Sasha Majorov working his way back

By Magdalena Osborne
Photos © EMJO

After the disappointment of Alexander "Sasha" Majorov not being able to compete at Nationals or Nordics due to injury, it was a joy to see him back on the ice. Watching this young talent training with the Swedish team in Malmö brought back hope that yet another Swedish man is about to light up the international skating arena. 

Sasha, like Adrian Schultheiss, is part of the Swedish Olympic Committee's talent program, and they sponsor him with extra ice time and camps. This summer he's heading to Estonia to train with Viktor Kudriavtsev, a coach who's helped out Swedish skaters for years. And Sasha has a big advantage over other Swedes going there ¬Ė he can speak Russian! Later in the summer will attend a camp near his home together with the Russian team, so again, speaking Russian will come in quite handy. He has a very busy summer ahead, but says it's cool; camp is so good it's like a vacation anyway. That should not be interpreted that he won't be working hard.¬†


Programs for the 2008/2009 season

Because of the injury he didn't have much chance to show his programs last season, but the short program will still be a new one. Sasha has selected music from Zorba the Greek, a piece he feels really fits his style.

"I think this music will put everyone in a good mood; it's impossible to be bored!"

His choreographer and mother Irina Majorova confirms the music choice:

"Sasha loves the music and we've worked very hard with the step sequences. The music goes faster and faster and I joked and said he has level 5 on those steps!"

That sounds like an absolute must-see. Sasha's long program will be carried over to the new season.

"It's a really beautiful program and we're hoping he can show it at Europeans. So many skate to Carmen, but this is designed for him and will hopefully stand out from the other Carmens", says Irina.

It's fully realistic to assume Sasha will be competing at Europeans since Sweden will be allowed three contestants. The line up is expected to be Kristoffer Berntsson, Adrian Schultheiss and Sasha. 

A bigger worry for his mother than for him is the costumes.

"We have to work those out somehow", Irina sighs. "But it's sad cause last season I made three new costumes for him and he only used them three times, and now he's already grown out of them..."

That's what happens when boys turn into men. Sasha just turned 17 and so far he's mainly skated in junior competitions, but that will change with next season. For a while he'll enjoy the privilege of both worlds. 


A health update

Injuries happen to most athletes sooner or later. For Sasha it was sooner and Irina tells the story:

"Years ago Sasha was doing gymnastics on a trampoline, and afterwards his back really hurt. The physical therapist said it was normal for boys; it could be growing pains or just normal stiffness after training, but it would go away. It didn't. Sasha kept complaining and when we went to Russia we looked up a sports doctor who took some x-rays, but even they didn't show anything. Last fall Sasha went to Golden Spin. His back was still bothering him but he trained very hard because he wanted a spot at Europeans. But something happened in practice and he couldn't move at all and my husband had to carry him off the ice. It's a good thing Sasha was accepted to SOK's talent program, that gives him very good insurance and he went to Stockholm to have an MRI scan. There they found an old stress fracture in his back and a new one starting a bit further down. He was told to stay off the ice for 4 months, this was right before Nationals. Well, the first couple of weeks he loved doing nothing but then it got very boring and he missed training.  After a couple of months he met with the physical therapist and got his own set of exercises to do at home to stabilize his back. Some weeks later he was allowed on the ice, only to do some stroking. Then he started doing stretches and now he's getting back into it, but he's afraid that it's going to hurt again."

Who wouldn't be? It's been a difficult time for Sasha but now he's optimistic about his progress:

"My back is much better; it only hurts when I bend backwards. It's been 4 months and I'm slowly but surely getting back into training. It'll probably be another months though until I can really jump again. Right now I only jump maybe three times so my back won't take such a beating. My physical therapist gave me some exercises; I do them every day at home and twice a week together with him. But other than that I'm in good shape. Not being able to jump has allowed me to work more on my basic skating. My steps are more solid, I don't trip as much!"

So maybe the ISU will have to allow level 5 steps after all. It's a delight to see Sasha back in action and our fingers are crossed that he will stay healthy from now on. All the injury talk is pretty depressing considering how young Sasha is, but Irina looks at it from a different perspective:

"It has been bad, but sometimes good things come out of bad ones. I think he's learned to think in a new way, he learned new moves and new ways of doing things that he probably wouldn't have chosen otherwise."


Triple Axels and quads

Sasha is a wonderful skater but he still lacks a crucial jump; the triple Axel.

"After my 4-months rest I started practicing the triple Axel a little bit with a harness. But the first time I tried it the harness broke so I fell anyway. It freaked me out cause I wasn't prepared for it. But it wasn't all bad, I almost made the jump and the fall didn't hurt my back."

Well, it would have given me a heart attack if I'd been there to watch and it probably gave his coach one. Sasha is also optimistic about getting a quad.

"I tried it last year and I'm short a half rotation. And that was without the harness. A quad (toe) is actually easier than a triple Axel cause I have more speed."

In the future he will no doubt be able to execute both jumps! 


The ills of traveling

Irina is an endless source of anecdotes and we share some laughs over things that can go wrong when traveling. Having two men in the family with the same name is really asking for trouble and she has lost count of the times they have ended up getting only one ticket since the travel agency didn't understand that there were two different people.

"We try with Alexander Majorov senior and junior, but sometimes it still doesn't work", she says with a laugh.

Lost luggage is another thing most travelers experience, and it's a pain. Skates are not so easily or quickly replaced, which many skaters can testify to. The Majorovs have had their share but Irina says they have also met some very helpful people at the airports.

"Some offer to put Sasha's skates in the cabin crew's area when our itinerary doesn't allow us to check in luggage." 


The future

Sasha has a bright future ahead and the really good news is that there's another little Majorov coming up; Sasha's brother Nikolai, now 8 years old.

"He loves to work on steps and he's good, I've never seen a child his age doing the things he does! He spends hours in front of the TV watching skating. Then he stores all the impressions in his little head. When he goes on the ice he will improvise and do beautiful moves that fit the music, all on his own", Irina tells us.

We've never seen this little tyke on ice, our images of him are still the fast and wild one climbing on the venue seats. But he does skate and he's already sought after.

"For the reopening of a rink in Piteå the two brothers were supposed to do a number together, like pair skating. It would have been cute but it didn't work because both of them wanted to lead and be in charge. It's so typical of those boys!" 

Thanks, Irina, for all your priceless stories! We hope we'll run into you and your wonderful family soon again and that all of you will be fit and healthy.¬† 

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