Ice Network

Savchenko, Massot want to create own identity

German duo excited for what future holds after winning European silver
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Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot became the first non-Russian pair to medal at Europeans since Savchenko and her old partner, Robin Szolkowy, took the silver in 2013. -Getty Images

They stayed in the middle of the ice for 10 solid seconds after the end of their short program, she gently pushing him backward and chatting with a big smile. She comforted him warmly after his costly mistake in the free skate. Germany's Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot have achieved the first part of their dream: returning to the ice and proving that they can be counted on for the next three seasons. The team won the silver medal at the 2016 European Figure Skating Championships, just three months after Massot was released by the French federation. They agreed to discuss their comeback with icenetwork.

Icenetwork: You seemed so sad and disappointed after your mistake on that lift, Bruno. Do you know what happened?

Massot: No, I don't know yet. I never miss a lift. You know, one lift is worth eight points, the other seven points, and we lost some components as well -- altogether, we would not have been far from first place.

Icenetwork: Did you put too much pressure on yourself?

Massot: No, I don't think so. Usually, I feel a lot of pressure two to three hours before competing, on purpose. After that, I let that pressure decrease until we go to the warmup. That way, when we enter on the ice and hear the audience, we just have to let go and have fun.

We were ready. I am in great shape, and we mastered this program. If anything, it may be more psychological.

Strangely enough, our teammates, Mari [Vartmann] and Ruben [Blommaert], experienced the same mishap that we did, minutes later. It's true that the timing of this free program was a bit awkward, as Maxim [Trankov] mentioned. When I left the ice after practice, the competition was almost starting. I barely had time to go back to the hotel and return. We go quite high in practice, and we need some time to let the pressure decrease. Maybe we missed that time this morning.

I think I will come to understand and get something out of it when the pressure lowers. We will review the video with our coaches, and then I will understand.

Icenetwork: What do you think you will remember from this event?

Massot: The ambiance; that incredible atmosphere which we were met with as we entered onto the ice. I think we were even the most applauded team altogether.

I was completely in my bubble, but people could see that we were there, that we were ready and that we were there to win.

We're super happy to finally be back. We were over-excited for the last two weeks, and we arrived here really well trained. Of course, we came here for a medal. It's rather funny for me: It's the first time in my career that I haven't come to this event and just made the top 10.

Savchenko: It was a great joy for me to see all these people again that I missed for the past two years. It was an incredible feeling; I'm so happy to be back competing at big events.

There are no words to say how happy I feel. It's just like flowers when they start to open and have all these beautiful things come out. I really enjoy what I am doing now. We're happy to skate together, and we want to show it to everybody.

Icenetwork: You skated quite an interesting free skate. Can you tell us a bit more about it?

Massot: It's a new concept, really, completely different from what Aliona and Robin [Szolkowy] (Savchenko's previous partner) used to do. I think it was more my style, actually.

Icenetwork: How did Aliona agree to the change?

Savchenko: I'm open to doing something new! That's why I took this theme.

Icenetwork: How did it come to life?

Savchenko: It was a spontaneous idea. We met with Gary Beacom at a competition. Alex [König] (one of the team's coaches) said, "Have a good practice with Gary!" We did steps for two hours. Then I proposed that he makes our program.

Gary is very special -- you might say he is crazy at times. He made something really special, with crazy steps and things that nobody does. That's Gary's world. No one can do the same. Ideas are in his head, and he tries them. It was very nice for us to try that.

Massot: It's side-by-side choreography from start to finish. It's classical, contemporary and modern at the same time. It is completely different from everything we've been skating before. We are still looking for our own style as a pair, and that may be one step for us in that direction.

Icenetwork: Since you mention it, what impressed me most during this event is that you have managed to build a style of your own together. How did you achieve that?

Savchenko: Well, it's logic: When you have a new partner, you have a new style! You can't skate the same. Different people, different styles!

Massot: I would say that this was part of the deal. We did not want to be compared to Savchenko-Szolkowy. I did not want to be compared to Robin. We wanted to create a new pair on the ice. For now on, it will be "Aliona and Bruno." I think we've made it happen rather nicely. This is especially true in our free program, where you'll find no Aliona style at all. Actually, the free program is more my own style than hers.

We see ourselves as a new pair, even though we have had a long career before.

Icenetwork: You skate your short program with a lot of finesse and subtlety, with Aliona playing with her hands and fingers. You also skate very close to each other. Is that part of the choreography or part of your common style?

Massot: Both! We have worked with several choreographers. Some would say, "Your first finger is great!" Some others would add, "Put the second one that way." We have taken all advice and made our own choices. We took everything and refined it to select what suited us best.

Skating very close to one another is also a part of our common style. We have always skated like this, right from the start of our partnership. Finesse and subtlety in movement is more within the choreography. But…that's also part of us!

Icenetwork: Bruno, do you feel the pressure of Aliona's ambitions?

Massot: No. I have a lot of work to do to reach her level, that's for sure. I still have a lot to prove, especially to myself. I think that the more we compete, the more people can see that I have the potential to skate with Aliona. But even if I make some mistakes, like I did today, I know that I will not disappoint her because she is aware that I am doing my utmost. We have been fighting for 18 months now; we're not going to feel disappointed because we are the European silver medalists!

Icenetwork: Aliona, it's very impressive to see how much more balanced you seem.

Savchenko: The truth is that now, life is good. I have a beautiful fiancé. I have a calm coach. He is like a saint! We have big support from the people around us. We are working together with one common goal. I can live and do what I dream of. That's quite a change! Before, it was skating only. I had a lot of success, but I was really sad in my life. It was too much, and it was too closed. You need people around you to take positive energy. It changes everything.

I changed my life, and I am very happy with this.

Icenetwork: How do you see the future playing out?

Massot: I have so much fun working and skating with Aliona. It's a lot of work, but it's just fun. It may be the start of a great career for me, and a way for her to end one of the greatest careers ever in the best possible way.

Savchenko: I said to myself, "This is a bonus." I can really enjoy what I do. I can enjoy and connect with the audience. This is welcomed in my new life!