Artur Danielian: “Ban of Russian skaters is a big mistake. Who will move the sport forward? Especially when it comes to pairs and girls, where we have a leading position.”
Interview with Artur Danielian, 2020 European silver medalist. About his Armenian roots, reasons why he won’t change sports citizenship and Alena Kostornaia joining the group of Elena Buyanova.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 29th June 2022
One of the brightest representatives of new generation in Russian men single skating is Artur Danielian. Yes, the last season he struggled with injuries and lost his place in the top to Mark Kondratiuk, Evgenii Semenenko and Andrei Mozalev, but his rise to European silver at the age of 16 amazed everyone. Will he be able to surprise again in new circumstances – we found out in a big conversation with the skater.
Artur, barev (good afternoon in Armenian. – ed). Can you recommend us the best Armenian restaurant in Moscow?
Artur Danielian: It’s hard for me to say, I prefer my mother’s cooking. And dad’s – he’s the best in meat dishes. Speaking about restaurants, I’m more often go to Georgian. But mother’s dolma is the best that humanity could come up with. Or gata, for example, is an Armenian dish that I advise you to try in Armenia or at your Armenian friends.
Do you limit yourself in food?
Artur Danielian: Yes, and quite much. I am gaining weight quickly. Gaining weight is very easy, but it’s always hard to lose it, I don’t like to do it. So I have to keep myself within limits. I don’t go on diets, just eat food with fewer calories. In my case, this is buckwheat with chicken, if I need to loose weight. I don’t eat vegetables, cereals – I don’t like them very much. I don’t like many types of food.
What about sweets?
Artur Danielian: I like sweets, but with age I began to eat less of it. Sometimes I eat a strip of chocolate – and then I think: “What have I done?”
Are there many restrictions on food from coaches?
Artur Danielian: There are no restrictions as such. We know what weight we should have. It also depends on growth. Now I have grown, my shoulders have become wider, and in general I have gone wider. Therefore, I probably put on a kilogram compared to the previous season.
What is your weight now?
Artur Danielian: Should be 58-59 kilograms. You can eat whatever you want, but without gaining weight. Otherwise, the load on the joints, ankle, knees, back increases. And since I often get injured, I need to control it.
Have you been to the new McDonald’s yet (McDonald’s shut it business in Russia – ed.)?
Artur Danielian: No. And I won’t go, because now I’m trying to loose weight.
How is it going?
Artur Danielian: I just eat less and drink more.
You are from Volgograd. Haven’t been there in a while?
Artur Danielian: A long time ago. We moved to Moscow in the 2015/16 season, for the first three years I used to fo back to Volgograd to take school exams. But then I moved to the capital, in addition a pandemic, a lot of work. I don’t know, maybe the city has changed since then, but while I was going there, everything remained the same.
Did your parents rent an apartment for you in Moscow? Did they live with you?
Artur Danielian: We moved with the whole family.
For the sake of your career?
Artur Danielian: Yes. For me. But it was for the benefit of both brother and sister. My sister wanted to study in Moscow. It was good for both of them, for my sister and for my brother – he graduated from school and entered the university. Well, and for me to continue my career. I think everything went perfectly and on time. I did not stay an extra year in Volgograd either – I did not remain without progress. All as we wanted.
Evgeni Plushenko’s career also began in Volgograd. Does the city remember him?
Artur Danielian: Sure. I know his coach, she told a lot of stories about what a difficult childhood he had. Everyone remembers his contribution. It is such a pride for the city that he started there.
Speaking of exams, were you supposed to take the state exams this year?
Artur Danielian: I graduated from school in May, yes, but I didn’t take an exam, because I was at the training camp in the army, as everyone on the Internet has already noticed.
There are many figure skaters with Armenian roots in Russia. You, Evgenia Medvedeva, Adelia Petrosian, others…
Artur Danielian: This is a consequence of the fact that our Russia is a multinational country, therefore many Armenian children come to figure skating, who then achieve success.
Have you ever had a desire to represent the Armenian national team?
Artur Danielian: I haven’t thought about it. Even with the coaches, I have never changed coaches myself. My first coach brought me to a certain level and passed me to the second one. Then I was led to a professional level – I had to decide where to move, Moscow or St. Petersburg. I didn’t want to go to St. Petersburg, but in Moscow there were options – either I could go to Eteri Georgievna (Tutberidze), or to Elena Germanovna (Buyanova). I have seen enough interviews with their students – Adelina (Sotnikova) and Yulia (Lipnitskaya). For some reason, my heart told me – to Elena Germanovna. So I have never changed coaches myself, I did it only when they told me to. It’s the same with the country. I started skating representing Russia, and I continue to do the same. It doesn’t make much sense to change something now, you will lose a lot of time … But there is not much time. I want to skate and compete.
And what about the latest news, suspension? Especially if you want to compete…
Artur Danielian: I can skate for Armenia. But it takes several years to build a reputation there. In terms of figure skating, Armenia just starts to develop. In Russia, even without international competitions, at the domestic level, there are many strong guys with whom it is interesting to compete. I fell out from the top a little, and first I need to show myself at the domestic level.
For many, changing of sports citizenship is equal to betrayal. What do you think about it?
