Alina Zagitova: Goal is the greatest motivation
Interview with Alina Zagitova for MFK magazine. The interview with on the day of her birthday (May 18th), Alina told about most desired birthday present, childish dreams and plans for the future.
by Oksana Tukacheva for MFK #2(18) 2019
– Usually I celebrate my birthday on vacation, somewhere in hot countries, because our group has a vacation at this time. But at the end of May I have a show in Japan, so I asked Eteri Georgievna (Tutberidze – ed.) to let me go on vacation early. As a child on this day, I always woke up with the thought that there will be something interesting. And the day really turned out to be fabulous. I always celebrated it with friends and had a lot of fun. Now, of course, there are fewer friends, and there is no time for such fun. Therefore, we will celebrate with a family – I, mom, dad, sister Sabina and grandmother. For me, this is the best present, because recently we rarely gather together.
Did the sun and sea helped to distract completely from everyday training life?
– It never turns out to relax completely. For me, the most important thing is to keep weight, so on vacation I had to monitor my diet carefully. Every day I tried to go to the gym to keep fit. Of course, you can relax and do nothing, but I already know if a give myself a pass, then I will be exhausted in training.
A whole summer is ahead. But for skaters the summer is a time when you need to focus and start working. How do you usually start the season after a summer vacation?
– I struggle with jumps for a long time. At first, there are not enough “breath” and it’s harder to prepare programs.
Alina, is it hard to be a star?
– I don’t feel it.
Doesn’t all this endless shootings and meetings, journalists exhaust you?
– Well, this won’t last forever. After the Olympics, it seemed to me that I would never get used to such attention. Then I got used to. I thought: it’s unlikely that they will come to interview me when I become a grandmother. But now things happen to me which I will remember all my life.
Here is even a Barbie doll who looks like you in the Olympic free program, with a gold medal and Masaru, it now lives in the lobby of the Khrustalny rink. No skater has ever had such an honor.
– I admire this doll. Such a delicate work! People did everything by hand, glued every sequence to a dress, they worked for more than one day to give me joy. When I look at this doll, I get such a boost of energy … I feel that people love me. Turns out a mutual love, an exchange of energies. They inspire me, I inspire them. This is what you value the most.
In general, what is it like to know that at the age of 17 you are the idol of millions?
– I don’t think about it at all. I think that first of all it’s necessary to remain yourself. Always, in any situation. Continue to do your job, delight fans. And if I try to seem better than I really am, people will definitely feel that. It’s like during a performance. When your emotions are sincere and go from the heart, the program also looks different and you get a response from the audience.
Would you like to meet some of the stars? Maybe from other sports?
– Alina Kabaeva. I know how strong she is. I really liked when she competed. By the way she called me on the eve of World Championships in Saitama. She said the words of support. But we haven’t met in person yet.
Are photo shoots that take a lot of time in your current schedule a pleasure or is it still work?
– Probably, it would be more correct to say that this is work that brings pleasure. When shootings are from nine in the morning to eight in the evening, you get tired no less than at a training session. But there are still more positive emotions. I really like to be a model. I even think that in the future I will try myself in the model business. And I took something new for myself.
– I feel that I have become more relaxed. After all, in the studio there are so many people who look at what you do, how you work. Everything must be performed at the highest level. This is more like the work of an actor, and although I used to perform in front of the big audience, at the beginning I was shy anyway.
They say that you are absolutely not conflicting, friendly person. And always on the positive. Do you agree?
– I can’t evaluate myself. I can be different, like everyone else. A lot of things depend on my mood. For example, I can’t fully invest in work if the mood is bad. When I come to training in a good mood, it happens that all the jumps and combinations easily turn out from the first attempt. And there are days when, on the contrary, everything falls apart for no reason.
What can cheer you up?
– Different things. I watch good movies, spend time with my animals. And sometimes, in training, one of the guys tells a joke, and the world around becomes more fun. Eteri Georgievna also can joke that you will laugh very long.
Do you quickly let go of failures?
