Alexandra Trusova exclusive: “I prefer to skate with difficult content” 

The figure skater is known for her quadruple jumps and would like to bring her triple Axel to competitive ice. She won a bronze medal at last month’s world championships. 

By Interview by: Tatjana Flade; Edited by: Nick McCarvel
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

Figure skating offers a visual representation of one of life’s great lessons: When you fall down, just get back up again.

The 2020-21 season was emblematic of that for Alexandra Trusova, who possesses quadruple jumps in the Lutz, toe loop, flip and Salchow, and who bounced back at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships last month to win the bronze medal for the Figure Skating Federation of Russia (FSR).

Trusova went from 12th in the short program – where she didn’t complete a required combination – to winning the free skate, showing the kind of mettle that she hopes will take her to next February’s Beijing Winter Olympic Games.

The 16-year-old isn’t afraid of going for the biggest of jumps, and hit five quads in the winning free skate, which helped her bump up to third.

“I made the conclusion that I have to go for a difficult technical content in my program,” Trusova said in a Russian-language interview with Olympic Channel. “Regardless of whether the content is easy or difficult, I still have to get ready the right way. I am not good at it yet, but I will try to be good at in both cases – with a harder and an easier content. But I prefer to skate with a difficult program content.”

The world bronze medallist is one of many skaters from her country that will vie for just three Olympic spots in 2022 in a race that also includes world champion Anna Shcherbakova, two-time medallist Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Alena Kostornaia as well as soon-to-be-age-eligible skaters like Kamila Valieva, Daria Usacheva, Maiia Kromykh and others.

Here, the full Q&A with Trusova, translated into English and conducted at the conclusion of the world championships.

'It was very important for me to be here'

Olympic Channel (OC): Sasha, your first world championship is over. You've been waiting for this event for a long time; last year it didn't happen because of the pandemic. Tell us, what are your impressions from this unusual championship?

Trusova: Yes, it was a very unusual world championship. It's very strange that there were no spectators. And maybe it wasn’t that strange during the competition, but now we go out and just skate our exhibition program, which usually is for spectators. But in general, of course, it's very nice that the championship took place, and it's a great experience for me. I hope to fix all my mistakes and skate better next time.

OC: What experience did you get here? What did you learn about yourself?

Trusova: Well, I realised that I have not learned yet how to prepare myself. I watched Nathan [Chen], how he sets himself up, skates well, with quads - it was very interesting to see live. Anyway, every competition is an experience, and it was very important for me to be here.

OC: Your jumps looked solid in practice, you landed all your quads and also the triple Axel. What exactly is the difficulty for you to do it in competition? How can you adjust your preparation?

Trusova: I will try different approaches, different techniques, probably. I do not know why I do not manage yet to get mentally ready for my performance. Because yes, at training here and at home, I often skated clean, and the jumps were very consistent.

Even just compared to last year, the consistency of my jumps is much better. But in the actual performance it's not working out yet. - Alexandra Trusova

OC: How do you see your development this season?

Trusova: Well, of course, as for components, as for skating skills, I think there is a big improvement. We worked a lot, and in the program now I like not only to jump, but also skating and spinning. Basically, I think that I have improved a lot this season in all components of the program.

OC: You also worked with ice dancers.

Trusova: Yes, I skated at the beginning of the season with Maria Valerievna Borovikova – she is an ice dance coach and Denis Samokhin's wife. I skated with their dancers. When we just started, the first or second time, I skated with Dmitri Sergeevich [Mikhailov, a coach] as a couple – to [learn to] sit properly, to align the legs...

Working with Evgeni Plushenko

OC: You switched coaches and went from Eteri Tutberidze’s school to Evgeni Plushenko’s school last spring. What exactly has changed? Plushenko always says that he has his own system of training.

Trusova: Everything is different at his school. There is a different training schedule, a lot of new exercises, which I haven't done before. It's very interesting to try something new. And I started skating earlier [each day] because I asked him to. I finish earlier, because then I have school - I'm in the tenth grade. And half days off were added. I used to have six days a week of two practices, and now I have two half days off.

OC: When you first came to Evgeni, you said you wanted to work with him because he's not only an outstanding athlete, but also an artist on ice. What expectations did you have, and did they come true now?

Trusova: I imagined things differently and in different ways, but in fact, of course, my expectations were met, and it's very interesting. I also want to say something about him being an artist on ice. Just before worlds we went to skate at Alexei Mishin's birthday show in St. Petersburg, and Sasha, his son, was with us. And for the first time, I think, I saw him in full costume from the beginning to the end of the program. I was really surprised how much they resemble each other. He's so little, and he's already so emotional, so artistic.

OC: And what exactly did you take from Evgeni Plushenko?

Trusova: A lot of technique, he teaches different preparations for jumps, as Mishin did with him. He took a lot of this for himself.

OC: Did you watch his performances, his programs when he was skating?

Trusova: Yes, I always watched before, when I was little, and we always cheered for him.

Competing at unique worlds

OC: Because of the restrictions your mom and your dogs were not able to come with you to Stockholm. That was a new situation for you. How did you deal with that?

Trusova: They called me on video calls a lot, showed me the dogs, just talked to me. Sometimes, even at night, we were talking all the time. Well, of course, it's harder for me [to be] alone; I want to be with my mom, just to have her around. So that sometimes you can say something or ask something or just talk. We always watch movies together. And here I lived alone in a room.

OC: How did you feel in the ‘bubble’ environment?

Trusova: The masks were distracting. But otherwise, in principle, I was fine. The only thing, of course yesterday [after finishing] when I had no competition, I wanted to go out and go somewhere, but I couldn't.

OC: And what did you do then?

Trusova: Well, we watched the boys, played table tennis, played basketball, just watched others playing. We did everything what there was to do.

Alexandra Trusova: Learning - and looking to the Olympic season

OC: How do you think you personally have changed, if you look at Sasha a year ago, say, after the European championships, and now, Sasha after worlds this year?

Trusova: Well, I can't say that something has changed. Maybe somewhere yes, I grew up.

[This season] I had a slow, lyrical short program. I tried very hard to match the music.

OC: Do you want to change programs for the next season?

Trusova: I change every year, so I think yes. I don't like to skate the same program for two years, I like to build something new every year.

Now we're all going to start diligently choosing music [for next year].

OC: For next year, as you said, you want to go for the maximum content, I guess you want to do triple Axel in addition to the quads?

Trusova: Of course. I want to do the triple Axel finally [in competition]. It is about time. I want to do all my quads, I will try to do skate clean. I’ll try my best.