by Matteo Morelli
Sofía Val and Asaf Kazimov are a brand new partnership representing Spain. Their coaching base is the brand new SK Worldwide Ice Dance College in Madrid, headed by former Spanish ice dance champions Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin. They informed us a bit extra about themselves and the way they went from deciding to skate collectively when the skating season had already began to competing on the World Championships in Saitama.
Sofía and Asaf, thanks very a lot for speaking to us. You’re a new partnership that was fashioned a number of months into the 2022/23 season. How did you discover one another and the way did you resolve to skate collectively?
Asaf Kazimov (AK): I cut up with my earlier companion in the beginning of August final 12 months, after I used to skate with Germany. I began to seek for a brand new companion and Sara informed me that Sofía was looking for a brand new companion too: we had a check out right here in Madrid, with Sara and Kirill. On the way in which again within the aircraft, I already knew that I might have preferred to staff up with Sofía.
Sofía Val (SV): Our check out wasn’t that lengthy, it was 5 days. We had been each looking for companions. After the check out we knew we wished to skate with one another, so all of it occurred fairly rapidly. He determined to return right here and prepare with Sara and Kirill, and we’re very glad it’s understanding so nicely.
Glad to listen to that issues had been so good from the beginning. Do you know one another earlier than?
SV: We by no means spoke to one another. I used to be nonetheless skating in juniors final season and Asaf was competing in seniors.
AK: We knew of one another from different folks, however we had by no means met in individual earlier than.
You may have been skating collectively for such a brief period of time, but you could have already completed some essential outcomes this season, together with going to a significant occasion just like the World Championships. What did you concentrate on because you determined to hitch forces? Did you instantly arrange goals for the season?
SV: We didn’t set huge goals from the start as a result of it was already fairly late within the season after we began collectively. We didn’t know if we had been going have the ability to compete as a result of we didn’t get the discharge. It was a bit sophisticated, it at all times takes a little bit of time and we had been making an attempt to do every part in a really quick interval. We couldn’t do Nationals formally, so our goal was simply to strive to do that competitors in Tilburg (Worldwide Problem Cup) to attempt to get the factors for Worlds, however already competing at a world occasion was a giant step for us.
AK: We had been ready for my launch from the German Federation and we solely obtained it on the finish of January, which was the final week the place you would attempt to apply to compete in Tilburg. We had been very comfortable to have the ability to skate at this competitors collectively.
Let’s return to the previous. How and when did you strategy skating? Have you ever at all times been ice dancers, or did you begin in numerous fields after which shift?
AK: I’m initially from Russia and I began to skate there. I used to do some single skating for six years, and after I was round eleven I modified to ice dance. My coaches stated “nicely, you’re fairly okay with jumps, however not so good as you would be”, and so they requested me if I want to strive ice dance. I did that, and I actually loved it. After which my household and I moved to Germany in 2012, and I’ve been doing ice dance since then.
SV: I began single skating in Madrid, and I by no means thought I might have come again to coaching right here! Once I was 13, I watched ice dance on tv and wished to strive it, so I went to strive it in Lyon and I actually loved it. Inside per week I made a decision that I needed to do ice dance, and moved there. It was a fairly fast choice! Coming from single skating, I didn’t actually watch ice dance in individual that a lot, and I used to be very impressed by the senior ice dancers coaching there.
You had completely different companions earlier than deciding to skate collectively. What did you’re taking away with you out of your earlier experiences?
SV: Your work ethic is essential and it must match your companion’s as nicely. The remaining can come alongside and with work, outcomes will are available in. If you end up not snug or your communication along with your companion will not be the perfect, it’s actually tough to spend hours on the ice with the opposite individual. Asaf and I can work for hours collectively and we nonetheless benefit from the course of, we love each minute we spend on the ice and I believe that is an important factor.
AK: I completely agree with Sofía. For me, communication can be an important issue, as a result of typically you see one another nearly 24/7, so you have to take every part with quite a lot of humour, help one another, discover compromises and options collectively. It is vitally essential.
You might be coaching on the brand-new SK Worldwide Ice Dance College in Madrid, which opened round a 12 months in the past and is led by Sara Hurtado, Kirill Khaliavin and Ksenia Monko. How are you discovering it there?
SV: I began skating right here since final summer time, after I didn’t have a companion but. The earlier season, I used to be coaching in Villard-de-Lans when Sara known as me to say they had been doing this mission, and I knew I wished to work with them. What is essential to me is that they’re 100% into this, they’re absolutely dedicated and spend quite a lot of hours with us.
AK: After the check out in September I already knew I wished to be a part of this mission. It was the total dedication that absolutely persuaded me, the working perspective, the way in which all of us work collectively and help one another.
SV: They’re very open minded, they allow us to have our house to create and actually help us, but in addition lead us to what they suppose is the best choice for us.
The ice dance motion in Spain loved some years of nice high quality skating with two groups competing at worldwide stage: Olivia Sensible and Adrián Díaz, and your coaches Sara and Kirill. How do you are feeling following within the footsteps of those groups?
