Photos by Robin Ritoss

Russia’s Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd have been skating together since March of 2012. They are the 2016 Russian junior champions, two-time Junior Grand Prix Final silver medalists and the reigning World Junior Championships bronze medalists. They are returning to the junior level this season and will debut on the Junior Grand Prix series at the Cup of Mordovia in Saransk, Russia from September 14-18.

This summer, they took time out of their busy schedules to answer some questions from Team IDC.

IDC: Can you share the story of how you first started skating?

AL: I started figure skating long ago at 3 years old. I had very bad eye vision (astigmatism) and doctors advised my parents to take me to do sports. My best friend went to the figure skating club and I joined her. In a year, I did skating better than anyone in my group. I liked it a lot with my first coach, Tatjana Nikolaevna Mironova. She inspired me a lot. My parents and I decided to try to skate in CSKA and I succeeded.

PD: I started skating when I was 5 years old in Saint Petersburg. When you are only 5 years old, you do not know exactly what you really want to do in your life, so it was not only my decision, it was more the decision of my parents. Mom skated when she was a child and my father was a footballer, so I skated and played football at the same time.

Soon, we had to make a choice: football or figure skating. At this time, the coach in my first group said to us many times, that it would be better if we choose figure skating because I have a talent for figure skating and opportunities to reach success at this kind of sport. At the same time, I passed all the exams for junior football club in Saint Petersburg. I think it was a hard choice, because from this choice depended what will be my destiny be in the future. Now, I can tell that it was absolutely the right decision and now figure skating is the most important part of my life and I can’t imagine my life without it.

All Loboda Pavel Drozd IDC: What drew you to ice dance?

AL: I like to dance a lot no matter in either ballroom or in my own room at home, so I decided that it would be a great idea to make the activity that I like best my life goal. After years in singles skating, at the age of 11, I moved to ice dance because my coach Sofia Nikolaevna Kitashova saw the talent of an ice dancer in me. Finally, I joined the team of Ksenia Gennadievna Rumyantseva.

PD: I started skating in ice dance in my hometown (Saint Petersburg), before I skated as a single skater. One day, Saint Petersburg wanted to start an ice dance group and also to create a dance couple to represent my city at a big Russian competition. At that time, coaches searched among many children and found me and Anastasia, my first partner in ice dance.

IDC: How did you become partners?

PD: At the beginning, I went to Moscow to skate with my former partner, Valeria Podlazova, but she became injured and could not skate anymore. At the same time, Alla, with her former partner, also couldn’t skate together. After a little time, we and our coaches, Ksenia Rumyantseva and Ekaterina Volobueva, decided that it would be better for us to skate together, and together we can reach our goals. I think maybe it was destined.

IDC: What is your favorite thing about skating with each other?

AL: Pavel is always there for me. We understand each other without words. Pavel never betrays me, and he is like a second family to me.

PD: I like to skate with Alla. She is always there for me. We both know our goals and are ready to work hard. We absolutely understand each other.

IDC: Describe your training day. How much ice time do you have and what other training do you do?

PD: Usually I get up around 6:30 a.m. and return to home around 8 p.m. Normally we have 2 ice practices and between the trainings i go to the university.  Before the first and second ice practices, we have off-ice trainings and we work with different specialists. I think it’s very interesting and good because at this work we are trying to find something new and develop new sides of us as a couple and of course to please the audience at the competitions, because it seems to me that it’s not so interesting when you skate all time in one theme and do the same elements every season.

IDC: You are one of the oldest teams in your training group.  Tell us about your coaches and sharing the ice with your younger training mates.  

AL: Our coaches help us to keep up with everything. We have a very good and well-balanced regime of trainings and perfect conditions for skating. Moreover, our younger training mates are very sweet. They always support us and I like all of them a lot!

PD: We are one team. I’m so glad to work with my coaches and be a part of our team. We have the same goals and we want reach them together.  In our group, we skate on the same ice with children of different ages and we are all communicate well with each other. It’s cool to see how little children growing up as a skaters with us on the same ice and you can see how they reach their first little goals and look at you as an example. At these moments, you feel a responsibility.

Alla Loboda Pavel DrozdIDC:  What are your goals for this season?

PD: This season we will skate at junior level. It will be our last season [at junior] and of course we have the highest goals for this year, because we didn’t reach all that we had planned for last season. We want to show the spectators that every season we make something new and grow as a couple.

IDC: Tell us about your programs for this year and how you select your themes for each season:

PD: When we choose music for our programs, we were together talking about different themes for next season and what music we feel, because it’s very important that a couple feel their program and can show true emotions on ice.

We listened many to different versions of music until we found our music, because the choice for the last season in juniors is important. We want to show something special. We have many ideas and I hope that spectators will like our new programs. Our short dance music is “Saint Louis Blues” and our free dance music is “La Malagueña”.

IDC: When you do make the move to senior, how will you work to make that transition between levels more successful? There are often stumbling blocks that come with the transition after having successful seasons at junior.     

PD: It’s a difficult question. Of course junior and senior levels have a big difference. I think when you go from junior level to senior, you need to work much more than you worked before, but I think some things can help to do this step faster and better. I think one of these things is to skate on ice as a couple, where man and woman absolutely feel each other. I also think it’s very important to live in your program and show true emotions what you feel when you skate, because if you do not believe in what you show in your program, nobody will believe you.

IDC: How do you spend your free time?

AL: This year I passed my exams, so in my free time I had to do only biology and maths. In addition, I enjoy visiting theatre, especially the Bolshoi Theatre, because I really like ballеt dance and, of course, I like to listen to music. Zemfira (russian singer) and Muse are my favourite.

 PD: In our daily schedule we do not have a lot of free time, but I think it’s very important to develop the spiritual and cultural sides of a person. I like to visit theaters and different exhibitions in museums or art galleries. Now, I’m studying Spanish. It’s the second foreign language for me. I like it and I think that knowledge of foreign languages is important in our profession and you become more communicative and you can better understand culture of country where people are speaking this language. Also, I like traveling very much and I think it’s very interesting to explore history and culture of different countries. When I have a competition in different cities, I always try to visit all the important attractions of the city.

IDC: Beyond skating, what are your plans for the future?

AL: In the nearest future, already this summer, I will enter the University and I’m really into it. I hope to start the student years as soon as possible. Moreover, I used to know French, so I’d like to train it harder next year, especially because our choreographer of programs for the this year is from France and I really liked to listen to his advice and hope to keep in touch.

PD: Of course, I have plans for the future, but now I pay more attention to skating and my main goals are related to figure skating. I like politics, history, and traveling. Probably after figure skating, I will also find myself at one of these fields of activity.

IDC: Is there something you would like to share with our readers

AL: Thank you for reading about us! All of your interest and support is very helpful for us. It inspires and gives us more strength to work everyday. All the programs are devoted to all of you.