Translation of Vaytsekhovskaya’s interview with Anna Pogorilaya.
In one interview your coach Anna Tsareva told that that awkward age passed by you. Do you also think so?
– I wouldn’t say that it completely passed by. If we talk about the period when the body suddenly begins to grow in height and width, then it didn’t affect me much. There were moments when I realized that I put on weight and it was visible, but I managed to cope with it quite successfully. The main thing is not to neglect the situation, to deal with it at the very beginning. But problems with head were much more serious.
How did it reveal?
– It wasn’t always easy to have a correct mindset: to practices, to listen to the coach, not to argue, in general, a lot of things happened.
I remember, when we talked three years ago, you told that you could left the rink for a week after quarrelling with your coach.
– In fact, it wasn’t that bad. Yes, I’ve left the rink for two days. I remember, these two days lasted so long that seemed like a precipice. Exactly such moments I had in mind, talking about awkward age. I just didn’t understand that I didn’t need to swear, to defend the right to have my own opinion in any case, I simply had to find a common language with my coach and continue to work.
However, in you life you did one truly adult thing. I mean your return to Anna Tsareva after trying to leave to another rink to a new coach. Was it your decision, or you were persuaded that it’d be a right thing to do?
– No one was persuading me either to stay or to leave. Just when it became aware of our conflict with Anna Vladimirovna, I was offered to stay at the same rink, but with another coach. I categorically didn’t consider this option.
– Because from my point of view it would be wrong. How can you come to the practice every day and see the coach whom you left? For me, such a situation would be intolerable and unacceptable. I love Anna Vladimirovna, and even if I had left her then I still would have loved her and have been grateful for everything that she did for me.
Was it hard to make a step towards the coach after parting?
– It was more difficult to leave. Once I made the decision, almost immediately I started to think how much I want to return. Although, this decision wasn’t spontaneous. I’ve been thinking about it for a long time, for almost three years we hadn’t a results that we wanted, but the last straw was a completely stupid injury that I received after my first European championship, where I placed third. I had a week of rest, then I started to train very rapidly, I haven’t thought that my ligaments were weakened after a week of vacations. I got back all the triples and combinations in two days and at the training session in the gym just unsuccessfully jumped off the step-machine and a sprained foot. So, the ligament got overstrained.
It was awful: after European Championships I was so happy that I was given a chance to perform at the Worlds, I wanted it so much. I didn’t understand why my mother and coach were insisting that I shouldn’t even go to Shanghai in such state. In the end I took 13th place at those competitions, and of course, it was a disaster. Plus stress that accompanied the whole preparation. So, I began to think that I’m marking time, while all other girls continue to develop and go forward. Well, after some time I met again with a coach, we had a good conversation, we’ve understood each other and started with a clean slate.
You’re Tsareva’s first student. Do you have sometimes a feeling that she doesn’t have a ready solution or doesn’t know what to do?
– Some situations we discuss together. We try a lot of thing and as a result we always find the right decision. In general, I think that you can and need to learn at any age.
Nikolai Morozov, who did your free program this season, said that he also was teaching you how to skate properly. Is it true?
– He told me about the many nuances: for example, how to “work” with judges during skating, how to involve them emotionally. He pointed at some technical moments on which I can work myself. As for our work on the ice, it was only about choreographing.
This season, everyone talks how much your skating has changed. Do you also feel it?
– Not that much. Perhaps, my state can be compared to how the child grows. He doesn’t notice this himself. We are working on the ice every day, apparently the quality is improving with small “plus sign”.
Each athlete at least once had a performance when he comes out to the ice and flies. He doesn’t think about competitors, mistakes, loosing. In other words, when everything turns out. Have this happened with you?
– I know this feeling and I love it. Just not always it lasts the entire program. Although at the Grand Prix in Canada two years ago, I skated exactly this way: went on the ice and flew. And I can’t say that I was very well prepared, just had a correct mindset. I won at that Grand-prix.
My very first World Championships in 2014 in Japan, where I finished fourth, was also similar to this sensations. Perhaps you can work on this state. But it’s not always easy to understand the degree of your readiness to a particular competition.
Are there some signs that allow to feel that the peak of shape is very close?
