Ice Network

Savchenko out to make Sotnikova champion again

Smoldering dancer known to 'DWTS' fans partners Olympic gold medalist
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Getting to compete on Russia's 'Dancing with the Stars' with an Olympic ice skating champion was too good an opportunity for Gleb Savchenko to pass up. -ABC/Craig Sjodin

Meryl Davis and Charlie White aren't the only Sochi gold medalists to accept the dance challenge. Ladies champion Adelina Sotnikova has already cruised through contemporary, charged through the cha cha and finessed in the foxtrot on Russia's Dancing with the Stars. Her partner in this ballroom journey is well known to fans of the U.S. version of the show, having appeared on three seasons. Russian-born Gleb Savchenko has danced with the troupe and partnered Beverly Hills housewife/restaurateur Lisa Vanderpump in season 16. He's also an aspiring fashion force, launching his own line of chic underwear, GS Gleb Collection. Icenetwork caught up with him between rehearsals.

Icenetwork: Although you are Russian, you're mostly based in Los Angeles. How did you get the prime assignment of partnering Adelina Sotnikova?

Savchenko: When I knew that there was a chance for me to dance with Adelina, I got really excited, but I still had to think about it because it's a big change for me to move from L.A. for such a long time. One very important thing made my decision easier: when I learned that DWTS Russia was a charity project and that the money would be donated to help children. After that, I didn't have to think about it too long. Plus, Adelina is an Olympic champion, and I have a good chance to do well in this competition.

Icenetwork: How much time did you get to practice together before the first show?

Savchenko: We practiced for two weeks before the first show, but it wasn't every day. She had other commitments and shows.

Icenetwork: How have your experiences on the U.S. DWTS helped prepare you for the Russian version?

Savchenko: It's amazing how most of the countries have DWTS and all of them are so different. I still would say that the U.S. version is the best! I had an opportunity to be a part of it for three seasons. I've learned a lot being on the show, not just different dance styles, but in many other areas: how the production works, how they shoot the show.

Being a pro on the Russian version will give me a good chance to show what I've learned and how I can teach Adelina, producing a good quality of dancing and making a good show. 

Icenetwork: Have you watched skating on TV or on the Internet over the years?

Savchenko: Yes, I did watch a lot of ice skating when I was younger, and also played hockey. I remember I used to root for Alexei Yagudin and Evgeni Plushenko; I loved their performances.

Icenetwork: Did you watch last year's Olympic Winter Games in Sochi?

Savchenko: I did watch it and was very impressed with Adelina's performances.

Icenetwork: What are your impressions of Adelina?

Savchenko: She works very hard, like a real champ; [she's] very focused and will not quit until it's done perfectly. We established good communication between us, and I treat her like my younger sister.

Icenetwork: She is a singles skater and, therefore, doesn't have much partnering experience. What have been some of her challenges in doing partner work and what has she been a natural at doing?

Savchenko: She has a natural movement and great coordination, and is very musical. She's never danced with a partner before, but it feels like it's not a problem for her; she picks [things] up very fast. I'm working on improving her footwork, dance technique and posture.

Icenetwork: Have you ever worked with skaters, such as ice dancers, on choreography or the nuances of a dance that comes from the ballroom?

Savchenko: I haven't worked with skaters before, but I observed when Maks [Chmerkovskiy] taught Meryl. There is a big difference between skaters and dancers in [terms of] technique, using different muscles, posture and balance -- how dancers move across the floor and what body parts we use. Of course, there is a greater chance for a professional skater to learn how to dance, and it comes to them easier than to someone who doesn't have any experience in training.

Icenetwork: Have you received any interesting tweets from skating fans since your first performance with Adelina hit the Internet?

Savchenko: I have a couple of hundred new followers on Twitter and Instagram who are probably Adelina's fans and skaters themselves. A lot of them said that our first dance was amazing.

Icenetwork: You've got a really cool line of underwear, GS Gleb Collection, which has dance names for pieces, like rumba and salsa. What inspired it and how has it been received?

Savchenko: It's great underwear for everyone, not just dancers. I always wanted to do something different and have my own fashion brand. So when I got on DWTS in the U.S., I thought it was a good idea to create it and have different dances written on it.

Icenetwork: What are your goals for this season?

Savchenko: I just want to bring the best out of Adelina and show the world that she is not just a number one skater but also has a great talent in dancing and deserves that mirror ball trophy!