Quadgod Ilia Malinin wants to show more than jumps

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Ilia Malinin performs during the Men’s Short Program at the US Figure Skating Championships on January 8, 2022 in Nashville, TN.

There are quad kings, but now there is a “quadg0d” – an epitome of American skating phenom Ilia Malinin chose himself on Instagram. The 17-year-old caused a stir when he landed a quad Axel in practice – something no one has yet achieved clean execution – competition or otherwise. Japanese super star Yuzuru Hanyu of Japan opted for the Axel quad at the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, but couldn’t land it. Before him, the Russian Artur Dmitriev Jr. (the son of two-time Olympic champion in pair skating Artur Dmitriev) tried it, but also missed it. To date, Malinin’s jump is the best seen so far.

The Axel quad was top of the agenda for the 2022 Junior World Champion who likes to entertain his fans with crazy jumps.

“The quad-quad combos then the quad-Euler-quad combos and the quad Axel,” he listed.

Malinin has made a lot of progress technically since his debut at the 2020 ISU World Junior Championships where he placed 16th.

“I think there’s really no secret to learning quads easily,” he said. “It still takes a lot of time and effort, but I think as soon as I start my quarantine, I would do a lot of off-ice. I would do off-ice triple Axels and start learning off-ice jumps like off-ice quad Sals, off-ice quad toes. When I got on the ice it was a little easier to transition and I got a consistent Sal. Next I had the toe loop, then Lutz, loop and flip.

The 2022 USA silver medalist was working on his quads at the end of the season, playing with different quads and combinations, but what will be on the schedule depends on rules and consistency. Now, of course, the teenager is eager to include the Axel quad and make history by becoming the first to land it in competition. However, this is not its only objective.

“I really want to show that I’m unique – not just in the jumps,” Malinin said. “Hopefully I will put in the time and effort to improve my skating skills as well as my spins to also get a second score that is much bigger than this year’s.” The skater admitted that these elements “require a little more effort”. “But overall, if you’re just thinking about doing jumps, that’s not your maximum potential. So once you start learning the jumps and the jumps get easier, that’s when you can start incorporating more choreography or a lot more for the components.

The skater is trained by his parents, Tatiana Malinina and Roman Skorniakov. Both are Olympians and hail from Russia, but have represented Uzbekistan internationally. Malinina won the first ISU Four Continents Figure Skating Championships in 1999 as well as the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final, being the most successful Uzbek female figure skater to date. Malinin is bilingual in English and Russian. Being coached by your parents has its pros and cons, as both sides point out.

“Well, the downside is that it takes time away from other skaters paying them because you obviously get free lessons,” noted the practical young skater. “On the other hand, it’s easier to connect and identify with everything. When you’re having a tough day, they’re able to connect with you more and help you out a bit more. They won’t be as clueless as if you didn’t have your parents to train you with.

Malinin’s father agreed: “On the one hand it’s very difficult (to coach his own son), but on the other hand it’s easier for us. My wife works with him and then I can work with him and we do it together; it helps us. Of course, conflicts arise. When something doesn’t work, for example, you can get upset and he can get upset, but after a while you get back to it.

It’s also not easy for the family to walk away from figure skating as they are all involved in the sport – even Malinin’s seven-year-old sister Lisa has taken up skating.

“It’s hard to get away from skating,” Skorniakov said. “At home, Ilia has her own room, that helps. We try to separate (privacy from skating), but I don’t know if it still works.

“Usually I don’t really separate it,” Malinin explained. “It’s kind of like one thing. I treat them like a coach or parents back and forth at the rink or at home. It depends on the situation. But usually at home, we mostly talk about stuff at home. At the rink, we talk a lot about skating.

Additionally, Malinin began working with Rafael Arutyunyan, Nathan Chen’s coach, after winning bronze at the novice level at the 2019 U.S. Figure Skating Championships.

“His parents approached me and asked if I was going to help and I was happy to do so!” Arutyunyan said.

“Raf was there because I think Nathan was on the practice ice and I was about to compete,” Malinin recalled. “My parents are good friends with Raf, so Raf wanted to watch me. I didn’t really do as well that year, but he said I had potential. The 2022 world junior champion, who is studying still in high school, travels to Arutyunyan in California during school vacations to work with him.

“I speak regularly on the phone with Ilia, as well as with her parents,” Arutyunyan said. “He has improved tremendously since I first saw him a few years ago. There is already talk of going further and I would love to see him work with Shae-Lynn (Bourne). is such a unique choreographer and person and I think she could really take her higher.

The coach went on to say that Malinin’s spins, basic skating skills, artistry and presentation will improve over time as he matures.

With Malinin growing, he has more influence over his training and programs.

“My parents used to decide what elements to do, and then they would usually make an entry for each element, just like a base model,” he explained. “And from there, we go to the choreographers and they add steps and everything. But this year, I think I will choose the layout of the jumps. I’m still working on it right now. »

For the 2022-23 season, the skater wants to change the two programs. He’s thinking of doing a Swing or Jazz style piece for the Short Program and slower music for Free Skate, maybe even some Japanese music.

“Not exactly because the Worlds are in Japan,” Malinin said of Free Skate music, “but because I had a Japanese-style schedule and it didn’t work out. somehow redeem it.

The teenager, who is interested in interior design, drawing and skateboarding, wants to develop his skateboarding and continue to push the limits.

“Show jumping is really my strong point and I think I will be well known as a very good jumper,” Malinin underlined, “but if I want to potentially have a good result at the Olympics, I think I have to improve. other aspects of my skating.

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