By Matteo Morelli | Photos by Yoriko Suzuki
Maria Kazakova and Georgy Reviya are a Georgian team that has been catching everyone’s attention ever since, in their junior years, they started to collect important results that include winning the Junior Grand Prix Final in 2019 and a second place finish at the Junior World Championships the same year. This season, they have relocated to Italy to be coached by Matteo Zanni and they can already see the improvements as skaters and individuals. We met with them at the European Championships in Espoo, Finland, and we want to thank them both for finding time to do this when Reviya was not feeling particularly well that week.
Maria and Georgy, thanks for agreeing to talk to us. This was your second European Championships, not an easy one to approach for you but you still managed to secure a new personal best in your free dance. How do you feel after the competition?
Maria Kazakova (MK): Yes, it was our second one, but the last one was three years ago.
Georgy Reviya (GR): We are feeling good about it. We are so happy with both programmes considering the condition we skated in and what I had, we did well.
This season you competed at your first Senior Grand Prix events (in France and UK). What did you take away from these experiences?
GR: Before the Grand Prix, we only had two months on the ice because I broke my hand. We had to skip a lot of elements because of what I could do. For such a short time preparing, we did a lot of work. The Grand Prix was so good, we enjoyed it. This season is much better than last year.
Coming up next is the World Championships in Saitama, Japan. What do you want to achieve there?
GR: As with other competitions, we want to show our best and improve from our last competition. We can’t be upset if we get low points or if something happens, we only focus on our skate now. The points will come, we need to wait and skate.
Can you tell us something about your free programme this season? What does it mean for you?
GR: It is a good choice for us, because it is our style. We didn’t want to try something new this season because preparation time was short. I think the emotions we show in the programme are so close to our lives, but they do not relate to one situation only. Some people ask us if it is about the war, but it is not about that really.
MK: If you feel this emotion about the war, or any other emotion, you can take it. Watch our programme and say ‘yes, I feel the same emotion in this moment in my life’. We want to show people that each person has different emotions and that this programme is not about one story only.
Let’s take a step back and look at how you both approached skating. How old were you when you started to skate?
GR: I was four.
MK: And I was five.
Have you always been ice dancers?
MK: We were single skaters before. I don’t jump well, I needed a lot of time to accept that single skating was not for me, and I started to ice dance when I was thirteen.
GR: I started a little bit earlier! I was eleven when I approached ice dance.
You have been skating together since 2017. How did you find each other?
GR: Masha (short for Maria) wrote to me! [Laughing] First step from the woman, can you believe it?
Looking at your junior career, the results arrived pretty fast, with important medals won at different competitions.
MK: The best moment was the last year as junior, when we combined some competitions from senior. It was a really positive season. We had a lot of competitions, we were in a good shape and skating condition and we showed it. That season was very good for us.
GR: We came up very fast during that season. We didn’t believe we could do that in the first competition of the season where we got normal points, but after that we put the hard work in and it resulted in a very good shape for us and good programmes to watch. We were so happy, we couldn’t believe we won the (Junior Grand Prix) Final, it was a historic moment.
You have done pretty much every kind of competition already: you went to the Junior and Senior Grand Prix, Junior Grand Prix Final, Europeans, Worlds and Olympic Games. What motivates you to keep improving?
MK: We want to grow, it is our goal. We have a really good team now, we are really happy with Matteo. He can show us the right way for us to grow, he shows that to each couple in his team. Now we can see our opportunity, it is something new for us. We enjoy our process: we are starting to grow, change our skating skills, our style and our preparation for competition. We started to do new things and when we see that we think ‘wow, how is it possible’. It is a good start for growing as skaters.
Do you like to share the ice with the other teams you work with at the Young Goose Academy in Egna?
MK: Matteo has really good people in his team. He has a nice relationship with everyone and we all get on well in the group, we support each other and it is good.
You relocated to Italy to work with Zanni. Are you enjoying living there?
GR: We work a lot, then go home after the practice, eat, rest, eat again, sleep, and repeat!
What do you like to do when you are not skating?
MK: I like to study and read. I read a lot, last year I read twenty-nine books!
GR: [laughing] I don’t like reading, but when Masha reads it is one of the best moments of the day because she is not talking too much! I usually sit with my computer, surfing the internet and playing video games with my friends.
If I asked you to think about your best memory as ice dancers, what would you say that is?
GR: For me, it was the first Grand Prix this season.
MK: We started to understand that we can do it, we are in a good shape. We had this really cute moment when we were on the ice waiting for the points of the couple that skated before us: we were skating together, we just look at each other in the eyes and understood that we could do it, that we were in a better shape than last year, and we took a step forward.
GR: Before starting the rhythm dance, I only thought that we were on the right path and I was so happy. It was because of Matteo, he has given us a lot of power, we feel his energy and his emotions.
MK: We changed a lot, not just with our skating but also with our mindsets.
GR: With our work with Matteo we feel ready to get to the top. We need to wait and put the hard work in, starting to change our style. We don’t want to do the same programme every season.
Is there anything you would like to conclude this interview with?
GR: Thanks to everyone. Thank to our federation, to our parents that always support us. And to Matteo, he is so important for us.