AK: We’re nonetheless a really younger staff, so we’re beginning our growth now, making an attempt to progress with every part. Clearly, we want to be nearly as good because the earlier groups: Sara and Kirill are our idols, we’re very glad to skate with them and be coached by them. We’re taking it step-by-step, there needs to be steady enchancment.
SV: There are extra groups coming right here at our college. That can be very nice as a result of we get to check ourselves to different groups, attempt to be taught what they will do higher than us, and vice versa.
AK: It’s good sportsmanship and rivalry.
Let’s take a look at your debut: as you stated, your first worldwide competitors collectively wat the Problem Cup in Tilburg, the place you resulted in sixth place. How did you are feeling then and what did you’re taking away from it?
SV: I believe it was a fantastic debut. I used to be very nervous. We had solely been skating collectively for a number of months and we wished to skate clear, however behind our heads we knew we wished to get the factors for Worlds. You don’t need to get an excessive amount of strain in your head, simply in case you get too disillusioned, however we had been actually happy with the outcomes.
AK: I used to be not as a lot nervous, however fairly desirous about the programmes, how they need to be. After the competitors, we had been very glad that we managed to do what we did, particularly after such a brief time period.
The outcomes at Tilburg allowed you to qualify on your first senior World Championships, the place you ended up being the primary staff on the ice to open the rhythm dance. How did you reside this expertise?
SV: We didn’t have any rankings, it was our second competitors collectively and my first seniors, so it was a very superb expertise, we had been so glad to be there.
One factor that stood out is how a lot all skaters in Saitama appeared to have bonded. That should have been very nice!
SV: Sure, I already knew some groups, others I didn’t. Having the ability to be within the lodge with all the opposite skaters was actually enjoyable. We had the perfect time. It was nice additionally as a result of quite a lot of the groups that had been there are superb skaters and we glance as much as them, so additionally attending to know them as folks was superb. For instance, the primary three days we had been coaching with the Italian couple Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri. That was incredible!
AK: If you end up on the ice with this staff that simply gained the European Championships after which find yourself in second place at Worlds, it’s one thing else!
The situation itself should have been lovely too.
SV: It was! And the organisation of the occasion was superb.
When it comes to present or previous ice dance groups, do you could have any that you just take inspiration from and also you take a look at as what you want to grow to be sooner or later?
AK: There are quite a lot of nice groups: Advantage/Moir, Papadakis/Cizeron, for instance. There are nice groups which have nice qualities. I believe it is extremely essential to develop your individual type and your individual characteristic on the ice, for the judges and the group, to point out that you’re completely different: that is what we are attempting to develop inside the subsequent years.
SV: There are younger groups now which might be so highly effective, and the older groups: you’ll be able to be taught one thing from each staff. For instance, I look as much as Madison Chock: I really like how she strikes, her presence on the ice, her look from the start earlier than she even begins the programmes, her palms when she is skating, every part, however we are attempting to develop our type slowly, we’re younger and we hope that we’ll get there.
The 2022/23 season is now over: how is the work for the brand new season shaping up? Have you ever already arrange your objectives?
AK: In regards to the programmes, we’re at present desirous about them as a result of the theme of the Rhythm Dance is the 80s and there’s a lot to select from. We’re looking for the type that fits us. In regards to the objectives, we need to take it step-by-step, we need to attempt to develop from 12 months to 12 months. We are going to take this time now till the season begins to work on the brand new programmes and do our greatest.
SV: We need to attempt to do as many worldwide competitions as we are able to to be generally known as a pair. Being new, particularly within the ice dance world it is very important be identified and in addition get skilled, as a result of there are different older groups which have far more expertise and in order that performs a giant half. Hopefully we are going to begin to get a little bit of rating for the large competitions.
Let’s transfer away from the ice: inform us one thing about your self, your passions, what you want exterior of skating!
SV: We don’t get that a lot day without work! Some days, we begin at eight within the morning and end at seven within the night. Numerous the times we relaxation, however we each produce other pursuits. I’m learning psychology from subsequent 12 months, I’m very enthusiastic about this! I’m going to do it half offline and half on-line, as a result of it may be fairly onerous to do every part collectively.
AK: I began to review electrical engineering, and simply completed my bachelor’s. I’d begin a grasp’s diploma right here in Madrid. After the skating profession, I might most likely wish to work as an engineer.
SV: We additionally each love dancing, I really like hip hop. It’s tremendous enjoyable! Takes off your thoughts a bit out of your programmes, which you would possibly get a bit uninterested in doing them on a regular basis. I additionally love baking, and being with my canine!
AK: Household time is at all times nice, after Worlds I went again to Germany to see my household and my girlfriend. We had a good time, as a result of now I reside in Madrid completely and I don’t see them so typically.
Thanks each quite a bit for sharing a lot about you. Is there something you want to add to our dialog?
AK: I want to say, as soon as once more, thanks to our coaches. We are saying this to them every single day, however nonetheless we need to thank them for all of the alternatives they provide us, for his or her work with us and the way a lot time they make investments into it.
SV: It wouldn’t be doable for us to compete in such a brief time period in the event that they weren’t with us on the ice for therefore many hours, so thanks Sara, Kirill, and Ksenia.