of 100. That’s because I had some problems at the start of the season. However, during the season at my main events – the Junior Grand Prix Series, the Junior Grand Prix Final and Junior World Championships – I had good results. I am happy that I ended my junior season in a good way. I believe this season was a really good season for me.
At yesterday’s press conference (after the free skating), you also said that you ended your junior season with a good result and you were satisfied with your skating. Why do you think that is? After all, second is not the highest position you can achieve.
I am satisfied because I knew that Vincent (Zhou) had three different types of quadruple jumps – one of those was a high-scoring Lutz – and two triple Axels. I understood that if Vincent performed to his potential that he would earn high marks. In yesterday’s free, I only landed one quadruple toe loop. I also made a small error on that toe loop. So, if I had skated cleanly, perhaps I might have received a few more points. Even then it would not have been enough to catch Vincent. So, the rankings were fair and I am satisfied. I did not let my mistake at the beginning affect me and I am glad that I gave it my all right to the end. I was also happy that my PCS were high. That is why I am satisfied.
This season you competed at junior events, senior events and then again went back to junior events. How did you adjust to this?
This is not the first time I have had to do this.
However, after the Junior Grand Prix Final, you only had around two weeks until the Russian National Championships. How did you prepare in such a short time?
I had to practice my senior short programme considerably. I had to add in a quadruple jump. In that sense, you could say it was a little tough. Switching can mess your form up and you have to control yourself. Whether it’s a junior competition or a senior one, you have to have the technique to be able to make that transition well. Next season, I will be skating entirely as a senior and, because I will not need to switch any more, I will work on polishing my senior programmes. In other words, I intend to train as a senior.
What did get out of this season? How do you think you have grown?
The most important thing of all to me is my state of mind. It’s how I go about getting myself in the right mental frame going into a competition. Right up until the end of the season, at the Junior World Championships, at the Grand Prix Final, I was able to control myself and stay focused. This was a big deal for me. That is how I feel. Overall, during my programmes, I was able to express where I am now and could skate softly and with lots of emotion. I was also happy that I was able to improve my spins. They are not yet perfect and I need to polish them up so they shine.
Right now, what are your strengths and weaknesses? Tell me about what you think you need to practice more.
At the moment, getting myself in the best possible shape going into competitions and being able to skate under any conditions is what I am working on. At this competition, I skated last (in the short) and I was able to focus well. This was a huge positive for me. Previously, it had not been easy for me to do this. Right now, I think things went well. It was the same at the Grand Prix Final. This is a plus for me. The minus for me was making small errors. Doing that affects the score. So, I need to work hard on having an ideal performance and clean programmes.
You are moving to seniors next season. What sort of goals have you set?
Next season is the Olympic season. Every skater is going to give their utmost to able to compete at that event. The Olympics are such an important competition for any athlete. I intend to train hard so that I will be selected for the Olympics.
I will add to my senior programmes. New quad jumps. Perhaps the Lutz or something. I have lots of things in store that I have practiced. There will also be new programmes. I need to work harder. Next season I want to show more difficulty and better performances than I have now.
Is there any music you want to use for your programmes next season?
I do not know yet. I will decide during the course of my training. There are various concepts. In figure skating, you can choose any music you like. I will think and try something interesting, something new.
Tell me which of your previous programmes are your favourites.
At the moment, I like my programmes from this season. I grew with this programmes, got experience and confidence from them. If I had to choose one, it would be my “I Close My Eyes” free.
Did you choose the music yourself or was it your coach?
We picked a few pieces and listened to them. When I heard this song, I thought I wanted to skate to it. My coach and my choreographer Olga German also agreed with me.
Why did you change your free programme mid-season?
It was after my second Grand Prix. It was because I viewed that programme as a hopeless cause. “The Man in the Iron Mask” is in the history books under a certain skater’s name.
You mean Yagudin?
Yes. It is Yagudin’s programme. We reached a decision to not try to recreate history by using “The Man in the Iron Mask”. No-one can ever reproduce that programme like Yagudin. So we decided to change programmes.
In the future, what kind of skater do you want to become? Do you have skaters you like?
There are skaters whose performances I watch. I like Nathan Chen. That is because he shows us amazing technique on a new level. There are new things to discover. After that, there is (Yuzuru) Hanyu. He shows wonderful skating. In short, these are the kind of skaters to whom I aspire.
Do you have a dream? A dream as a skater or any other kind of dream?
Of course, I do. But I am not going to say (Laughs). I have a dream.
After Junior Worlds, I guess you are probably going to take a little break. What kind of things are you going to do?
I will return to Saint Petersburg, spend two or three days with friends and relatives and then I will go back to my parent’s hometown, Ukhta. I am in 11th grade so I need to take my final exams.
Oh, so you have the Unified State Exam coming up soon?
Yes, that’s right. In order to take part in summer camp, I need to take the exams earlier.
I wish you the best of luck.