Anastasia Zinina: “I try not to eat a lot at competitions; it’s always scary to gain weight because if you do, you immediately lose coordination.”
Interview with Anastasia Zinina. About Nationals, trainings with Plushenko and nutrition.
source: Metaratings dd. 18th January 2023 by Bella Gyargashvili
It’s mid-January, and training is in full swing. But how does it feel to return to work after the New Year’s holidays?
Anastasia Zinina: Officially, we were given only two days off—from December 31 to January 1; on January 2, we had to return to training. But I returned only on January 4 because I had an injury before the Russian Nationals and needed much more time to heal it. Therefore, the coaches and I agreed that I would return a little later. Everything is fine now. In any case, most of my holidays were working days. Everything was as usual; there were no long holidays.
You noted that you were injured before the Russian Nationals. What was the injury, and when did it happen?
Anastasia Zinina: I got it before the jumping competitions. It was a sprain. It was nothing serious, but it hurt unpleasantly. Therefore, the preparation for the Russian Nationals took place quite gradually. We didn’t force it. We decided with the coaches that it is better to pay attention to quality. In general, the Russian Nationals went well for me. I went there in a great mood.
You took sixth place at the Nationals. Thus, the result was twice as good as last year. What emotions do you have after the competition?
Anastasia Zinina: I’m glad that I was able to break a personal record in both short and free programs, and in total points. But still, there were shortcomings. For example, in the short program, there was a low level of the step sequence. And this shameful fall in the free program! When I went to the first toe loop, I was sure that I would do it. Two weeks before the competitions, I skated my free program, and 90% of the skates were clean. I was absolutely sure that I would do it. I pushed off very well, but then I relaxed a little to make the landing look easy, and this gave me a little underrotation and a tough landing. In fact, that’s why I fell. The first reaction was: “What do you mean? Did I really fall?”
How did your new coach, Alexei Vasilevsky, react to the performance? Have you analized it afterwards?
Anastasia Zinina: It’s not customary for us to sit and discuss something. Because my coach is more into coming to training and just doing everything. Well, or suggest correcting something already in the working process.
But in general, my coaches were pleased that I qualified for the senior Russian national team. They were also happy that I collected a second toe loop. They are a little more demanding than I am of myself. I felt the strength to make two toe loops.
But the sprain you talked about didn’t affect your performance in any way?
Anastasia Zinina: Absolutely not. This is usual. I am such a person that if something works out for me in training, then I am ready to repeat it again and again. Until I get it to automate. At some point, the muscles start to get tired, and such things as sprains happen. But this is absolutely normal in our sports lives.
What was the most difficult at the beginning (after the change of coach)?
Anastasia Zinina: At first, I felt like I was in my own world. I listened to the coaches, of course, but it was very difficult for me to trust these people because I somehow could not relax after leaving the Angels of Plushenko. Slowly, with the atmosphere, support, and words they provided, they set me up for the training process. It’s OK now. It’s important not to relax. Coaches are watching me (smiles). There is no such thing that you performed well and can rest on your laurels.
In Angels of Plushenko, after the debut Grand Prix, it was very difficult to cope with the feeling of euphoria from success because I skated well, landed a quadruple, took second place, and there was a chance to get to the Final. Apparently, this affected my results. But I have drawn my conclusions. Now I am the person who works every day, and that’s it.
Was there more attention in the Angels of Plushenko, pressure after the victories?
Anastasia Zinina: I guess it’s like going to another level. We had the attitude that if we performed well, they would give us sponsors and gifts. This was new to me. For the first time, I felt a huge responsibility, and it took me a while to get used to it and accept the fact that I was no longer a child. Now important and responsible competitions are already my reality.
Fame came to me after the “Ice Age,” but here it was completely different.
Apparently I couldn’t handle it. At every competition, I told myself that I couldn’t skate badly, that I couldn’t let anyone down, and that I had a name. Otherwise, they will think badly of me. Apparently, it knocked me down every time. Everything worked out in training because you were completely immersed in the process and nothing distracted you. But at competitions, sometimes I was even shaking. I could stand in position, but my arms and legs were shaking.
