Russian Ice Dancers Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin have taken the next step in their career this season. For the first time, the team from Moscow claimed gold at their ISU Grand Prix events in Moscow and Helsinki this season and subsequently qualified for the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, another first for them. The Muscovites ranked fourth in their debut and went on to claim their third consecutive silver medal at the National Championships.
The skaters and their coaching team came up with two interesting programs this season. The Rhythm Dance is set to the Paso Doble “Malaguena” and the Tango pieces “Tango Suite Part III” by Al Di Meola and “Carmen's Story” performed by Edith Piaf, and was choreographed by their coach Irina Zhuk. Alexandra and Ivan feel particularly close to this program and are very proud that Russian fashion designer Valentin Yudashkin designed the costumes for them.
Peter Tchernyshev, a Russian-born Ice Dancer who competed at the World and Olympic level for the USA, choreographed the Free Dance to “Am I The One” by Beth Hart, a passionate Blues. “The program is really cool, it suits us and it is nice for us, that everyone likes it. However, it is not easy – it is an absolutely different program from last year,” Stepanova explained. “We were going back and forth with the music choice, but then Peter (Tchernyshev) suggested this music and when we came for the first practice and he started to show us something, did something, I probably realized right away that this is his style of program. He feels the subtleties of the blues very well and he tried to put it across to us and we tried to take all in as fast as we could,” Bukin added. His parents - 1988 Olympic Ice Dance Champion Andrei Bukin and former Ice Dancer Elena Vasiuk - as well as his father’s dance partner Natalia Bestemianova approved of the program right away.
Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (RUS) during the Ice Dance Free Dance at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Rostelecom Cup (RUS) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
Stepanova and Bukin admit that the Rhythm Dance with the Tango Romantica Pattern Dance at first was hard for them as the Tango Romantica was a new and challenging dance. “There are so many details that we thought, ‘how do we learn that?’.” Bukin shared but added that by now the Tango feels comfortable. “I like the Tango in general – it is sharp and with powerful emotions.”
Since the dancers lost a few levels especially in the Rhythm Dance during the season, this is what they especially have been focusing on. “We didn’t skate perfectly (at Nationals), but I think that we have improved since the Grand Prix Final and our coaches also gave us a positive feedback,” Stepanova said.
Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin (RUS) during the Ice Dance Free Dance at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Helsinki (FIN) 2018©International Skating Union (ISU)
The two-time European bronze medalists took a short break following Nationals to rest as there was not much time in between the Final and the National Championships before starting their preparations for the upcoming ISU European Figure Skating Championships in Minsk (BLR). “We’re working with even more power. It is very motivating and it is great to have this strong competition inside the country,” Bukin pointed out, referring to Victoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov, who took the National title.
Stepanova/Bukin and their coaches Irina Zhuk and Alexander Svinin are currently preparing in the training base of Novogorsk near Moscow for the European Championships. “We cannot leave out anything. We have to work on technique, emotions, on mistakes that we made before. You have to skate perfectly,” Alexandra said.