Anna Pogorilaya: “Valieva showed with this program, poking everyone in the face: “That’s what you did to me.” She is a very strong athlete, and a strong person.”
Interview with 2016 Worlds bronze medalist Anna Pogorilaya. About test skates, Valieva, Trusova, Malinin, and the current situation in figure skating.
source: championat.com dd. 18th October 2022 by Yana Levhina
Pogorilaya compared figure skating and roller skating and talked about her coaching work. We also discussed with Anna the most burning topics from the world of figure skating. Who did she like the most at the test skates, what is her attitude to Valieva’s resonant program, how did she react to Trusova’s transfer, and who is she following in the international arena.
Anna, how are you? What is happening in your life?
Anna Pogorilaya: Now things are more or less good. In addition to helping my husband with coaching, the Ruslan and Lyudmila show by Peter Tchernyshev and Tatiana aNavka has recently ended. It was the first time I skated on rollerblades, it was an incredible experience. It is very scary to start something new, but when it turns out, the feeling is unreal.
How much does roller skating feel different from ice skating?
Anna Pogorilaya: Skating on the ice, it seems to me, is much safer. When you fall on the ice, you slip, and there’s less rubbing with the surface. After the fall, you have no abrasions or scratches. On roller skates, it’s the opposite. Once during the show, I fell and my whole arm was covered with abrasions after that. In this regard, it is softer to fall on the ice than on the floor (laughs).
In general, this summer I had everything new: roller skating, lifts. Everything that is unusual for me.
What was it like skating in a pair?
Anna Pogorilaya: It was interesting. But since I am a single skater, it was unusual to trust any other person. It seems to me that I could not fully trust, because, in principle, I am a loner by nature, and I want to answer for myself. And here the lifts were high, serious, and you really hope that your partner is just as strong and confident on the rollers as you are. But, thank God, everything was ok. Thanks to the partner for holding me(laughs).
Have you tried jumps on rollers?
Anna Pogorilaya: I tried a little – it’s not at all like on the ice. I tried a single axel. I didn’t manage to try the double ones, because when I fell and scratched my knee, I realized that I was afraid to fall. To try, it was necessary to put on equipment and protect your body.
You often post on social networks how you train triple jumps and even combinations. Why do you need them?
Anna Pogorilaya: Partly for myself, partly to keep in shape, because at any moment they can call, invite me to the show. Usually, in winter there are a lot of New Year’s fairy tales, so you need to keep yourself in good shape.
So is it important for you to show triples in the show?
Anna Pogorilaya: And no one is interested in doubles. Especially considering that now girls are starting to do quads in the show. Why would a spectator come and look at the doubles? Everyone jumps them.
It seems to me that people come to the show to look more at skating, at a fairy tale.
Anna Pogorilaya: They come to look at everything. Everything should be there. Both complex elements and beautiful skating. Spectators do not come only to look at the scenery. Anyway, they come to admire what the skater can do in principle.
Yes, spectators are spoiled now.
Anna Pogorilaya: Well, that’s fine. They pay money. They do not come to look at a person who came from the street and learned how to skate – this is not interesting. And sometimes they also come to the show because of the name.
This season there will be a show program competition. Do you have any desire to participate in it?
Anna Pogorilaya: I don’t know yet what format it will have. It will be at the end of the season, so there is still time to think.
And for all these years, have you ever had the desire to return to the ice?
Anna Pogorilaya: It’s necessary to soberly assess the situation. Now women’s figure skating has gone far ahead, I will not be able to compete with little girls. I don’t know what will happen to the new rules, because now girls will move to seniors from the age of 17. Maybe it won’t be so easy to do quadruple jumps when adolescence has passed, the body has taken shape. Maybe quads will go away a little and more feminine skating will appear.
But you, as far as I understand, have not yet officially ended your career.
Anna Pogorilaya: I think I just didn’t get around to that. Maybe deep down there is hope that I will return, but every year it is smaller and smaller. I have a small child, I can not leave her and start training. Why did I have her then? I never understood it when they give birth and then don’t take care of the child. This is my child, I want to be with her more than go to competitions.
Recovery will take a huge amount of time – it’s crazy work. The result that girls show now is 24/7 work. I also ended up because of a back injury. If the loads begin, will this injury come out?
How difficult was it for you to leave the sport? Was there depression?
Anna Pogorilaya: Of course, it’s hard for everyone to admit that that time ended so fleetingly. There was no depression because everything quickly turned into a marriage for me. Everything went smoothly for me: my sports career ended and family life began.
Do you plan to engage your daughter in figure skating?
Anna Pogorilaya: We plan to teach her how to skate, but we also plan that she will also be engaged in music. In any case, since we are both skaters, it’s hard to avoid sport.
Will you train her yourself?
