Artur Gachinski: In a Battle for An Olympic Berth

Elina Paasonen
Artur Gachinski

Although he just turned 20 in August, Russia’s Artur Gachinski has had a lot of ups and downs in his career. He took the bronze medal at the 2011 World Championships and silver at the 2012 European Championships but then faded to 18th at Worlds the following season, dealing with personal problems and injuries.

In 2013, he didn’t make the World or European teams after coming fourth at nationals. But he feels that he is now back on track and wants to fight for the lone Olympic spot the Russian men have at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in his home country.

Not everything worked out for Gachinski in his season debut at Finlandia Trophy, but nevertheless he was pleased, especially since he had to overcome equipment failure. In the morning practice before the free skate, the blade of his right skating boot had come loose. Coach Alexei Mishin had it fixed with a screw and ready for competition, but there was no time for an additional practice. “In the warm up I felt that the blade is set up a little differently, but you don’t have much time to get used to it, therefore I had to skate like this,” Gachinski said with a shrug.

He dealt well with the problem, reeling off a quad toe (he stepped out of the landing) and six triples and pulled up from sixth after the short to land in third place.

In the short program Gachinski fell on the quad toe, stumbled on a triple Lutz-double toe combination and received no credit for his step sequence. “We did this step sequence in practice and the judges said this is a good step sequence of a good level,” he explained. “But in the short program they didn’t like that I don’t come to the boards.

“In the free, I went right to the boards and looked at him (the technical controller) and I hoped he’d count the step sequence this time. He looked at me not very kindly,” Gachinski added with a laugh.

Finlandia Trophy was a good opportunity to check where he is at in the beginning of this important season. “I am about at 50 percent now. “In the short program, I went out and wanted to win (and faltered), but in the free skating I just focused on doing my job. There were plusses and minuses. I still have to get mileage on the program. I simplified one spin; I was tired, I have to admit. But overall I was happy to be here”, he said.

“The second half of the program is difficult and I didn’t do it yet,” he said. “I will do two quads and the second triple Axel will be in the second half. But we came here to start with the minimum and then get to the next level.”

Both programs are new this season: a modern Flamenco program choreographed by Jeffrey Buttle and “Anna Karenina,” using the soundtrack of the recent movie. Juri Smekalov, who performed the role of count Vronski (Anna Karenina’s lover) in the ballet version, choreographed the long program.

Both routines have a lot of potential and are very different from each other. “Artur really showed the tragedy of Anna Karenina. He is telling the whole novel in four and a half minutes,” said Gachinki’s coach, Alexei Mishin.

“I will work on the acting skills and will continue to work with Juri. I will also make the entries (into the jumps) more difficult, add arm movements and emotions. There is still a lot of work left to do,” Gachinski said.
Over the summer he focused on choreography. “I have worked a lot on my artistic expression, because my programs now demand more emotion. In the Spanish short program, you have to be very precise and hold all the positions. There is tragedy and sadness in the free program and it is hard to show all this in four and a half minutes. Therefore we worked on expression, on the movements, poses and emotions,” the 2012 European silver medalist explained.

A famous quote from Leo Tolstoi’s novel is printed on Gachinski’s costume: “In love, there is no more or less.” For this skater, there is no more or less in the battle for that lone Olympic berth. There are a number of contenders: Maxim Kovtun, who seems to be favored by the national federation right now, although he ranked 17th at Worlds and failed to secure two spots for Sochi; Sergei Voronov, who came back strong at Finlandia Trophy; Konstantin Menshov and, of course, the veteran, Evgeni Plushenko.

Gachinski’s plan is to focus on himself. “The key will be the same as I did before the free program at Finlandia Trophy,” he said. “Just go out and do my job.”