Spurred by a successful post-Olympic season, Russia’s Elizaveta Tuktamysheva is preparing for next year by trying out a few new things. For the first time, the 2015 World Champion is working with Shae-Lynn Bourne and went to South Carolina last week.
“Finally my dream comes true. I wanted to work with her for a long time,” Tuktamysheva revealed. “I watched her programs and I thought, ‘she is really doing masterpieces!'”
It is not her first experience working with a North American choreographer. The skater from Saint Petersburg has worked with both David Wilson and Jeffrey Buttle in the past. Before traveling to the United Sates, Tuktamysheva sent Bourne some music suggestions.
“I sent her some music that I like so she knows what kind of direction I like,” said the 2018-19 Grand Prix Final bronze medalist. “I think she just has to watch my programs and she’ll understand what kind of person I am. I want something new, but I also want something that is a part of me.”
She got quickly to work with Bourne and they chose “Drumming Song” by Florence and the Machine for the Short Program. The Free Skating music was not yet determined at press time.
Following the choreography process, Tuktamysheva will join the training camp of her coach Alexei Mishin in Tampa, Florida. She did not take part in her group’s previous camp in Courchevel, France, as she toured in Japan with “Fantasy on Ice” for a month. However, that doesn’t mean she wasn’t working hard and preparing for the upcoming season.
“It was the first time for me in my skating life that I went on a tour for a month,” said the 22-year-old. The tour went through several cities and there was time in between for the skaters to rest. “In my opinion, it was a good preparation, because I skated before an audience and there was training every day. We skated the programs as a whole — you cannot leave out a spin for example or make mistakes — so this was useful. I had fast music, probably the fastest one of everyone at this show. At first, when I started to skate this program, I grew really tired, but at the end of the tour, I did this program like nothing. Apparently, I got into shape.”
Tuktamysheva, who traveled to the show right after a week of vacation in Cyprus with long-time boyfriend and fellow Russian skater Andrei Lazukin, worked on her jumps — including the triple Axel — in Japan.
“During the first week, I got all the triples back and the triple Axel,” she said. “The week after, I did triple-triples again. I got into shape very fast, because when you are at a show, you cannot skate poorly. You need to be in condition. If you want it or not, you go out and you’re working hard and it is a good preparation with all these run-throughs.”
On the tour, the 2015 World champion enjoyed spending time with the other skaters, including Alina Zagitova, Evgenia Medvedeva and Satoko Miyahara and bonded with them.
“It was very sad to say goodbye,” she said. “I found new friends. It was fun, a firework of emotions, and it all went by fast.”
Tuktamysheva was happy to take care of Zagitova, one of the youngest skaters on the tour.
“At the beginning, she was a bit shy and I tried to help her,” said Tuktamysheva. At the end, it was all good, she talked with everybody. And Satoko is a wonderful girl. We were hanging out together with Satoko, Stéphane [Lambiel] and Deniss Vassiljevs a lot.”
Following the training camp in Florida until mid-July, the group will return to St. Petersburg and then go to Estonia in August.
Looking back, Tuktamysheva is pleased with how her season went in spite of coming down with pneumonia after the Grand Prix Final and missing the National Championships. In her bid to go to the World Championships, she narrowly lost to Evgenia Medvedeva, and was not selected, but bounced back at the World Team Trophy with two excellent performances, placing second in the Short Program and first in the Free Skating.
“This [past] season was just like an explosion in my life,” the skater recalled. “It is memorable because the beginning was as bright as the ending.”
Not being selected for Worlds was tough, especially since the coaches’ council in Russia voted clearly for Medvedeva to go, although Tuktamysheva had better results in the Grand Prix Series.
“From the very beginning, I prepared for the World Championship,” she offered. “I knew my goal, but since I did not get into the main team because of my illness, I went through a hard time.”
Tuktamysheva had to train by herself at home in St. Petersburg while her coaches Alexei Mishin and Tatiana Prokofieva went with Lazukin and Sofia Samodurova to Saitama. It lifted Tuktamysheva’s spirits when she was invited to participate in a tour right after Worlds in Japan and before the World Team Trophy.
“I was able to switch my mind completely and I felt very good emotionally,” she recalled. “My past does not bother me. What happened, happened. I am not someone who will be upset about things that I cannot change.”
Tuktamysheva feels that getting back the triple Axel was her biggest progress in the past season and she hopes to do two triple Axels in the Free Skating in the upcoming season. She’s currently practicing a triple Axel-double Axel sequence.
“We made a big step forward and we want to continue that way,” she noted. “It gives me confidence that I can compete with the best girls at the same level.” Currently, the skater is not thinking about quads. “I like to set realistic goals for myself and it is realistic to do two Axels,” she pointed out.
Tuktamysheva is very active on social media, sharing Instagram stories and photos.
“I’m just trying to go with the time,” she said. “You have to show the people something of yourself and it’s a way to communicate with the fans.” In general, the reactions and the communication are positive, the skater shared.
Tuktamysheva is looking forward to the next season. She has been selected for the Grand Prix events Skate America and Cup of China and plans on doing a Challenger Series competition before that.
“I want to go to Bergamo [Lombardia Trophy] again,” she said. “I love this competition! It is one of my favorites. So calm and comfortable, this is what you need at the beginning of the season.”