LAKE PLACID, N.Y.
Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov haven’t given up. No they haven’t, despite a year or two of disappointments and injuries and setbacks.
They are not here at Skate America. They have already qualified for the Grand Prix Final in two weeks (second at both Rostelcom Cup and NHK Trophy), with Skate America offering the last chance to qualify for others.
Nobody has forgotten the Olympic silver medalists from four years ago. They are at home with coach Nina Mozer, training with intent and straight-ahead focus. And their twist is much better now, says Vladimir Zhovnirsky, here coaching Natalia Zabiiako and Alexander Enbert of Russia.
You see, their triple twist hasn’t been all that hot for the past 1 ½ years, and Zhovnirsky says it’s down to Klimov’s gimpy shoulder (a nerve problem), which hampered him at the world championships in Boston and all that season. Last season, they had to withdraw from both of their Grand Prix events.
Zhovnirsky says the shoulder is much better.
Stolbova also didn’t skate for a long time because of injury. The whole last season, it was one thing, then another. Stolbova also endured an inflammation in an ankle, due to a nerve problem. “They didn’t practice 100 per cent,” Zhovnirsky said. “Of course, his shoulder was a big problem.”
Earlier this season at Finlandia Trophy, Stolbova and Klimov had a meltdown, all stemming from a pant strap that had come loose and fluttered around Klimov’s ankle. He didn’t ask for a time out. He repaired the problem and went on. But the magic was broken. And mistakes piled up.
The twist is now going even better than it did in Japan.
Also, they’ve added an ambitious throw triple Lutz to their routine. They knew very well that the throw double Axels they were doing weren’t going to cut it if they wanted to make it to the top again. It’s like going from zero to 60 in a moment.
It only took them a month to get it ready. Zhovnirsky didn’t expect their mastery of it would be so quick. They landed it at Finlandia Trophy and got high GOEs for it.
“They were motivated,” he said.
So many people in the Mozer club are setting aside any thought of quad throws for the time being. “It’s too dangerous,” Zhovnirsky said. (This week, Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford are attempting to get at least one +3 on their throw quad Salchow.) Stolbova and Klimov had been training a throw quad Salchow at one time and they landed a couple of sparkling ones with speed. And they were huge. But then finally, it just became too dangerous to do, the assistant coach said.
Of course Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov do a quad twist, huge as a barn.
So yes, Stolbova and Klimov want to get to the top again, to win Grand Prix Final. Stolbova is a fierce competitor. “She is the kind of person who wants to win every time,” Zhovnirsky said. “Every time, every practice, every element. If it’s not perfect, she gets angry and upset. Sometimes, it’s not so easy for us.”
Her coaches would tell her than an element she’s done is good. “No,” Stolbova will say. “Not good enough.”
She’s angry at herself but also at others. And the gentle Klimov is first glance. “Fedor has to be perfect as well,” Zhovnirsky said.
Jokingly, somebody said she should have skated with Maxim Trankov, the 2014 Olympic pair champion with Tatiana Volosozhar.
Zhovnirsky said they did skate together for a couple of months, but that was like mixing powerful explosives. They fought. Luckily, they both survived. Klimov is the calm to her fire.
LAKE PLACID, N.Y.