Here is the English version which was translated and posted with permission by M. Duffley.
Maria Petrova and Aleksei Tikhonov: Before Our Starts the Coach Makes the Sign of the Cross Over Us
Before the World Championships started March 22 in Dortmund, TV-7 spoke with the European silver medallists in pairs Maria Petrova and Aleksei Tikhonov. We gave them the questions separately.
Q: What are your strongest childhood memories of skating?
Aleksei: At 14 I skated in exhibitions for the first time with masters like Gordeeva-Grinkov, Mishkutenok-Dmitriev, Fadeev. I was so impressed by their artistry that I realized I hadn’t taken up figure skating for nothing!
Maria: That I never had enough sleep. I had to get up at 7 a.m. for practice.
Q: Who put you on the ice and when?
Aleksei: My parents brought me to the skating school when I was age 6.
Maria: The first time my mom took me to a hockey ”box” in the apartment yard when I was 4. [Trans. I understand this to be a place where people have frozen some ice to skate on.] I skated like this: I grabbed onto a plastic box that contained some bottles and I pushed it in front of me. Probably that is when I started to dream of pair skating.
Q: Do you have any ritual before you go out on the ice?
Aleksei: Before the very start, me and Masha can just hold hands and look each other in the eyes. And in the last second, our coach makes the sign of the cross on us inconspicuously.
Maria: I love to retie my skates. It’s how I calm down. Also, I have a talisman – the Bonya dog – a stuffed animal that my parents gave me. She has traveled the whole world.
Q: If you could change something in skating, what would it be?
Aleksei: The judging system. We need the judges to be financially independent, so that federations can’t pressure them.
Maria: I would return the former judging system, when skaters knew which judge gave them which mark. But now everything is anonymous.
Q: Do you watch any sport competitions besides figure skating?
Aleksei: Track, swimming, soccer.
Maria: Rhythmic gymnastics, I root for Irina Chashina.
Q: What don’t you love about skating?
Aleksei: It “pozhiraet” (slang – help!) all the time, but in life you really want to achieve a lot. Well, and injuries, of course.
Maria: Morning practices. I am categorically not a morning person.
Q: How do you relax after performing?
Aleksei: We go with our friends from the team to a restaurant. Naturally, we have some spirits, especially if somebody got a medal.
Maria: I love to walk around an unfamiliar city and take photos showing the places that are lovely in the background, check out a restaurant.
Q: What was your first impression upon being acquainted with your partner?
Aleksei: I first saw Masha in 1994 at the world championships in Japan. She was competing with Anton Sikharulidze then and reminded me a bit of Katya Gordeeva.
Maria: I though Aleksei was confident and social.
Q: What do you like and not like about your partner?
Aleksei: I don’t like that Masha has to repeat new elements for a long time. Her grandfather has Finnish roots and I always make fun of her for them. I like that she is always self-confident and that when she steps out on the ice, she fights until the end.
Maria: Lesha often suggests a decision when I start to doubt. I don’t like that he doesn’t have enough patience when we’re putting together a new program.
Q: What do you see yourself doing after you finish your sports career?
Aleksei: Dearest to me is the coaching career. But it would be interesting to test my strength in business and TV journalism.
Maria: I’d like to be a coach. I like being around children.
Q: What’s your most pleasant memory of meeting a fan?
Aleksei: For Petersburg’s 300th anniversary, there was an ice show. There were 12,500 spectators in the arena. There was a great celebratory
atmosphere that I never felt more anywhere else.
Maria: I like it when the little girls come up to us at training.
Q: What’s your deeply desired dream?
Aleksei: Family and children. Masha and I are thinking about it.
Maria: I dream that in the future I’ll have work that brings me as much pleasure as figure skating gives me now.
How much does it cost, figure skater?
Maria Butyrskaya answers:
1. Great blades (English) - $300
2. Skate boots - $350 - 550 Professionals get them custom made in Europe or America out of fine leather. It takes a month to make them and they “live” 2 seasons. . 3. Skirt - $50 - 150 Figure skaters have to have one because of the rules. The best skirts are chiffon.
4. Dress -$ 500 - 3000 They’re usually made out of stretch material that moves well and makes the figure look good. They’re often decorated with buttons and sequins.