Ice Network

Rising stars of Asia: Tursynbaeva sidesteps praise

Kazakhstani phenom hopes to follow in footsteps of countryman Ten
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Brian Orser believes that 15-year-old Elizabet Tursynbaeva has what it takes to become the best skater in the world. -courtesy of Elizabet Tursynbaeva

This offseason, icenetwork is profiling some of the up-and-coming skaters from the Asian continent. Next up is Elizabet Tursynbaeva, who won four junior international competitions last season.

A few years ago, 2015 world bronze medalist Denis Ten said that he wanted to be worthy of his famous ancestor, Korean general Min Keung Ho. Today, we can confidently say that he is a "general" of sorts for the young generation of talented Kazakhstani skaters -- most prominently, 15-year-old Elizabet Tursynbaeva.

This past season, Tursynbaeva grabbed the attention of skating audiences with her musical, touching and technically excellent performances. During the 2014-15 season, she won four junior international competitions: Merano Cup, Cup of Nice, NRW Trophy and Mentor Nestle Torun Cup. Her results in the Junior Grand Prix (JGP) series were no less impressive: She won bronze in Aichi, Japan; silver in Dresden, Germany; and was the second alternate for the JGP Final.

Tursynbaeva captivated the audience at the 2015 World Junior Championships in Tallinn, where she rallied from a seventh-place short program to finish fourth overall.

"Elizabet is a very talented girl, with strong and decisive character," coach Brian Orser said. "She works very hard and has the full support of her national federation, family and coaching staff. This girl has everything it takes to become the best skater in the world."

Icenetwork talked with Tursynbaeva about her recent successes, training life in Canada and her preparation for the upcoming season.

Icenetwork: Last season you caught the attention of the figure skating world with your impressive results and high-level performances. What drove you to get involved with figure skating?

Tursynbaeva: I decided to follow in the footsteps of my older brother. My brother, Timur, who is two years older than me, was the 2007 and 2010 champion of Kazakhstan.

Icenetwork: Kazakhstan has become known in the figure skating country thanks in large part to the success of Denis Ten. You recently said that you want to follow in his footsteps. Is it safe to say that Denis has become an inspiration to all young skaters in your country.

Tursynbaeva: Yes, of course. Our Kazakhstani skaters are very inspired by Denis and try to be like him.

Icenetwork: Brian Orser said that you have everything to become the best skater in the world. How do you feel about such high praise?

Tursynbaeva: I take it quite calmly, and I understand very well that I will have to do a lot of work in order to meet the expectations of my coach and all of Kazakhstan.

Icenetwork: How do you feel that you have progressed, both in terms of technique and components, after moving to Canada?

Tursynbaeva: I think that my skating has improved; there is much less fuss in it. That's why my components also became higher. As for technique, it's been about clean performances.

Icenetwork: Moving overseas at such a young age seems daunting. Tell us about your life in Canada.

TursynbaevaThe moving definitely wasn't easy. At first, everything was fine, but then I started to miss my home, my dad and my brother. But, now, I already have become accustomed to all that. My training sessions begin at 8:40 in the morning, and then I also have workouts at 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. After that, I have off-ice training. At home, I play the violin and do my homework. In the evening, I mostly rest and gather strength.

Icenetwork: How does it feel to train on the same ice as elite skaters like Yuzuru Hanyu and Javier Fernández? Do you take something from them? And how have they interacted with you?

Tursynbaeva: They are very funny and good guys. They take everyone equally and without any sign of pride. When I look at them, I marvel at their professionalism. I really like Yuzuru's new program. In general, it's an honor to share the same ice with these guys.

Icenetwork: I heard that you studied music for several years at a special school in Moscow. What role does music play in your life and what genres and musical themes are the closest to your heart?

Tursynbaeva: I am very glad that I took musical classes, thanks to my mother. Music plays a big role in my life. My performances and inner mindstate depend largely on what kind of music I choose for my programs. I love to skate to classical music, but I like all genres.

Icenetwork: Can you tell us about your new programs?

Tursynbaeva: I decided to keep my free skate ("Papa, Can You Hear Me?" by Michel Legrand) for the new season, as I really like it. Alexei Komolov worked with me on my new short program -- I'll leave the music a secret for now. Also, this summer I will continue to work with David Wilson.

Icenetwork: Your favorite skaters include Mao Asada, Yu-Na Kim and Carolina Kostner. Can you tell us what exactly attracts you to their skating?

TursynbaevaIn figure skating, it is very important to be able to skate, jump and show good choreography simultaneously. These skaters are able to do it like no one else, so that's why I like them very much.

Icenetwork: What are your goals for the new season?

Tursynbaeva: I want to make a decent debut in the senior Grand Prix Series, at Skate America and Skate Canada. Also, I want to take part in the senior world championships in Boston.