World Junior bronze medalists Alla Loboda and Pavel Drozd are currently Russia’s top junior dance team, and that means something as ice dance is very competitive in the country. The students of Ksenia Rumiantseva and Ekaterina Volobueva are preparing for the upcoming season at home in Moscow and the first challenge will come in August when the juniors will have their official test skates.
“We are now at our training camp, but it is happening in Moscow,” Loboda said. “They gave us enough ice and we’re very happy about that, so we’ll get ready for the test skates that take place in the beginning of August.”
There are no major changes in their preparation compared to previous years for the team, who is competing in their last year on the junior circuit. The programs are completed, however, the dancers are reluctant to share details just yet. They will find out their upcoming Junior Grand Prix (JGP) assignments after the test skates.
“Our short dance will include a Swing, therefore Ksenia Gennadievna (Rumiantseva) has involved a specialist in this area,” Loboda revealed. “We continue working on choreography, modern and ballroom dance, and off-ice training.”
“Every year we’re trying to find something new and show a different angle of ourselves, and this season won’t be an exception,” added Drozd, while revealing that not only their coaches, but also French choreographer Benoît Richaud mounted their programs. “To work with this expert was an interesting and useful experience. Together, as one team, we try to find something new, to perfect ourselves and to move forward.”
After claiming silver at the JGP Final this past season, Loboda and Drozd were aiming higher at their debut at Junior Worlds in Debrecen, Hungary, but her fall, right at the end of the side by side footwork in the short dance, ended that dream. The Russians fought back in the free dance, however, and moved up to third.
“Overall, the past season was positive,” Drozd reflected. “Of course not everything worked out, and we didn’t achieve fully what we had planned, but there was a lot of joy and we got extra motivation to achieve everything in our last junior year.”
“The past season is already behind us, but I took a lot from it,” Loboda added. “Obviously, I’m very ashamed that I did such a gross error in the short dance in the last competition of the season, but you learn from mistakes. Our whole team has supported me.”
The skaters teamed up nearly four and a half years ago, and Loboda remembers how they took each other’s hand for the first time on the ice on March 10, 2012. Her partner especially recalls the moment they made the decision to compete together.
“You always need to have a goal that you want to achieve and the belief that you can do this,” Drozd explained. “When we teamed up, we already had common goals and tasks and right away we threw all our energy into achieving them.”
The skaters teamed up on the suggestion of their coaches. They were already training in the same group, however, their previous partners stopped skating around the same time.
Loboda and Drozd were a good match right away, both on and off the ice, and were on the podium in each JGP event they entered since the fall of 2013.
“I have a great relationship with Pasha,” 17-year-old Loboda shared. “He is always at my side; he can encourage me or cheer me up when necessary. In Moscow, it doesn’t always work out that we spend our spare time together, but when we are travelling to competitions, we’re always going out together to look at new places.”
“We are spending so much time together and we’re seeing each other more often than even our family,” her partner agreed. “When we have some time and the opportunity, we enjoy visiting an exhibition, going to the theatre, or something similar.”
While Loboda just finished school this spring and now plans to attend the sports institute starting this fall, Drozd, who is interested in history, politics and arts, is studying foreign languages — English and Spanish.
“First of all, Spanish is a beautiful language and I wanted to learn to speak it, and secondly, it is widely spread and the more languages you know, the more open you are to the World and more opportunities open up for you,” the 20-year-old skater pointed out.
Inspired by his example, Loboda wants to improve her English. “I understand quite well when someone speaks to me, but I’m shy to speak, so there is a language barrier. I also would like to study French. I see how Pasha speaks Spanish and that really motivates me.”
They both enjoy travelling and visiting new places and learning about the culture of different countries. The team always tries to find some time for sightseeing when they are at a competition.
Drozd originally comes from St. Petersburg, where he started skating and switched to ice dance, however, he moved to Moscow in 2010 to have better training conditions. His mother was a figure skater in her childhood, while his father played soccer. The son actually did both successfully, but then he had to make a choice and figure skating won.
“Now I can confidently say that I wasn’t wrong in my choice as figure skating has become a very important part of my life,” he shared.
His 15-year-old sister Daria has also taken up ice dance and trains under the same coaches.
Loboda was a single skater in the famous CSKA Moscow club, but she always loved ice dance and when her coach at the time sent her to dance try outs in Rumiantseva’s school seven years ago, they asked her to stay.
The ice dancers agree that they don’t really have any idols in the sport, however, Loboda says that she especially likes Maia Usova, Tatiana Navka/Roman Kostomarov, and Meryl Davis/Charlie White.
Drozd describes the character of their team as “open, goal-oriented, ready to work as much as is necessary to reach their goals.”
“We always support each other and we are on the same wave,” he offered.
Drozd describes his partner as “beautiful, goal-oriented and nice,” while she describes him as “reliable, understanding, and hard working.”
The 2016 Russian junior national champions are ambitious and have set high goals for themselves.
“Definitely, the dream of each athlete is victory at the Olympic Games, and Pasha and myself are no exception,” Loboda pointed out, “but we also want spectators to remember us. We want to bring them joy and that they feel something or think of something after watching our dances.”
“I’ve been doing figure skating for 16 years already and I once changed everything in my life when I took the decision to move to Moscow to skate,” Drozd added. “Therefore, I think it is clear that I have very high goals.”
In order to reach the top in Russia and abroad, Drozd feels they need to have something special and their own personal style.
“When you skate your programs, you have to show not artificial emotions, but those emotions you feel from your soul when you are skating,” he explained. “Then everyone will pay attention to you and you will stand out from other couples.”