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 just a few months into the 2022/23 season. How did you discover one another and the way did you determine to skate collectively?
Asaf Kazimov (AK): I cut up with my earlier associate firstly of August final yr, after I used to skate with Germany. I began to seek for a brand new associate and Sara instructed me that Sofía was looking for a brand new associate too: we had a check out right here in Madrid, with Sara and Kirill. On the best way again within the airplane, I already knew that I’d have preferred to crew up with Sofía.
Sofía Val (SV): Our check out wasn’t that lengthy, it was 5 days. We have 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 practice with Sara and Kirill, and we’re very glad it’s figuring out so effectively.
Glad to listen to that issues have 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 individual earlier than.
You may have been skating collectively for such a brief period of time, but you’ve gotten already achieved some essential outcomes this season, together with going to a serious occasion just like the World Championships. What did you concentrate on because you determined to hitch forces? Did you instantly arrange aims for the season?
SV: We didn’t set large aims from the start as a result of it was already fairly late within the season once we began collectively. We didn’t know if we have been going be capable of compete as a result of we didn’t get the discharge. It was a bit difficult, it all the time takes a little bit of time and we have been making an attempt to do all the things in a really brief 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 world occasion was a giant step for us.
AK: We have been ready for my launch from the German Federation and we solely acquired it on the finish of January, which was the final week the place you may attempt to apply to compete in Tilburg. We have been very blissful to have the ability to skate at this competitors collectively.
Let’s return to the previous. How and when did you method skating? Have you ever all the time 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 after I was round eleven I modified to ice dance. My coaches mentioned “effectively, you’re fairly okay with jumps, however not so good as you may 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 per week I made a decision that I needed to do ice dance, and moved there. It was a reasonably fast determination! 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 are taking away with you out of your earlier experiences?
SV: Your work ethic is essential and it must match your associate’s as effectively. The remainder can come alongside and with work, outcomes will are available in. If you find yourself not comfy or your communication along with your associate is just not the most effective, 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 feel that is crucial factor.
AK: I completely agree with Sofía. For me, communication can be crucial issue, as a result of typically you see one another nearly 24/7, so that you must take all the things with a number of humour, assist one another, discover compromises and options collectively. It is rather vital.
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 season, after I didn’t have a associate but. The earlier season, I used to be coaching in Villard-de-Lans when Sara known as me to say they have been doing this challenge, 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 a number of hours with us.
AK: After the check out in September I already knew I wished to be a part of this challenge. It was the complete dedication that absolutely persuaded me, the working perspective, the best way all of us work collectively and assist one another.
SV: They’re very open minded, they allow us to have our area to create and actually assist us, but in addition lead us to what they assume is the most suitable 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 Good 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 crew, so we’re beginning our growth now, making an attempt to progress with all the things. Clearly, we want to be pretty much 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 must 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 study what they’ll do higher than us, and vice versa.
AK: It’s good sportsmanship and rivalry.
Let’s have a look at your debut: as you mentioned, your first worldwide competitors collectively wat the Problem Cup in Tilburg, the place you resulted in sixth place. How did you’re feeling then and what did you are taking away from it?
SV: I feel it was an ideal debut. I used to be very nervous. We had solely been skating collectively for just a few 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 have been actually happy with the outcomes.
AK: I used to be not as a lot nervous, however reasonably interested by the programmes, how they need to be. After the competitors, we have been very glad that we managed to do what we did, particularly after such a brief time frame.
The outcomes at Tilburg allowed you to qualify in your first senior World Championships, the place you ended up being the primary crew 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 extremely superb expertise, we have been so glad to be there.
One factor that stood out is how a lot all skaters in Saitama appeared to have bonded. That will need to have been very nice!
SV: Sure, I already knew some groups, others I didn’t. With the ability to be within the resort with all the opposite skaters was actually enjoyable. We had the most effective time. It was nice additionally as a result of a number of the groups that have 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 have been coaching with the Italian couple Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri. That was implausible!
AK: If you find yourself on the ice with this crew that simply received the European Championships after which find yourself in second place at Worlds, it’s one thing else!
The placement itself will need to have been lovely too.
SV: It was! And the organisation of the occasion was superb.
By way of present or previous ice dance groups, do you’ve gotten any that you simply take inspiration from and also you have a look at as what you want to grow to be sooner or later?
AK: There are a number of nice groups: Advantage/Moir, Papadakis/Cizeron, for instance. There are nice groups which have nice qualities. I feel it is rather vital to develop your personal model and your personal function on the ice, for the judges and the group, to indicate that you’re totally different: that is what we try to develop inside the subsequent years.
SV: There are younger groups now which can be so highly effective, and the older groups: you possibly can study one thing from each crew. For instance, I look as much as Madison Chock: I like how she strikes, her presence on the ice, her look from the start earlier than she even begins the programmes, her arms when she is skating, all the things, however we try to develop our model 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 targets?
AK: Regarding the programmes, we’re presently interested by 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. Regarding the targets, we need to take it step-by-step, we need 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 need to attempt to do as many worldwide competitions as we will to be often known as a pair. Being new, particularly within the ice dance world you will need to be recognized 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’ll 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 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 onerous to do all the things 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’d in all probability wish to work as an engineer.
SV: We additionally each love dancing, I 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 all the time 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 stay in Madrid completely and I don’t see them so typically.
Thanks each loads 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 daily, 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 attainable for us to compete in such a brief time frame in the event that they weren’t with us on the ice for thus many hours, so thanks Sara, Kirill, and Ksenia.