Sofia Muravieva: “To perform quad and triple axel, you have to approach them with such… a fierce mood and anger.”

Posted on 2024-01-21 • No comments yet


Translation of the interview with Sofia Muravieva, silver medalist at the 2024 Russian Nationals.

original source: RT dd. 6th January 2024 by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya

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Q: When you became second at the Russian Nationals, your coach Evgeni Plushenko said, “Sonya fought hard and won a silver medal.” Now, with some time passed and emotions settled, do you think you earned the silver or missed out on the gold?

Sofia Muravieva: After the competitions, it felt like for myself I had won, of course. Then I started analyzing mistakes: what I didn’t do, where I needed to hold on… Now, I’d probably say I lost.

Q: You are perceived as a skater of a single image, but I know coaches are working to come up with some unique feature, a style.

Sofia Muravieva: We already have that feature. I mean the program. We were supposed to debut it this season, but then we decided to do it next season. I’m sure it will be appreciated.

Q: Did you ever think of doing something completely unexpected on the ice? To show a different side of yourself?

Sofia Muravieva: I’ve had such thoughts for a long time. But it’s a secret.

Q: Why?

Sofia Muravieva: Because I never talk about new programs. I like it when they become a surprise. Plus, everything can change at any moment. I might say something, and then it turns out differently, and everyone thinks I lied.

Q: And desires don’t come true if you talk about them out loud before their time.

Sofia Muravieva: Exactly. I’ve always been like that, since childhood. I remember I was supposed to go to some cool competitions, and I was so excited that I would go to St. Petersburg for the first time — I talked about it at every step. And I didn’t go anywhere. I don’t even remember why it turned out that way but I was terribly upset back then.

Q: In general, which programs are closer to you — lyrical ones with a plot or something dancing?

Sofia Muravieva: I’ve never skated dance programs. But we have such an idea too. It’s very cool. I hope to go to a show program competition, and there will be an opportunity to showcase myself from this side too.

Q: You are one of the few skaters who jump the triple axel and quad salchow. Do such elements bring joy, or is it always hard work?

Sofia Muravieva: Initially, the salchow seemed very challenging. It consumed a lot of energy. Also, physical strength. To perform such jumps, you have to emotionally accelerate yourself. You must approach the element with such… a fierce mood for it to work.

Q: I can’t imagine you being fierce.

Sofia Muravieva: When I jumped the salchow, I was. It’s a gradual process. You want to jump, go in, fall, start getting nervous: why didn’t it work? You go in again — it doesn’t work again. Get angry again. Got angry properly and jumped.

Q: So, do you need to artificially anger yourself before a performance to increase the chance of a successful attempt?

Sofia Muravieva: Yes. At the Russian Nationals before the short program, when I went out on the ice, I was very angry. At the axel.

Q: Should you have been angry at the step sequence?

Sofia Muravieva: No. It should have been at the axel, and then throw it out of your head and calm down. But I didn’t calm down and couldn’t concentrate. Before the free skate practice, I went out tired and kept winding myself up: everything hurts, now on the start, I’ll fall on the step sequence again, won’t do the slide… Then somehow forced myself to get in the right mood, energy appeared.

Q: Many still remember the slide in Kazan during the Grand Prix stage where Kamila Valieva fell. Is this element so problematic?

Sofia Muravieva: It depends on which slide. For me, it’s the one on the knee. I used to do it only in one direction, but in the free skate, we decided to do it in the other. Sliding moves can be very challenging. We usually start learning new elements at the very end of practice when the ice is already scratched. You don’t accelerate as much on it, making it easier to maintain balance. But in competitions, with the perfect surface, you slide much faster. It’s easy to lose control.

Q: Physically, which jump is more challenging for you, the triple axel or the quad salchow?

Sofia Muravieva: The quad. When you jump the axel, it’s important to feel that it’s comfortable for you. You have to feel it yourself. Before the performance in Chelyabinsk, I managed to do that very well.

Q: It must be scary to go for a jump knowing that there hasn’t been a successful competitive attempt all season.

Sofia Muravieva: For some reason, I was confident before the short program. It felt like I had this huge backpack of energy hanging behind my shoulders. Apparently, it affected the fall on the step sequence. It overwhelmed me, I guess. Then there were steps again, and I thought: just don’t fall again, just don’t fall. And almost fell, by the way.

Q: Did you discuss the option with two axels in the free skate with Plushenko?

Sofia Muravieva: I didn’t practice it much in run-throughs. Evgeni Viktorovich suggested trying the program with a couple of triple axels already in Chelyabinsk during practice, but I wasn’t in the condition to do two. Before going out on the ice, when I was already on skates, the coach asked again: “Well, what about one?” I answered, “Yes, one. I don’t want to fall, I want to skate clean.” He said to me, “The right decision.”

Q: What does the term “lose the jump” mean to you?

Sofia Muravieva: It just stops working. You do everything the same, but nothing works. Before the Channel One Cup last year, I struggled for a week. With everything. Coaches even suspected that it might be hard for me to jump because I supposedly gained weight. They wanted to withdraw me from the competition, but at the last moment, I insisted on not doing that. In the end, it turned out to be, I think, the best performances of the season.

