Translation of Elena Vaitsekhovskaya’s interview with Elena Radionova.
Answering the question what is it like to be actually thrown out of the habitual life after such a bright rise in 2015.
– I do not think that I was thrown away. Probably, it’s just an opportunity to think, rethink some things and understand what I did wrong.
Your fans got used that you are always ready to compete, always cope with any situation, even if you have to fight for every element in the program. What changed? When did it feel like things had gone wrong?
– Probably from the very beginning of the season. There were injuries, then I was ill for a long time and to the control skates I came not prepared. I hoped to get in shape during the season, but did not have time. I understood that there were not trainings that should be and no such contact with the coach as before. Separately, all these things were uncritical, but all together lead to such a big problem.
What role played the fact that first in your group appeared Sergei Voronov, then Maxim Kovtun and the coach had to share her attention between you?
– We had a good sparring with Maxim and Sergey. At trainings I always focused primarily on myself, so the guys only motivated me.
Each sparring has the downside: for many years you have been the only one for your coach and suddenly became just one of three figures and not the fact that the central one. Probably, it is not too pleasant to understand such things?
– Tatiana Anatolievna (Tarasova) helped me a lot then, so I didn’t feel abandoned.
Did she advise you to change the coach?
– No. This was completely my decision.
Going to the Russian Nationals in December, did you admit the possibility that you may not get into the team?
– I did not think about any specific places that I can take. I thought only how to skate both programs cleanly. I was psychologically ready for this. I made only one mistake – in the free program I touched the ice with my hand landing a triple loop. That is, there was no epic fail, but I remained the fifth. Perhaps someone else in my place would be upset very much. I continued to convince myself that the main thing is not to give up. Well, yes, I lost. It happens. It’s sport.
Was it difficult not to give up, knowing that most likely there will be neither European Championships nor World Championships for you this season?
– Of course, it is difficult. We all want to take first places, any defeat is not easy. I forced myself to think that I would go to the Universiade, where I should show myself from the best side – at least in order to get a chance to perform at World Team Trophy. I got this chance. Therefore, I can not say that I lost the Russian National and that’s it, the season is over. Quite on contrary: failure greatly motivated me. Again, the situation has its pros. I had time to analyze a lot of things, to understand what I need for work, not to make mistakes that happened in the season.
Do you think this mistakes are your fault? Or just circumstances?
– Of course, there’s my fault in that.
– I’m not ready to talk about this right now. It is enough for me that I know the reasons, I know how to eliminate them, and I am ready to work on it.
Shae-Lynn Bourne did a splendid short program for you last season, after which everyone started saying that Canadian is absolutely your “choreographer”. That’s why you decided to work with her again?
– I liked both the program and the way it was perceived, so I decided for myself that next season at least one of the programs I will do with Shae-Lynn again.
In other words, you did not plan to keep the short program for another year?
– Actually, I wasn’t really planning that, but I really wanted to keep it. And when I started to train with Elena Germanovna (Buyanova), she suddenly also said that she would like to keep this short program for another season. So our desires absolutely coincided. Like the idea of doing the free program with Shae-Lynn. I like the style of her programs very much, it suits me, so when we work together on ice we have full mutual understanding.
What do you like most about work with Bourne?
– Shae-Lynn has her own style of skating, very North American. It differs from ours. There are a lot of various “little things” that you need to do with your feet, Canadians always try to make every move, even the smallest, perfectly in the music.
Is it hard to do?
– Very. The program starts to “shine” most brightly, when all the accents are placed in the music. For this you need to be able to hear the music, hear the rhythm, the tempo and all should be work out to absolute automatism. What else I like about the work of Shae-Lynn, her programs are completely different. No template. She always tries to find something new. If you look closely at the work of one or another choreographer, you can see that some steps and schemes are transferred to some extent from one program to another. Shae-Lynn is trying to come up with something new. Not like everyone else has.
Tarasova not so long ago said that it is normal when the program keeps the previous lay-out of key elements, that almost all skaters do so.
– It’s not interesting for me to skate like this. It’s interesting to look at Ashley Wagner, whose programs are always very diverse, in general I believe that figure skating is first of all skating skills, emotions, expressiveness. Of course jumps are very important, and yet spectators primarily come to look at how we skate.