Then every day we were filmed on the ice and during the physical training. It was also unusual for me. As if you were always in sight, on stage. It was filmed for the academy’s social media. In training, not everything always works out; you get upset, and there is a camera. Some people like it very much, but for me, it was unusual.
You said that for good performances, you were given sponsors. What sponsorship obligations did you have?
Anastasia Zinina: They just gave us patches. And wherever there are cameras, you have to wear these patches advertising sponsors.
Did you receive any gifts or cash rewards for good performances?
Anastasia Zinina: Yes. There was a whole bag of toothpaste from ROCS. They have good pasta.
What was the atmosphere on the team in “Angels of Plushenko”?
Anastasia Zinina: Different. All athletes are very ambitious. Difficult characters. Of course, successes and failures have an impact. I can say that the competition was at a high level.
It is often said that in a highly competitive environment, progress can be made faster.
Anastasia Zinina: This is true, but only when it manifests itself in work. It is called a healthy competition when it inspires you to become better, develop professionally, and grow above yourself.
How different are the approaches in your former and current coaching staffs in terms of the training process, rather than the atmosphere? How hard was it for you to readjust?
Anastasia Zinina: It was very hard to readjust. Here, we have practically no time to catch our breath. You go on the ice and immediately warm up. Sometimes you don’t even have time to take a sip of water. Maximum: You wiped your nose and ran back. Otherwise, you just won’t be able to keep up with the others. The coaches really watch everyone. I thought it was impossible to keep track of everyone. But for this, there are two coaches and four eyes (smiles). They make sure we get everything done. It teaches discipline. You think about how to do everything, not how to skive a little bit. I never had a tendency for it, but in “Angels of Plushenko,” I honestly relaxed a little. I didn’t finish something or didn’t jump something. And it is necessary to do everything, to work.
It took me a long time to get used to this rhythm without rest. Particularly the skating lessons. Because someone is better at these elements, and I have to work hard on it. Therefore, we have special ice training where we work on gliding.
I’ll tell you about my discovery: you can do a series of many jumps and then skate the program twice. It used to be something out of reality for me!
During the New Year’s holidays, even athletes can relax a little. Do you gain a lot during the holidays?
Anastasia Zinina: We all gain weight during the New Year’s holiday, whether we want to or not. And it’s difficult to jump when weight increases. You have to lift yourself into the air, but the sharpness is lost. And I have long legs. It takes time to put everything together. Let’s say that after the holidays, I started to restore the quadruple only on the third day. I jumped triples for the first two days in an attempt to regain sharpness. It was really hard for me, although I gained only a kilogram. For ordinary life, a kilogram is nothing, but not for athletes. When you do not jump for a long time, the sharpness and strength of the arms are lost.
Are you constantly monitoring your weight?
Anastasia Zinina: Yes, weight is being watched, we have a weigh-in every day. After one of the Grand Prix stages, I gained half a kilogram, and for a long time I could not lose it. At this point, we started to work on the triple Axel, and it began to turn out well. As a result, muscles began to grow and weight increased. At another moment, I lost weight and faced the situation that I could not do anything in training—there was no strength. Therefore, a strong plus is bad, and a strong minus is also bad.
How hard is it to monitor your weight and nutrition?
Anastasia Zinina: Of course, you have to control everything. I was lucky that I have an allergy to wheat gluten, so I do not eat anything with flour. On the contrary, it is a problem for many girls. But at the same time, I really love sweets, especially chocolate. And it is very difficult.
And how do you live with it?
Anastasia Zinina: I eat chocolate in the morning. You can eat it in the morning. In general, I can eat as much as I want. But in the morning, you usually don’t eat a lot of sweets. And I’ve had a new love: coffee.
Before the Russian Nationals, it was very difficult. The New Year is soon, and there are so many delicious things you want to try. Here you already have to make a deal with yourself: if you perform well, you will eat (laughs). I was going back home from the Nationals with the thought that I could eat Olivier salad.
I try not to eat a lot at competitions; it’s always scary to gain weight because if you do, you immediately lose coordination. Therefore, I control myself, and after performances, I allow myself something forbidden. Well, within reason, of course.
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