Aliona Savchenko: “I always thought that if I won the Olympics, I should write a book about it.”
Interview with Aliona Savchenko. About plans to perform at another Olympics, quad attempts, crisis in pair skating, age minimum, her favorite Russian skaters and many other things.
source: sport24.ru dd. 24th November 2020
How did you get the idea to publish the book?
Aliona Savchenko: I always thought that if I won the Olympics, I should write a book about it. I wanted to tell my story. Perhaps my story will push someone to achieve his goal, motivate him, as I was once motivated by the examples of other athletes. After winning the 2018 Worlds, I even thought that it could be a movie plot, because my path to Olympic gold was so difficult. But then I decided that it would be better to start with a book (laughs), and I started to look for a suitable author.
I am very grateful to the author of the book, Alexandra Ilyina. It all started when she wrote about our free program after one of the shows. And she described it so beautifully, just to tears. We met, and I told her about my idea, she found it interesting. We met several times, Alexandra came to me in Oberstdorf, talked with me, my parents. Earlier, back at competitions, she interviewed my partners, coaches. The process was long. And then in March 2020, a book was published in German.
Is the publication successful in Germany?
Aliona Savchenko: Yes, the book was among the Amazon Best Sellers. But we were unlucky with the quarantine, we got under the first wave of the pandemic: all stores were closed, and, unfortunately, we did not have the opportunity to present the book and meet with fans. In March we were supposed to go to an international book fair in Leipzig, but it was canceled. Although we still visited Leipzig, because in this city we were filming a program where we presented the book, albeit in a different format. Maybe in the future we will have the opportunity to make a presentation in Germany, but we still were satisfied. The sales were good and the reviews were also good. It is easy to read. And this, I think, is the most important.
How was the process of translating the book into Russian?
Aliona Savchenko: In general, I want this book to be in English, not only in Russian. Now we are looking for a suitable publishing house and then a translator.
I was glad that a Russian publishing house approached us. We are happy that all the people who were cheering for me will be able to read this book in Russian. I’m from Ukraine, and in our country many Russian-speaking people are fond of figure skating, not to mention Russia, many also live in Germany, and indeed all over the world. It is good that the book was translated by the same author who wrote it in German, so we are talking about the author’s translation, and the original history and writing are not lost in the book.
A welcoming address to the book was written by Tatiana Anatolievna Tarasova. Why was she entrusted with such an important mission?
Aliona Savchenko: She’s great! And I really, really respect Tatiana Anatolievna. True, I never trained with her, but Tatiana Anatolievna was always at the competitions, was there and supported me. She is a legend. I am proud that she wrote her opinion for this book. Tatiana Anatolievna sometimes writes comments on my Instagram page: “Oh, Alionka, where are you? We miss you.” She is always with us.
What advice would you give to fans who are hesitant to buy the book or not?
Aliona Savchenko: Buy, of course! The book is written in an unusual, artistic, beautiful and touching way. Therefore, I believe that everyone should read this book, it motivates those who are in a bad situation, and those who have already overcome the rough patch will say: “Well, this is also interesting!”
Tricky question. You have a book published almost at the same time with Alexandra Trusova. Aren’t you afraid of competition in the literary arena?
Aliona Savchenko: I am not afraid of anything. I am glad that Sasha’s book is also being published. Everyone has their own time, their own history. If they write a book about Trusova, then she deserves it. If she already has something to tell, then why not? I would like to read a book about Sasha. She once said that she wants to be in sports as long as Alena Savchenko. I was pleased. So it’s cool that our books are being published at the same time. And I wish her success. I would gladly exchange books with Trusova if there were an opportunity. And yes, there is not and cannot be any competition between us.
The recent months have been difficult for the whole world. How did you spend them?
Aliona Savchenko: Yes, now is a really difficult time for everyone. Everything is in a some kind of incomprehensible atmosphere. Everything was fine until March, but then everyone got into lockdown. I was “saved” by my baby, who takes a lot of time. But we do not forget about ourselves, we do sports. The only plus in this whole situation is that, as it turned out, many things can be done online without leaving home, although we haven’t thought about it before. You can find a way out of any situation, the main thing is to have a desire.
Do you have an opportunity to train now?
