Figure Skating

Alexandra Trusova leads quad revolution in debut senior season

by Dan Orlowitz

Staff Writer

Writers dub her the “Quad Queen.”

Television commentators call her “the new face of women’s skating.”

Her fans — including over 178,000 followers on Instagram — treat her like royalty.

But Alexandra Trusova doesn’t hear the noise.

In fact, the Russian phenom goes out of her way to tune out the buzz swirling around her impressive senior debut season, during which she won two Grand Prix events before finishing third in last December’s final in Turin, Italy.

“I’m not using the internet (aside from posting to Instagram) and that’s why it’s difficult to react to what people are saying,” Trusova told The Japan Times during a phone interview earlier this month.

“People tend to write different things, they might be positive or negative and maybe it’s not a good idea to read it. I pay no attention to (what I’m called), my objective is to do what I’m doing and compete and make it as good as I can.”

In a sport with such a fervently opinionated online following that it can often make the NFL’s seem tame by comparison, Trusova’s decision — which she says she came to on her own, but was supported by her parents and coaches — reflects the maturity of a skater who at just 15 years old is starting a revolution on the ice.

Four revolutions at a time, to be exact.

From her junior debut in the 2017-18 season, Trusova has dazzled with her quads, shattering world records and rewriting the sport’s history with each successive performance.

Trusova attributes her quad-heavy programs to her generation’s aggressive focus on complex technical elements.

“When I was starting, I was very young, and I was focusing on jumping quads. That was my idea, my goal,” she said. “Now I see even younger athletes in my group who think of jumping five turns.

“Artistry and performance and gliding are very important. But after all, figure skating is a sport. It’s all about sports performance. This is why I believe that our programs should be as complex as possible.”

While Trusova acknowledges that quads add risk to a skater’s program, she trains to mitigate those risks — not only physically, but psychologically — by training for such scenarios in practice. That preparation paid off in her free skate at last October’s Skate Canada, when she recovered from her initial missed quad to set the current ISU record of 166.62 points.

“Of course, psychologically it’s much easier to continue when the first jump is a success,” she said. “However, during our training sessions we go through many different situations where everything goes smoothly, and situations where there are some problems.

“I believe that in spite of the fact that maybe the beginning was not that good, it is very important to concentrate and to do your best in the rest of your program.”

Like many, Trusova has an affinity for Japanese skaters and it’s no surprise that she includes Miki Ando, the first woman to land a quad salchow, and Mao Asada, the first to land three triple axels, among her inspirations.

“Japanese figure skaters always pursued great objectives,” Trusova said. “They mastered new elements, showed them in their programs, tested at competitions, failed then won.

“I’ve always approached them from the position of what they showed in their programs, and what kind of difficult or complex elements they had in their programs. My only wish was to emulate and do it even better.”

Her admiration of Japanese skaters is matched by her affection for Japan, where she has performed three times, including as a member of Team Europe in last October’s Japan Open.

“I really like skating in Japan because first they like figure skating, and second they support athletes a lot,” she explained. “People come to competitions like it is a huge festive event. Their eyes are like flames. You feel like they have been waiting for you for a long time, and this makes you feel likewise.

“Japanese people support all athletes. They show all of the (national) flags, and they follow you throughout the world. This is absolutely amazing support which I really enjoy.”

At the time of the interview, Trusova was training for the ISU World Championships in Montreal and had told The Japan Times she was working on tightening up her artistic elements as well as looking ahead toward her new program for the 2020-21 season.

Following the announcement of that event’s cancellation due to the ongoing COVID-19 epidemic, Trusova expressed regret that she would not be able to participate but understood the scope of the global crisis, saying that she “(tries) not to go to places where there are many people.”

Even before Montreal was called off, Trusova considered her first senior campaign a success, promising to polish those quads — and whatever else may be in her growing arsenal — even further.

“This season was pretty successful for me. It was a chance to perform at a professional level with other stars of figure skating,” she said. “It is not ideal. It is not 100 percent (what) I want, but I continue to work and improve.

“It’s hard to predict what my future will be, and what my achievements will be. However, I would put it this way. I would do my best to improve as much as I can. I want to master all quads and land them in perfect quality.”

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