Translation of recent Andrei Simonenko and Anatoli Samokvalov’s interview with Fedor Klimov. About his style, personality, football, career and of course Ksenia Stolbova.
Fedor, where did you get such a respectable appearance? Always spick-and-span….
– I don’t know whether it’s upbringing or not, but I like suits. Just not often happens to wear them. From the hairstyle to the shoes, I should look sharp.
But it’s uncomfortable in suit….
– But it’s beautiful. For all parties, banquets and just with no reason I like to wear jeans and at least a jacket.
How many ties do you have?
– Not a lot. Not multicolored, just black and gray, narrow. Strict and classical. Maybe something will change then and I’ll add colors, but I don’t really like ties.
– I have, but never put on.
Have you tried on a tailcoat?
– No, never. It won’t suit me. The last century, the cylinder. This can be worn only on ice. In life, a tuxedo is always relevant.
And your voice is quiet.
In Helsinki 2017, your peace of mind mixed up with hysterical laughter after a disastrous short program. Have your emotions changed a week after?
– Now all this is perceived in the past tense.
I heard you sigh.
– I’ve already forgot about that failure. Not all, of course. No one understood what happened in the first day.
Coaches didn’t say “What have you done?!”
– No one quarreled. We did not talk to anyone that day, on the second day we switched to the free program, which satisfied everyone. And my thoughts are already in the next season.
You returned after a difficult injuries. Didn’t the Finnish World Championships spoil the impressions of the year?
– The short program didn’t spoil, it summed up this incomprehensible season with injuries, returns, good performances, bad ones. Everything was like on swings and mixed up.
Don’t rigour and calmness hinder you in sport?
– They help, develop patience, you are less nervous.
The ice dance coach Alexander Zhulin said that hooligans win the Olympics.
– I do not agree with that. Meryl Davis and Charlie White won the Games in Sochi. What kind of hooligans are they? Well, maybe Scott Moir can be called something like this, but Charlie is a complete opposite. And what about Yuzuru Hanyu? What kind of hooligan is he? Strange position.
There is an opinion that in life and in sport it’s easier for people with less inner limits, because there is the psychology “Kill a rival!”, many even teach it. But if you’re a cultured person, polite and calm, then it’s much more difficult for you to fo this.
– I just do not agree with this.
You said that you are patient.
What should a person do to make Fedor Klimov punch him in the face.
– To punch in the face it’s serious. It’s an answer to the insult of the girl, mother. A few people in the world can take me out of patience.
So, you Fedor, didn’t participate in fights, right?
– Happened, but it was long ago and has nothing to do with the matter.
And you have never fought for the honor of “Zenith”?
– I’m such a fan who is not “about fights”. I won’t prove my football opinion with fists.
At the match CSKA – “Zenith” a fan from St. Petersburg climbed on the fence and showed a naked ass to CSKA fans. Did you look at the pitch or at this incident?
– At the pitch, of course. We were sitting very low in the stands, I was trying to see something interesting in this game, but I did not succeed. As a child, I spent whole days with the ball, kicking the ball to the goals, walls, anywhere. I did not know other summer leisure. I started to watch football in 2002. World Championship in Japan and Korea. I was interested only in the game of national teams, then came an interest to the clubs, Zenit, Russian championship.
I saw Roberto Baggio, and so far he is the best in my history. And for you?
– Brazilians, who were winning everything. My childhood taste is Ronaldo (Luís Nazário de Lima), Rivaldo, Roberto Carlos and the rest of the team.
Fedor, at what moment did you stop dreaming of becoming Ronaldo?
– I did not dream about this, but after watching the match I was playing in the yard. I was already engaged in figure skating, and in the summer we had no ice for a month. It was a time of football! My mother, who is a coach, was forcing me to go to the stadium and run, not to lose the shape, but all day I was kicking the ball.
Was difficult to tolerate your coach Nina Mozer at first?
– At first, she tolerated me. I came to her and it turned out that in St. Petersburg we didn’t work on my skating. We just did the elements, Moser began to teach us steps, Nikolai Morozov began to do programs that were hard for us. It was all unusual, and then I broke my leg.
– Fell from the bicycle. In April-May we mastered one program, at the end of May we went on vacations for a week. As a result, I got a cast. I called to Moscow to explain myself. “If you do not know how to ride, why you even tried?” – Nina Mikhailovna was indignant. But she has such quality as an instant reaction to difficulties. She can say you just a couple of words. The problem appeared, you only thought about it, but Moser already decides everything. “I’m calling, you’re coming to Moscow, you will be met and immediately taken to the hospital,” I heard in the same conversation. Within a minute the plan was ready. “It’s okay, you’ll be skating already in July,” she assured me at the moment. All summer I was recovering. She could have acted differently with me, if someone else would have been on her place. The season is important, no one knows what will turn out from me. Therefore, it was Nina Mikhailovna who worrited because of me.
