With legendary coach Nikolay Morozov and specially-composed music behind them, the young Russian pair of Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov are hoping to make ice dancing podium in Sochi 2014.
With just 16 months until its own Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia is making sure its athletes are getting well-prepared.
And so in ice dancing it has secured the services of legendary coach Nikolay Morozov to train young hopefuls Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov.
“Actually, now for me it’s interesting to make some results for Russia in Sochi, because I have done everything else,” Morozov told RT. “I had many world champions and Olympic champions and I’m not really interested in making medals, but for Russia, yes I am.”
But he has his work cut out for him because the ruling hegemony has shifted away from Russia in recent years.
Americans Merril Davis and Charlie White, as well as Canadian pair Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, stole the show in Vancouver in 2010 and have shared gold and silver in the last three World Championships.
But Ilinykh is confident about her partner’s and her chances this season.
“We did the Europeans, we did the Worlds and we feel strong, we feel we can do it, we were in the Top 5,” she said. “We were skating in one group with top skaters, Canadians, Americans, French, so now with these new programs we can move forward.”
Of course, it won't be easy for the pair, but coach Morozov is a master of choreography and has been tinkering with their program.
The music that Lena and Nikita are currently training to is generic and won’t be used in the coming season.
They’ll be dancing to specifically-written, customized music that will be used for their choreography and dance, something that trainer Nikolay Morozov hopes will give them that little extra competitive advantage.
“No one has heard this music before, which makes it very interesting,” Katsalapov stressed. “It’s a brand new composition, where the musicians created music to our specific movements. I’m still coming to terms with it, but both Lena and I really like it.”
Being the only couple to have had music specially composed for them is a credit to the duo, but the big question, as always, is just how well they get along with each other.
“When we were starting we had some problems because we both were singles and we both have tough characters, so we all wanted to be leader and now after two years we understand we have to be one couple to help each other, so right now there are no problems, we are having fun always on the practice,” Ilinykh explained.
It’s always easy for one side of the couple to be happy about the status quo, but it takes two to tango.
“During training there’re always going to be disagreements, but that’s part and parcel of working together,” Katsalapov said. “You shouldn’t be skating and dancing without any emotions. We each have our own characters and want to show them. But we’ve been working together for a long time now and we’re very comfortable with one another.”
With the couple apparently happy with each other, as well as being excited about performing to their new music it’s clear they intend to take the ice dancing world by storm.
And with their trainer threatening to quit if they don’t, Ilinykh and Katsalapov wouldn’t want to disappoint.