Ice Network

Savchenko, Massot look to build off strong season

Germans combine pairs skating with ice dance to elevate level of programs
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Coming off a silver medal-winning performance in Helsinki, Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot have heightened expectations heading into the 2018 campaign. -Getty Images

Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot have certainly made a name for themselves over the past two years. Their breathtaking performances showcase the team's sheer athleticism, while the Germans' unique triple twist and throw triple axel continue to receive praise across the globe.

With perfect synchronism, humor, and unique tenderness, Savchenko and Massot were able to leave their mark wherever they went.

Following the conclusion of the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships, the pair took the time to discuss their outstanding career with icenetwork.

Icenetwork: There was a lot of room for a fourth rotation in your triple twist, as if you were delaying it. Is there the potential for a quad twist in the near future?

Bruno Massot: Let's just say we're working on it. This year, the throw triple axel was the new thing. I had never done it before, and I needed to learn the technique from scratch. It was completely new for me.

Aliona Savchenko: Just like in singles skating, the axel is the most difficult jump. All male skaters do a triple axel now, but you can't be sure you'll land it clean. It's very difficult to find the right way. It's a slippery jump, and it's the same for the throw in pairs. The right way to do a throw axel, going forward, is unique. The hold is different, the technique is different, and the feeling is different.

Massot: Also, in all throws, the girl is pulled, as opposed to being pushed for the axel.

Savchenko: Had we had the opportunity to practice after the Grand Prix season without injuries, the process would have been easier. Bruno and I have not been skating together for a long time. We had it before the Grand Prix, but we had to start over after my injury. Then we had so little time to practice and only landed our first throws at the European championships.

Icenetwork: Your spins are so centered and coordinated. How do you train for something like that?

Savchenko: We were meant to skate together. I don't know why. I skated for 10 years with Robin [Szolkowy], but we didn't always have the same rotational speed. We looked at one another all the time in the same way, but it didn't work the same way. It must be like a puzzle: Now, the two pieces match exactly. In our free program here, we even made the same mistake at the same time on our side-by-side, triple toe-double toe combination. We wanted to land a triple-triple and even though everyone thought the triple toe-double toe was planned, it actually wasn't!

Massot: We look at each other all the time. I must say that I'm always able to rotate faster or slower. We also work a lot to make them perfect. Every position is watched carefully so that they match exactly.

Savchenko: It's like a diamond. You need to polish it a lot to make it clear and bright.

Icenetwork: You like diamonds?

Savchenko: I do!

Massot: (Removing Savchenko's socks) Look, she has stones everywhere, even here! Every day she wears stones.

Savchenko: I need to shine! Just for me, to make my eyes happy. Let us be women!

Massot: We need to let women be happy.

Icenetwork: There is something extremely poetic about your work on the ice. Do you enjoy poetry?

Savchenko: I read it, but I'm not interested in it. It's my mom's thing.

Icenetwork: You may not have a strong interest in poetry, yet you display strong metaphors, images and alliterations throughout each one of your programs.

Massot: Yes, it's our way of writing on the ice.

Savchenko: I'm not interested in reading it or thinking about it, but it touches me more on the ice. I like to show it and do it.

Massot: Our programs show the technical side, which is most important, but we are searching for heart, emotion and feeling, which are things we can share with the audience. Our short program is very funny, and you don't need to think to get into it. Our long is completely different. With the choreography and interpretation, our goal was to skate like ice dancers and emphasize the artistic side, to share what we feel. Every skater feels things, but not all are able to show it and share it. In Helsinki, I think we were able to show our exact feelings.

Savchenko: You skate with what you have inside of you. If you don't have a feeling, you obviously won't show it. We don't need much to get into the right frame of mind. The music is enough to set you in the right mood. When you have funny music to skate to and you feel like dancing, just go, don't think and move your body around. We can be funny, like in our short program. When there is something to think about, like in our long, music takes you there. You can't learn this -- you just feel it -- and that's something we learned this season.

Icenetwork: Last year you chose Gary Beacom to choreograph your long program. This year, you worked with former ice dance great John Kerr. Why the change?

Massot: Because he is an ice dancer! We were looking for something new, completely fresh and different. We wanted to mix ice dance with pairs elements and skate the way ice dancers do.

Savchenko: When I was still working with Robin, I took a trip to Florida and met with John Zimmerman's team. I was impressed by how professional they were, and I wanted to work the same way. I saw the way they coached Haven [Denney] and Brandon [Frazier]. They had four coaches between the two of them, including Zimmerman, Kerr, Silvia Fontana, and a ballet coach. We, in contrast, were working only with Ingo [Steuer]. I would have taken the opportunity earlier, had I known.

Massot: They work completely as a team and give everything. Each one has some input. When we arrived there one year ago, we had no idea at all. They presented one piece of music to us, and we said yes right away. I'll always remember the first five-hour session we had with John Kerr. It was very difficult and completely different from what we were used to.

Savchenko: We had never worked on steps before. For us, a program was just crossovers and a few choctaws, and that was enough. All of a sudden, it was counters and transitions. Oh my gosh! I had never learned that!

It makes you look silly! One minute, you're high in the world rankings, and the next, you are so low.

Massot: It's a strange feeling, yet a good one. You're up there, but you still have so much to learn.

Savchenko: I always enjoy learning new things, developing my skills and pushing the limit. You have no limit if you're clear in your head. If you dream of something, it's actually possible. You need to find the right people and do it with your heart. I like growth to be an endless process.

Icenetwork: Do you intend to work with the same team again when you begin your preparation for next season?

Savchenko: We can't say yet.

Massot: But yes, we're going to work with the team again, plus someone else. We'll add someone to the team. We're really looking forward to it.

Icenetwork: When does it start?

Savchenko: Right now! This is the end of the season, but it's also the start of the next one.

Massot: We would have loved to do the World Team Trophy, because it's an amazing competition, but Germany has no team. We have a one-week holiday, a few shows in Italy, France and Korea, and then the real work will begin.