In St. Petersburg with Luydmila Velikova you worked only on elements, without artistic side?
– In St. Petersburg there was such a system of training: we prepared the elements and did programs where the weaknesses of skating were not visible. In Moscow, we started everything from scratch and whatever we started to work on , everything was bad. Especially mine.
Anna Pogorilaya dreams to learn the “spread eagle”. Do you have any desires like that?
– I also can not do a spread eagle. In my childhood I could, but in skates, on which fifty people skated before me, which made them incredibly soft. But then they bought me new and tough ones, which I, a seven-year-old boy, have been breaking into for a very long time. I was doing double jumps, but still could not turn my legs for the “spread eagle” – it hurted and I “lost” it. Or maybe I have never had it? I tried to master this element, and every time the boots clamped the bone, there was pain. Nonsense, of course, but I have not learned the spread eagle yet. By the way, the double axel also was hard. I have been practicing and have waited for it for four years, but at the age of eleven, maybe even twelve, I broke through – a double axel, triple salchow and a toeloop.
And still you left single skating. Demotion?
– I really considered it this way. Those who did not succeed in the “real” figure skating, go to pairs. Did not succeed in pairs, you go to ice dance.
Do you remember first practice?
– Of course. I came and went to the ice. And they say to me: “Why are you not in the gym? First we must worked on lifts.” “Lifts? – I thought. Yes, lifts appeared in my life … They brought me a girl. Also from single skating. My coach Golubeva Natalia Vitalievna, who sent me to pair skating, found a girl for me – Maria Chashchina. Gym, no one knows how to do anything, and we started to try something.
Has she already finished her career?
– Yes, after me she skated with one or more partners, but, as far as I know, she has finished skating.
Then time passed, and Lyudmila Georgievna Velikova said: “Meet Ksenia”?
– We knew each other. We was getting back from some Russian junior championships and in the train Velikova said: “You’ll skate with Ksenia.” We came to the first practice, we were warming up separately, Lyudmila Georgievna appeared and told us to hold hands. Thus began the story of Stolbova and Klimov.
Wasn’t there a feeling that you hold a hand of a future Olympic champion?
– Then I did not think about anything.
How soon you both regretted that you teamed-up? Evgeni Platov said that at very first practice Oksana Grishuk told him to go elsewhere.
– At the beginning, everything was good. Everything was turning out, we had a progress, we did programs in a month and were sent to the competitions, we seemed to be getting into the national team. And then a new season, summer, new lifts, elements and problems began.
They say that it’s necessary to endure the second year.
– I always say so, too. Many, having a perspective, cannot stand each other and part.
Have you ever dropped Ksenia?
– We had falls, on lifts and even on a twist. Both in St. Petersburg and in Moscow.
I remember, you screwed the lift at the Grand Prix in France in the 2011/12 season, after Ksenia’s illness.
– Then Alexander Georgievich Gorshkov (the president of the Russian figure skating federation) saved us. Lyudmila Georgievna honestly confessed to him: “The pair is not ready, should we withdraw from the Grand Prix?” and we also had a Grand Prix in Moscow in our schedule. Gorshkov replied: “Cut the skirt and perform.”
– Yes, Ksenia’s skirt was too long. In Moscow, we again performed badly, but Alexander Georgievich believed in us and we came to the Russian Nationals in a very good shape.
How was it to grow up with Stolbova?
– We communicated. But when the work began, the first difficulties, I will say for myself, I decided that we should talk only about working sports topics. Only work, we don’t touch anything personal. I generally don’t share it with anyone.
Alexander Kerzhakov (a football player from Zenith – ed.) admitted that he had no secrets from his brother.
– Probably, that makes sense, but I have no brothers or sisters. My mom I can tell a lot, but not everything. As well as friends. We agreed with Ksenia that we should not care how each of us spends his free time, so not to use this against each other. We are absolutely different people.
Which features of Ksenia’s character you could not get used to?
– Every. The exact opposite of me. I’m calm, she’s explosive. She is one of those who “kills” the rival. And an ally too (smiles). All of them. And I approach the rivalry in a balanced way. And it’s good that at least one person in the pair is like that.
But different poles of a magnet – it’s always good.
– As you can see, it brings the result. Max and Tanya (Trankov and Volosozhar) are also different: Tanya is calm, Max is explosive. With Ksenia we also have different interests in life, that’s why off ice we don’t often appear together. Where I’d go, Ksenia will not go there, and vice versa.