– In my childhood, I didn’t worry about this at all, because everything was much easier. Although my mother scolded me when I performed poorly. And then, before the Worlds in Milan, I didn’t have any major failures. After Milan, yes, it took long to recover.
This season was also not the most successful at times. As if someone was constantly checking from above what are you capable of. Have you ever asked “Lord, why do you send me all this trials again?”
– No, I was fighting with myself. I tried to do as coaches taught, if it’s hard for you, then you need to work even more, get up and move on. You should never say that you won’t succeed, to show how hard it is for you. It was very important for me that the season ended well. Now I know that everything happens in life, sometimes it’s very difficult, but it’s important to overcome and move on. When I won at Saitama, I proved, first of all to myself, that I can do this.
Do you miss home in Izhevsk?
– I used to miss it very much, now it has become easier. To be away from parents was the most difficult for me. I have always been a very home child. And now, when I come to visit my grandmother, grandfather, aunts – my soul is full with joy, the mood rises. Everything there is native – skating rink, school … Izhevsk – these are native walls, childhood …
What did you dream about as a child?
– About lots of things. When I just come to Moscow and got to my first training camp in Novogorsk, I dreamed, for example, to have a normal bed where I could rest between training sessions.
What do you mean?
– I wasn’t in the national team then, it wasn’t possible to settle in the Novogorsk hotel, and there was no time to go to Moscow, where my grandmother and I rented a room. So between workouts I was resting in the lobby, on the sofa. It was small, there wasn’t enough space for my legs … And then, when I got into the national team, all my dreams and desires were connected with figure skating.
When Eteri Georgievna told me that I would do all the jumps in the second half of the program, I was shocked. I think I even started to tell her something like: “This is impossible! I can’t, why!?” I really didn’t understand then how to do it. After all, I didn’t have triplets then. But, apparently, Eteri Georgievna already believed in me, since she was not afraid to say about it.
What do you value your coach for?
– For a strong character, first of all. I also like her femininity, she always looks good, dresses beautifully, in this I also take an example from her. I really respect her for what she did for me on the eve of the World Championships. My mood was endless “I don’t want”, “I won’t”, “leave me alone”. I didn’t listen to either my parents or my coaches. In training, nothing turned out, I began to think that I would never get out of this state. I was tired of fighting and at some point I even have up.
Was you psychologically ready to end like this?
– As it turned out, no. When you feel that you are losing what is dear to you, you begin to cherish it. I guess I needed to feel it.
They say that sometimes with a good kick we gain wings.
– Yes, I probably needed this kick. To persuade, caresse head – this is not about me. And Eteri Georgievna is a very wise coach, she feels when to let go and when to push. She said: “No! Let’s go!” And I’m very grateful to her for insisting.
Alina, how’s your sister Sabina’s success on ice?
– So far, not everything turns out, but she is still small, there is time. At eleven years old I also jumped only doubles. Started to land double axel consistently only in 12.
Now it’s clear why, when Eteri Georgievna was asked: “Why did you take this girl to the group?” She answered: “Because she is beautiful!”
– Of course, I didn’t know about this. I just began to listen carefully and do everything that the coaches said. And everything went by itself: triplets, national team, medals …
Do you want to say that if you don’t have any results, you shouldn’t rush to quit sports?
– You need to focus on yourself, focus on your capabilities, rather than look at someone. I remember that I was very offended when my mother began to compare me with other girls in our group: “Look, she jumps but you don’t”
Did this help?
– Sometimes it encouraged me. You look at how your competitors works and you start to work better. For a while I pulled myself up, but then the girls still overtook me. Until the age of 10, I didn’t have a single prize place at competitions. But at the same time, I intuitively felt that there was no need to focus to focus on my peers’ success. Sometimes I say to my mother: “Well, there was a whole group of girls in Izhevsk and where are they now?” Although, of course, all people are different. Someone, on the contrary, seeks after someone and also achieves success.
Today do you say to mom “Thanks for your patience”?
