“Anime is always fantastic, something non-trivial happens and has a deep meaning. For example Naruto – motivational, instructive.” Evgeni Semenenko about skating and his other passions
Interview with Evgeni Semenenko. About Olympics, passion for medicine and future plans.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 1st April 2022 by Dmitri Kuznetsov.
Russian men’s single skating is slowly but surely catching up with women’s. Heroes also appear there: for a long time Mikhail Kolyada was the main one, after the Olympics Mark Kondratyuk took his role.
But there are many more interesting guys. For example, Evgeni Semenenko. He miraculously got to the Olympics at the last moment – when Mikhail Kolyada was tested positive for coronavirus. And he became the best Russian men in the individual competitions – the eighth, in the short program he even placed higher than Yuzuru Hanyu. He himself says: “I had nothing to lose there. I went to the Olympics, in fact, as the fourth number of our national team!” He studies medicine and wants to help humanity. True, it is not easy to find out all this from 18-year-old Evgeni – he prefers medical accuracy and unemotional formulations, and does not like the notorious hype. He switched to Telegram, created a channel there – and left one photo without posts there. And 4.3 thousand subscribers look at this one photo. But: “Publicity is not mine. Money can not buy happiness”.
Maybe it’s true. Who, if not the one who played Woland this season, is to say this?
Evgeni, what are your impressions of the Channel One Cup? The Blue team lost, but they were close, and there is an opinion that the teams were not quite equal.
Evgeni Semenenko: I have only positive impressions, wonderful event. Yes, the blue team lost, but we fought. I think we’ll win next time.
How would you assess your performance? And how will you spend the solid prize money, any ideas?
Evgeni Semenenko: It was the final event of the season. I seriously prepared for it: a new short program was choreographed, the free program was complicated, the quad loop was included, I wanted to try more difficult content. The short program, the jumping competition were a success, I think I skated well, but not everything worked out in the free program, but there is a goal, there is something to strive for. To be honest, I haven’t thought how I will spend the prize money yet.
Now you have some shows ahead, probably for the first time you have such a busy schedule. What does being invited to the show mean to you?
Evgeni Semenenko: Yes, there will be a number of shows, for me this is the first time in my career. Quite a busy schedule: “In love with figure skating” show, then a tour with Ilia Averbukh, Evgeni Plushenko’s show. Well, I will also say that I have a new exhibition program, a costume, an idea – everything is new.
Show is not a sport. Should they be made more like sport? Trusova, after a group performance, often calls for jump battles at the end.
Evgeni Semenenko: In show programs, athletes usualy include fewer difficult jumps, but they still exist. In general, everyone has their own preferences, someone pays more attention to choreography, gliding, and someone to jumps. Figure skating will always be interesting to the viewer, because it combines both sport and beauty.
Is there no feeling that now you need to focus on shows more if Russian athletes are left without international competitions for a long time?
Evgeni Semenenko: I hope we will be able to participate in international competitions. If not, I think our federation will not leave the athletes in difficult times, they will come up with something, we will not be left without competitions.
You are a unique person for Russian sports, as you are studying in the medical university at the same time. First of all, didn’t you get tired with all the questions related to it?
Evgeni Semenenko: I have already used to it. (Laughs.) I understand people’s reaction: it’s nonsense for them that an athlete studies at a medical university! And I, on the contrary, want to challenge and prove that it is possible.
What is your specialty?
Evgeni Semenenko: The Faculty of Medicine, specialty is selected after the sixth year.
Can you argue with a doctor, discuss how to treat an injury?
Evgeni Semenenko: No, not yet! It’s just the first year. (Laughs.)
I read some the comments after your words that you have time to visit “some” classes. Like, well, how can I go to such a doctor then?
Evgeni Semenenko: Well, I’ll start with the fact that I have never said the phrase “I have time to attend some classes” literally. Thanks to the petition of Aleksei Nikolayevich [Mishin] and the sports committee, I was allowed not to work off classes at the university that I missed for a good reason, provided that I pass all the control points and tests in all subjects successfully. But there are subjects, which material is simply impossible just to learn, you need to see, know and show everything on the preparations.
And you go and practice?
Evgeni Semenenko: Yes, for example, anatomy is one of the most difficult subjects of the first year. Here, in order to prepare for a lesson or a test, each student – and I, of course – goes to the “anatomist” outside of school hours and analyzes the already learned theoretical material, on preparations. And at the moment I have passed all my anatomy exams – those who are aware of medical education know how important this is. But it is really difficult to study, the teachers are demanding. As for what kind of doctor I will be, time will tell.
Is there a choose “athlete or doctor” at all?
Evgeni Semenenko: Let’s just take things slow. If there are force majeure circumstances, then I will make a decision. After such a difficult season, the issue of my academic leave was finally resolved – for which I am very grateful to Alexei Nikolayevich and our committee on physical culture and sports. I still have thoughts about medicine, of course, and further life processes, so to speak, will head my further path.
Coaches don’t really very welcome it?
Evgeni Semenenko: On the contrary! Both Tatyana Nikolaevna and Alexei Nikolaevich are not against my passion for medicine. Alexei Nikolayevich and I generally discussed the topics of my future works, term papers, diploma theses. One of them could sound like “the specifics of figure skaters’ injuries in connection with their specialization.” Or – age issues in figure skating are of great interest, both for girls and boys. He himself devoted many years of his career to the biomechanics of spin movements. This is also related to medicine.
