Ice Network

Iliushechkina, Moscovitch continue team growth

Canadian pair not overwhelmed with pressure entering Olympic campaign
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch are confident about their abilities as a team entering the 2017-18 season. -Getty Images

Last season was certainly the most successful campaign for Lubov Iliushechkina and Dylan Moscovitch since their partnership began in 2014. After earning the silver medal at the 2016 Nebelhorn Trophy, the Canadians reached their first Grand Prix podium in October by winning bronze at Skate Canada. The following month, they received another bronze at the Cup of China.

The pair would go on to win their second silver medal at the Canadian Figure Skating Championships as well, while also placing third at the 2017 Four Continents Championships and sixth at the 2017 World Championships in Helsinki, Finland, where they finished ahead of reigning Canadian champions Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford.

Perhaps the best moment of their partnership came this week, when Iliushechkina -- who was born in Russia and previously competed for her homeland with Nodari Maisuradze -- officially became a Canadian citizen.

Icenetwork spoke with the Canadian pair about preparing for the new season, their fresh programs, and plans for the 2018 Olympic season.

Icenetwork: At the end of August, you participated at the Skate Canada High Performance Camp in Mississauga, Ontario. How did this annual event help you prepare for the season?

Lubov Iliushechkina: At the camp, all the national team skaters demonstrate their programs in front of the judges and technical specialists in order to receive their feedback, have their elements looked at, and levels checked. It's also important to know their opinion about the style, musical choices and the programs you're showcasing as well. So yes, it is, in some ways, a review before the big show.

Dylan Moscovitch: It's also helpful for us as it is designed as a mock-competition, which helps us to become comfortable with our new programs.

Icenetwork: What type of feedback did you receive from those analyzing your programs?

Moscovitch: We received very good feedback from both the judges and technical specialists concerning both programs. There were a few things that needed tweaking, but they were definitely pleased with the vehicles that we have chosen for this season.

Iliushechkina: The feedback was very positive. There were a few discussions about some of the levels, like always, but the overall impression that we got was very optimistic. Now, everything depends on our execution.

Icenetwork: Putting program building aside, how was the offseason for you as a whole?

Moscovitch: In general, it was a lot of fun! We got to tour with Stars On Ice, which was a valuable growing experience. I traveled to Costa Rica for 10 days to decompress before the main phase of training began. I also had a bunch of weddings, which were also a lot of fun.

Iliushechkina: After the tour, we were home again for a couple of weeks, working on the choreography and some new elements. At the beginning of June, we had 10 days off. I spent my vacations in Cuba, and I came back fully rested and ready for the season. Since mid-June, we have been in full-time training.

Icenetwork: Can you fill us in as to what we can expect from your programs?

Iliushechkina: We used the same team of choreographers as we did last year. Our short program is choreographed by David Wilson and Marie-France Dubreuil to the music "In the Air Tonight" by Phil Collins, and our free skate is choreographed by Wilson and Sandra Bezic, and we skate to "At This Moment" by Billy Vera & The Beaters.

It was definitely a thinking process to pick out the right music. We like trying new styles every time and try not to repeat ourselves. On the other hand, we needed a step up from last season, which was challenging, because last year's musical selections were so good. At the end of the day, we all agreed on David's ideas.

Moscovitch: Both pieces of music were ideas that David came up with. The short has an edgy and contemporary feel to it, while the free is more of an emotional piece with a storyline, too. It's about a relationship that is on the rocks.

Icenetwork: Do you plan to make your technical part even more complex for the coming season and if so, how?

Moscovitch: We have kept most of our elements the same but have added a throw quad salchow to our long program, in addition to adding more difficult steps into our twist and changing some of the positions in our pair spin.

Iliushechkina: There is not much more we can do in the short program as there are mostly required elements. We plan to compete with the quad early in the season to put some mileage on it and make it consistent.

Icenetwork: In Helsinki, you finished ahead of your main national competitors Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford, who continue to hold the title of national champions. Do you feel ready to change the status quo this season?

Moscovitch: We are proud of our finish last year and are happy with the progress that we've made since. Eric and Meagan are a great team and we respect their skating, so it has been encouraging to be placed within the same range as them. Winning the Canadian title is definitely something that is on our radar, but our focus lies on our own skating and improvements. All we can do is keep working hard and find ways to take our skating to a new level. The rest is up to the judges.

Iliushechkina: At the end of the day, we are not the ones to decide who did a better job. I hope everyone has a great season and stays injury free.

Icenetwork: Some say the current rules and the presence of added compulsory technical elements in pairs skating influences the components of programs and decreases the artistry. Do you agree with this?

Iliushechkina: On the one hand I agree. We can't perform many difficult and beautiful elements because of this. On the other hand, without strict rules, the ranking could be considered questionable. All the skaters perform the same skills but with different quality and execution, which makes the game fair for everyone. We are thankful for our training and coaches, which help us to seamlessly check all the levels with grace and to stay in the character.

Moscovitch: The sport has evolved and changed so much over the years, even throughout my pairs skating career, so all we can do is try our best to play the game the best we can. There are some elements that eat up a lot of time but we work hard to try and maintain a high level of artistry and not let the technical side take away from the performance.

Icenetwork: What has been the secret to your success since you partnered up in 2014?

Moscovitch: I would say time, patience and experience are the biggest factors. Certain things can't be rushed. This is a component of pairs skating that you have to earn.

Iliushechkina: I really value our communication skills. The ability to compromise with each other helps us a lot. We discuss technical nuances on a daily basis, but the way we communicate the details helps us to keep mutual respect, to be focused on the job, and open to each other. I also think we have a similar mentality and way of thinking. So, for most of the things we look at the same angle. You can never underestimate the importance of experience. The time spent together helps us to know and understand each other better without needing too much explaining.

Icenetwork: Do you feel some pressure entering an Olympic season?

Iliushechkina: I'd say more motivation and encouragement rather than pressure. Now pairs skating is at a very high level, like every other skating discipline, and the competition will be very tight. During the Olympic season, everyone is working hard and we are aware of it. Dylan has competed at the Olympics in Sochi. He's gone that route already and he shares some expectations of it with me. The level of excitement and anxiety at every competitive ice rink will go up. Knowing this, we are setting ourselves up to ignore the distractions and focus solely on our jobs.

Moscovitch: We are aware that the Olympic year is special, but we are staying in the moment. It is a very exciting year, which can be an asset or a distraction. I think keeping everything in perspective and working through the year gradually will keep us in the right mindset to enjoy each experience along the way.

Icenetwork: What are your main expectations and goals for the coming season?

Iliushechkina: We want to skate the best we can at every event, perform all the elements with the highest quality, show the programs with the best execution and enjoy the Olympic season.

Moscovitch: I think we want to finish each event, and the season, feeling like we did everything that we could and left it all out there on the ice. Feeling fulfilled and enjoying the moment will be the best way to experience each opportunity that comes our way.