– I wonder how she endured it all. My mother is not an athlete, she tried start doing figure skating several times, but it didn’t work out. So she wanted to realize her unfulfilled dream in me. Did everything for this.
Now I understand: children still need to listen to their parents, trust them more, because a child doesn’t understand what he wants. Of course, if he likes to do something and have success, it is better not to touch it. But if parents see that it’s not going very well, but there are prospects in something else, even though the child doesn’t have much desire, one must insist.
By the way, my grandmother also always helped me. If she hadn’t “pushed” me when we moved to Moscow, hadn’t told about mistakes, hadn’t scoled sometimes, then I wouldn’t have achieved a lot.
Mom sometimes accompanies you in competitions. Does it help?
– Sometimes it helps. Sometimes I’d better be alone. I love on the eve of the competitions to go deep into myself, hide in myself, and my mother thinks that the more she talks to me, the better for me, that it’s easier to get rid of unnecessary thoughts, that conversations relieve stress better… And I think that if a person doesn’t get himself together mentally, no psychologist will help him.
How do you think, are your parents proud of you?
– I think so. Sometimes mom or dad say: “This is Zagitova. This is our daughter! And by the way they pronounce it, I see how pleasant they are. And Sabina, when she was younger, told everyone about her sister so touchingly that I had tears.
If your sister wants to train in Moscow at a more serious level, will you support her desire?
– This is such a contentious issue … On the one hand, I know how hard it will be. And on the other hand, in sports there are many positive aspects that are worth learning. For example, regime, discipline … If you are ready to endure difficulties, why not?
What is the hardest thing about sports?
– To force yourself. For example, to force yourself to learn jumps. It seems that they turns out so easily, but this is a wrong impression. You always have to overcome laziness, fatigue, muscle pain. Not everyone can do it.
24 hours a day. What is your favorite time?
– You will be surprised but training sessions. Truth. When I was on vacation on the sea I didn’t know what to do, where to go. The regime and daily routine discipline a lot. I have everything scheduled. I always know what I will do after I leave the rink, and I manage to do many different things, despite the tight training schedule.
Do you have free time?
– Very little.
What do you like to do to recover physically and morally?
– Recently, I have been very interested in visage. I watch special videos on the Internet about makeup artists work, take online lessons. Figure skating is such a sport that I have to wear a make up, do my hair – all skaters can do it. But when you start go deep in the subject, you understand that making the right makeup is an art. I like to watch how with the help of hairstyles and cosmetics you can change the appearance of a person, I myself try to change my image, but I don’t have enough professional knowledge and skills. I’m also interested in fashion design.
What are your preferences?
– I like sports street style. I dress like that myself and I hope that we’ll have a joint work with Puma in clothing design. I have so many ideas …
I think there was another idea – to open a restaurant.
– Yes, Japanese. I really love Japan, I like food, culture, architecture … In my new apartment, one room will be decorated in the Japanese style … And I still have a dream to jump with a parachute, but I can’t get up the nerve.
Or bungee jumping. I really want to! But I was told that my weight should be at least 50 kg. And I weigh less.
When was the last time you felt absolutely happy?
– At the World Championships. Nothing was stronger yet.
Do you recall the Olympics?
– Now less. People often ask me which victory is more valuable to me – at the Olympics or at the World Championships. And I don’t want to compare them. The Worlds is more remembered for being able to overcome myself. And the Olympic Games are generally a unique event. It happens once in a lifetime. The whole world found out about me there.
What are your plans for the new season? What is the overall mood?
– I will continue to train. I live today. I set myself the task for a day, for a week, but I’m not trying to look too far ahead. We have too many strong athletes. If you focus on the idea that you need to be the best and not think about anything else, you can just eat yourself from the inside. Therefore, I don’t want to plan anything.
Alina, you are only 17, and so much has already been gone through! What is the secret of success?
– It seems to me that the goal is the greatest motivation. Without it, nothing will work. When you have it, you understand what needs to be done and how to go to it. You need to believe in yourself. And you need to have people who believe in you. Sometimes, maybe even more than you do.
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