by Matteo Morelli | Photographs by Melanie Heaney & Robin Ritoss
Of their fifth yr skating collectively, Lithuania’s Allison Reed & Saulius Ambrulevičius are eager to proceed to develop and present what they’re able to. We met with them on the World Championships in Montpellier to speak about their careers and their current change of coaching location to the Ice Academy of Montreal.
Allison and Saulius, you might have been going by means of a really fascinating journey as skaters. Let’s start from the very early days: when did you begin to fall in love with determine skating?
SA: I used to be six years outdated after I began to fall in love with it. I needed to begin earlier however I used to be consistently sick, so solely after I was six I might step on the ice. The falling in love although was extra after I was round 14-15 years outdated, after I began to inform myself that I favored this sport. I favored the way in which it made me really feel and the probabilities coming with it. Till then, it was simply enjoyable.
AR: My mum put skates on me after I was one! I began skating after I was three. My love with determine skating was extra due to the love of doing one thing with my household: with my two older siblings, all of us began skating collectively on the identical time. I used to be all the time on the rink due to them and it simply turned one thing that we did as a household and that I got here to like. It was one thing that made me really feel included, that each one of us shared. My love for it was from a really younger age and stayed with me for a few years.
You each had totally different partnerships earlier than beginning to skate collectively. How did your “match making” occur?
AR: I stop skating for a number of years previous to teaming up with Saulius. Once I determined I needed to return again and check out once more, I requested Marina Zoueva if I might be part of her faculty to get again on my toes after not skating for 2 years. She actually helped me out with that. Saulius was coaching there together with his earlier accomplice, and we had been coaching mates for half a yr or so whereas he was nonetheless competing. Later, he broke up together with his accomplice, and the remaining is historical past!
Did you might have good emotions about one another from the beginning?
SA: Personally for me, within the means of teaming up I used to be on the lookout for somebody that I might match with bodily, but additionally that I might depend on as a good friend and that our characters would match. Allison and I really had that. I had numerous catching as much as do: ice dance was nonetheless pretty new for me. After we met up I used to be solely doing it for 3 years. It was an enormous studying curve, however we had lots of people round that helped us. Maria Zoueva’s faculty actually helped us to enhance considerably as people, and we then began to develop collectively as a group.
AR: He’s a really quick learner, it didn’t take lengthy!
You lately modified faculties, going to the Ice Academy of Montreal. What led you to take this resolution?
AR: Many components, however we had been all the time striving to search out individuals that may carry us to the subsequent stage, to the subsequent milestone in our profession. After some discussions, we realized that the Ice Academy of Montreal can be the fitting place for us to proceed enhancing, to proceed climbing to the subsequent purpose. They’ve actually come by means of for us.
Are you able to already see a distinction in your skating because you joined them?
AR: For certain! It’s gradual and sluggish, some days you don’t even really feel it, and you then end a contest you watch your skate and notice that you simply see a distinction. Typically you don’t actually perceive it or discover it through the coaching, as a result of it’s laborious and exhausting, however while you see the ultimate end result you notice all of the laborious work that you simply, your coaches and that your group mates have put in. It is rather rewarding.
SA: If you begin coaching you need to discover ways to skate and the approach, however that is just one layer of it. If you need to go as much as the highest, it turns into extra a mixture of every part. These tiny particulars are literally the toughest factor. It made a distinction to search out individuals which are very focussed in the direction of that, in addition to to work to make us not solely technicians but additionally dancers that painting issues that make individuals join with. We’re very lucky to be a part of the Ice Academy of Montreal and to be taught all this. As Allison mentioned, generally you battle to see all this in your every day routine, and you then simply miss these little enhancements you do and to then notice at a contest that one thing was fairly good and also you didn’t count on that.
The Ice Academy of Montreal has numerous groups coaching with them. Can you’re feeling the affect from the groups there?
