Alina Zagitova: I shouldn’t hope that someone wouldn’t do something. I need to do everything myself
Interview with Alina Zagitova after Grand prix final 2018.
by Anatoli Samokhvalov for rsport.ria.ru
– You get more experience from defeats and at the next competitions you know better what you need. How to get together morally. Each athlete has his own ritual. Someone goes to the ice from with the right foot. And I think about my successful competitions, the way I behaved there, how I slept, where I ate a little more, where a little less. An experienced athlete consists of such small things.
Did competitions in Canada bring more worries because of acclimatization?
– For the first time the acclimatization wasn’t as easy as usual. In Japan it is more convenient, like I just wake up early, the sun always shines there. For me it is very important what is the weather outside. Well, I’m such a person. If it’s sunny, then I have a good mood and in general I am peppy. When it’s cloudy, it’s hard for me to get my body together. Here, in Canada, I took sleeping pills before the free program, because I could not sleep at night, and during the day I had a feeling that I would fall asleep right at the practice session.
– Yes, I think all athletes do this to acclimatize. But this is not always good, I try to fall asleep myself, because the next day you feel sluggish. It happened once.
Falling asleep before this free program what was you thinking about? The gap between you and Rika Kihira? What else?
– Yes, and for some reason I thought about the World championship. My most terrible competitions. Here I remembered that then I also was second. Then, in Italy, I thought at night what should I do to be the first. But now I have become more experienced. Now I prepare myself a different way: what should I do just to skate the free program. When you want to beat someone, you do worse for yourself. It’s bad when such thoughts come to mind.
But how to learn it?
– Just to address it head-on and repeat the same phrase each time until you remember it. Only clean skate. And nothing more.
Is the information correct that you have twisted your ankle before the free program in Vancouver?
– I had already warmed up and decided to run a little to shake the muscles so that they did not tremble. Stepped on the cable and twisted my ankle. It happened so.
Was the help of a doctor needed?
– Of course. Thank God, our doctor who was provided by the school went with us, and he did his job. Frost, painkillers. Leg swollen slightly.
Did you have thoughts to withdraw?
– No, at that moment I remembered Yuzuru Hanyu, who performed at the Grand Prix in Moscow with a much more serious injury. I realized: to be an athlete, it is necessary to overcome difficulties. Everything can not be smooth.
After the Grand Prix Final, what conclusions did you make?
– It is necessary to polish the program completely, not to skate so stiff as I did. I have a huge room for growth. My record, if I am not mistaken, is 238 points. Here I got 226. Wow how much I have to work!
Is it necessary to look at the rivals who jump triple axel?
– The most important lesson I learned from this Grand Prix finals: I understood that I should not hope that someone would not do something. I need to do everything myself.
During this Final, you said that there’s no need to buzz about Russian nationals.
But still, how do you plan to approach it? After all, this is already our local championship, and everyone will draw analogies with the Olympic Games.
– Yes? I did not know about that. I hope there won’t be so many comments before the championships. After the competition they can write as many comments as they want. They will praise someone, they will scold someone, but not before – I like the lull before the fight.
Do you read everything that they write about you on social networks?
– I don’t go there to read it. Just look on Instagram who posted new photos, food recipes. But sometimes some headlines catch your eyes, and it is impossible not to read all this.
This is popularity.
– Sometimes it bothers.
Have you try to treat this hype with irony?
– I tried. Anyway, sometimes these things make me angry, but I already knew that this’s a way to nowhere. Everyone will never love you.
In France, I spoke with Zhenya Medvedeva, she said that the accusations of betrayal make her most angry. What angers you the most in these comments?
– It makes me angry, when I perform not as good as everyone expects me to, and many immediately start to write: well, that’s it, she cannot. These are couch critics. They just don’t know who the athlete is. This is the same if I will comment on another sport without knowledge about it. They haven’t been in my place, they are not involved in any sport, they do not know how hard it is to be a professional athlete, how difficult everything is at this level. I repeat: they have never been in my place and never will be. And when I realize this, it calms me.
There is a category of people who get motivated by such hate, they laugh at their haters and do their work even better, looking at this couch criticism.
– Now I also try to treat this with irony, with laughter, because sometimes it is really funny.
Sorry for the awkward question, but I asked Medvedeva in France why you stopped talking about each other. And Zhenya told a lot of good things about you, that she hasn’t seen a person who would work more than you. Why don’t you talk about Zhenya after the Olympics?
– And what should I say? We have figured out everything between us at the Olympics. There we said nice words to each other. As for the rest I do not want … This is only our business and I don’t want everyone to know about it.
But do you communicate?
At the Olympics there were an idyll between you. You became an Olympic champion, Zhenya a silver medalist. She cried and supported you at the press conference. From the outside, this looked like a fantastic example of a professional attitude of two strong people. Why did it end after the Olympics?
– First, she moved to Canada. In general, we did not communicate with her much, especially before the Olympics. It is difficult to answer why. Because first of all we were rivals with her. And we did not communicate like we were the best friends. Since she has left, she doesn’t text me, I don’t text her. Well, I generally don’t like texting. And talk too. Sometimes I’m too lazy to talk even with my parents on the phone.
Is friendship possible with competition in sports?
– (Alina slowly and surely shakes her head) Probably not. But I don’t know for sure. I watched the Olympics in Rio, where our gymnasts Rita Mamun and Yana Kudryavtseva performed. From the outside, it also seemed that they were the best friends. But I think that first of all there was competition between them. I communicate with Rita, but have not asked her yet how she and Yana communicated during the Olympics. I know that the coaches separated them. Previously, they lived in the same room, but before the Olympics they lived in different rooms. But only they, Rita and Yana, know what they had inside.
With whom do you share a room?
– Either I live alone, or with Tiffany. I like living with her. She is such a sunny person, you can talk with her on any topic. This is first, and secondly, she is adult, experienced athlete, she shares with me life things, her experiences, impressions. Well, it’s also matters that she is a dancer, and I’m a single skater. We don’t compete with each other and this adds calmness.
What language do you speak with her?
– Russian. Sometimes she says something in English, but I remind her: “Tiffany, have you forgotten that I do not speak English?” But it’s possible to say that she is my English teacher. She is very calm, not hot-tempered. Usually, people abroad behave like her. So when I get nervous, she calms me down.
Can you imagine what will happen at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing?
– This is a very funny question. I do not know what will happen tomorrow. Even in the beginning of 2018 we did not know who would go to the Olympics.
Really? Zagitova and Medvedeva, the third spot was vacant.
– I haven’t thought so confidently before the Russian nationals. I think that at the 2022 Russian Nationals we will also understand who will go to Beijing. And do not forget about injuries.
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Very interesting interview.