Aliona Savchenko: I try to, whenever possible. Thanks to my husband, he works as a “mother” when I train. Sometimes I take Amilia to the rink. It happens that she falls asleep during training right on the rink.
Your daughter is over a year old. Is she showing interest in figure skating? Do you show her videos?
Aliona Savchenko: I do not show. But my husband shows. He turns on a video from the Olympics and says: “Look, this is mom.”
Does she understands that it is you on the video?
Aliona Savchenko: I think yes. She saw my photos in the house.
And if we talk about my daughter’s interest in figure skating … When I take her on the ice with me, I see that she likes it. She looks at the kids, how they train, looks for a long time, and then at some point shows me with her finger: “I want to go there too!”. Then I take her in my arms and we go on the ice together, Amilia is very happy. She really likes when I hold her in the arms. Let’s see what will happen next.
That is, the makings of a future skater is already seen?
Aliona Savchenko: She has everything to become a sports girl. And then it will be seen what she herself wants.
After the birth of a child, is it possible to train the same way?
Aliona Savchenko: No, I train as best I can. But I have a lot of experience, I know my body perfectly, and I know how to achieve results. So now it’s even easier for me to train.
You said in an interview that it was hard for you to return to the ice after giving birth. Is everything all right now?
Aliona Savchenko: Yes, even better than usual. After giving birth, it was very difficult for me to get into shape, these were difficult sensations. I gained 20 kg. Of course, it was hard for me during pregnancy. I tried as best I could to keep fit, to run. But sometimes I didn’t even have the strength to get up. I had a cesarean section, the stitches were felt, and I waited for everything to heal. These sensations were unusual for me, because in my entire sports career I didn’t have any surgeries. This was something new and strange. But I quickly got used. They say that recovery after childbirth takes 9 months. And so it happened.
Do you cocah anyone now?
Aliona Savchenko: Rather, I help to coach. I have three girls – two 13 years old, one is 12. I work with them. I don’t want to take more. I don’t want to go into coaching entirely. Perhaps in the future I will have my own group or even a school, but this is still in the distant future. At this stage, I want to train myself (smiles).
In the spring, Tatiana Volosozhar asked you on the air about a possible trip to the Olympics as a single skater. Then you joked that you would go if you learned the quadruple. And literally a month after that interview, you posted a video where you jump a quadruple toe loop on a harness. Do you really aim at the Olympic gold in singles?
Aliona Savchenko: Haha, funny joke! But let’s be realistic, it will be quite difficult for me to win the Olympics in singles.
I had a challenge, I dreamed of doing a quadruple jump myself. As a single skater at a young age, I tried the triple axel on the floor. I’ve never tried it on the ice, but I was preparing for it. Then at the age of 13 I switched to pairs. And everything was forgotten.
We had 3,5 and quad throws. But then I was afraid to do ultra-c jumps. They said to me: “Let’s you wait. If you win the Olympics, you can do whatever you want.” So I waited to do whatever I wanted. Toe loop is one of my best jumps, I feel it very well, so I decided to try the quad and was very pleased with the result.
And in theory, can we see a quadruple toe loop from you without harness?
Aliona Savchenko: Of course you can. I have the strength and desire. In general, you can expect anything from me, so subscribe to my instagram and wait for updates.
In Russia, some of the fans decided that with such video you made fun of athletes who like to post quads and five turn jumps on harness.
Aliona Savchenko: I never tease anyone (smiles). And in general, it is wrong when they say that jumping on a harness is bullshit. You can also got injured. It’s just safety equipment, and if you take off wrong and do the element wrong, no one will keep you from falling.
Before, I was always against the harness, but when I fell, doing a difficult element, and I recovered for two weeks after that, I realized that it was too traumatic. Our head coach Alexander König spent a lot of time trying to persuade me to do a throw on a harness so that I felt the push, rotation and landing. And after I agreed, it became much easier for me, because I started to believe in myself. So those who like to criticize for jumping on a harness should try to jump it themselves (smiles).
Have you tried the quad without a harness?
Aliona Savchenko: I have not tried. Now my goal is to restore all the triples at a good level. For example, I haven’t jumped lutz and flip for a long time. And only then I will try a quadruple.
