“Of course, I would like to win the Olympics, but you need to be realistic. It would be great to just get to the Olympics. This already looks like a goal.” Interview with Australian Vlada Vasiliev

Posted on 2023-03-04 • No comments yet


Interview with Australian single skater Vlada Vasiliev for Russian media.

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source: sport-express.ru dd 11 February 2023 by Rustam Imamov

The Four Continents Championships is one of the most open competitions for representatives of exotic countries by figure skating standards. The technical minimum for this event is lower, and competitions involve the participation of representatives from distant corners of our planet, where few people know about figure skating. Traditionally, sports in these countries are driven by emigrants. 

Vlada Vasiliev was born into the family of a figure skater from Yekaterinburg and a tennis player from Tashkent. She was born in New Zealand, then the family moved to Sydney, where she lives now. In an interview with SE, Vasiliev spoke about life both on the green mainland and on the islands, about her ties with Russia, and also talked about the features of the judging system in modern figure skating.

You were born in New Zealand. Have you moved to Australia a long time ago?

Vlada Vasiliev: I was eight months old when we moved to the mainland. Now we live in Sydney. I have spent almost all my life here; here I started skating, and here I train. I like it here.

Do you remember anything about New Zealand? Have you been there when you were older?

Vlada Vasiliev: Yes, my parents and I often came there. Relatives stayed on the islands; besides, this is a great place to relax. There is amazing nature and amazingly beautiful places. Untouched by man, like in a movie. Actually, as I heard, many movies were shot there. So I know a lot about New Zealand.

Maybe, you even know the Maori language?

Vlada Vasiliev: Well, not so much (laughs). I don’t know how to dance the haka properly either. Although I have seen traditional dances from local artists, it is very cool. Impressive. The coach even suggested using elements of this dance in my program.

In addition to New Zealand roots, you probably also have Russian ones. Are your parents from Russia?

Vlada Vasiliev: Father from Yekaterinburg. He also did figure skating, but did not reach the professional level. Mother from Uzbekistan. She played tennis, so I come from a sports family. And I was also taught to play sports since childhood.

Do you speak Russian?

Vlada Vasiliev: My parents were teaching me; as a child, I spoke well. But now I’ve forgotten a lot. I understand, but it’s hard to build sentences. My language is at a very basic level.

Have you been in Russia at least once?

Vlada Vasiliev: Why “at least once”? There were several trips with the family. I even trained a little in Yekaterinburg at a local sports school. The level, of course, is immediately felt in the approach to work. Still, figure skating in Russia is a special story.

How would you assess your training opportunities in Sydney? Still, Australia is not the best place for practicing figure skating.

Vlada Vasiliev: Maybe there were problems before. There were no skating rinks and no specialists. Now everything is changing. I have nothing to complain about. There are enough trainings; there is a lot of ice; the coaches work with me individually, help, and suggest. So the questions now are for me and my desire to work.

Is there any support from the state? Financially, of course, for trips to competitions and salaries.

Vlada Vasiliev: There are nuances. In Australia, figure skating is not considered a professional sport or an important discipline to support. Here, more attention is paid, for example, to swimming. But the skaters are not left alone with their expenses. Those who are on the national team have financial support, partial compensation for travel expenses, help with paying for ice, and a coach. This cannot be compared, perhaps, with how the skaters of the Russian national team live, with the full support of the state and with a good salary. But I can’t say that my parents and I have to cope with everything ourselves.

In any case, without the financial capabilities of the parents, it will not be easy to train …

Vlada Vasiliev: It’s not just in Australia. In most European countries, the situation is the same; it is the same in America too. Well, and in Russia, partially. There are, of course, individual, unique exceptions, for which the coaches themselves are ready to do everything that is necessary, as long as they train and progress. But these are exceptions. As a rule, in order to break through to the top, you need to invest a lot of means. Including financial ones.

The Russian-speaking figure skater Anastasia Golubeva also skates for Australia. What is your relationship with her?

Vlada Vasiliev: Excellent. I won’t say that we are best friends, but we are good friends and spend a lot of time together in training. Do not be surprised, there are few members of the national team, and they often work with us in parallel. They call both singles and pairs and dancers. Golubeva is a very strong skater, just like her partner. It’s interesting for me to follow them.

Do you speak Russian with her in training?

Vlada Vasiliev: Sometimes we communicate in Russian. Golubeva, of course, has a much better language than mine. But I also practice with her, remember the vocabulary. It is convenient to say something to each other so that only we understand. Although not everyone around here likes it sometimes. (Laughs.)

