Angelika Pylkina, 14, and Niklas Hogner, 20 are the first pairs team from Sweden to compete internationally since 1962. The pair finished fifth at their first major ISU event, the 2005 World Junior Figure Skating Championships. Earlier in the 2004-05 season, they won bronze medals at the ISU Junior Grand Prix events in Belgrade, Yugoslavia and Chemnitz, Germany. For next season, the couple plans to continue to compete in junior events and intends to return to Junior Worlds. They haven’t decided whether to try any senior events.
Pylkina began skating when she was five. “My mother was a pairs skater who competed internationally,” she said. “She was working as a coach, so she took me with her to the rink.” Pylkina eventually reached second in novice ladies in Sweden before switching to pairs. “I like everything about pairs,” she said. “It’s nice to hold someone’s hand so you’re not skating alone.”
Hogner didn’t start skating until he was about nine. “I did gymnastics for four years and diving for two and a half years before I tried skating,” he said. “I didn’t do many gymnastics competitions but I was best in the floor exercise. My sister was a skater and my mother was a coach so eventually I started skating.” Within three years, he landed his first triple jump, a triple loop, which is unusual as most skaters, including his partner, first land a toe loop or a salchow. “Now the loop is my worst jump,” he lamented.
Hogner won the junior men’s title in Sweden four times before switching to pairs two years ago. “I always wanted to do pairs,” he said. “I always liked to watch pairs. They can do lots of different stuff. And I’m better for pairs since I’m big. I like the twists and the lifts.”
“It was hard to learn to skate together,” he continued, “especially the stroking.” “Our first year was really hard,” Pylkina echoed. “The throws were a bit difficult. They were a little bit scary. But I was never scared of lifts. I especially like lifts.” The couple did a throw triple salchow and throw triple toe loop in their 2004-05 free skate and have landed a throw triple loop in practice.
Pylkina and Hogner started skating together in 2003 after Pylkina’s family moved from Russia to Sweden. Nelli Pylkina, Angelika’s mother, coaches the pair, which trains in several places in Sweden, primarily Linkoping. They work on ice six days a week for two to three hours a day plus another 2-3 hours of daily off ice work.
Nelli Pylkina also choreographs the couple’s programs. Both of their programs were new for the 2004-05 season. They used “Samson and Delilah” by Camille Saint-Saens for the short program and “Jalousie Andalouse” by Deb Angelis and “All That Remains” by Jesse Cook for the free skate. “To pick the music, we always sit together with our coach and listen,” Hogner said. “I like slow music and Angelika likes fast music, but you need both parts in a program. We were in a hurry to decide last season and that was the best music we could find at the moment. Next year, we will change only the short program because we are quite tired of it.” For exhibitions, the Swedes use “Aria de Syrna” by Saint-Preux.
Both skaters like to be with their friends when they’re not skating. Hogner enjoys going to the movies and listening to all kinds of popular music, but Pylkina isn’t a music fan. She prefers reading books like the Harry Potter series and Lord of the Rings and painting all kinds of scenes. He also swims and water skis during the summer. Pylkina keeps all the stuffed animals that they receive from fans. Hogner enjoys going to the beach for holidays and hopes to travel in Asia some day. Pylkina has only visited a few places, but enjoyed her trip to Canada. She wants to see China.
Pylkina is in seventh grade, where her favorite subject is woodcraft. Hogner has graduated from high school and is currently working as a waiter. Neither of the skaters has decided on a future career. “We want to skate as long as it’s fun and works out,” Hogner said.