It is said a lot that doctors do not have the highest salary. Do you have an understanding that the work of doctors is underestimated, or is it not so simple?
Evgeni Semenenko: As far as I know, now doctors have decent salaries. The profession of a doctor has always been, is and will be relevant. I jlike this profession, because it helps humanity. Health in general is the most important thing for a person. The coronavirus pandemic, among other things, has shown how important this is. And how many lives have been saved.
Your second passion, is anime. Can you explain why?
Evgeni Semenenko: Because each has its own thing, history, and it is unusual. In movies, people are used to certain scenarios. Anime is always fantastic, something non-trivial happens. Most anime have a deep meaning, the values of the world are promoted somewhere, fantasies are not limited. “Naruto” – motivational, instructive, shows the difficult path that the main characters go through.
Do you like Japanese culture in general? It is so different from ours, as it seems.
Evgeni Semenenko: Certainly. I liked the World Team Trophy, the Japanese are friendly, helpful, kind, especially the fans.
Kinder than in Russia?
Evgeni Semenenko: (Smiling.) Everywhere there are evil and kind people, everything depends on upbringing and self-awareness.
What did you feel when you learned that the Russian team was suspended from the World Championships?
Evgeni Semenenko: Of course, it’s a shame that we were not allowed to such an important event, one of the main ones of the season. And it is a pity that our athletes did not have a chance to participate there.
A question as to a potential medic. Popular phrase: “Big sport is not about health.” Do you agree? You understand that doing the first, you ruin the second. After the Olympics, you yourself said that you needed to heal your back …
Evgeni Semenenko: There is something in this phrase – for sure. (Laughs.)
If you do everything reasonably, correctly calculate the load, understand what is worth doing and what is not, you can avoid problems. Fortunately, I have good coaches: Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin, Tatiana Nikolaevna Mishina, Tatiana Nikolaevna Prokofieva. Our entire team is excellent. They have everything under control.
A popular discussion – is it necessary to allow quads in the women’s short program? In our country, many believe that yes, but in the West it is the other way around: they say, you need to save your health.
Evgeni Semenenko: Quadruples in single skating is probably one of the most dangerous things. A large load on the knees, back, huge height, crazy spin, and if the performance is unsuccessful, if you come unprepared, there will be unfortunate consequences. But, again, I want to emphasize: if you correctly approach training, then everything will be fine with health.
So it should be allowed.
Evgeni Semenenko: Well, it’s certainly not for me to decide, there are people who are more competent in this matter. (Laughs.)
Let’s talk about the Olympics. After your returned, did you get any new awareness of participation in it? After all you were our best single skater there.
Evgeni Semenenko: I am very glad that I managed to skate like that at the Olympics, despite all the difficulties. Showed there the best result of the season. But there is always an incentive to keep improving. I saw what high-class athletes are around, and even with my clean skates, I am eighth. It motivates to reach new goals.
The eighth place itself doesn’t sound very good, does it? Even at the Olympics?
Evgeni Semenenko: For now it’s great. And there are four years until the next Olympics. I will work and let’s see how it goes.
Can you remember the moment when you found out that you were going instead of Mikhail Kolyada?
Evgeni Semenenko: I was happy for myself, of course, but also sad for Misha. He has always been an example for me, he has a competent approach to figure skating. But I got a unique opportunity.
Mikhail decided to continue his career, otherwise you could become the first number of the group. It affects you, doesn’t it?
Evgeni Semenenko: He will remain an example for me.
What did Alexei Nikolayevich say after the Olympics?
Evgeni Semenenko: Work on. (Laughs.)
It seems to be a popular hashtag in another group …
Evgeni Semenenko: What a good phrase!
Mishin himself said that the Olympics taught you “not to be a coward.”
Evgeni Semenenko: Not that it was scary, but some kind of confusion, constant nervousness was present during the season. And at the Olympics I performed for my own pleasure, I had nothing to lose there. Came, skated, it turned out well. Glad it all ended like this.
In principle, you are almost the most stable Russian figure skater.
Evgeni Semenenko: Come on. Everyone has failures, sport would not be a sport without it.
If the skaters do not have an international season, do we need to think about new formats in Russia? Something besides short and free programs.
Evgeni Semenenko: The federation will decide, but I think we will welcome any innovation. Especially if it is unusual and interesting. And if both the viewer and us, the skaters, like it.
Did foreigners wrote about your absence at the World Championships, words of support, maybe?
Evgeni Semenenko: In general, many people write to me, both from Russia and from other countries, a lot from Japan and China. After the Olympics, many congratulated. There are even regular fans, whom I especially appreciate. As for the messages about the World Championships, there were none.
You are not active on social networks at all, as we can see.
Evgeni Semenenko: I don’t have time. (Laughs.) I have enough of other things, honestly!
At least post walks around St. Petersburg. Have a favorite place?
Evgeni Semenenko: Pushkin! I can see the Catherine Park from my window, about five minutes of walk. And what a nature in winter and summer!
But if you don’t work on publicity, then how will you sign million-dollar contracts?
Evgeni Semenenko: Publicity is not for me. And happiness is not only about money.
As you said, you like to make “achievements” in your career. What’s next?
Evgeni Semenenko: To skate clean new complicated content.
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