I will not be the journalist who does not ask this question. A little over a year remains before the Olympics. Are you planning to participate?
Aliona Savchenko: In general, it is still unknown whether the Olympics will take place or not. We are all waiting for the situation in the world to become more stable. At the moment, many skating rinks are closed, and the number of competitions is decreasing. Will wait. And you wait!
That is, if the Olympics are held on time, then there is a possibility that we will see you there?
Aliona Savchenko: You can, even if it ends up out of time. Anything can be!
How do you like figure skating in 2020?
Aliona Savchenko: I watched Skate America, one of the stages of the Russian Cup (three stages have taken place by the time of the interview – ed.). It was interesting for me to look at the single skaters. But the number of pairs has recently decreased, and there are no more interesting ones that were before. I really like the performances of one Russian pair – Daria Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin, they have very interesting programs. You can see that the guys are trying something new. There are other interesting pairs, but I like Dasha and Denis the most.
Don’t you think pair skating has been in a bit of a crisis lately?
Aliona Savchenko: Yes, in fact, pair skating lagged a little behind the single skating and stepped aside. But I think that interest will renew soon. Pair skating is considered the most difficult discipline of figure skating, perhaps because it is the most traumatic. In addition, it is difficult to find a partner suitable in height and weight and build relationships in a pair. Therefore, now we see such a crisis in pair skating. But it happens. Something cannot be on the top all the time. But I am sure that after this downturn, pairs will be in the top again.
If there is a recession in the world, then in Russia everything is no bad.
Aliona Savchenko: Of course. The fact that Russia is dominant is evident. Russian skating has always been at its best. In other countries, conditions for preparing pairs are usually more difficult. In any case, I am glad that Russia is in a leading position again.
Who of the single skaters impressed you?
Aliona Savchenko: I really liked Mikhail Kolyada this season, I enjoy his performances so much. Last season I liked Dima Aliev. As for the girls, I cheered and will always cheer for Alena Kostornaia. I love her skating and jumping. She skates like an adult and very beautifully.
In figure skating, there are a lot of talks about raising the age minimum. Do you have any thoughts on this?
Aliona Savchenko: It’s hard for me to judge, because I love ultra-c. But I understand the position of some federations. Maybe it’s really harmful when young children under 15 jump too much and leave sports because of health problems. I was growing up when Tara Lipinski won the Olympics, and even then I wanted this athlete to stay in sports longer.
The same way, now I want to see Sasha Trusova, Alena Kostornaia, Zhenya Medvedeva, Alina Zagitova, Liza Tuktamysheva in sports as long as possible, who are not like little girls, but as grown-up girls skate – it’s interesting to watch them. But this is a too serious topic. I love watching both little girls and those who are older.
But do not forget that you still need to be able to skate and win at the age of 15! Someone does it better. My career was revealed after 20, I would even say after 23. In general, this is a controversial issue.
Do you have any advice on how skaters in their 20s can stay competitive?
Aliona Savchenko: The athlete should have a goal and a dream to go to the end and fight until you reach what you planned. And you must understand that this is a process that shouldn’t be stopped. I dreamed of being an Olympic champion, it came with time, but I was always on the road. Therefore, I believe that all athletes should just be patient and go towards their goal, work harder and harder.
In what language do you read news about figure skating?
Aliona Savchenko: Mostly in Russian. But I read the news in English and German. In Germany, unfortunately, figure skating is not as developed and not as progressing, so the main information about figure skating comes from Russia.
Do you read the comments in Russian too?
Aliona Savchenko: I read comments very rarely. And if I read, then only good ones. Everywhere there are those who love you and who do not. I don’t pay attention to this, I have my own opinion, and if I read every comment, then there will be no room in my head.
At the beginning of the interview, you said that you had an idea to make a movie. Are there any steps in this direction?
Aliona Savchenko: While there is only my desire. If you have any ideas, I will be glad. If anything, I can play myself. But I’m ready to look at a professional actor portraying me (laughs).
Maybe in the end you have something to say to the figure skating fans?
Aliona Savchenko: Thank you for your support, that you continue to cheer for us. I really love competitions and I miss the audience, so I look forward to the moment when everything opens up and we can please you with our performances again. See you! And be sure to read the book! (Laughs).
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