Home Figure Skating News Significant strides for USA’s Lucius Kazanecki

Significant strides for USA’s Lucius Kazanecki

From theatre on ice to figure skating

by Paula Slater
Melanie Heaney/U.S. Figure Skating

Lucius Kazanecki

Lucius Kazanecki

USA’s Lucius Kazanecki has made significant strides since last season. He competed at 2024 Eastern Sectionals in the junior division, where he finished first. Two months later, he won the gold at the 2024 U.S. Nationals. The latter was not an easy feat as he was in fifth place going into the free skate. However, a solid triple Axel, and at least five other clean triple jumps, helped him to secure first place in the free skate and overall to win the junior title.

“That was my first time landing the triple Axel in competition,” said Kazanecki. “It was a bit inconsistent in practice. I knew I had good chance of landing it at nationals in the short program. I was happy turning it out in the short instead of just falling. Going into the long, I was really trying to keep the short out of my head. I didn’t really have any clean skates earlier in the season, so I didn’t want to have high expectations and put pressure on myself. Once I landed it in the free skate, I got goosebumps! Then the adrenaline kicked in for the rest of the program.”

His short program to “Caruso” by Andrea Bocelli was chosen and choreographed by Anna Zadorozhniuk.

“She understood the lyrics and that was the basis for the program,” said Kazanecki. “I really like the piano accents in this piece in the footwork sequence!”

The skater chose the music from The White Crow for his free skate, and it was choreographed by Nina Petrenko.

“At first, Nina didn’t feel it would suit me as I wasn’t super balletic or had the flexibility yet,” Kazanecki shared. “I definitely understood that, but I really wanted to skate to it, so I was kind of stubborn. I saw Mikhail Kolyada do it during the 2020-21 season and I just kept listening to the music and I just really liked it. I just didn’t find any other good fits.”

Theatre on ice to figure skating

Born in Livingston, N.J., Kazanecki began skating around six years of age and immediately started doing theatre on ice skating for fun.

“It was sort of like summer camp,” he laughed. “I did this for a few years. I didn’t really do any intense training or anything. Just shows and stuff. Once I moved to different coaches, I started taking it more seriously.”

“I never really did any other sports unless it was in physical education classes at school or on the playground,” he added. “It was always skating. I wasn’t really one of those kids who just kept wanting to switch sports and see what was what, you know?”

In 2017, Kazanecki began training under Roman Serov. He won both the North Atlantic Regionals and Easten Sectionals in the juvenile division during the 2019-20 season. The following season, he competed as a novice at the U.S. Championship series in Leesburg, VA (fourth) and Norwood, MA (first). In 2020, Petrenko was added to his coaching team.

In the 2022-23 season, Kazanecki made his debut as a junior competitor. His journey began with a respectable eighth-place finish at his first Junior Grand Prix (JGP) in Courchevel. Following this, he secured a bronze medal at the U.S. Classic held in Lake Placid, NY, and a silver medal at the Eastern Sectionals. However, his performance at the U.S. Nationals saw him finish in the 14th position.

Relocation and the 2023-24 season

In August 2023, Kazanecki and his family relocated to Reston, Va., where he began training under Tatiana Malinina and Roman Skorniakov. The decision to relocate was prompted by familial considerations, as Kazanecki’s siblings, athletes in speed skating, encountered challenges training in New Jersey.

“My parents felt it would be best for everyone all around if we relocated to Virginia,” he explained. “I miss my friends and coaches in New Jersey, but I like Virginia ok.”

However, it wasn’t the first time the teen had been to the Virginia-DC area where Ilia Malinin also trains. Kazanecki found solace in its familiarity, having visited periodically throughout his childhood.

“I used to visit there once a year in past as a kid,” said Kazanecki. “Recently, I went to the Natural History Museum, but it was like my third time! I personally really love the DC area. I really like the buildings and how everything is situated.”

