Interview with Maxim Kovtun after European Championships 2017.
Maxim, seems Inna Goncharenko found a key to you?
– You know, I’ve always worked hard. But I had a hard time in life. I had some barrier in front of me. Hopefully, this barrier is overcomed. I am glad that I fulfilled the task that was set. I almost coped, because had a mistake on the lutz (I did a double instead of a planned triple lutz cascade – half loop – triple salchow), lost more than 10 points. Because this combination is very “expensive” and very important. Not by chance we put it instead of theoretical third quadruple.
Glad that I got fourth level almost for all elements, except step sequence. It got level three, but positive GOE. I gave the maximum of emotions today and really enjoyed my skating and felt that I was bringing joy to people who watched.
Have you came to this competitions in the best shape?
– Everyone knows that I am the best at trainings. At trainings everything turns out easily, but it is very difficult to transfer it to competitions. But now I do not want to compare my skating with what was before. I have to go forward and not to think about it.
Maxim, people have been waiting a result from you for so long that many began to doubt whether you’re able to. How difficult it was to overcome yourself and continue?
– If you listen to all that people say about you, it wouldn’t do you any good. You know, I once read a phrase, I do not remember where. First they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win. There is an algorithm. If I had listened to who is saying what, then 15 years ago I would have stayed in Ekaterinburg, wouldn’t have left and wouldn’t have done anything. But I believed in myself, did everything in my own way and, as life has shown, did everything right.
It is very difficult to prove that you’re worth something. Even more difficult in a situation when many turned away and lost hope. At this point, faith helped me. An endless faith and trust of my coach Inna Goncharenko, Ilia Averbukh, my choreographer Sergei Verbilo helped. He constantly wrote me text messages and was in touch with me, although at first I did not show the results I was supposed to show. But I felt that faith, faith of people, whose opinion is very important for me. I felt that those people who have gone through a lot, do it for a reason. They believe in me, see and know that everything will turn out for a reason. There were many moments when I almost gave up. But I was quickly brought back. And I am aware that I’m young, and why should I give up, what will I lose, if I continue to fight with myself. Maybe once it will be rewarded. I believed if continue to work, to increase the load not in terms of training, but to work on my inner self, the deadlock will been broken. And if we talk about training, what has changed fundamentally, I started to work more on myself to change the situation radically.
That’s the right decision. After all, the main problem was that before you also was well prepared for the competition, but couldn’t show it.
– It really was so. At some point I decided that I need to work with the psychologist. No one advised me, on the contrary, many was saying that I do not need psychologist, that I’m a psychologist for myself, just need to work harder. But I took this decision myself. Moreover for the first time I paid for everything myself, it was worth good money. I was spending half of my salary. At first I did not understand what is this all for, seemed it give nothing. But we must understand that this is a very long process and may last for years. For this championship we have done the crash course with the psychologist. Per month. As you can see, there are certain results.
What influenced your performance in Ostrava more? Work with psychologist or your coach found an approach?
– All together. Every day my coach finds the right words to motivate me, so at every training session I skate like for the last time in my life. Elena Maslenikova and Ilia Averbukh come and polish my programs. Sergei Verbilo is constantly working on my skating skills, hands and emotions. And the program has changed completely. Both. We have devoted a lot of time to this work after the Russian Nationals. The program components’ part. Added the upper-body movements, that add more freedom into my skating. I always use my upper-body on the steps. Moreover, at trainings it doesn’t matter whether it appropriate. It may look funny, but Sergei said that it’s better to add body movements everywhere, as much as possible, so I could use to skate with constantly moving upper-body, so the body become soft as plasticine. And I used to skate so. I have been skating like this for a month. All this together gave the result and reflected in mark for PCS. I am very pleased with these marks. But I understand that they can be much higher.
Do you have confidence that this championship will be a kind of springboard for your future career?
– With such a team I’m sure that it’ll be. Here at the championships, probably for the first time in the last time I skated for fun, I really wanted to do it. Before the competition, I felt that I should tame a little my desire to skate as good as possible. I laid down to rest. I was lying and thinking about the beach, pleasant moments not connected with figure skating. I completely calmed down. Learned to meditate, fell asleep. I woke up completely rested, with clean head, as if I’m not at competitions. Came to the ice rink, at the warm-up slowly began to come to my senses. I understood that I’m skating fifth, so at the warm-up I didn’t need to concentrate as much as possible on the start. I just need to calmly repeat everything, desirable without mistakes, breath well, feel the audience, get used to the lightening and surrounding and then after the six-minute warm-up take off the skates and start to concentrate as much as possible.
At the same time I tried not to strain too much, set up myself to skate for pleasure. I laughed, we joked with Inna Germanovna in the locker room.
– Before I was a zombie. The thought that I need to go on the ice shackled me. At that moment I wanted to be anywhere on this planet, but not here.
Have you already got used to your new coach?
– It has been six months how we work together. No matter how divine is the coach, he needs to find an approach to an athlete. Inna Germanovna tried a bunch of options and some approach apparently worked. A coach can reassure me in two words. I understand that I wasn’t right, skate a couple of circles and come to my senses.
Of course, a lot depends on the coach, but even more depends on the willingness of the athlete. How big is your desire to achieve results in the sport?
– Most importantly, what Inna Germanovna achieved with me is the fact that I want to do figure skating. This is a very important point. It is necessary to love things you do. So for the beginning Inna Germanovna did so that I love it all: the regime, trainings, fatigue after trainings. And then a different work started.
It’s not necessarily to force and kill yourself at trainings until the loss of consciousness. It’s necessary to do small amount, but clean, error-free run-throughs. We do not always skate full programs. We skate large parts of the programs, for example, salchow-toe loop, and then I do not stop, do the next element and so on. Till I make a mistake. It happens that I reach the end. I do not have limits, I understand that I can stop at any time. If I do not want, I don’t do, if I want to, I do. But the thing is I want. Before,I did, but did not want to. And now I’m training with pleasure.
by Olga Ermolina, Tatjana Flade, Maria Staroverova fsrussia.ru
photos Maxim Kovtun’s Instagram maksim_pavlovich