Alina Zagitova: Only the closest people know the price of this victory
Interview with Alina Zagitova at the World Championships 2019.
by Olga Ermolina for fsrussia.ru dd. 29th March, 2019
Alina, you never show elation after your victories. But what was going on in your soul this time?
– I wanted to throw everything that was in my hands, scream loudly and to jump up and down! But it was necessary to give an interview, answer questions, tell what I feel, take pictures, smile … – you’re so tired after this that you just want to lie down and not get up.
Why the World title is more valuable for you than the Olympic medal?
– Because at the Olympics, I still didn’t understand the seriousness of what was happening and didn’t know how difficult it would be for me later. In the Olympic season I had no problems with jumps. I just went and did them, and everything was easy. But after the Olympics, this season was difficult. I stopped winning all the time, although I was in the prize winners, except for the Russian Nationals, which was a little breakdown. Then I forgot about it somehow and started to train. But trainings weren’t the best, something didn’t work out, one thing then another, and it made me nervous. When you do clean runthrough in training every day, without any problems, then you go to a competitions confidently. And when there are difficulties with jumps, something doesn’t work out, then, naturally, you start thinking about mistakes and this is not very good. We should be able to abstract from such thoughts.
Didn’t you have thoughts to change your life after the Olympics?
– To leave sport? No. There were no such thoughts. I wanted to go on, keep skating and do it even better. But I didn’t think that it would be so hard, and when problems with jumps started, I realized all the seriousness, that I had a lot of work to do.
How offensive was the statements that Zagitova won the Olympics accidentally? Although only people who don’t understand anything in sports can say so.
– I also don’t understand such people. Previously, I was very upset, but now I take it much calmer. To make myself angry before the free program at the World Championships, I even read a few comments where they wrote that Zagitova had no titles this season, that she wouldn’t be able to get together in Japan, because she failed the previous Worlds. And it motiveted me. Probably, it helped to skate the program well.
Last season was the most successful in your career and you probably went to the World Championship in Milan with the thought of victory.
– I didn’t think about it, because after the Olympics I got sick and before that World Championships I didn’t make any clean run-throughs. It was very hard for me to get ready, because I lost 2 kilograms, I felt weak and didn’t recover completely. After Korea, I probably should have take a break, recover, but I understood that I could not miss important meetings. Well, how could I not to go to President reception? In general, I didn’t fully recover, went to Worlds and so it happened.
How was the preparation for this World Championships in Saitama?
– After the European Championships, I thought a lot, there was a desire to work. But the closer the World Championship was, the more nervousness appeared. All the time I was thinking that the competition is soon, which I lost last year and it was a failure. And with these nerves came problems with jumps. Jumps didn’t work out, and I was even more nervous. I didn’t know how to deal with it and began to behave as I was unusual for: the coaches said one thing, but I did the opposite.
In my head I understood that it was wrong, but I couldn’t help myself. No one except me, my coaches and my loved ones knows how hard this preparation was. The coaches had to pull me out, because nothing worked out in trainings, I was on the verge and even thought to quit. But the coaches helped me a lot, and only I know what it cost them. They really helped me. They didn’t force me, but found the right words. No psychologists worked with me. Psychologists are my coaches. They helped me prepare for this World championships.
Can we assume that this victory has become the barrier after which it will be easier for you and more calmly?
– Yes. I didn’t tell anyone, but at this championship I realized that I can fight with myself, my character, my thoughts, jumps, even when not everything works out in trainings. During these few days at the World Championships, I experienced so much, so much emotion, that it was doubly pleasant for me that I was able to get ready.
What did you lack before? Maybe a sports rage, because you are a very sincere and kind person in life?
– Life and sport are two different things. Sports anger is necessary in sport. This season I lacked it at some competitions. I went on the ice and didn’t want to do anything. Just turn around and go relax. At this World Championships, for the first time in the season, I had sports passion, which is important. I had the same mood at the Olympics. I knew: I need it, I’m close to my goal and I need to achieve it. And now, in Saitama, it was exactly the same condition. I knew that I need it! I even had a dream, I will not say which one, but everything worked out.
What are your plans now?
– I’m not going to quit.
I was told that at the European Championships in Minsk, when a fire alarm went off at the hotel, and your mom started collecting documents, you shouted to her: “Mom, leave it all, grab my skates and let’s run!”
– Yes, it was so. After Minsk, I really wanted to work. Maybe it’s good that I’ve experienced a lot of things before this World Championships. Probably, this is such an age, when in your head you realize that you will not leave the sport, but you say something completely different. Teen’s stuff. I hope this will pass. You need to overcome it. I think many have faced it.
What is figure skating for you?
– This is my life. I’m at the rink all the time, I train all the time, no matter how strange it may sound, but that’s how it is. I spend a lot of time at the rink. I go to bed in the evening and think what I have to do in training tomorrow. I get up in the morning and make a plan in my head. It turns out that I always think about figure skating. About trainings, competitions. The Olympics and the World Championships are the most memorable of them.
And yet, do you have plans for the future to complicate the content?
– I don’t like to talk about something in advance, first you need to do it. Will see.
After the World Championships you stay in Japan for the show. Is the show an outlet for you?
– Yes, I adore shows. Especially in Japan. This is a different atmosphere, without pressure as at competitions. This is communication with skaters, fans. I don’t speak English, but it doesn’t prevent me from communications. Many guys try to speak Russian, they learn some phrases. Sometimes it’s funny. But I really like it all. After the World Championships, a show in Japan that’s exactly what I need.
At the arena in Saitama there was a department where Masaru toys were sold. Did you go up there?
– No. I saw a photo. Now at all competitions they throw Masaru toys on the ice so, probably, I can open my own shop soon. I always have several such dogs in bags with gifts. These toys are very similar to the living Masaru, and it seems to me that Masaru likes that, although she doesn’t realize that she is a star in Japan. Someday I would love to bring her here.
What role does Masaru play in your life? I think she is not just a dog for you.
– Yes, Masaru feels my mood very well, always tries to cheer me up and calm me down. I start to stroke her and stress passes, I want to smile. I’m very glad that Masaru appeared in my life. She does not just understand me – she feels. She always listens carefully when we speak. And I often think that this is not a dog, but a living person who just turned into a dog.
What was the most memorable about this World Championships?
– Emotions. Only the coaches and the closest people know the price of this victory, how difficult was the path to it. I think they all rejoice even more than me. But I also experience double joy, because everything that we did was not in vain.
And Japan surprised me from my very first arrival here and continues to amaze me. Here, the most ordinary things seem extraordinary. People are calm, traditions not similar to ours … Once I came to the festival, where the Japanese dressed in anime costumes, put masks on their faces … In Japan, at every corner you can find something interesting.
Also here are very beautiful sunrises. When I came here for the first, because of acclimatization I couldn’t sleep, I woke up at 4 am and saw through the window how the sun rises. It lasted only a few moments, I shot everything on the phone and felt happy.
And what is happiness?
– This is when everyone is happy.
Related topics: Alina Zagitova