Translation of Tatjana Flade’s interview with World Junior Champion 2017 Alina Zagitova.
Alina, I congratulate you on your victory. At this championships you was the favorite to win. Did it somehow put pressure on you?
– Of course, there was a pressure. A little bit. But my main task was to skate my programs clean. It’s my first Junior Worlds, so it was important for me to get into the top three.
Tell me, how did you feel before and during the competition?
– At first I was very nervous, because I performed after a strong athlete. I understood that if Marin Honda skates her program cleanly, then I have no margin for error. During the free program, at some point I began to enjoy skating and on the step sequence I felt more relaxed.
How did you cope with excitement?
– It somehow passed by itself. At first I was nervous, there even was a jimjams, but then I heard my music and somehow everything started to turn out.
Here at practices you haven’t made any mistake.
– All athelets have mistakes. I’m not an exception. But I worked on all the elements, and when I went on the ice, I said to myself: “If everything works out at practices, why can’t I do it at competitions?” And I took myself in hand.
What was more difficult to skate – short or free program?
– Short, because recently it was not very good at trainings. I was more worried about the short program.
This is the biggest competitions in your sports career. Did you like the atmosphere?
– At first, I did not think, or rather, set myself like it’s not a World Championships. I do not like to drive myself crazy, to wound up that I need to do everything. I have never had such things.
At first I was calm, but closer to competitions I started to be nervous. Still, there’s a responsibility. The fact that the gap between me and Marin Honda wasn’t so many points after the short program. And I knew that for sure she will skate clean here. Of course, I had all of these thoughts. But I had to do my own work.
Did you know Marin Honda’s scores, who skated before you?
– Probably, it’s good for me that I do not know English, so I heard her scores, but did not understand anything.
After short programs, the Russian figure skaters were in the lead in all disciplines, but after the free program remained only you, as the last hope for gold.
– I was not thinking about it. Only after the competitions I saw all the results of our guys. All guys tried their best! Naturally, all the athletes want to perform well, the rest is decided by the judges.
What did you learn about yourself at this championships?
– The fact that I have a character. And the fact that if before, last season, I could not cope with the excitement, then with experience I realized what I need to do.
After this World Championships, I realized that I need to be more confident, to show more emotions to raise the second mark.
Can we say that the triple lutz – triple loop became the key point of your free program?
– Yes, after that I realized that the program will go well. And then I have such a program that has clearcut accents that help me to jump.
I was just about to ask, where does such accuracy come from?
– My coahes intentionally choreographed my program so. I have all the jumps in the second half, so it was necessary to fit all the elements into the music to avoid an impression that I have only jumps, so the components also could be seen.
You have great jumps, what else do you want to add in terms of technique or this is, perhaps, already a certain limit?
– There are no limits in figure skating. And that’s good that it is developing, a new generation of figure skaters appears, which are all better and more technical. I try to keep up with the little ones, those who train in our group. I look at them and if they do something better than me, then I try to do it even better. We have such a game at trainings.
You train in the strongest group in the world. This gives a great advantage.
But it’s also hard.
– This is true.
Are there any plans for the future?
– Coaches have already picked up music for me, but they do not tell me yet. After the World Championships I’m going to perform at the Spartakiada, then trainings. We skate till May 15th. Then, I hope, a leave.
Where will you go?
– Most likely, to Izhevsk. Maybe Turkey or Egypt.
Where do you like to spend vacations?
– Since I’ve came to Moscow, I like to have a rest in Izhevsk. There are native places and it cheers me up.
Are you missing home?
– Of course. The first months it was very difficult to cope with the fact that I do not see my relatives – mom, dad, sister. There was some devastation in my soul. But then we began to communicate on skype and the mood improved.
Have you already had a chance to see something here?
– We arrived late on Wednesday. I had a little shopping, bought clothes for my mother and sister, and some tasty things, of course.
Is this your first time in Asia?
– Yes. The flight and acclimatization was ok. I like it here. The humidity is high. The air is marine. A lot of greenery, more than in Moscow.
How will you celebrate your victory?
– I’ll go home. Grandmother promised me to buy rolls, sushi. I love Japanese food. But here I decided not to try fate and didn’t try local food. Still It is unusual for us.
Will you cheer for Zhenya Medvedeva at the World Championships in the end of March?
– I’ll watch it on TV and cheer for her.
Would you like to try yourself at the senior level?
– To compete with seniors is a new experience for me. They have a lot of competitive experience and it would be interesting to test myself.
by Tatjana Flade for fsrussia.ru