Alena Leonova: “Trusova will grow up and will understand everything. Maybe even regret saying what she said then.”
Alena Leonova about the results of the Olympic season.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 3d April 2022 by Anastasiia Panina
Our athletes, due to the ISU suspension, did not participate in the World Championships this season. Would the pedestals be different with them?
Alena Leonova: Undoubtedly. Firstly, with ours skaters it would be more spectacular. Secondly, I think that in women’s single skating and pairs Russia would take the whole pedestal.
Let’s talk about the results of the Olympics now, when the passions have subsided a bit. What do you think about the decision of the FFKKR to put the first numbers in all disciplines in the team event and not to make substitutions? Despite the fact that with a different strategy it would be possible to medal more athletes.
Alena Leonova: From the point of view, so that no one is offended, the decision is correct. Everything is deserved, everything is fair, they gave preference to the first numbers. A vise decision not to use substitutions and to give the guys who earlier proved their superiority the opportunity to fully realize themselves in the Olympic team event.
Could the federation have done so in order to avoid unnecessary talk and fuss around the team composition?
Alena Leonova: It could be so. I don’t think they wanted extra noise, some wars on the Internet and so on.
Alexandra Trusova at the Olympics must have experienced the biggest disappointment in her life, reacting very emotionally to it. Do you think she had a chance to get ahead of Anna Shcherbakova who skated clean, given that Sasha always got slightly less in the components?
Alena Leonova: Let’s start with the fact that Sasha didn’t skate perfectly. If all her shortcomings had been corrected, I think she could have been the first. But I can’t help but note that it must have been hard for her to skate with the understanding that she can win only with a perfect skate. There was no room for mistake. And that makes it even more nervous.
Sasha is such a risky girl, she always stands her ground, so I feel a bit sad for her. I wanted her to snatch this well-deserved piece. On the other hand, the silver medal of the Olympics is also very cool, prestigious and worth a lot. It is clear that at that moment emotions took over, but Sasha will grow up and will understand everything. And maybe even regret saying what she said then.
Could the Olympic results damage the trust between Trusova and Tutberidze? Does it make sense for Sasha to change her coach and look for someone who will provide her with an individual approach?
Alena Leonova: I personally was very happy when Sasha returned to Eteri Georgievna. I think this is a perfect option for her. Basically she shouldn’t rushed somewhere. It is clear that she wanted to try something new, but this is not the thing to do in the pre-Olympic season. I repeat, Tutberidze is the best option for Trusova. The attitude towards her there is good, it can be seen. I think Eteri has enough time for her.
Anna Shcherbakova is an Olympic champion, World and Russian champion. The only title she does not yet have is the title of European champion. Does it make sense for her to continue her career, especially with the uncertainty for Russian sports?
Alena Leonova: If she has motivation and has a goal to collect all the medals, then why not. She is such a super-motivated girl, very fighting, but in principle there are no others in that group. And nothing will stop her from collecting all the titles – she only needs health and the ability to compete.
The confrontation between Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva in Pyeongchang, real or imaginary, has been the engine of figure skating in terms of spectator interest for several years. Does the confrontation between Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova have such potential?
Alena Leonova: I don’t think that this will escalate directly into some kind of war, as it was with Zhenya and Alina and their fans. But I think that this will push the girls themselves, and their competitiors, and in general just young skaters to train more and harder. The more high-level athletes there are, the higher the interest to the sport. So there will definitely be a promotion of figure skating.
Kamila Valieva survived the most difficult Olympics for herself, having experienced the whole range of emotions in those three weeks. And, of course, the individual competitions after the trials about doping became a difficult test for her. All this at the age of 15. Do you think Valieva’s story will become a decisive argument for ISU in favor of raising the age minimum?
Alena Leonova: Talks about raising the age minimum have been going on for a long time, and perhaps Kamila’s story will somehow push the ISU to such a decision. But I do not think that they will rely only on it. It’s unfortunate that all this happened to Kamila.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva had one of the most successful seasons in terms of consistency and results. But even this did not help her qualify for the Olympics. 2 months after the Olympics, Liza with a triple axel in great shape and a new program. Do you have an answer, where, at the age of 25, she takes the moral and physical strength not to give up and keep such a bar?