I noticed that every time at the warm-up she seems to run away from you.
– We are waiting for performances in different corners. Each gets his mind right in his own way. It happened so that we do not need mutual support in this matter.
But everyone admits that your pair has “chemistry”. Where did it come from then?
– First, life circumstances don’t affect our programs. Secondly, our ideas on the ice are not about love, rather about rivalry.
But last year’s “55 shades of gray” was about the passion!
Anatoli, it’s 50…..
– We added five (laughs). It’s a artistic image.
Stolbova said that the movie is a trash, but the music is good. Did you go to watch this movie?
– No, but I tried. After the whole season that we skated to the music from this movie. I knew the plot, I knew what kind of attitude we should show. Then I decided to watch the movie. I tried three times. If I’m watching a movie on the laptop, then whatever it is, I will see it through. First time “50 shades …” – half of the movie I sat through “I can’t”, turned off. Second time – another quarter. The third time – well, I must! I made myself, but I failed … I started reading the book, but I could not finish it.
At which moment did you stop?
– At different. It become uninteresting and boring.
Boring, but on the ice it was necessary to show sadomasochism?
– We didn’t aimed to. We decided that we would write our own story: sexy, blues. But only on the ice. And without sadomasochim.
How to show sexuality on the ice without personal relationships?
– The music is appropriate, Ksenia is in suuuuch a dress … A Man and a woman. It is clear that without relationships, but still we have to be a little bit of actors and play.
When did you and Stolbova realized that you go together?
– I have realized it long ago. When the first results came, I came to the conclusion that with her I can achieve something serious, and separately – a big question.
So moments like “That’s all, let’s part” never happen?
– Such happens regularly! But these episodes come from emotions, from some insignificant quarrels.
What are you still arguing about?
– Only about trainings, we have no other reason to quarrel. Before the Russian Nationals a small conflict was arising between us. We had a lot to deal with, we have to recover in short time both morally and physically and right before leaving to Chelyabinsk we let off all steam! And performed well.
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Fedor, you said that you are not for the classics, because you have unpointed feet. But Ksenia wanted to skate a classical program and you agreed. Is this an example of a gentlemanly attitude toward a woman?
– Absolutely, this is one of the reasons. And the second … I’ll quote Ksenia: “It’s my dream to skate the program to this music.” I figured that if I can fulfill the dream of a person, then in any case it will turn out well, even if the classic does not suit me. I tried.
Didn’t you have a thought that “It’s not for me, it’s not victorious”?
– On the contrary, it was my challenge. I told myself: I can do both classical, blues, to play the ape in the “Adams Family”, do a Spanish program. It was hard, but interesting. I knew that I will hide some negative aspects, as unpointed feet, lack of turnout, and will shine wih my strengths.
A great moment in the program, when you and Ksenia are moving around in different directions.
– I doubted about this moment. We are very far apart. We tried to do usual, side by side entry, but everyone said that the first option is more interesting.
Your gentility. Where does it come from? Books or just life?
– Upbringing. I was brought up by women: mother, her sister and grandmother. Well, then, life experience and of course books. Hence the love to classical suits, courtesy. Although many do not understand this. Someone can say about me that I am too calm or soft. It is not true. Everything is trite: I respect people, jus it doesn’t happen in our life too often.
You didn’t have a male upbringing. So you didn’t change tires in childhood?
– I grew up without my father, and my grandfather died when I was eleven. We have never had a car, I did not go fishing. I took the rod for the first time at the training camp in Sweden. I learned to drive when I got an opportunity to buy a car. I changed the tire for the first time when it was the need to: I was moving from Petersburg to Moscow and I got my tyre punctured in the middle of the road. I reached the nearest service on the spare one, they put me a wheel from another car, and somehow I crawled to the capital.
Didn’t you taket it as a sign not to leave St.Petersburg?
– Absolutely not. And these strange attempts not to let us go, to return us, I consider all this as great stupidity. We wouldn’t have returned by no means or sanctions, because we made our decision. I do not understand why there is such people in St. Petersburg who constantly do something like this. I’ve already skated in Moscow and began to understand how all this functionary works. But I do not understand why. According to Nilov (Oleg Nilov – ex-president of the Federation of figure skating of St. Petersburg), we should not have left. Until you see the difference, how everything is arranged in Moscow and like in St. Petersburg, you will not get it. Maybe the problem is that there are a lot of skating rinks in Moscow and all the groups are separated, and in St. Petersburg everyone is fighting for one ice? There were a lot of talented sportsmen, then there was a failure, Petersburg, the capital of Russian figure skating disappeared from all radars, and only now it again returning to the arena. Both in pair and single skating.
