Elena Vaitsekhovkaya’s interview with Evgenia Medvedeva, translation.
Zhenya have you and your mom at lest found an appartment?
– Oh sure. Chose on the Internet. How can you fly to an unfamiliar country without housing?
So at the airport the owner will meet you with a sign and keys?
– No, I will Jason Brown will met me. He will meet us with my mother and take to our new home. And since June 18th I already have a detailed training plan.
Almost three years you have been competing at quite a lot competitions not losing to anyone. Now, in fact, you are starting a career from scratch: a new coach, new life circumstances, there is no clarity how quickly it will be possible to adapt and what the result may be. Are you worried about the possible defeats?
– You know, I’m a realist. I will mourn about my result only when I understand that I could have done better, but I did not. I can admit to myself in some not very pleasant things. If I understand that yes, this is my limit and I’m not capable of more at the moment, then I will also admit that I took my place, the one that I deserved.
Now I clearly understand that for me a completely new life begins. I have never lived in another country before, I have never trained with foreign specialists, I have never eaten unusual food for more than two or three weeks. Everything changes completely. Absolutely new page.
Does it scare?
– No. I look forward to it with impatience. Now, to be honest, I do not think at all that I can lose to someone. I’m trying to look a few years in advance. First, I want to stay healthy. This is my main goal. Just need to try to make sure that this goal does not interfere with the result, find the right balance. In the loads, diet, mental attitude, physical state.
Your whole life before the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang was limited by the skating rink. You either trained, or slept, or prepared for training.
– So it was! Throughout the years that I skate.
Now, nevertheless, it is obvious that you have internally released yourself. You have free time, you have an opportunity to try a completely different life, in which there is not much figure skating, at least because you broke up with the coach and lost the opportunity to come to the rink every day. How do you perceive this “other” life?
– Not that I released myself. It’s more correct to say that I opened my eyes and just looked around. Yes, I had a goal – the Olympics. I went to this, aimed only to perform at the Games, I did not look at anything else. I actually had no friends, there were no interests, despite the fact that I consider myself a versatile person. There were no new acquaintances, I simply did not support them because of lack of time, and sometimes desire. There were only trainings. But, apparently, there was some growth inside.
In the winter when I was injured and could not skate, I suddenly caught myself thinking: so when I finish with the sport, I will remain without friends, without any kind of activities and skills, without a personal life, without everything? And as soon as I opened my eyes after the Olympics, life itself flowed not as to another direction, but simply became much more voluminous, as if a stream turned into a river. I got friends, a lot of interests, including prerequisites for the future profession, which I might like, but maybe it will change 150 times.
Will you be able to give up this life? Put yourself in the old framework and go again to the goal? And will you want to?
– I will want. I think that I will be ready to leave absolutely everything for the sake of result. The main thing is to be realistic. Do not do anything to the detriment of myself, my family. I very often think that my mother and grandmother sacrificed their lives in order to enable me to develop as a figure skater. If suddenly I feel that I do not live up to their expectations … I do not want to feel that.
So, the feeling of guilt towards relatives arrises sometimes somewhere in the depths of your soul?
– Rarely. My parents are realists too and understand that the most important thing in life is continue to work. No result, then we work further. There a result. Excellent. So, we also work further. But, if for some reason I do not perform those duties that I should, then a feeling of guilt come.
How quickly did you manage to recover from the Olympic Games?
– It was a long process. My body and brain are arranged so that I recover very quickly after any loads. Both mentally and physically. But, after the Olympics, everything was very long. In fact, only now I can say that I recovered mentally completely.
I’ve heard the version that you decided to go to Canada, not to continue seriousl trainings. But just in order to expand the possibility of shows.
– Secretly, I have no lack in shows for sure.
Brian Orser was your only candidate as a coach?
– Because Yuna Kim. This is the first thing that came to my mind when I began to think about the cange of coach. Yuna won the Olympics in Vancouver in 19 years, and in 23 years she became second at the Games in Sochi. At the Olympic Games in Beijing, I will be 22. Not only this of course. Orser in general have many athletes, who in the figure skating are usually called aged and who passed more than one Olympics. Yuna Kim is just one of them.
Doesn’t it bothers you that this summer Orser took a lot of new figure skaters to his group?
– Not at all. All my life I have grown and trained in constant competition. It does not bother me at all. Especially since hte main part of Brian’s group are boys. It first. Secondly, Orser practices an individual approach to each athlete, and he himself constantly emphasizes this. Therefore, he has enough time and attention for everyone. And in general I like that there will be a lot of top-level athletes who can give me something more than it was before.
How did you manage to keep the shape when you had nowhere to skate?
– It’s physically impossible and not necessary to keep such a shape that I had at the Olympic Games. At the Olympics, I was quite exhausted – I was preparing myself to peak in the free program. There I had the minimum weight and the maximum moral attitude. Therefore, after the Games, it took a long time to recover.
I gain some weight, but not a lot, At home I have a simulator that allowed me to keep the muscles in working condition. As for the functional shape, no athlete can keep himself without intensive training. For this I am going to Canada.