AR: It’s undoubtedly motivating and all the time uplifting. Everyone seems to be simply having such a very good time! To be on a heat up group (on the world championships) with all of the groups that we practice with at dwelling makes the surroundings extra enjoyable.
SA: The older you get, the smarter you get! All of us cope with our personal demons and out of doors pressures, however we’re all on the identical boat, and while you perceive that you simply chill out and discover ways to take pleasure in it.
What classes have you ever taken away with you out of your earlier experiences?
AR: We each labored individually and along with so many alternative coaches. This was actually helpful for us, we’ve skilled various kinds of faculties and methods of teaching. As an athlete, it’s your job to soak up, perceive and use the issues that give you the results you want and push away those who don’t. Over time you perceive what actually works. For me personally, working with Marina Zoueva’s faculty at the moment was a very totally different surroundings as a dancer: I’ve by no means actually skilled that sort of inclusivity, workers and group effort going into competitions and coaching usually. It actually helped me getting ready for the sort of surroundings I’m in now, a window into a unique sort of coaching.
SA: I used to be a single skater all my life, so my first partnership was an enormous studying curve to grasp that you’re not alone, you need to be accountable for the opposite individual, deal with one another. I discovered to have persistence and respect. Every single day you’re employed on that as a result of you aren’t on this alone. In case you are having a foul day, it doesn’t imply that you need to give a foul day to the opposite individual too. These sort of issues are very self-educational and contribute to your self-improvement. Earlier than becoming a member of Marina Zoueva’s faculty I noticed numerous totally different faculties: Russians, German, japanese European, French. Then I obtained into that ice dance faculty that was very properly established, with an enormous group working behind the primary coach, and I might see the way it all labored as a complete machine. I instantly began to thrive. When that faculty dissolved, we began to search for one thing else. It was very useful that I teamed up with Allison, we’re each like-minded and we knew what we needed. In Europe we needed to journey lots to get the assistance we had been on the lookout for.
AR: The transfer to the Ice Academy of Montreal it actually helped us. There are such a lot of totally different shops of knowledge, we’ve our approach of studying from every particular person coach, and so they have such an enormous group, there may be a lot enter. It’s actually nice.
SA: The toughest factor for us is to let go. Earlier than we needed to actually deal with ourselves, we took a lot in our personal fingers. We had coaches however we needed to do numerous managing that as athletes generally you haven’t any alternative and must do, however with the Ice Academy of Montreal we needed to perceive that we needed to let go, push some obligations away. We have now those that take care of us extra, and assist us to develop.
In the course of the 2021/2022 season you competed in two Grand Prix occasions and on the European Championships, nevertheless the Olympic Video games didn’t go as deliberate for you.
AR: We had been joyful that we obtained the 2 Grand Prixs in. With Covid, the truth that each occasions occurred was nice. It was a tough highway to prepare. We couldn’t get to Canada till September, so it was a battle to organize for the season. On the European Championships, we actually pulled our stuff collectively. We had been tremendous motivated and actually able to compete and had been proud of our performances there.
SA: The Olympics was clearly an enormous let-down due to not going, it was disappointing. Folks in our group had been sending messages from there saying that we must always have been there with them. It’s not solely about going to a spot and doing one thing, but additionally about what you permit and the way you have an effect on individuals, whether or not they’re different athletes or spectators. We began to have a look at the great aspect: while you depart a mark like that, there may be extra so that you can cherish.
How did you’re feeling coming into the world championships?
AR: We had numerous ups and downs prior to now two months after the Europeans, however we knew we had this large competitors to complete the season and we determined to gather ourselves, make some objectives and actually attempt to push in the direction of them. We arrived as ready as we presumably may very well be and simply needed to place down two good performances.
What are your plans after the tip of the season?
AR: Somewhat break, lastly somewhat trip!
SA: Take care of some accidents and minor issues to heal up, and take somewhat deserved break and relaxation. After that, we begin to put together for the subsequent season and construct it up from there.