Improvement, goals and new programs

Moving into next season, Kazanecki shared some of the areas he would like to improve on.

“Sometimes I get so deep in thought in competition that I forget to count in my spins, or I forget to concentrate on a certain turn in footwork,” he explained. “That can cost me a level here, a level there, and when I do the math, whoopsie—I lost five points!”

“Like in my short programs, I’m super weak because I don’t compete for a like a month,” he continued. “I get only a level two or three in my spins. But when I refocus, I almost always get level fours in my long programs. I feel like next season I can improve my levels on my steps and spins.”

Kazanecki hopes to compete as a senior next year at nationals but plans on staying junior internationally if he gets picked up for a JGP. Another goal is to get a total score over 210 this season.

For this season, the skater chose the music from Interstellar for his short program.

“I really liked the music,” he said. “I was inspired by Kamila Valieva’s short program to this music. I really like the piano beginning and then the buildup to the footwork.”

His free skate will be to music by Woodkid, and both programs were choreographed by Tommy Steenberg.

Family and pets

Kazanecki’s parents, Rafal Kazanecki and Ania Wacht, are both from Poland. While he used to speak Polish himself, he admitted it’s not as good as it used to be. Both parents always speak Polish at home, but he understands them.

“All of my siblings have Greek names,” he said. “Like me and my brother’s name, Julius, rhyme. My sister has a Latin-Greek name, Olimpia. My sister Olimpia is 14 and my brother is 17 and they are both accomplished short track speed skaters. We play games and go for walks with our two German Shepherd dogs, Hugo (8) and Nova (2).”

“I love my dogs and spend most of my time with them cuddling,” he added. “My younger one is not the most well-behaved, so she is in training. It’s so sad if I come home after school before skating and I don’t see her come to the door and come jump on me. I’m very attached to my dogs.”

Hobbies and pastimes

Kazanecki likes baking, art, and architecture.

“I also like to cook all my food by myself,” he said. “The meals that I cook the most are grilled chicken because I don’t have a lot of time before skating. I feel like baking is more my specialty and on birthdays, I always make the cakes. Once in a while, I try making different desserts. Like last Christmas, when we had a party, I baked meringue and crème brûlées.”

The tenth grader also enjoys playing billiards as well as the piano, which he hopes to “get back into soon.”

“I love to just sketch everyday things,” when asked about his interest in art. “I just look at things in the room or I look something up for inspiration. I also like to look at the history and backstory of the art. I like to do simple shadows and things, but I get frustrated sometimes. I’m not DaVinci and sometimes I throw my papers away because they aren’t perfect.”

However, Kazanecki’s real interest lies in architecture.

“When I was a little kid, I would play video games where you build stuff,” he recalled. “I would always try to build houses and look up different designs. I also liked drawing them. I would go through phases where I would like different styles.”

“I like New York City and Barcelona architecture; I like to see the details and history of the buildings,” he added. “I love the symmetrical layout of Barcelona and the buildings and cathedrals. They are very detailed and beautifully done!”

The teenager would especially like to visit Rome as he loves the history there.

“I also want to go to the beaches in the south of Italy,” he said. “I love the beach! I love the European towns. I went to south France for vacation after my JGP in Courchevel and it seems similar with all the cliff sides and buildings. The views are really nice!”

Lesson learned from 2023-24

One of the most important lessons Kazanecki learned from last season is that repetition is important.

“This is everything in general,” he explained. “You have to do it the right way every single time, because you’re never going to improve if you don’t. You have to know what you are doing. You can’t just jump in. For instance, some people just rely on muscle memory; they don’t actually remember what arm position goes where and sometimes they end up going through plateaus. This season, I tried to have everything a specific way. My jumps, my positions, my technique a specific way, so when I go to competition and I’m nervous, I rely on and trust in my training.”

Kazanecki plans to compete at the 2024 Skate Milwaukee in July, which will host the U.S. Junior Team Cup, in hopes for a JGP assignment.

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