This season you came to new coach, new training system, new requirements. How do you feel in this changed reality?
– Honestly, sometimes it’s not easy. The schedule hasn’t changed much, became much more work on skating skills, programs. I’m learning how to skate, controlling every movement. I’m no longer allow myself just to skate from jump to jump.
Did you allow that before?
– Rather, I used to believe that jump is the main thing. Now, sometimes jump’s entry takes much more attention and strength. It’s very delicate work – on every move, on every step.
Probably, it would be easier for you if you had not already won so many titles.
– What do you mean?
I mean that for an experienced and titled athlete it can be not so easy to admit that he can’t do something, or show that something isn’t turning out.
– On the contrary. I came to learn. Therefore, I listen to everyone, many specialists work with me, from each of them I constantly learn something new. It’s so cool!
Did your relatives attempt to dissuade you from leaving?
But you probably discussed with someone?
– My parents knew that I had such an idea. We are very close with my mother, she always played a big role in my life, she knew about all my problems and doubts, so when I said at home that I made the final decision, my relatives just took it. You see, this is still a very difficult topic for me. I am grateful to Inna Germanovna for all that she has done for me, but in life there comes a time when you suddenly realize that you have reached a dead end. Somewhere there is no previous understanding, somewhere something doesn’t work out, work no longer brings either satisfaction or joy, it seems that only a moment ago everything in your life was connected and suddenly broke apart. In my mind I understood everything: how much I owe to the coach, how many years she invested in me, all her knowledge, soul, love. But this sense of impasse became stronger and stronger.
Did you care what and how others will talk about you if you decide to leave?
– In figure skating you begin to understand very quickly that someone likes you madly and someone you annoy insanely. Of course, I knew that many would condemn me, but I was ready for it. After all, how many people, so many opinions.
In previous group you used to a purely male sparring. How comfortable is it now with a female? I mean Maria Sotskova, with whom you train on the same ice.
– We do not skate much together. So far, everything is good.
But for you Masha is a stimuli?
– Absolutely not. I just do not have time to look around. Too much new information that needs to be somehow put in my head. Last thing I need is to work things out or fight for coach’s attention. I have a clear definition what and how I should do and this is the most important.
Are there any thoughts about the complication of the programs?
– There is something to discuss with the coach, let’s say. While it is only about minor adjustments. The existing complexity is enough for me.
The words “Olympic season” cause in your soul some special feelings?
– Honestly, no. I do not want to think about it beforehand. I need to work. And there we will see.
If you chose the Grand Prix, what would be the choice?
– Russia and China – exactly what I got. In China, I have performed at the Grand Prix for the last two seasons, they love me, there are many fans, I got my first medal of the World Championships there, so it’s simply pleasant for me to perform in this country. Well, home is home. I like to skate for my audience. In addition, everything turned out very successfully in terms of dates: Grand prix in Russia is the first, in China – the third one. If everything goes well, there will be plenty of time to prepare for the next competitions.
When I saw that at the first Grand prix the draw brought you with two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva, immediately remembered how in 2015 you lost to Liza Tuktamysheva: unmistakably performed at the Grand Prix Final and at the European Championships and both times were only second, and lost at the European Championship only 0.86. What did you feel then?
– Of course, it was very hurtful. But it was more a resentment of a little girl who desperately wanted to win and lost. Now I look at that a little differently. It was my first senior season, the first senior European and World Championships, and for debut, I think I performed quite well. Well, yes, probably, I could win the European Championships and become a Merited Master of Sports, but what sense to regret about what happened? Probably, everything should have been like that for something.
Do you ever get tired of figure skating?
– No. I like to skate, this is my life, how can I get tired of life? In addition, there is always the opportunity to switch. To study, for example. I have a distance education and successfully passed for the second year.
Distance education requires a very large internal discipline from the athlete.
– I definitely have no problems with that. When I understand that it’s necessary, I do not have to be forced. The school was exactly the same. Between training I went to school, in the evenings I studied with tutors school subjects, learned the language. It was very difficult, but I passed the exams without problems. Understood that this is primarily necessary for me.
During the joint work with Shae-Lynn, did you speak English yourself?
– Yes. At first I was a bit shy, but then got used to it and spoke freely enough. I realized that whatever you do you just need more practice. And then everything will surely turn out.
by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for sport-express.ru