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 Faculty in Madrid, headed by former Spanish ice dance champions Sara Hurtado and Kirill Khaliavin. They instructed 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 break up with my earlier companion initially of August final yr, once I used to skate with Germany. I began to seek for a brand new companion and Sara instructed me that Sofía was trying to find 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 airplane, I already knew that I’d have favored to staff up with Sofía.
Sofía Val (SV): Our check out wasn’t that lengthy, it was 5 days. We had been each trying to find 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 effectively.
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 individuals, however we had by no means met in particular person earlier than.
You could have been skating collectively for such a brief period of time, but you’ve gotten already completed some crucial outcomes this season, together with going to a significant occasion just like the World Championships. What did you give attention to because you determined to affix forces? Did you instantly arrange targets for the season?
SV: We didn’t set large targets 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 be capable of compete as a result of we didn’t get the discharge. It was a bit difficult, it at all times takes a little bit of time and we had been attempting to do all the things in a really quick interval. We couldn’t do Nationals formally, so our goal was simply to attempt to do that competitors in Tilburg (Worldwide Problem Cup) to attempt to get the factors for Worlds, however already competing at a global occasion was a giant step for us.
AK: We had been ready for my launch from the German Federation and we solely received it on the finish of January, which was the final week the place you could possibly attempt to apply to compete in Tilburg. We had been very glad 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 several 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 once I was round eleven I modified to ice dance. My coaches mentioned “effectively, you might be fairly okay with jumps, however not so good as you could possibly be”, they usually requested me if I want to attempt 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’d have come again to coaching right here! After I was 13, I watched ice dance on tv and wished to attempt it, so I went to attempt it in Lyon and I actually loved it. Inside every week I made a decision that I needed to do ice dance, and moved there. It was a reasonably fast resolution! 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 totally 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 effectively. The remainder can come alongside and with work, outcomes will are available in. When you’re not snug or your communication along with your companion is just not one of the best, it’s actually tough to spend hours on the ice with the opposite particular person. 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 a very powerful factor.
AK: I completely agree with Sofía. For me, communication can be a very powerful issue, as a result of generally you see one another nearly 24/7, so it is advisable to take all the things with loads of humour, help one another, discover compromises and options collectively. It is rather necessary.
You might be coaching on the brand-new SK Worldwide Ice Dance Faculty in Madrid, which opened round a yr 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, once I didn’t have a companion but. The earlier season, I used to be coaching in Villard-de-Lans when Sara referred to as me to say they had been doing this venture, 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 loads of hours with us.
AK: After the check out in September I already knew I wished to be a part of this venture. It was the complete 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 additionally lead us to what they assume 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 degree: Olivia Sensible and Adrián Díaz, and your coaches Sara and Kirill. How do you’re feeling following within the footsteps of those groups?
AK: We’re nonetheless a really younger staff, so we’re beginning our improvement now, attempting to progress with all the things. 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 faculty. That can be very nice as a result of we get to match 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 mentioned, your first worldwide competitors collectively wat the Problem Cup in Tilburg, the place you led to sixth place. How did you’re feeling then and what did you’re taking away from it?
SV: I believe it was an incredible 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 at the back of our heads we knew we wished to get the factors for Worlds. You don’t wish to get an excessive amount of stress in your head, simply in case you get too upset, however we had been actually happy with the outcomes.
AK: I used to be not as a lot nervous, however relatively excited 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. With the ability to be within the lodge with all the opposite skaters was actually enjoyable. We had one of the best time. It was nice additionally as a result of loads of the groups that had been there are superb skaters and we glance as much as them, so additionally attending to know them as individuals was superb. For instance, the primary three days we had been coaching with the Italian couple Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri. That was unbelievable!
AK: When you’re 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’ve gotten any that you just take inspiration from and also you take a look at as what you want to turn into sooner or later?
AK: There are loads of nice groups: Advantage/Moir, Papadakis/Cizeron, for instance. There are nice groups which have nice qualities. I believe it is extremely necessary to develop your individual model and your individual function on the ice, for the judges and the gang, to point out that you’re totally 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, all the things, however we are attempting to develop our model slowly, we’re younger and we hope that we are going to 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 targets?
AK: In regards to the programmes, we’re at present excited 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 model that fits us. In regards to the targets, we wish to take it step-by-step, we wish to attempt to develop from yr to yr. 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 wish to attempt to do as many worldwide competitions as we are able to to be referred to as a pair. Being new, particularly within the ice dance world you will need to be identified and in addition get skilled, as a result of there are different older groups which have way 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 massive 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. Plenty of the times we relaxation, however we each produce other pursuits. I’m finding out psychology from subsequent yr, 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 laborious to do all the things collectively.
AK: I began to review electrical engineering, and simply completed my bachelor’s. I would begin a grasp’s diploma right here in Madrid. After the skating profession, I’d in all probability prefer 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 bored with 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 dwell 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 on daily basis, however nonetheless we wish to thank them for all of the alternatives they offer us, for his or her work with us and the way a lot time they make investments into it.
SV: It wouldn’t be attainable 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.