Aleksandr Selevko: “I knew that I could be in the top-3 if everything went well. But before the competitions, I was under so much stress that it was difficult for me to train.”
Translation of the interview with 2024 European Championships silver medalist Aleksandr Selevko.
original source: rus.err.ee dd. 13th January 2023 by Sergei Mikhailov
At the 2024 European Championships, Estonian single skater Aleksandr Selevko won the silver medal. This is a historic achievement. No Estonian figure skater had previously managed to secure a medal in major senior championships.
Q: Aleksandr, you are a silver medalist at the European Championships. What are you feeling right now?
Aleksandr Selevko: First of all, joy. I am very happy. It was unexpected. Of course, I hoped that I could pull myself together like this, but I was afraid: what if something goes wrong. I am very glad that in the end, everything turned out exactly like this, I received good scores, and I found myself on the podium.
Q: Immediately after the competition, you said that you are shocked. Has the shock passed by Saturday morning?
Aleksandr Selevko: Not entirely.
Q: What time did you go to bed, and did you fall asleep quickly?
Aleksandr Selevko: After the performance, we had interviews on the rink, then met with parents, spent time with coaches. When I came to the hotel room, I also couldn’t fall asleep quickly. I think I fell asleep around 4 am.
Q: Before heading to Kaunas, your coach Irina Konovalova publicly stated that the main goal she set for you and your brother Mikhail was to get into the top ten. What were your own expectations? Just be honest.
Aleksandr Selevko: I had no specific expectations. I understood that I could be in the top three if everything went well. But before the competitions, I was under so much stress that it was difficult for me to train. My body also started revealing old injuries. It was hard to get into training. So, heading to Kaunas, I wasn’t expecting any outstanding results. But upon arrival in Lithuania, everything went smoothly. Everything was very good, easy, and all the training sessions went at a very high level.
Q: How would you explain the stress you described?
Aleksandr Selevko: It’s hard to say. Perhaps it’s related to the fact that I haven’t had major international competitions for quite a long time. Almost two years since the last Olympics. I haven’t competed in the European Championships for three years. Maybe that’s why there was anxiety.
Q: After the short program, you were in third place. Did the awareness of this distract or help before the free skate?
Aleksandr Selevko: I understood that I had to execute everything planned in the free skate to stay in the top three. But I tried not to think about it too much. I focused on getting on the ice and performing my routine as cleanly and beautifully as possible. I was very satisfied with my third place in the short program, so I went into the free skate calmly, knowing that I had already made history anyway.
Q: In sports, it regularly happens that after a great short program, skaters falter in the free skate. Have you experienced something like that too?
Aleksandr Selevko: At the Junior Championships, I was in fourth place after the short program, and after the free skate, I dropped to ninth. Yesterday, that memory came back a little. But it didn’t happen again.
Q: Is it true that you decided to simplify your free skate almost at the last moment?
Aleksandr Selevko: Yes, that’s how it happened. We arrived in Kaunas, and during the practices, everything was going perfectly except for one jump – the second quadruple, which was part of my free skate. I attempted it twice and both times it went very poorly. The first time I slightly twisted my leg, and the second time I fell on my sore elbow. After that, we decided to remove it for this competition.
Q: How do you assess your competitors at this European Championships?
Aleksandr Selevko: I would say there were unexpected falls and rises. For example, no one expected one of the leaders, Kevin Aymoz, not to qualify for the free skate. And for him, the competition ended after the unsuccessful short program. In the free skate, many athletes performed very well. During warm-up, I even thought, “Wow, how do I go out and skate now when everyone is showing such good results?” But in the final warm-up, I don’t know what happened. There were many mistakes. Some people who had a chance for a medal didn’t take it. I think it’s mainly due to nerves.
Q: Three years ago, in an interview with “AK+,” you mentioned that the most important thing for you was to learn to focus at competitions. Do you think you’ve learned it?
Aleksandr Selevko: Well, at least the current season shows that I’ve become much better at it. It’s not all perfect, but I’ve become much more consistent in my skating and performances.
Q: Your brother Mikhail didn’t perform well this time. Is he still upset, or has he moved on?
Aleksandr Selevko: He’s much better now. After the short program, I tried not to bother him much. I could see that it wasn’t easy for him. But later, I did my best to support him. Yesterday he was very happy for me. I see that he’s recovering. It’s easier for him now.
Q: We know that you’ve had several injuries in your career. Is it always challenging to come back after them?
Aleksandr Selevko: Definitely not easy. Even now, I have thoughts in my head that things may not go as I want. I plan to go to the next Olympics. But at the same time, I understand that it all depends on my shoulder. If it holds up, I’ll make it to the Olympics, and if not, I’ll have to end my career earlier. The shoulder can pop out at any moment, and there’s a risk that I’ll be out of sports again for a long time. I understand that my shoulder is not in perfect condition. For example, last summer, it popped out twice, but the recovery was quick.
Q: In the summer, you and your brother trained in the USA under the guidance of Rafael Arutyunyan. Did that significantly contribute to your development?
Aleksandr Selevko: Very much. My summer was very intense. First, I spent a month in Japan, where I learned to present myself to the public. Then there was America, where we brought back a lot of new things. This especially applies to technical knowledge, which is now helping us a lot. All of this together contributed to the result I achieved in Kaunas.
Q: Do you think you can repeat it?
Aleksandr Selevko: I believe everything is possible. After all, yesterday I didn’t have an ideal performance. There’s room for improvement. Even considering that we didn’t include the second quadruple in the free skate, there was one major mistake: instead of a triple axel with a triple toe loop, I did a double axel with a double toe loop. Because of this, I lost about 12 points. So I think it’s entirely possible to repeat this result. Maybe even improve it.
Q: Next week, you’ll be flying back to train with Arutyunyan. What will be the main focus?
Aleksandr Selevko: I think we’ll work on quadruple lutz and polishing the program with it for the World Championships. But there are also technical aspects that I’ll need to refine in the USA.
Q: Will your program change for the World Championships?
Aleksandr Selevko: I don’t think there will be significant changes. Only in the free skate, I plan to include two quadruple jumps instead of one.
Q: What are your expectations for the World Championships?
Aleksandr Selevko: It’s hard to say. I hope to skate the short program clean, like in Kaunas, and perform better in the free skate. If everything aligns, then a high placement at the Worlds is possible. But I won’t make any predictions.
Q: Do you feel popular today? Are you recognized on the streets?
Aleksandr Selevko: Very rarely. Of course, in Kaunas, when I went up to the stands to my parents, all the spectators around me were congratulating me. But in Estonia, I can’t say that I’m particularly recognized.
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