Recently Alena Leonova won the Russian Cup Final, where in the free program beat Yulia Lipnitskaya. This performance of the free program was the best for Alena in a couple years.
I was always wondering where such skaters like Alena find the motivation to continue skating? When the National team is crowded with young girls with all their triple-triple in any part of the program, with less injuries and health problems, when it’s almost no chance to get to the team for European or World Championships? Perhaps this interview can give some answers.
Alena, I was trying to remember when you skated the free program so cool like in Saransk, and I couldn’t.
Alena:Yes … Like this….. I probably also don’t remember.
Even at the World Championships in Nice, where you won the silver, there was a mistake in the free program.
Alena: Yes, there was. Just recently I rewatched that performance. But still then I was skating more confidently.
At the Russian Cup Final was it stars which come together or the result of trainings?
Alena:Of course, I don’t want to say that’s all because of stars, but it seems to me that it was a help from somewhere above. Because I wasn’t super ready. Initially, I wanted to prepare for Saransk like for the Worlds, but I injured Achilles tendon. I haven’t been skating for a week, then could not jump for a week. Eventually, I’ve prepared as I could in 10 days. Still I was confident about the short program, I have it for the second year and it’s more prepared. But about the free program I thought that it would be 50 to 50 – something I will do, something not. But in the middle of the program I realized that program worked out.
Seemed that from the first combination you caught the swagger.
Alena: No. On the first combination I was cautious, the landing was not very good. After the first lutz too. Because the next jump, double axel didn’t go at trainings. And I worried about it the most. Going on the next jumps I felt confident, knew what to watch out. I was controlling everything.
It seems from the side that emotions and frequent changes of the music in your free program bring a danger to lose control on elements.
Alena: Yes, it’s true. Especially, when the second part begins with Elvis Presley. There I often start to rush to keep up with the music, and immediately pop the elements. Sometimes we have to remove something to make jumps. The extra step or another arm movement.
What feeling prevails after this Russian Cup Final?
Alena: I think, first of all, I proud of myself that I skated a program as I haven’t skated for so many years … I’m glad that gathered together, that I was angry for myself.
If we talk about the season in general, how will you assess it?
Alena: If not the Grand Prix events, then, in principle, the season would have been good. At the Russian Nationals I did everything I could. There was a pity fall in the short program, but I was fighting in the free. The result, of course, didn’t satisfy, but at that moment I probably did not expect more. But the Grand Prix was a disappointment. I was ready very good for the Canadian stage, but from the first training day something went wrong. And then after the short program with two falls, there was no way to get higher. In Japan it was my fault, with a clean skate of the free program I could be in the top three, but also started with a fall, then did an impermissible – single jump … Probably nerves let me down.
- photo from sovsport.ru
It is often said about the injustice that senior skaters have compete with children who are not afraid of anything. Many offer to increase the age of transition from the junior to the senior skating. What is your opinion?
Alena: I quietly compete with small and do not think about it. And in general, they are also prepare, go through selections, defend the honor of Russia. For example, Evgenia Medvedeva won the Russian Nationals. With such skating and such set of jumps she should compete at the European and World Championships, no matter how old she is. Another question is what will happen to these girls in five years. But now they skate, jump – and it is good that they jump. They’re still gaining spots for the country for European and World Championships, give the opportunity for others.
Then sorry for directness, but doesn’t it hurt you lose to children, who do difficult elements with very different physiological and psychological sensations than you?
Alena: It doesn’t , just for the reason that I understand – they have other sensations. They have everything different.
But judges assess you and they by one rating scale.
Alena: I do not agree. I can win due to skating, components score. And I will do everything to be technically on a par with them. I’ll catch up.
Is it real to catch up? I mean, I know that you are trying to complicate the program, but it’s hard …
Alena: Of course it’s hard. But if you now start to learn something new, it is possible to show it in August. At least, I would like to make it work out. But while on the ice it’s not very successful.
And in 13-14 years, it worked out?
Alena: I started to jump triples more or less only in 14. And in 8 I was underrotaiting doubles.
That is because you started to skate on a small non-standard ice rink?
Alena: Yes. Then, when I moved to a big rink, I’ve been doing pairs for a while. I was throwed, I realized what it means to fly, and then switched to singles and jumps. I learned double axel only in 13 years.
Why didn’t you stay in the pair skating – now, probably you would have been learning the quad throw?
Alena: It’s very scary. You don’t know how and where you will land. And even if you land, it is still very painful.
Those skaters who are just going through growing up period have to limit themselves in many ways. And you?
Alena: Of course there are some limitation in food, but it is absolutely standard for all athletes. Less starchy foods, sweets, try not to eat at night. Everything is banal.
And don’t you want to go to “McDonalds”?
Alena: No-oo! It’s harmful. And I don’t like fast foods. Rather, sometimes I want to eat something sweet. Sometimes, especially at competitions, it takes a lot of energy and calories and I can afford to eat something sweet.
Alena: What cake ?! Cake is only on Birthday! And at the competition – chocolate.
Well, it seems that it’s no need to ask the main question that I was going to ask – you continue to skate.
Alena: Of course. The only thing that would be necessary is a little rest. I feel, at least three days I need to spend without ice. And to start trainings with new strength and new energy.
Do you have plans for new programs?
Alena: Not yet. I think that will change both programs for the new season. The short for sure. Honestly, can’t hear this music anymore (laughs).
The mood for the pre-Olympic season is not to give up?
Alena: To not give up. I think that I have already showed it to everyone at Russian Cup Final.
See Julia Lipnitskaya’s performances from Russian Cup Final.