“The emotions of competition cannot be explained.” Alexandra Stepanova – Ivan Bukin about returning to the big ice after a break


Two-time champions of Russia, medalists of the European Championships, participants of the Olympic Games in Beijing Alexandra Stepanova – Ivan Bukin, after a year-long break, again took part in the test skates. Experienced and titled skaters missed last season for a number of reasons. This one was started in the new team of Alexander Zhulin, with an insane, as Vanya put it, desire to continue. The skaters spoke about emotions, responsibility, motivation and new programs shown in Megasport in an interview.

— What emotions do you have when you return to the competitive ice?

A.S. – We miss you very much.

I.B. – We are looking forward to it. A lot has happened in our lives this year, and it was undoubtedly interesting. But these emotions of going to training, when there are many judges, many different couples, the anticipation of going out on the Megasport ice at the skating rinks, when there will be spectators there – this cannot be compared with anything. The emotions of the competition cannot be explained. This is the kind of habit that is very hard to break. Without it, it feels like something is missing, like something has not been completed. And now to return to all this…

A.S. – …to once again plunge into the atmosphere of emotions is, as Vanya rightly said, incomparable to anything. Everything is different here anyway. Getting on the ice, and just coming to the locker room and seeing all the guys, seeing specialists, coaches, and so on – we miss these feelings.

I.B. – The feeling is incredible. And I really want to perform. Crazy. Before our pause, in the career that was, there were moments when you go to the start line and worry so much that you don’t understand whether you like it all or not. And now we clearly understand what we want, we want to perform.

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— Over the past year, when Sasha became a mother and Vanya skated in “Ice Age,” did you have any thoughts that it would be better to switch to the show and finish with sports?

A.S. – I didn’t have such thoughts.

I.B. “We discussed all this when Sashka was still in the early stages of pregnancy, and even then we definitely decided that after a break we would go on the ice and continue. We still have the desire to ride, and what we had in our career is not enough for us. We want to try ourselves in something new, something different, so initially there were no doubts.

There was uncertainty: when this would happen, when Sasha would recover from childbirth, when she could start training. And everything else was very clear. We were confident that we would continue.

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— There are times in life when you want to radically change something. You start this season with the new team of Alexander Zhulin. When did you start serious training, because Vanya, okay, he still skated in “Ice Age”, and Sasha was busy with something completely different?

I.B. – As for the new team, we wanted to start a new chapter in our book.

A.S. – Try yourself in a new format. We understood that if something doesn’t work out, we must first of all look for mistakes in ourselves. And after a pause, we decided that everything needed to be changed.

I.B. – When training resumed, Sasha may have even had a little easier time than me. Yes, I skated in “Ice Age”, I was on skates all the time, but it was equally difficult for us to get into shape. It is clear that Sasha needed time to recover when she came to her senses. And in fact, not so long ago we began to enter the working mode that we have always had. Over the course of three months, we restored what this year had taken. And we had two months of fruitful work, when we rolled out, rolled out, and cleaned up the programs. We can say that we have now developed a “base” from which to start.


A.S. “We need to add new things to this base, take into account the comments of the new headquarters.” The new team changes something in me, something in Van, and I want to show it. But it’s not that simple, there are too many components.

Pregnancy naturally leaves its mark. Of course, then I recovered. Although I worked out slowly during pregnancy. I did what I had long dreamed of – went to Pilates… After giving birth, I did not do any special exercises. I just needed to go out on the ice and understand what I can do. And it worked out well.

— Tell us about the new programs?

I.S. – The rhythm dance was staged with a new team (compositions “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”, “U Can’t Touch This”). And the free program was staged after the Olympic season. And since we didn’t show this program, but we really like it, we decided to leave it. Of course, the new team modified it and added its own vision. And, in general, this is the “backbone” of Max Stavisky. He performed this program for us last year.

A.S. – The music for the free program is taken from the play “Passengers” (Les 7 Doigts – Passagers) by the Canadian circus theater.


I.B. – And if you listen, you can catch the sounds of the train, the doors opening and closing… The train, the road, the passengers – this is in a sense a metaphor for life.

A.S. – And in everyone’s life there is joy, and anger, and bitterness, and sadness… This is not a love story. This is a story about the flow of a changing life.

— Has being a parent changed anything in your attitude to work or life?

I.B. – Definitely. I can tell from myself. Previously, I had responsibility only for myself, but now you clearly understand that you are a parent and what responsibility lies with you. This certainly affects your attitude towards work and training. If you manage to do everything at home because it needs to be done, then why should it be different in training? You see, all this is transferable. There is a work plan, it must be carried out, regardless of whether you like it, don’t like it, whether it hurts or doesn’t hurt. Easy to do. This is your responsibility for the child, for the family. I don’t know, maybe it’s different for Sashka as a girl, but it’s like that for me.

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A.S. – My sense of responsibility is primarily related to health – mine, my daughter’s, my loved ones’… Naturally, now my mother helps me a lot, my husband is nearby, but I also understand that the child still has only one mother. And various thoughts and worries are associated with this…

– Sense of self-preservation…

A.S. – Yes. This is definitely about me. I once boarded a plane and for the first time in my life I felt that I was scared to fly. Of course, this was in the moment and does not mean that now I am an “aerophobe.” But such a thought slipped through. Therefore, of course, there is more worry about your health, about the health of the child, and you worry about every sneeze, spot… Now the main thing for me is to be emotionally and physically healthy in order to give my child the best – joy, love, care. This leaves an imprint on everything.

– Vanya, you have a son, Sasha has a daughter. Maybe over time there will be a new dancing couple?

A.S. – Naturally, everyone is waiting.

I.B. – New couple – Artemy and Kira.


— Why not. The upcoming season for our skaters will take place without international competitions. Does this mean that you, as the most experienced and titled dancers of our team, will be able to “ride it on one skate” without straining?

I.B. – The fact that this is the season ahead is actually a big plus for us. Honestly.

A.S. – Of course, there are many disadvantages.

I.B. – But for us, the advantage is that after missing the season, we can calmly approach the main competitions, prepare psychologically, so that the responsibility does not suddenly fall on you.

A.S. – We can allow ourselves not to rush, but to prepare without haste, to calmly reach the peak…

I.B. – We want to perform. Crazy. And in fact, we are the most experienced among our dance couples. But our opponents cannot be underestimated. So, “getting through the season on one skate” will not work.

— Good luck.


Photo by Maria EVTEEVA and Yulia KOMAROVA


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