Alena Kostornaia: “I try to understand whether I want to continue skating, training. Uncertainty in our business is meaningless. And ISU decision on Russia’s membership isn’t in the last place in this decision.”
Interview with Alena Kostornaia. About changing a coach, Olympics and her position regarding the change of sports citizenship.
source: tass.ru dd. 18th April 2022
Alena, you started working with Elena Germanovna Buyanova. But so far, you are not officially in her group. What are the official agreements at this stage?
Alena Kostornaia: There is such an agreement – I try to understand for myself whether I want to continue skating, training. Uncertainty in our business is meaningless. Now we are working to understand whether it is comfortable for us to cooperate, what can we do together, whether something good can come of it. Everything will be decided before the beginning of May.
Doubts about motivation?
Alena Kostornaia: They were.
Do I understand correctly that the situation also depends on the ISU decision on Russia’s membership?
Alena Kostornaia: Yes, this question is not in the last place. But even if everything goes according to the worst scenario, I will skate at the conditional Russian Cup in Syzran and I will be happy. As for the competitions, I am sure that our federation will cope. It is enough to recall what they did for us during covid. I’m calm – they will definitely come up with something.
Why Buyanova? Why CSKA?
Alena Kostornaia: Since childhood, I wanted to skate in this school, in this group. Apparently, this moment has come.
What did you know about Buyanova’s group before that?
Alena Kostornaia: A lot. She is primarily famous for working with senior athletes.
What were the first emotions on the ice in CSKA?
Alena Kostornaia: Every time, going on the ice after another illness, I used to skate a circle and say: “That’s it, I’m going to jump.” They answer me: “No, you are not going to jump.” Me: “No, I’m going, I’m going.” I make a jump, “almost kill” myself on it. And they tell me again: “Go glide.” I understand that they don’t let me do it ahead of time.
In general, for the first time I had a tried out in CSKA at ten years old with Inna Germanovna Goncharenko, then they took me – I jumped well. But I was still too small, and Sasha Proklova, Vika Bezrukova, Lena Radionova had been already skating there. “Come back later.” Mom decided to wait, and two years later I got into the group of Eteri Georgievna.
How was it this time?
Alena Kostornaia: When I came this time, Elena Germanovna was not at the rink. I skated without her for a couple of days with Maxim Zavozin. It was so hard, I haven’t glided like that since I was 13. And then Elena Germanovna appeared: “Come on, come here.” I think: ouch. Then, I remember, my mother calls, and my emotions are overflowing: “Mom, there is such a wonderful communication here, everything is explained and shown so clearly.” Mom answered only: “So you got there. Although I heard something else.” I answer her: “Everything is the same as always with me – they say one thing, in reality everything is different.” Mom told me: “Enough bla bla bla, go to work.” That’s all.
Returning to the ISU decisions. Now, in the new realities, many started to discuss the issue of a possible change of citizenship by our skaters. What is your opinion on this matter?
Alena Kostornaia: I can’t think for other people. And it is impossible to say with certainty about people, whether they are right or not. Everyone has their own interpretation of the problem. I can only answer for myself, and I know for sure that I will not do this. This is my vision of this issue, and that’s it.
It is possible that in the summer at the ISU congress a decision will be made to increase the age minimum. Is this a key decision for you?
Alena Kostornaia: Of course, for me it will be a big plus. But I do not see much difference between 16 and 15 years old, 17 years old – yes, this is a significant difference.
During the last Olympic cycle, what changes have you noticed in yourself?
Alena Kostornaia: I entered it as a 14-year-old girl, a junior. And now they say about me: “She is already a hundred years old.” And I understand very well – I have the fourth senior season, but only yesterday I was compared with juniors.
The fourth senior season is serious, yes. But I immediately think of the example of Liza Tuktamysheva.
Alena Kostornaia: When Liza was already seriously competing, Adeliia Petrosian was just born. This looks and sounds so weird.
Do you feel like an adult?
Alena Kostornaia: No.
So the love for unicorns is still alive?
Alena Kostornaia: Yes (smiles). I’m like Danya Milokhin.
What advice would you give yourself as 14-year-old junior?
Alena Kostornaia: Perhaps I would advise myself to make some decisions much earlier than they were made. And trust yourself more than the opinions of others.
And what is left of that girl who once came to figure skating?
Alena Kostornaia: Love for music, for something new, for extreme. And also the fact that I always tell the truth, no matter where and whoever asks me. I then pay for it, but it’s better this way. And yes, the love of unicorns is still with me.
What are the positive things left from working in the group of Eteri Tutberidze?
Alena Kostornaia: There are a lot of jokes, a lot of phrases. What – I will not say. Indeed, there were many positive moments. There I found such friends as Anya Shcherbakova, Dasha Usacheva. I was surprised then how with such a fierce competition there could be such a close-knit team.
Perhaps a difficult question. But what were the emotions during the Beijing Olympics? Was it hard to watch?
Alena Kostornaia: I was rooting for Mark, and that’s all, I didn’t watch anything else. I found out about Anya’s victory only after an hour and a half. Because at that time I went on a Middle Ages quest. And then I had another 20 minutes later. The second quest was about Sherlock Holmes.
And what about things that happened to Kamila Valieva?
Alena Kostornaia: The main thing I thought about at that time was the future of our skaters. I cound’t even guess what it threatened us in the future.
Could you imagine that Anya Shcherbakova will become the Olympic champion?
Alena Kostornaia: Yes. I believed in her. Because I believe that a person who has endured so much cannot be left without a reward. And how much she endured for the sake of this victory, this is the starting point of what ultimately happened there, in Beijing.
I know that none of you liked this abbreviation TSCHK – Trusova, Shcherbakova, Kostornaia. But now I can’t help mentioning it. And the only one from this trio who did not make it to the Olympics is Kostornaia. How does this affect your attitude to work, future, plans?
Alena Kostornaia: I think that each of us will remain motivated to reach the next Games. But this motivation is different for me, and precisely because I didn’t get to the Olympics. And yes, it gives me strength for the next four years at least.
What is needed for this?
Alena Kostornaia: Trust the coaches. And then – let’s see how it goes. Music, ideas for programs already exist, I voiced them out. Free program is an immortal and beloved work, short is a new style, but the music is not new. These are still fairly neutral options.
What is your functional state now. After all, two fractures, and then a coronavirus, are super-falls for the body.
Alena Kostornaia: I still can’t complete a bunch of three elements in a free program. I jump a combination, I go to the second one, and it doesn’t work out. Breathing is hard, the legs are tired, there is not that sharpness that you gain in six months from the training camp to the Russian Nationals. It’s impossible to do in two weeks. Although there are combinations, there are jumps. Axel at work. I did it on a harness, and then I tried it twice. Until covid, however. But all this needs to be worked out, and there is still enough time. Until the September test skates, anyway. This is my first checkpoint so far.
What is the maximum goal you set before September?
Alena Kostornaia: Short and free programs with triples, clean content. Axel if possible. If it goes well, I will do it. If I’m not sure about it, we’ll wait.
I saw your photo in ballet shoes.
Alena Kostornaia: This season we were supposed to debut at the “Viennese Ball”, we are waiting for this for the third year in a row. But first the coronavirus, then the ball was postponed, then my dance partner joined the army. But it’s ok, I’m ready to debut there every year. And yes, I do ballroom dancing.
Why not strip plastic, like Medvedeva or Trusova, for example?
Alena Kostornaia: I think it’s either given or not. When a kitten is born, no one teaches him to meow. Here, it seems to me, the same thing.
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