“It’s an understandable desire of Russian media to see him as a Russian athlete. On the other hand, he’s Russian anyway. Yes, he was born in America, but his roots are here. His mentality, of course, is already American.” Ilia Malinin’s grandfather

Posted on 2024-04-28 • 2 comments


Ilia Malinin’s grandfather, Valeri Malinin about Ilia’s character, World Championships and quintuple jumps.

original source: sports.ru dd. 23d April 2024 by Maria Selenkova

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Ilia Milinin’s grandfather, Valeri Malinin, is a figure skating coach, he lives in Novosibirsk, Russia. In the interview with Sports, he talks about Ilia’s character, World Championships, records and quintuple jumps. Here’s a translation of some of his comments.

“Q: Does Ilia seriously train for quint jumps? Will he manage to do it?

Valeri Malinin: He is working on a harness. It’s impossible to predict such things. Even now, he has a very serious loads on his body, all attention is focused on the ligaments and muscles. If the training is done correctly and his legs endure, then there will be no injuries. If the training regime is violated, even triple and double jumps can lead to sprains, ligament ruptures. This is a very strong dynamic load. So, one shouldn’t predict.

In fact, I wouldn’t even want him to jump a quint. He has already achieved much of what we would like, but sometimes there is a line that is dangerous to cross. I’m not afraid that he may not jump, but that he might get injured, God forbid. A serious injury is unnecessary.

Q: How did you feel about watching the World Championships in Montreal?

Valeri Malinin: I watched it afterwards, so I wouldn’t get nervous another time. He performed, I found out the result, and that’s when I watched. It’s pleasant to watch then.

Q: Was his free program the best in the history of men’s figure skating? The scores suggest so.

Valeri Malinin: There is room for improvement. There is still much that he needs to achieve in choreography, skating. He’s doing great in jumps. He improved significantly in the second mark over the last year, but there’s always something to work on.

Q: Did last year’s World Championships have an impact on this? It seemed like he was disappointed with the result.

Valeri Malinin: Of course, he was upset because of the third place. He is very ambitious, always goes out and fights.

Even in childhood, he sometimes didn’t want to train: boys are a difficult to train, you always have to make them train. We would tell him: you’ll come to the regional competitions and take 5th place out of 5 participants, because your competitors are training well. And he would answer, “I will not lose.” He comes first or second – and what can you say? He knows how to get himself together, to push himself.

At this World Championships, he competed following an injury. Tatiana later told me that they were already thinking: well, be as it may, if he can’t, he can’t. There was thoughts to withdraw him from the competitions. But he stirred a little, they decided that he will compete. And he pulled himself together – it’s amazing.

Q: And he didn’t even simplify the program.

Valeri Malinin: He’s a good guy, a real fighter. And he’s like this in everything: before he jumped the quadruple axel, he said, “I will do it anyway.” And he did. An athlete of this level can no longer be forced, he must have an inner feeling: he is ready or not ready for such a jump.

Sometimes you take the athlete to the start and know: this one needs to be set up, and this one is better left to his own because he will get himself together, and you will only introduce discord into his preparation. Ilia sets his mind to comptitions himself.

But initially, it was hard with him. Tanya said, “I don’t know what to do with him, he doesn’t want to train, tells us “I’ll quit figure skating, I’ll start playing soccer”.” We told him, “Do you think that you don’t have to train in soccer; you do – maybe even more than in figure skating. You’ve skated for 4.5 minutes and you’re happy, but there you have to work, run for an hour and a half on the field.” I then told Tanya and Roman (Skornyakov – Ilia’s father and coach – Sports), “Guys, girls need to be prepared by the age of 13, but with boys you need to wait, at this age their brains still do not work, they cannot yet make themselves work. But when a boy gets his first triple, everything falls into place.” When Ilia started doing triple jumps, he got motivated, the desire to jump more, make a more difficult jump. With age came strength, and skill, his body became stronger. We had to get him to this line, to endure.

Q: Does the increased attention from fans and ISU change him a lot?

Valeri Malinin: I asked Tanya and Roma how is Ilia coping with it, because it has affected many. My daughter answers: you know, dad, for now it does not affect him, he’s simply obsessed with the fact that he’s first, best, that he has the most difficult elements, and everything else is unimportant to him.

Q: Will Ilia also become a coach and continue the family dynasty?

Valeri Malinin: It depends on him, I don’t know. He already has a rich background, and he could easily be a coach now. He wants to be an architect though. But one thing is thought and another thing is life. Maybe he will indeed become an architect. At the moment, he is studying in college.

Q: So, a scenario like Nathan Chen is possible: Olympics – then focus on studies?

Valeri Malinin: We have to live and work up until the Olympics. Two seasons is a very serious term. You need to show results, there’s a big load. What I’m most worried about is his health – all those tendons, joints. It’s better not to predict. Of course, he has ambition. After all, he has already surpassed his mum in terms of titles. For an athlete, the Olympics is the highest step that you have to reach. We hope that everything will work out.

Q: Doesn’t it amuse you that in Russian press, Ilia is portrayed as a Russian figure skater?

Valeri Malinin: It’s an understandable desire to see him as a Russian athlete. On the other hand, he is Russian anyway. Yes, he was born in America, but his roots are here. His mentality, of course, is already American – he communicates there all the time, in that environment. Life there is completely different, different needs – everything is different. Including a different attitude to sports. One of our kids was telling us: they participated in the Grand Prix stage in one training session with Ilia. They’re all tense, practicing elements, and then Ilia comes and kicks a ball around, walks out onto the ice – does his quads and that’s it. How can one compete with him?”


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2 Responses to ““It’s an understandable desire of Russian media to see him as a Russian athlete. On the other hand, he’s Russian anyway. Yes, he was born in America, but his roots are here. His mentality, of course, is already American.” Ilia Malinin’s grandfather”

  1. Kitty says:

    They can wish all they want, but every medal he wins will be brought back to the U.S.

  2. Lynn says:

    If he was in Russia, he wouldn’t be allowed to skate due to the doping scandal. Ilia has Russian descendants, but he is American.

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