Did Orser express any wishes?
– No. I think he understood perfectly well, when we talked with him in Korea, that I will continue to train according to my capabilities. I mean circumstances. If there’s ice, then I will go and skate. In Moscow, I did not have ice. In the sense that there was no main base. We managed to find several hours before the departure for the show in Japan and I managed to “pick up” some jumps. What I really wanted to do.
You haven’t been jumping for too long?
– I have not jumped for too long. I experienced a great pleasure when jumps finally began to work out.
I always wondered do you have time to think about anything during the jump?
– About everything! A thousand thoughts in my head at this moment. I also have time to see everything that happens around. I’m trying to control everything.
Have you already discussed new programs with Orser?
– No. First of all, I want to hear a variety of opinions on this matter. Not only Brian’s opinion, but the opinion of his assistant Tracy Wilson, the opinion of David Wilson, who will do the programs for me.
And what would you like yourself?
– If we talk about the season as a whole, I’m not going to miss any competitions. Neither test skates, nor the Grand Prix. I would like to change the style of skating. Firstly, I have changed as a person and, probably, I can not be the same on the ice too. I have a different perception of life, a different perception of the world.
I am sure when I will come to Canada everything in my head will turn upsite-down again. I want to try myself in some new way on the ice. There are many artistic images that I have never skated, never even tried.
What jumping content would you like to have in your programs?
– I have some ideas, but it’s too early to talk about it.
In this case, you probably should be inspired by changes in the rules that limit the number of jumps in the second half of the program.
– These changes gave me a basis for further work, let’s say. If they told us that we now have to do all the jumps in the second half, I would have done it.
Have you always liked those programs that you had to perform on ice?
– I madly loved the very first senior program, where I portrayed a girl who does not hear. I really liked “Karenina”. But the program with which I won the second World Championships, at first I did not like at all. Only by the end of the season I developed a taste for it. Set a world record and I liked this program because it allows to reach the goal. And “Karenina” , as they say, was blowing the roof. I was completely in this program.
Oksana Baiul’s coach once said that if the skater allows himself to go too far into the artistic image, than starting a triple jump, he will finish it lying on his back. To what extent do you allow yourself to be distracted from the elements when you skate?
– “Karenina” allowed it thoroughly. When I skated this program at the Olympics, I just let my body do his work and completely went into the artistic image. I did not even try to distract myself, imagine, as it sometimes happens, that you just do you free program at practice. There was some crazy inner freedom. Do you know what was happening in my head when the steps sequence began?
– I skated and asked myself: “Do you understand that this is the Olympics? Do you understand that millions of people are looking at, you? maybe a billion? Do you understand that if you make even a tiny mistake, everything will go to hell? ” And answered myself: “I understand.” “Cool?” – “Cool, continue to have fun!” There was absolutely no effort.
Have you ever wondered why the Olympic champions of previous years with rare exception could not or did not want to stay until the second Olympics? Why could not stay Baiul, Tara Lipinski, AdelinaSotnikova?
– Most likely, it is fear of losing everything that you have earned over the years. It seems to me that there is always a desire to continue skating, just when a person has the opportunity to try some other life, it is also addictive. Few have the opportunity to understand that sport and normal life not always can be compatible.
I knew a wrestler who won the Olympics in 23, finished his career with the words: “I do not want life to pass by while I go to training.” A familiar sensation?
– No, I have never had such. I had a normal childhood – I played games, though not on the street, but in the gym, but I was having fun. And now I do not think that life passes by. I finished school, entered the university.
And when did you manage to learn English?
– I did not learn it purposefully. I just realized that I have no choice.
In what sense?
– In the most literal. I saw how foreign athletes of my age or a little older were constantly chatting at competitions, and each time I thought: I want to talk to you too, but if I only knew how? I tried once, then tried again.
I brought three words from one trip, five from the other. Somewhere on the Internet I read how to correctly form a phrase, somewhere I learned some slang. And I did not notice how I was able not only to talk, but also to give interviews. It turns out not unmistakably, yes, sometimes I stumble, sometimes use an incorrect grammar. But they understand me. And I understand people.
Is it hard for you to admit that you do not know something?
– Absolutely not. I do not know a lot of things. I do not know how to do a lot of things. I’m not ashamed and it’s not difficult to admit it. Because it is really so.
How quickly skills are lost when you do not train?
– This is a very fast process. You stop feeling the blades. You skate and understand that it seems that you do everything automatically: the brain understands what to do, but suddenly a leg goes in to the other direction. As if the contact between the brain and legs is a little lost. You want one but you find yourself in a completely different place. All the most ridiculous falls I had because of this.
Returning to the theme of your departure to Canada: you could not help but think about what means your new life might require.
– Basically my mom thought about it. It was her task to understand how ready we are for this.
And as soon as Mom said that you are ready …
– I realized that I need to take my skates and go to Canada.
Did anyone try to talk you out of this step?
– Honestly? No. At all…
by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for rsport.ria.ru