Alena Leonova: From my own experience I can say that this is, of course, a great love for figure skating. Thank God there are no serious injuries. I just always thought that skating is the only thing I really know how to do well, which means I will continue.
I think Liza is also driven by the love of the fans, because it’s huge. She tries to stay in this elite, she goes to these quads at 25 years old. I’d probably crash for sure if I tried. She just doesn’t give up, and this is worthy of respect.
Do you believe that there still will be an Olympics in Tuktamysheva’s life? By the next games in Milan, she will be 29 years old.
Alena Leonova: If she continues to skate the whole cycle, if she has her axel and quadruple jump, at least one, then this is quite possible. You see, the stumbling block for Liza in the Olympic season is the Russian Nationals, which is very disappointing. She needs to do something with it, break the tradition, and then everything will be fine, she will finally go to the Olympics.
Although I read her interview, she said that, in principle, she had no such goal – to go to the Olympics, that it’s not the main happiness. Just people around inflated this topic. In fact, Liza has already achieved enough to skate without worries.
Another super-talented figure skater didn’t make it to the Olympics this season. Alena Kostornaia tried to restore the triple axel, changed programs, but in the end, with a broken arm, she did not participate in the Russian Nationals, having lost her chances to be selected. She has recently left Khrustalny for CSKA. With all her merits, such a sad scenario – is it bad luck, inattention of coaches, a difficult character, or just very high competition? Or all at once?
Alena Leonova: Maybe I will seem a little tough, but I think that running from coach to coach does not lead to anything good. Yes, Alena is a great skater, but that was before her first transfer from Tutberidze to Plushenko. Then she was simply brilliant. She seemed to be an athlete who has everything. Technique, skating, beauty. But unfortunately, for some reason, when the triple axel was lost, everything else was gone. In the last season, I didn’t see that ease of skating. The programs, I do not argue, were good, but she performed them not at the same level as before.
I think Alena will recover, will try herself with another coach. Let’s see what it turns into. But it’s a good lesson for everyone and an anti-example of running from coach to coach – why leave when everything is fine? She had results, won the entire season. Probably, there are some internal problems that we do not know about, but the main thing – the result – she had it.
Question about men’s single skating. What is the secret of Mark Kondratiuk, who can already be called one of the most reliable single skaters in Russia? He doesn’t have much competitive practice compared to others, he didn’t have an international junior career. He just appeared, flared up and continues to shine.
Alena Leonova: A unique case, in my opinion. I know Mark a little longer than the audience. I knew him even before he began to win and gain a name for himself. We went to Italy for a training camp with the group of Evgeni Vladimirovich (Rukavitsyn) and with Svetlana Vladimirovna (Sokolovskaya), and she took Mark with her. It must have been four years ago. I was surprised – how does this person jump everything? So fearless! Much didn’t work out. But after two years, I saw that Mark was completely different. He began to succeed. Due to some insane desire, due to efficiency. Mark is the main surprise of the last two seasons.
It seems to me that he has no sports anger at all, maybe this helps him?
Alena Leonova: I agree, he skates without that wild responsibility that can harm. With a relaxed head he does everything, skates like in show.
The last question is about the future. Suppose that the worst-case scenario is realized, in which Russia will be excluded from world sports for several more years. Where will world figure skating move? Can we say that the sport will degrade?
Alena Leonova: I will not say that it will degrade, but it will definitely stand still. Without our skaters, others show ten-year-old triple-triple combinations, which were enough to win when I, Karolina Kostner and others skated. It got to the point that at the World Championships, only Alysa Liu tried to do a triple axel, and only in a free program. Strange impression.
Irina Rodnina: “In a situation when the security and interests of the country and the entire nation are at stake, changing the sports citizenship isn’t the right thing to do.”