Alina Zagitova: I hope to stay in figure skating for a long time
Interview with Olympic champion Alina Zagitova. About Olympics, relationships with Medvedeva and Ashley Wagner’s critics.
You became an Olympic champion in 15 years. What’s going on in your head right now?
– Honestly? I think about the upcoming competitions and programs for the next season.
– Absolutely. I’m trying to understand what needs to be changed. I want to skate even better.
So you think only about figure skating?
– So far, I can not think about anything else.
You probably like it when people talk about your age. This can not remain unnoticed when it comes to your success. But at trainings, after all, no one looks into your passport, you work on equal with the rest …
– Yes, we work the same way as others. That is, indulgences are not given to anyone. At the same time, coaches pay as much attention to each of the students as to Zhenya and me.
And how do you feel about this? Do you like when they say about you: “She’s only 15 years old”?
– Maybe yes. But in general, I do not pay attention to this.
How can you be so organized and confident at such a young age? History knows a lot of examples, when more mature athletes who debuted at the Games, burned out before the competition.
– It is hard to answer. Probably, there should be a core strength. I’m sure that I do not want to become one of those who turned off the path. Therefore, after the Games in Pyeongchang I will try to do everything to avoid trouble and continue to develop. I hope to stay in figure skating for a long time.
And how did you manage to avoid trouble on the Olympic ice during the competition?
– I tried to ignore everything, to avoid the increased attention to my person from the media and fans, not to think that I am at the Olympic Games. Compelled myself that this is a normal competition, no different from the others. That was my attitude here.
Who taught you this?
– Despite the fact that I do not have a very rich life experience, I can do certain conclusions myself.
Evgenia Medvedeva experienced an emotional surge after the performance, and she burst into tears on the ice. Compared to her you looked very calm. Only one tear and no one really noticed that …
– I think I did not cry, even from happiness.
So it just seemed like?
– Well, if only got a little teary. But I have such a character, I keep everything inside. I let myself to show emotions only when I come home. Then I tell my parents, I share most inmost things with them.
In what way will you express emotions this time?
– I do not know. Obviously, I’ll run around the house and jump from happiness.
Do you want to say that you have not done this yet?
– Only during my free program, on the ice.
Even after the competitions, when you returned to your room in the Olympic Village, didn’t you do anything like this? Did not record and send somebody a funny audio or video message?
– Of course, I found time for this. I talked with my mother, father, grandmother and sister. As for emotions, I do not show them too much, because there is still much to come.
Most experts were sure that gold in women’s figure skating will be the first for the country at the Olympics. Did this fact put pressure on you?
– I can only repeat that I did not pay any attention to it. Before the competition I’m usually completely closed from the outside world and do not look at anything. I only watch some tv-shows.
Did you follow other competitions?
– Only on TV in the bus, which drove us to the rink and back. Of course, I was cheering for our guys. But I didn’t feel the pressure of responsibility. Maybe it helped me a little bit.
What did you talk about with Medvedeva after the scores?
– I can not tell you all the details.
Even a part of it?
– We congratulated each other, said a few warm words. And everything else was too personal, I will not bring it to the public.
How did this happen?
– I waited, since after Zhenya’s scores was the awarding ceremony. She was in the kiss and cry zone. After her scores, Zhenya got up and ran to me. I met her with open arms.
Many people are interested in your relationship with Medvedeva. You both always answer that you are rivals on the ice and friends in life.
– Yes. I do not even have anything to add.
What you and Zhenya do in your free time?
– For example, we go to Starbucks to have coffee. We communicate in social networks. Zhenya loves to check the Instagram, I too – for the company, or to watch some funny videos.
Despite the fact that you tried not to pay attention to publications in the media, you probably heard what Ashley Wagner said about your free program program?
– Yes, of course, I saw somewhere on social networks. I can say that her words only motivated me. I even wanted to prove that she was wrong. But of course you can’t prove anything to such people. Let her try to perform the same program at the Olympic Games. I’ll be glad to see her performance. However, I will not comment on it after.
Do not you think that the current judging system gives an advantage to younger athletes because of their physical superiority?
– Yes, in our days figure skating is developing very quickly. I just have finished performing at the junior level, and there is already a queue of volunteers. A few more years will pass, and they will be replaced by the next generation, then one more. There will come a day and an hour when I start thinking like Wagner and other critics. What to say, if in our group there are already girls who perform quadruple jumps. But I will do my best to stay afloat as long as possible.
Many former Russian figure skaters in response to Wagner’s critics advised her before judging at least to qualify to the Olympic Games. Do you agree with this position?
– I think a person has the right to express his opinion, but he must have tact and stay within the bounds of decency.
So there is no need to change the rules?
– I think this isn’t really necessary.
You mentioned the young girls who are already practicing quadruple jumps. Doesn’t this competition scare you?
– No. I’m going to perform long enough and fight for a place under the sun.
In other words, to take part in the Beijing Olympics in 2022 is the minimum task?
– Yes. I want to be there.
Fans called you as one of the main heroines of the Games …
– I want to tell them many thanks for the support and warmth that surrounded me. It really inspired me for new achievements. I will try to please them with good skating and surprise them more often.
by Ilia Petrenko and Lev Savari for russian.rt.com