So you felt yourself as living material that is torn in all directions?
– When we were training in St. Petersburg, we did not have a lot of things, but just we decided to leave, we immediately heard: “You owe us … ” There’s a completely different level in Moscow, all conditions were created for us, and then I felt a stunning contrast.
Moser’s group is the only place in Russia where a pair skater can establish himself? Well if we’re talking about real champion ambitions.
– No, of course not. I do not think so. He can establish himself in the group of Tamara Moskvina, or in the group of Velikovs’. A good athlete anywhere will achieve results.
When in figure skating is announced that someone was injured, the public immediately tries to figure out whether it’s for real. What did you feel when there were such talks during your injuries?
– Ksenia is still asked “Did you leg really hurt or you have been playing fools half of the season?” People really did not believe. It continued four months, I have been asking her: “Why it doesn’t heal for so long? So much time have passed!” Any fracture would have healed already, ligaments would have recovered. But I have never doubted that she has an injury.
Is there a feeling that behind Nina Mozer’s back you are reliably safe from possible attacks? She will create conditions, protect and the judges will be generous enough.
– I do not know about the judges, now much has changed: a lot of pairs have appeared, who skate well. I am one of those who still believe that sport comes first and scores depend on skating. I rarely had to doubt it. Maybe it’s not true, maybe I look through rose-coloured glasses, but I’ll believe until the last that sport comes first, and only then political intrigues and scandals. And the fact that we are behind Moser’s back, so it really is. This is one of the features of Nina Mikhailovna: I always know that she will help. She will do everything to make the athlete comfortable. This helps to show result.
Last year, Moser said that you almost became disabled trying to find the reason of your pinched nerve for a long time.
– I was not told about the “disabled person”. Maybe not to dramatize the situation. But I heard the version that because of being pinched for so long nerve may not recoverd. You know, I can not even call it an injury.
One day I went to see a doctor to show my back. The arm was still working fine, but I had a minor problem. He corrected something and next day my arm “hung”. I thought that it was his fault, but then I was told that I’m wrong. It turned out that the nerve was pinched, because of it some muscles of the arm and shoulder did not work. In the usual state one shoulder was lower than the other. I did not notice it myself, but I was told that it “hangs”. I could raise my arm to the level of the shoulder, but I barely did throws, I could hardly bent myself in the jump, because my arms were shaking. Lifts and twist I couldn’t do at all. It was terrible. Nobody understood anything, and it was frustrating doubly.
Then the manual therapist Jorge Fernandez recovered me by a massage. In parallel, I was strengthening my arm with special exercises. There was no other intervention. Jorge was absolutely the last instance, because before him I tried everything I could – in Moscow and I went to the doctors in Switzerland during the show. No one’s advice helped.
They say blind Jorge finds the problem at once.
– Yes, but he did not say anything bad to me. He shared the truth only with Nina Mikhailovna. I asked him: “What’s wrong with me?”, and he was avoiding the answer. But after the first week of treatment, he said: “We’ll deal with it.” Ten days later I was able to raise my arm above my shoulder and then Jorge explained that it was the neck muscles that I pumped too much.
Now the problem is solved?
– Yes, there are no problems.
Remarkable Lyudmila Georgievna Velikova in 2014 said that the 2018 cycle is yours, Stolbova / Klimov’s.
– Of course, the main goal is Olympics. We skate for it. I do not even know what it would be if our entire national team wouldn’t be allowed to Pyeongchang. Many made a conclusion ahead of time that the 2018 Olympics is ours. A lot of things happened during these four years. Our problems, new pairs. If in the previous cycle there were two or three high-level pairs, now there are three or four.
Dancer Dmitry Solovyov said that he turns on by rivalry with his friend Nikita Katsalapov. Do you have a principled rival?
– I’m trying to think of such person. But probably I don’t have such. I want to beat them all. Since the junior age, we compete with Sui / Han.
Does it take a lot of Mozer’s efforts to maintain a healthy competition and a warm relations between rivals in one coaching group?
– Well, no efforts. Nobody needs this, we are friends, no one creates the atmosphere except us. By the way, we change in different places. In the “Jubileinyi” all pair skaters were in one locker room and all competed with each other, fought, threw sneakers and blade covers. I do not know why there was such a madhouse. Maybe because of idleness? But there were no situations with spoiled blades. Now, there is even no possibility for fans of “sharpening” someone else’s the blades on radiator. However, someone stole Robin Szolkow’s bag. I think we haven’t found out who took it.
We are still far away from the era of mercy.
– In figure skating, it will never come.