Artur Danielian

Artur Danielian was the third Russian man assigned to the 2018 World Junior Championships last March, but he surprised everyone, including himself, with a silver medal finish.

Danielian stood in eighth place after the short program, but delivered a clean free skate that included two triple Axels. “I told myself after the short, ‘I have nothing to lose. Just skate well, enjoy it and then it will be fine,” he said.

Coached by Elena Vodorezova and Marina Selitskaia at the Central Army Sports Club in Moscow, Danielian did not expect to finish his season as a World Junior medalist — especially considering how it began. He was selected to compete at the Junior Grand Prix in Latvia, but was replaced when he had a sub-par performance at the Moscow Championships. He was later sent to the fifth event in Croatia, but admitted his performance there was “mediocre, to say the least. Maybe I was nervous because I was for the first time at such a competition.” Danielian placed seventh and was not selected for a second assignment.

He qualified for Junior Worlds by placing third at Russian junior nationals. “It was just one step,” he said of his success. “I haven’t won a Junior Grand Prix or even a medal yet. A lot is still to come.”

In preparation for the upcoming season, Danielian, 14, has started working on the quad Salchow and quad loop, which is a bit unusual given that most start with the toe loop. “The quads are a work in progress. I was doing triples and I asked if I could try a quad. And so, it started,” Danielian explained. “I’ll also learn the (quad) Lutz for sure. For the flip it’s the edge and the toe is a problematic jump for me — it’s my least favorite jump because it doesn’t work well. I don’t have enough height or the right timing to fly high and rotate. But we’re working on that.”

His new programs were choreographed by Nikita Mikhailov, a former singles skater who competed at the international level and has been performing in shows and working as a choreographer since his retirement. “For the long we did something lively — there is a fast part and a calm part. It’s really classical,” Danielian said. “The short is not as classical, but lyrical. I like the programs and I’m getting into character.”

Originally from Volgograd in southern Russia, Danielian returned to his hometown in May to take his seventh grade exams. He plans to transfer to a school in Moscow this season. “In Moscow, I’ll also be home schooled, but there is a school close to the rink so I’ll go there once or twice a week to turn in homework and get new homework.”

The teenager likes informatics, mathematics, physics and arts. In his spare time, likes to cook. “After I came back from Junior Worlds I fell sick twice, and in this time I looked up a recipe and learned to make a cake when nobody was home,” he explained. “When everyone came home I gave them the cake to try and in the end there was nothing left over for me. I have also made pizza with cheese and sausage and I made the dough myself.”

Danielian is the youngest of three children and the only athlete among them. He started figure skating when an ice rink opened near his home in Volgograd, and he and his mother visited it out of curiosity. He said he took to skating right away.

Though he learned solid basics and triple jumps from his coaches at that rink, the conditions were not adequate for high-level sports. With only one ice surface and many children wanting to learn to skate, there was not enough ice time for everyone. “The older skaters have to train more to be competitive with Moscow and St. Petersburg. When I started to have some results, my coach in Volgograd said I won’t get any further there and I need to move on,” Danielian explained.

He said he would move to Moscow, only if he could train with the coach of 2014 Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova. His meeting with Vodorezova in 2016 was a success. “She shook my hand and said, ‘see you in June.’ I was so excited,” Danielian  recalled. As he was only 12 at the time, his family moved to Moscow with him.

Born in December 2003, he is not age eligible to move up to the senior ranks this season. His goal is to do well at his first Junior Grand Prix event in order to earn a second. “I want to make the Junior Final. Then we have Russian junior nationals and I want to qualify again for Junior Worlds,” he said.

Danielian admires Japan’s Yuzuru Hanyu for coming back from injury to defend his Olympic title in February, but his skating idol is Javier Fernández. “I like him the best. He is an artist who plays with the audience and at the same time he is jumping, spinning, smiling.”

Among the Russian men, his favorite is reigning national champion and World bronze medalist Mikhail Kolyada. “He has great jumps. The height is as if he jumps from a springboard. Obviously, I’d like it if he was consistent so he can compete with the other leaders. All of us boys need consistency,” Danielian said with a laugh.

He has solid skating skills and good posture, which Danielian said he learned from his choreographer in Volgograd. He continues that work with Irina Tagaeva and Maxim Zavozin works on his skating skills. “In general, I like to perform, and I even get goosebumps during my skates,” Danielian said. “Sometimes I’m nervous, but I don’t feel it that much lately. That means I understand what I’m skating for.”