Ice Network

Bychenko rides wave of momentum into worlds

Israeli has improved his finish at Europeans each of the last three years
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Since switching allegiances and moving to Hackensack, New Jersey, to train, Alexei Bychenko has seen his skating improve by leaps and bounds. -Getty Images

One of the major surprises at the 2015 European Championships in Stockholm, Sweden, was the performance of 27-year-old Alexei Bychenko. Showing a high level of skating, Bychenko took seventh place in the short program and found himself in first heading into the final free skate group. The Israeli skater ended up fourth overall, easily his best finish at the event.

Bychenko has continually improved his placement at the European championships since 2012: He finished 22nd that year, 14th the next and 10th in 2014.

Until the 2009-10 season, the skater competed for Ukraine, but he decided to change his sports citizenship in search of greater opportunities. He also moved to the United States, where he works under the guidance of Craig Maurizi and Galit Chait in Hackensack, New Jersey.

Icenetwork talked with Bychenko about his recent success, his general thoughts on men's skating, the selection of his music and his expectations for the world championships in Shanghai.

Icenetwork: You impressed many people with your strong performances at the European championships. What are your thoughts on this event?

Bychenko: I am glad that I was able to make a big impression there, as the tournament was not an easy one for me, due to my waist injury. I was really overwhelmed with emotions! I was counting on a high placement, sixth or maybe fifth, but it turned out I took fourth. I am very pleased with this event and enjoyed it a lot.

Icenetwork: You have competed at Europeans since 2012, and your placement has improved each time. To what do you attribute this progress?

Bychenko: The most important thing is the desire to be better. And, of course, the work of my coaches and the support of my national federation have played a big role in my progress. Also, a sufficient amount of ice time and places for me to do off-ice training have been important to my development.

Icenetwork: How important were the results in Stockholm for you personally as well as for your country?

Bychenko: For me, the result is always important at any event. In Stockholm, of course, I showed my best result and the highest placement at the time (at Europeans). Now, there is a goal to be on the podium. For me and for the country, it is a good indicator of the level of [the country's] figure skating.

Icenetwork: There were mixed reviews about the men's event at these Europeans. The top skaters were almost completely exhausted by the end of their performances. What do you think about this?

Bychenko: I think it is always difficult to perform complex technical elements and, at the same time, to adequately present all the other elements and components of a program. I think that is the case.

Icenetwork: Do you think some skaters over-complicate their programs with high-difficulty elements and, as a result, sacrifice the artistic side of their skating? Or is it just a matter of trying to fulfill all the program requirements and gather as many points as possible?

Bychenko: Everybody is trying to make the most complex program, and that can result in losing some of the artistry. There are situations where someone takes a complex program and loses the components, and there are others where someone performs an easier program and earns more points for it! There are a lot of nuances in this scoring system, so I think it's just a temporary byproduct of the current rules.

Icenetwork: You live and train in the U.S. What do you think separates the North American approach to the sport from others?

Bychenko: There is no huge difference. We all have ice, dance classes or ballet. But, in my opinion, here there is much more of all that than in other countries. There is also a little different approach to training, a different mentality.

Icenetwork: From what I understand, you take the selection of the music for your programs very seriously. Tell us about the musical aspect of your skating.

Bychenko: This is one of the most difficult things to do. For me, it is very important that the music I use is something that I want to listen to. It also should be harmonious and suitable for my skating.

When choosing music, I try to envision whether it will bother me in a month or two. It has to drive me and bring me additional energy.

Icenetwork: What do you expect from yourself at the 2015 World Championships?  

Bychenko: I expect to do what I can and to show decent short and long programs.