Anna Pogorilaya: Yes, I think so. In the early stages, yes. According to the experience of my coach Anna Vladimirovna Tsareva, who coaches her daughter, this is possible. This practice is common among the Japanese, for example, Yuma Kagiyama’s coach is his father.
I want to say that we will give Eva to figure skating, but it’s not a fact that she will be in a big sport – it will be up to her to decide. If she likes it, if she succeeds, then yes. And if she decides that she wants to do something else, no problem. There will be next children – we will try to engage them in figure skating (laughs).
How is your coaching work going?
Anna Pogorilaya: Since we have been leading a group relatively recently – four years, the children didn’t come from somewhere else, we took them as small ones. There are talented children. But, I must say, talent does not always play a major role, hard work and desire are more important. Plus, sport is a big roulette. Parents sometimes give their children to sports and say: “I want her to be an Olympic champion.” That will never work. Firstly, the child must want this, and secondly, everything must come together here.
Would you like to coach skaters from scratch?
Anna Pogorilaya: Oh sure. The coach raised me like that, I was with her from the age of six, and I went through everything with her. When they come ready-made, it’s not so interesting. When you teach a child, you learn yourself. All come with experience. If you immediately take a good, prepared athlete, most likely, you will ruin him, because without experience you don’t know how to train him.
What kind of coach are you? Surely, from your own experience, you have formed your own strategy of behavior with athletes.
Anna Pogorilaya: Actually, I didn’t want to be a coach. I even told my coach that this is not a very grateful profession. In fact, you invest everything in an athlete, but he does not understand and does not appreciate it. I didn’t understand it either. All the same, you are offended at the coach, that he swears, that he forces you. And a child should have an understanding that this is all in order to have a result. Often children do not understand this, and neither did I. I asked my mother: “Why is the coach swearing at me like that? She doesn’t swear so much at the others.” It’s all for the result. If the coach swears at you, it means that he cares about you. That’s why I didn’t want to be a coach because to have a result you still have to be tough.
Having gone through all these stages, I did not want to do the same with children. But, on the other hand, I understand that I am at least a former athlete who has gone through this and knows everything. I am a tough coach, very demanding. If you come, then you need to work on maximum. If it’s not a maximum, then it’s not a work.
Do you prefer the role of a coach or a choreographer?
Anna Pogorilaya: I also choreograph programs, I really like it. But if my husband asks me to coach jumps or some other elements, then I coach them too. If it’s necessary to create a program, I select the music, I can compose it myself. I also help with costumes, because I have my own vision, and I understand what the judges like more. In general, I perform both the role of a coach and the role of a choreographer. Maybe my programs are not like those of Olympic champions, but the level we work is also small.
Are you following figure skating this season?
Anna Pogorilaya: Yes, I watched the test skates. I wanted to come, but it didn’t work out. Watched online.
What are your impressions of the test skates? Who was the most memorable?
Anna Pogorilaya: Of course, I remember Kamila Valieva. I liked pairs: both Tarasova/Morozov and the young pairs are very promising. Unfortunately, two of our best ice duos didn’t participate, but it was still interesting to look at the youth. Of course, it is clear that in women’s single skating there were fewer quadruples. I don’t know if it’s for better or worse, but it was more interesting for me to watch their programs.
Is there a feeling that a crisis is soon to happen in women’s skating? In fact, Trusova showed a maximum last year – five quads.
Anna Pogorilaya: Five quadruples is a cosmic level, you can’t say otherwise. But to win it is not necessary to jump five quadruples, which Anna Shcherbakova proved. A few or just clean skating is enough. After all, they specifically changed the rules, and made the GOE plus / minus five, so that athletes with simpler content could overtake people who try to do ultra-c jumps, but, perhaps, do them on negative GOE.
It is much more interesting for me to look not at five quads because this is a program that consists of quadruples only. And you come to watch the program to look at the athlete.
What women’s programs did you like at the test skates?
Anna Pogorilaya: Surprisingly, I really liked Liza Tuktamysheva – her short program. Of course, Kamila Valieva’s free program, because it touches the soul, memories from the Olympics immediately flooded back. Perhaps this is what comes to mind right away.
There was a lot of controversy about Kamila’s free program. Someone admires, someone believes that it was not necessary to dip the girl into all this again. What do you think about this program?
Anna Pogorilaya: I think that if Kamila did not want to raise this topic, she would not have skated it. I think that Kamila is a very strong person in this regard. Few would have been able to survive this and not quit the sport, and she also showed this program, poking everyone in the face: “That’s what you did to me.” She is a very strong athlete, and a strong person, although she is a very young girl.
This season a lot of juniors moved seniors. Who do you remember the most?
