“I can use my life experience in skating. That is why I believe that this sport needs grown-up women, not only young girls.” Interview with Ekaterina Kurakova part2

Posted on 2024-01-09 • No comments yet


Translation of the interview with Ekaterina Kurakova about new image raising the age minimum and qualification to Beijing Olympics.

Interview is kindly provided by Emilia Sokolik
Original source: sport.poinformowani.pl dd. 9th January 2024
English translation: Weronika Surowiec [instagram: @figure.it.out23]

Here’s part 2 of the interview with Ekaterina “Katia” Kurakova, a Polish single skater. Katia agreed to an interview with Poinformowani.pl where she talks about her coach situation, new image, raising the age limit, and qualifications for the Beijing Olympics!

Q: As of right now, you are training at the IceLab in Milano and the Cricket Club in Toronto. How do you divide your time between those two training facilities?

Ekaterina Kurakova: I was at the training camp in Toronto in July 2023. During that time, I have spoken with Brian Orser about renewing our training together. Both of us have a lot of trust in each other and have a good relationship. That is the reason why, in October before the Grand Prix event in the US, I went to Canada. That helped me to get used to a different time zone and deal with jetlag. It was just more convenient.

Since I am representing Poland, in the first part of the season, I am usually assigned to competitions in Europe. That’s how it was last year. First, I went to the Lombardia Trophy then the Grand Prix in Sheffield, the Warsaw Cup, and the Four Nationals Championships. Flying back and forth every week would be expensive, tiring, and just inconvenient. Before the Worlds, which are in Canada this season, I will go to Toronto to train at the Cricket Club with Brian. That is the best option in that situation – somewhat fifty-fifty.

Q: What is your main focus during your training in Toronto?

Ekaterina Kurakova: To be honest, I don’t remember ever having training sessions as intense before. This time, I thought I couldn’t do it. Usually, I do one or two program run-throughs and then repeat some parts. With Brian, we, for example, do a one full program run-through, two halves of the free program, then six separate parts, and steps, and at the end, we practice jumps. We were training very hard but I feel like it shows. For example, skating at the Cup of China was not expected, but my body was able to do those programs. I had enough energy to do so.

Q: Do you work with other coaches in Toronto?

Ekaterina Kurakova: Yes, I am working with a spin expert and Tracy Wilson. Before, I haven’t worked with her much, so it is a new experience. This season Tracy worked with me a lot on skating skills.

Q: What were your feelings about coming to the Cricket Club after almost four years?

Ekaterina Kurakova: I was quite emotional. When I came to the Cricket Club for the first time in 2018, I was no one in this sport. I haven’t even skated in any Junior Grand Prix event. Now I came back as Katia, who was at the Olympics and whose dreams came true. The emotions that came with me coming back here were very special. Everyone was so happy to see me that I didn’t feel that I was gone for so long. It is the same as when I see my family. I don’t see them often, once a year, but it is always a warm event. I felt the same here.

Q: How did you change during those years?

Ekaterina Kurakova: Before, I was just a 16-year-old girl and now I am 21 and becoming a woman. I am going through a somewhat transition moment from a girl to a woman. Everything is changing, my body, hormones, mentality and you just need to get used to it. Right now it is harder in many aspects, for example, diet-wise, but there are also some bright sides.

I remember when in 2019 we were preparing the choreography for “La Vie en Rose.” I was just a child then, I did not have my first love moment, and I did not have a boyfriend. But yet, I was told: “Katia, you need to dance it with a soul, imagine that you are flirting with someone.” I had no idea what to do, when to smile, or how to give that flirty look. Then I fell in love and started to understand what that choreography may mean. I could use my life experience in skating. That is why I believe that this sport needs grown-up women, not only young girls.

Q: You have announced some changes for this season. More mature programs, new image. Did you manage to fulfil those?

Ekaterina Kurakova: Many appreciate the fact that I am trying to change. I always was this little smiley Katia, like from a fairy tale. But this year, I also show that it is not like that. I have my problems and my world is not perfect.