– Run-throughs and some other moments help to understand. But again, such things are much better seen from the aside. For example, before last year’s World Championships coach and my mother were telling me that everything is going very well, but I constantly felt like I didn’t work hard enough. Regarding this I rely on my mother’s opinion in the same way as on opinion of my coach. She almost always comes with me to trainings, we discuss a lot at home.
I think athletes’ moms could easily get an education and licenses of judges and travel with their children to competitions.
– Oh, I think it’ll be very tough. At home my mom sometimes criticizes me more than any judge. Fortunately, my parents are not so interested in figure skating to make it a part of their job even partly. They follow it because I’m doing it.
In other words, at home no one makes a tragedy out of the fact that somewhere you’ve been underscored?
– I don’t think that I was underscored somewhere. If I lose, it’s always because of my own mistakes.
I will never believe that have spent many years in figure skating, you have never faced the judging outrage.
– Such happened once, when I was a kid. I did all my elements completely clean, and the girl, who won over me made mistakes, fell, but her coach was among the judges and decided all in favor of the athlete. It hurted my mom so much that I still remember her indignation.
Turns out, there are no less intrigues at children’s level than in senior skating?
– Different things happen. Just at children’s level the major part of intrigue are created by parents.
Your programs not only have deep characters but I’d say this characters perfectly fit your personality. Whose merit is it?
– With my coach and choreographer we always select music, theme and style very carefully. But the last word is always mine. After all, it’s me who gonna skate it.
How great is the temptation to keep the old and comfortable lay out of elements in the new program?
– Of course, sometimes there’re some transitions that so convinient that you want and can to repeat, but more often we change everything: steps, layout of the elements, we find other choreo techniques. Neither I nor my coach like to repeat things.
Why? It’s not against the rules. Do you think that for a skater of your level it’s indecent?
– It’s just not interesting. If I skate the same things from year to year, who will want to watch it?
Can you say that you continue to learn something at each practice?
– When a program is already done, we’re primarily working on endurance and various qualities. Technical, psychological. If we talk about the elements, for example, now we’re working on loop-loop combination. In general, we constantly try to find something new: new spin, spiral. Or to try a spread eagle, what if it suddenly turns out?
Wait. You want to say that you can’t do a spread eagle?
– No, I can’t. I don’t know why. This season, several times I was at competitions with Javier Fernandez, I remember watching his exhibition program, where he literally flied across the ice in spread eagle, and I thought ‘Oh, it’s so beautiful!’
Do you have a quad in the list of your plans for the future?
– Yes. But you have to prepare very carefully for such jump. If you try it without such preparation, it’s unclear where you going to land it.
You have landed so many triple jumps into “unclear where”. Does it still scare you?
– Rather, I’m aware that it’s possible to fall from a quad in such way, that the question of the continuation of a career will disappear. But we are working on such jump. Just now it’s not the most important thing.
For those who watches women’s figure skating from aside, sometimes it looks very tough: each new generation of girls just “eats” those who were before them. As in your time, hardly appeared at senior level in 2013, you “ate” Adelina Sotnikova and Carolina Kostner.
– When I first beat them at Grand Prix, understood perfectly: if Sotnikova and Kostner has skated their program without mistakes, as they are able to, I would have never win. So everything that happened was just a matter of chance.
Don’t you afraid that in the next season girls who just turned required 15 years will come…
– And will eat us all?
Well yes. It’s clear that the next generation of ladies who will do much difficult jumps is about to come. Someone may be already jumping.
– I am sincerely sorry for those who take up such complexity in childhood. Jumping is still a too big load. Both on legs and spine. At first everything seems to be fine, as long as you are a small, it’s easy to jump, and then – bang! And continuous injuries begin. Actually only now I understand how the right was Tsareva, when stopped me and didn’t allow me to jump more than my body could handle.
As for the little girls … in figure skating in all times were appreciated athletes, who could remain at the high level for many years, not those who were capable to “eat” someone once in their 15-16 and then disappear. After all, very few is remembered so well as Irina Slutskaya, Michelle Kwan, Carolina Kostner. And you can’t say that Irina didn’t have younger competitors. Yes, I understand that someone can get ahead me. But what can I do? Just to work harder.
photos from Anna Pogorilaya’s instagram