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Stolbova, Klimov aim to become top Russian pair

European bronze medalists stay grounded, enthusiastic about future

Russian pair Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov hope to build on their bronze finish at Euros.
Russian pair Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov hope to build on their bronze finish at Euros. (Getty Images)

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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to icenetwork.com
(02/13/2012) - Russians Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov surprised a lot of people, taking the bronze medal at their first European championships. They showed a high level of pairs skating, performing their programs with confidence and joining the other two Russian teams on the podium in Sheffield.

Stolbova and Klimov began their season with a seventh-place finish at 2011 Trophée Eric Bompard and a fourth-place result at the 2011 Rostelecom Cup. After that, they competed successfully at the 2012 Russian Figure Skating Championships, where they took the silver medal.

Icenetwork.com spoke with the pairs skaters about their impressions of the European championships, their tough assessment of themselves and their plans for the future.

Icenetwork.com: Ksenia, Fedor. In your debut European championships, you took the bronze medal. In spite of this you've been critical of your mistakes in the free skate. Are you always so hard on yourself that even the emotions of your first European championships' medal could not outshine all?

Ksenia Stolbova: Yes, certainly! It is still disappointing to me that we couldn't perform our jumps clean. At every competition we want to give everything to the maximum.

Fedor Klimov: Of course, we wanted to show a clean skating. Especially pity that we have made mistakes on the jumps, which are my favorite elements. It's a little bit blurred, the impression of our medals. I always try to be critical [of] myself. It helps me to move forward.

Icenetwork.com: There is an opinion that judges reserve a special attitude for so-called "newcomers." How do you feel about this opinion, because your result completely refutes it?

K. Stolbova: We are probably just lucky or the judges liked us. (Ksenia smiles)

F. Klimov: Well, we already competed at the Grand Prix circuit and we showed not bad results at the junior level too, so we weren't unknown in Sheffield. Another thing is that we came to competitions as a third pair of Russia. Therefore, we fought only with Italians (note: Stefania Berton and Ondrej Hotarek) and those who were lower -- not with other Russian pairs.

Icenetwork.com: Russian pairs skaters performed very well in Sheffield and took the entire podium. What could you tell us about other teams that competed there and about the general level of pairs skating in Europe?

K. Stolbova: Every pair has its own uniqueness. There is always something to watch.

F. Klimov: Now Europe has a number of countries with new strong pair skaters -- Italy, Germany and France. They show a very high level of skating and elements.

Icenetwork.com: In addition to the bronze medal, what other emotions from Sheffield will you remember? As far as I know, Fedor likes England.

K. Stolbova: Actually, I have lots of very good impressions! I also like England and I think that England likes us too (Ksenia smiles). Last year, we won here a Junior Grand Prix stage and this year we took the bronze at Europeans. Hope England will continue to bring us luck.

F. Klimov: Yes, you are right. I liked England in my past visit and I liked it even more in this one! In addition to competitions, I traveled to London and made a good shopping. In general, I'm very happy of this trip!

Icenetwork.com: If I'm not mistaken, your became a pair just about three years ago. Could you tell us how difficult the formation of your team was? When was the point when you could say: "Yes, from now on we are really a team!"

K. Stolbova: Feb. 4 was three years as we skate together. Well, I just can say that I'm lucky with Fedor. He's a great partner!

F. Klimov: We started skating together in 2009. The first season was very difficult. We had to break through competitions as an absolutely unknown pair. But the next one, in juniors, was much more comfortable to us. Also, this year the way from junior to senior skating was enough difficult. But we are happy that we overcame all difficulties and after the Russian nationals of this season, we can say that we are the team.

Icenetwork.com: The beginning of this season wasn't easy for your pair. However, you skated very successfully at your main events -- Russian nationals and the European championships, taking silver and bronze respectively. Does this mean that your pair needs time during the first part of the skating season to gain your best sporting shape for the main competitions?

K. Stolbova: Unfortunately, because of my injuries, we started to skate with a full strength only in December. It's not usual to our team.

F. Klimov: No, I don't think so. Usually we are ready for the most earliest, September's competitions. At the beginning of this season we had some injuries. When we are healthy we skate in a full strength.

Icenetwork.com: In their recent interview with RIA Novosti, Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov said that the current rules and a presence of many compulsory technical elements in pairs skating influences the artistic part of programs and decreases the elegance. What is your opinion about this issue?

K. Stolbova: I can say that in spite of a presence of many difficult technical rules, we are always trying to combine our technique with choreography.

F. Klimov: I fully agree with them in this issue. Current rules are so that every pair does practically similar set of elements. And it's highly difficult to be original in front of others. Also, many teams mostly concentrated on elements, forgetting about the artistry and program's presentation. But this is one of the main things for which the audience loves skating.

Icenetwork.com: In Sheffield, Evgeni Plushenko once again proved that there is nothing impossible. Could we say the same about your team, taking into account the future fight for leadership in Russian pairs skating?

K. Stolbova: Everything is possible! The main thing is to believe in your success. We will work and strive for it.

F. Klimov: I think yes. We have to do all elements, constantly increase the level of skating and be original.

Icenetwork.com: This season, you expressed the images of your programs very well from rather difficult pieces of music -- "Bolero" and "Polovtsian Dances." Do you plan to continue to take the so-called "non-easy music" for your new programs?

K. Stolbova/F. Klimov: Of course, we will not create our programs by using some "easy" music. We will try to express even more difficult and interesting images in our next programs.

Icenetwork.com: Tell us please about your plans for the remainder of this season and plans for the next one.

K. Stolbova/F. Klimov: The main thing to us for now is to practice a triple twist. Maybe we will try a throw quad jump. In this season, we plan to take part in some competitions, and after that we'll work on our new programs.