Sochi-2014: Olympic dreams of Russian ice dancing pair Ilinykh and Katsalapov
Having seen at least once the performance of Elena and Nikita one cannot stay indifferent to this couple. They literally enchant the viewers. Specialists admire their broad manner of skating, easy gliding and the high degree of craftsmanship and artistic skills. They know how to turn each performance into a show. Naturally, they outstanding appearance plays a significant role. At the upcoming Olympics they can easily compete for the title of the most beautiful couple. Bright brunette Elena Ilinykh could easily be placed at the top of the most beautiful female athletes list of the Olympics, which is traditionally compiled by the journalists. However, the skater herself says she dreams about a different title.
«You know, I would like to become the main star of the Olympics based on my sports achievements. There are many beautiful girls, even if you simply look around in the street. Naturally, I want to achieve something».
The sports career of this couple started in an ordinary way. Lena's grandmother brought her to a skating ring when she was 4. Nikita's mother, herself a former skater, sent him to a skating school. First the young people performed as single skaters. They became a pair in 2005 at their parents' request. But constant arguments led to the couple breaking up. In 2006 Lena moved to the USA, while Nikita tried dancing with other partners until they met at a skating ring once again in 2008. In 2010 the couple brilliantly won the World Junior Championship.
That was when experts started talking about them as the hope of the 2014 Sochi Olympics. Back then Lena was only 16 and Nikita - 19. Of course, the young stars heard those conversations, recalls Katsapalov.
«I did not pay attention to that, did not attribute much value to those words. We did not have any gold hanging down our necks back then other than the World Junior award. That is why I had no «star» complex. I felt like an ordinary athlete, of which there were thousands. I wanted to train and pursue my goals».
The three years before the Olympics were difficult for the young people. They went through ups and downs. The duo got into the elite of the world figure skating. They placed 4th at their first adult European Championship, but in 2011 at the World Championship in Moscow the mistakes they made during their performance did not let them move higher than the 7th place. After that defeat the athletes decided to change their coach and switched to Nikolai Morozov's group. With the new coach the skaters won bronze and silver at the European championships. But they clearly flopped at the latest World championship by placing only 9th. Naturally, they were very upset, but at that moment the closest people supported them, says Elena Ilinykh.
«I did not want to give it all up, but there are moments when it is very difficult and I want to cry. My mother is my most important support, she always helps me in the most difficult situations. And I understand that I simply cannot live without figure skating. I want to go on and work further».
The skaters tried to analyze all the previous mistakes in their preparation for this season. Their approach to training has become more responsible. They prepared interesting programs. Their short dance is a quickstep and a foxtrot, while their free dance is based on the music from Tchaikovsky’s famous ballet «Swan Lake», says Elena Ilinykh.
«It is absolutely my music and absolutely my image. I got into it 100% and like dancing it very much. I hope that the viewers will feel it as well».
The Russian couple has a tough competition in front of them in Sochi. Their main competitors are the French couple Nathalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourzat and, of course, the leaders of the world figure skating, the Olympic champions Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir from Canada. By the way the Canadian skater is Nikita Katsalapov's idol.
«I think that Scott Moir is simply an ideal partner as he should be in theory. He is brutal, he cares for his partner as if it were an antique vase. He performs for the viewers, he is not afraid of anything and moves ahead at a breakneck speed. He is a genius athlete».
To the question who they are going to root for during the upcoming Olympics the couple says that for the entire Russian team. Nikita Katsalapov points out that he will especially root for the hockey players. «I have always dreamt to play hockey. I never put on the uniform or used hockey skates, though», - admits the skater. But he promises to try it a bot later after his sports career is over.