At the Four Continents Championships, you did not do combinations of two triples. Do you have them?

Vlada Vasiliev: In training, I jump triple toeloop- triple toeloop, now we are working on a triple salchow – triple toeloop. Some attempts are successful, some are falls. But according to a coach it’s too early to enter competitions with such a combination. I have never tried a combination of two triples at the competitions.

Ok, what is your favorite jump?

Vlada Vasiliev: Triple salchow. I jump all the triples, of course, except the axel. It is easy to do a toeloop, a good loop, but most of all, I like salchow. There are small problems with the toepick jumps, especially with the flip. But I am working on them.

Do you plan to learn quadruple jumps?

Vlada Vasiliev: So far, there are no such plans. In order to learn quads, you need a certain technical base, the speed of rotation in the air, and the ability to properly coordinate your body. It’s too early for me, and the risk of injury is very high. I want to play sports for my own pleasure, and not to cripple myself. So for now, there are no quadruple or triple axel jumps in my thoughts. But I respect those who can perform them. Especially at a young age, it’s fascinating.

There is an opinion that in modern figure skating, technique is more important than presentation. Do you agree with him?

Vlada Vasiliev: Perhaps the specifics of judging and the scoring system really lead to a situation in which the technical content plays a greater role than skating skills and artistry. For big victories, you need difficult jumps – this is not a secret. But a really good skater needs to combine sophisticated technique with a bright presentation. In figure skating, skating skills, artistry, and technique are equally important, and ideally, one should strive to develop all of these aspects. That is what I am doing. I have separate training sessions with a choreographer, a dance specialist, so working on the components is an important part of the training plan.

A couple of years ago, there were ideas that figure skating should be divided into two disciplines: technical and artistic. And different sets of medals should be awarded. What do you think of such an initiative?

Vlada Vasiliev: I have nothing to say. I didn’t think about it, but, to be honest, the idea is rather strange, and I would not support it. As I said, it is important to combine technique and artistry.

What skaters are your idols? Role models?

Vlada Vasiliev: In modern figure skating, there are a lot of bright names and charismatic skaters who are a pleasure to follow. And if you look at archived videos and look at the legends of past years, then you will get tired of listing them all. It is difficult to name someone specifically, but of those whom I know, I would name Nastya Golubeva. She trains next to me, and I try to learn from her. From other countries, I really like the way Kaori Sakomoto, Amber Glenn, and Sofia Akatieva skate. She has amazing jumps and very interesting programs.

Would you like to perform at the same competitions with Akatieva?

Vlada Vasiliev: Perhaps that would be interesting. But I don’t really want to talk about the situation with the suspension of the Russians. I don’t know much about this, so it’s hard for me to express my opinion on this matter. In any case, figure skaters in Russia are strong, and the attitude towards this sport is at its best.

How would you assess your performance at the Four Continents?

Vlada Vasiliev: I will not lie. There were moments that I liked. But there were also nuances that I would like to correct. Let’s just say I’m about 50 percent satisfied with myself. There is always something to work on and something to improve, but in general, everything is not so bad.

What are the reasons for the mistakes?

Vlada Vasiliev: Nerves. In training, everything turns out, I performed the jumps confidently. But at the competitions, I was worried, I could not get together. I lacked competitive experience, the ability to pull myself together at the right time. 

What does the coach say? What goals did he set for you?

Vlada Vasiliev: The main thing is just to skate the program to the end. We already consider this a success. That is, not just skate it to the end, of course, but to complete all the elements without serious mistakes. So far, I have not completed this program.

And what are the sports tasks?

Vlada Vasiliev: Hard to say. I didn’t set specific goals for myself, just like the coaches. We are not in a hurry with progress; we work gradually. So far, I’m happy with my results; there has been gradual progress. This is my first senior season, so for now, I’m happy to be part of the Four Continents Championships.

What are your future plans now?

Vlada Vasiliev: I will compete at the Junior World Championships. I really want to get to the senior World Championships, but this year I didn’t manage to qualify. I didn’t meet the qualifications. But it rarely succeeds from the first time, it’s okay. The coach and I are not in a hurry, and the senior Worlds will be a task for the next competitions.

Let’s be realistic. So far, your results do not allow you to compete even for a free program at the World Championships. What kind of dreams do you see for yourself in this case?

Vlada Vasiliev: I will not say that I want to win the Olympics. Or rather, of course, I would like to, but you are right, you need to approach the issue realistically. I don’t have a clear answer. It would be great to just get to the Olympics. Perhaps this already looks like a goal. Not the easiest, but I hope it’s doable.


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