Q: This season your free program is based on your experiences.

Ekaterina Kurakova: This free was made specially for me. Skating it I tell my story, but I think everyone can find something in it that they can relate to, their pain or sadness. There are a lot of details with a deep meaning. I wanted the dress to be in my favorite color. The sleeves are also designed specially so that when I put my hands up they fall, showing my bare hands. The only thing left then is truth, because truth is naked.

Sometimes the body can say more than words. Sometimes you don’t have to speak, you can show everything with a glance, gestures and choreography. I brought what happened to me in real life to the free. However, during every competition something changes. Performance at the Lombardia Trophy was sad and dramatic. At one point, I thought to myself that I would not be able to get through this season. Every time I retell that story I feel those emotions all over again. But the further in the season the more I smile during this program. I am letting go of the things that happened and I just live on. Now in this program, I see not only sadness. I see the journey, how strong I was, and that I overcame those hard times.

Q: You changed your hairstyle in the Autumn. Is it also a part of the new image or impulsive decision?

Ekaterina Kurakova: I came back drained from Canada. On the one hand, something very good happened in my private life, and on the other, I was sad about the situation with my skates at Skate America. I was disappointed that the boot broke there. I had a lot of mixed emotions so I thought to myself: “I am a woman. And what does every woman do when a lot is going on in her life? She goes to the hairdresser!”

Q: What was the best decision you have made in your career?

Ekaterina Kurakova: When I was 14 years old I started to represent Poland in figure skating. It was the most important and the best decision, for which I will always be grateful to my parents. They decided to risk it and they have saved my career.

Q: Is there anything that you regret?

Ekaterina Kurakova: In the 2020/2021 season because of the COVID-19 epidemic, I was not able to go to Toronto Cricket Club. So during that time, I was training on my own in Poland. I got a back injury then and, because I was not experienced, I thought I needed to train more. If only I took a two week break, everything would have been fine. But what I did was very irresponsible. I kept training for the next six months, to the point that I was not able to get up from bed because of the pain, or I couldn’t go to the bathroom without a warm-up.

This turned into a disaster. A few days before the Worlds in Stockholm I fell… and for a few seconds, I lost feeling in my legs! In that kind of moment, seconds feel way longer. I was so scared that I started screaming. After some time I calmed down and I was able to stand up. On my way to the Worlds, I was thinking: “What if this happens again? What if next time I won’t be able to stand up? What if I won’t be able to walk or run again?”

During the short program there I fell, luckily nothing happened. But this fall cost me a qualification for the Olympics in Beijing. It was the saddest part. The Polish Figure Skating Association was disappointed, my parents were crying… I thought that I had let everyone down. However I might have saved myself then, but that never crossed my mind at that time. The free program is way longer than the short, and the chance of a dangerous fall is higher. There was a possibility that I might have gotten that qualification, but I could have fallen and that would have changed my life now.

Q: The last chance to qualify for the Olympics was the Nebelhorn Trophy in Oberstdorf five months later…

Ekaterina Kurakova: I gave myself some time. I took care of my back. I did rehabilitation and I have regained my form, which allowed me to get my Personal Best and the qualification to the Olympics. I don’t know if I would have been so happy with that qualification after finishing, for example, in 23rd place in Stockholm. In Oberstdorf I got a silver medal which I always carry with me, even now it is in my hotel room. It is a ticket to my dreams. Thanks to that medal, I was able to fulfil my dream of going to the Olympics.

I remember not getting that qualification in Stockholm and it was the most devastating thing at that time. But now I view it as the biggest lesson. I will be telling that to my children, my sportsman, and other people. So right now, I think I don’t regret anything in my career except that I did not take care of my back. From the other side now I feel like I am more responsible. Nowadays, if something starts feeling off with my body I take care of it immediately. I go to a physiotherapist so it does not transform into something way worse.

Q: Thank you for this interview.

Ekaterina Kurakova: And I also thank you deeply from the bottom of my heart!

Huge thank you for the interview to Emilia Sokolik (Polish version) and Weronika Surowiec for English translation.


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