Q: How difficult is it for you to constantly maintain the right weight and nutrition?

Sofia Muravieva: Not difficult at all.

Q: Haven’t you ever woken up with the thought, “I want a hamburger”?

Sofia Muravieva: I’ll have one on Sunday. If I want to, of course. I always end up gaining some weight after Sunday. Either a kilogram or half a kilo. And it’s easy for me to jump. The next day, I lose everything I gained, and it becomes hard again.

Q: Why bother with weight control, then?

Sofia Muravieva: To look beautiful. I like it when I’m slim. It’s nice to look at myself, feel light and delicate. I like receiving compliments about it. It’s pleasant, isn’t it?

Q: How many extra kilograms become noticeable in the mirror?

Sofia Muravieva: I don’t know. I don’t remember ever crossing a critical line. Even in the summer, during a month of rest in Dubai, where I didn’t skate at all, I lost 2 kg. All the muscles disappeared, my legs felt like water, despite walking a lot, around 18,000 steps a day. I wanted to explore the entire Dubai Mall. I spent five days wandering there.

Q: Do you enjoy shopping?

Sofia Muravieva: Very much. I bought all kinds of sports stuff there.

Q: Aren’t you tired of life mostly revolving around sportswear?

Sofia Muravieva: I like this style. I don’t feel comfortable in evening wear.

Q: Surprising. You are a beautiful girl with a great figure, allowing you to present yourself to the public not only on the ice.

Sofia Muravieva: For now, I want to dress the way I like and feel comfortable. Although now, I also choose not only sportswear when shopping. I guess my mindset is growing in that direction.

Q: Where do you prefer to perform, in competitions or in shows?

Sofia Muravieva: Competitions are very nervous. Before going to sleep the night before, you close your eyes and automatically start running through the program you have to perform in your head. That always happens to me. I go through it several times and only then fall asleep. It also happens when you sit in the bus, look out the window, and start thinking again: how you’ll warm up, how many people will be there. But the show is joy, all friends.

Q: What do you pay attention to when you skate? Or at the moment, do you not notice anyone around you?

Sofia Muravieva: I don’t see the audience, but I feel them. Coaches too. In Chelyabinsk, I only noticed them in the short program, at the end of the step sequence, after the fall. But I constantly look at the judges. I remember standing in the starting pose at the Grand Prix stage in Kazan and staring at one of them for a long time.

Q: How much time do you need to memorize a new role on the ice when performing in a show?

Sofia Muravieva: When there are common steps, it’s easy to do. But sometimes I constantly ask everyone what to perform next. But my own number takes a long time for me to remember.

Q: And how do you cope?

Sofia Muravieva: We record it on video, then I take the phone onto the ice, start playback, and skate according to the pattern. And I repeat it several times in a row.

Q: Before the National Championships, if I remember correctly, you didn’t perform in a show.

Sofia Muravieva: I also refused to skate in shows before the grand prix. We have shows that run for three consecutive days in different cities. You arrive somewhere early in the morning, rehearse all day. You do makeup, fix your hair, warm up, perform. Then quickly get dressed, jump on the bus, and go to another place. The next day, it all repeats. There’s no time to practice during such trips at all. The lighting is different, there are many people, the ice is not properly prepared. It’s difficult for me to recover after such travels. But I love shows.

Q: I know your mom sews all your costumes. Does she travel with you to competitions?

Sofia Muravieva: Yes. She only missed them twice. It happened during the coronavirus pandemic when it wasn’t allowed to bring close ones.

Q: Is it difficult to perform without your mom?

Sofia Muravieva: It’s tough. She always helps me with my hairstyle. It requires two pairs of hands. I braid my hair on one side, then my mom holds it, and I braid the other side. Mom connects these two braids, makes a ponytail, or a bun. I can make a bun myself now, but at that time I couldn’t. I remember at the junior Grand Prix stage in Slovakia, Veronika Zhilina helped me. Then we went to Linz, where I asked Nastya Mukhortova for help. We’ve known each other for a very long time.

Q: Who takes care of your makeup?

Sofia Muravieva: I’m lucky with that. I do everything myself. I started doing my makeup during the first test skates. By the way, my mom couldn’t do it there either. I spent an hour drawing eyeliner. I’m just such a perfectionist, I wanted it to be perfectly even. In reality, I hate it when someone else does my makeup. I mastered all the makeup techniques long ago, and besides, I know I can handle everything faster.

Q: In what color would it be unbearable for you to see yourself on the ice?

Sofia Muravieva: In bright, bright green. I don’t particularly like that color.

Q: Do you plan to change any of the competitive costumes for the Spartakiad?

Sofia Muravieva: I’ve already changed dresses during the season; I like the novelty effect. It’s just that my mom had a lot of work this time. Before the premiere of “The Little Mermaid,” she didn’t sleep for three days, redoing black dresses for group numbers. And she doesn’t sew for other athletes anymore.

Q: So, it’s a principled position: I have one daughter, I dress only her, and no one else?

Sofia Muravieva: Exactly!


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