Anna Pogorilaya: I want to wait for the season, and look at them, because I’m interested in how they will grow into women. Last year I really liked Maiia Khromykh, we skated with her in the same group. I really liked her programs, but, unfortunately, she did not perform at these test skates. I would really like to see her. And so, juniors are still very similar to each other, there is not enough individuality. I think that with age they will find it.
For many, the boys were the most memorable at the test skates this year. Do you think they level up?
Anna Pogorilaya: They’re leveling up, of course. But if you look at the world arena, then so far this is not enough to compete with the Japanese, the Americans. The same Daniel Grassl performs quadruple lutz as triple. We need to strive for this to be competitive.
Have you noticed progress in terms of programs?
Anna Pogorilaya: The boys skated pretty well, especially Mikhail Kolyada. It’s more of a matter of technique. But Kolyada is under excellent guidance, I think he will succeed, I really hope for it.
After watching the test skates, do you think our figure skating can survive in isolation?
Anna Pogorilaya: I think yes. We have reached a turning point now, we just need to overcome it. I think things will get back to normal in the next few years. Now there are so many sponsors and good prize money. No need to despair, we will wait. Of course, I feel sorry for the girls who were supposed to skate in seniors now. And what will happen in a couple of years with them is unclear. Whether they can survive it or not. But in any case, figure skating is so popular now that, I think, there will be no questions about motivation. The main thing is to survive it.
Does Eva watch figure skating with you? Maybe she also has favorites?
Anna Pogorilaya: Yes, she is watching. Most of all she likes ice dance. Last season, when we watched competitions, she even danced along with Vika [Sinitsina] and Nikita [Katsalapov] to their short dance.
Do you follow the international season?
Anna Pogorilaya: A little, because the main competitions have not started yet. The Grand Prix, of course, will be interesting to watch, at least the results of those who remained.
Are there people you are especially interested in following?
Anna Pogorilaya: At the world level, it is more interesting for me to follow the boys. Grassl, Kagiyama, Vasiļjevs – many are interesting to watch. Girls, too, but, of course, at the world level, they are very far behind ours.
The boys also have serious losses this season – there will be no Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen. Do you think men’s skating will lose much because of this?
Anna Pogorilaya: It’s exactly the same as with the girls: our skaters are not on the world stage, so the rest have a chance to win something. There is also a big restructuring in ice dance: many people have retired, and, it turns out, the line has moved. For some it’s good, for some it’s not. But in any case, there is enough competition.
Recently, Ilia Malinin has performed a clean quadruple axel. Was it unexpected for you?
Anna Pogorilaya: That’s who I’m also following. This was very expected, given that he had already performed it in training. But the question is also whether he will show a clean quadruple axel and at the same time perform the rest of the program clean? If he succeeds, he will be head and shoulders above the rest. You can perform all the jumps individually perfectly, but can’t put them together because it’s harder, because there are connecting steps, you need to show emotions, spins, and everything else.
Malinin has a goal to show seven quads in one program. Is it real at all?
Anna Pogorilaya: He is still young, maybe it’s real. Let’s see. Sasha Trusova also talked about five quads. Did it once, yes. Even two, if you count the test skates. You can say whatever you want, but time will tell.
Trusova has recently switched to a new coach. Did it come as a surprise to you? Do you think this will benefit Sasha?
Anna Pogorilaya: I think it was logical, given her relationship with Mark Kondratiuk. Whether this will be beneficial, I don’t know, Sasha is making an incomprehensible transfer not for the first time, to be honest. I don’t know why, I didn’t communicate with her and didn’t see her interview on this matter, it’s hard to talk about it. But for me, this is strange, because it was Eteri Tutberidze who brought her to the world level.
In figure skating, in principle, transfers cause a lot of excitement. Why? In other sports, this is usually calmer.
Anna Pogorilaya: It’s somehow more welcomed in figure skating that the one who brought you up, that coach should lead you further. It’s not like in football when a team buys you and you make a transfer. Here everything is more tied to personal relationships, so there is more hype. Somewhere, transfers are just business, but in figure skating, an athlete and a coach must be in a very trusting relationship. If an athlete decides to change coaches, then everyone has big questions.
Have you ever wanted to change a coach?
Anna Pogorilaya: I tried at the end of my career when Anna Vladimirovna Tsareva moved to coach from Belyaevo to Maryina Roscha. With all my desire, I could not go there, because the road for more than an hour is very exhausting. For a while, I tried to train with Victoria Evgenievna Butsaeva. “Moskvich” then closed for repairs, and they came to our skating rink. I tried to start working with her, but somehow there was not enough time to get used to each other. She is a good specialist, but each athlete should have his coach, his own approach. It all comes down to personal relationships.
Evgenia Medvedeva: “Even if you ask the girls who competed at the last Olympics about returning to international arena and big sports, no one will give a specific answer.”