Artur Danielian: I see such comments from people who are either couch critics or haters of these athletes. This is a personal matter for everyone. A person has a certain life schedule. He skates one more Olympic cycle and leaves. And there is a dream to perform, for example, at the World Championships. And if a person cannot break through in his own country and he is given the opportunity to skate for another, why should he refuse? This is his career, he spent many years on it. Must it be in vain? We must not get into the career of athletes.
Are there no hopes for the return of Russia in the near future?
Artur Danielian: I can’t influence it. I followed the news, but not much. I’m rather passionate about the process of preparing for the next season, my preparation. It’s a shame, of course. And, in my opinion, not everything is fair. We are athletes and we have nothing to do about that.
Is the removal of Russia from international competitions a big mistake for the world of figure skating?
Artur Danielian: Yes. Because who will move the sport? Especially when it comes to pairs and girls, where we have a leading position. Yes, Russians already have strong competitors in ice dance, also in men. But how can they and we compete now? We will compete among ourselves, they too, but without much intrigue. We won’t lose much in terms of watchability, viewers, the amount of support, on the contrary, we will only increase.
Are you annoyed that your sport is very scandalous?
Artur Danielian: Fan wars are annoying. You can love one athlete, but why do you think that the other, who placed higher than yours, has made less effort to win? You can be not happy about it, your business. But be neutral. And we have hatred. Is it normal?
Has it ever happened that there was too much attention to you?
Artur Danielian: In a bad way, no. In a good way, if you remember my good season, when I won medals at the Russian and European Championships, I got a lot of bright comments and wishes. As for bad comments, I see some, I don’t move away, but I take it easy.
You won silver at the European Championships in 2020 at the age of 16. That is, according to the new rules, you would not be even allowed to this event. What do you think about it?
Artur Danielian: Honestly, I haven’t even thought about it. I don’t even remember that I was 16 then. It would be a shame … The age minimum is a very sensitive topic, I haven’t even discussed it with the guys. You have to think about it. So far, I can not understand the need of this reform. Juniors perform in seniors, jump complex elements. But they will still do these jumps in juniors. Figure skating is developing – and girls will now learn ultra-c anyway. Now it’s impossible without quads in any age.
What are your memories about that European Championships?
Artur Danielian: It was my best preparation for the event. Inspired after the Russian Nationals, I had a great New Year’s Eve, went to training, and everything was so easy, the coaches were also calm. I went to skate for pleasure, to show myself. In the short program I didn’t think about places. But before the free program, I really wanted to get a medal. In a dream, I had bronze. I watched “Policeman from Rublyovka” to distract myself, then I watched my successful performance from the Russian Nationals 10 times. I needed to recharge. I am charged with emotions from good performances, the reaction of the audience.
Do you have an idea what you will do after the end of your career?
Artur Danielian: Yes, I have thought about it many times. I won’t bury myself in coaching right away, you need to mentally prepare for this. I want to skate in the shows, hold some master classes … Understand whether I like it or not. When I get the education of a coach, I want to take another direction for myself, not related to sports. For example, I study to be a psychologist. I thought about becoming a dentist, but it takes a lot of effort, a lot of mind. There is still time to think.
What are the programs for next season?
Artur Danielian: I will say one thing – they are new. I haven’t skated in such style yet. I’ll keep the intrigue on the names, besides, I have not yet learned how the melodies are called. Short for me – something ironic. And the first part of the free program is something for figure skating, I have never heard anything like it. I am addicted to figure skating, I watch all the competitions, both old and new, even the performances of some children at the local championships … But the second part of the free program is something familiar, beloved by everyone. It is “deliciously” composed, and I will be able to convey my thoughts to the audience and judges.
What is your favorite program in your entire career?
Artur Danielian: “Don Juan”. The program is an emotion, I managed to feel the whole spectrum during my routine. Even during practice skates without jumps I got goosebumps.
Whose programs do you like?
Artur Danielian: One of my favorite athletes is Javier Fernandez. I like absolutely all his programs. Who else? Mark Kondratiuk. I don’t even know what I like more – “Jesus” or “Magnificent Age”. Rather, the first. I like Alena Kostornaia’s programs for next season if we speak about women’s programs. I already know them, I’ve seen them. From the side, you already have goosebumps – when she does it in full, in a costume. It will be cool. Anya Shcherbakova’s “Perfumer”, as if the spirit flies past you. And the “Firebird” also, especially the moment with the costume change. Sasha Trusova’s Frida. Dima Aleev’s Masquerade.
Is there a task for the next season to learn complex elements?
Artur Danielian: I have them, we need to stabilize them – I have time for this. I have to be in the best shape – last season I started badly, I still remember sometimes these moments, and it’s a shame that I skated like that.
Will the programs get more difficult?
Artur Danielian: I’m planning. The content that was… Now it’s even funny. One quadruple salchow in the short and two in the free is a “top-ten”. Our boys jump two in a short, three in a free minimum, you have to match. It will salchow, and the second one can be flip or lutz.
Does the Figure Skating Federation need to try hard so that our skaters are not forgotten?
Artur Danielian: The Federation is making every effort so that now our sport is kept at the same level that it has come to. For this, they made the “Grand Prix of Russia”. Probably, there will be some more. I think that Russian competitions will be watched even abroad.
Who are your best friends in figure skating?
Artur Danielian: Mark, Alena Kostornaia, Karolina Kogan. My best friend from Volgograd Nastya Kamzaeva. She is a former pair skater. Sonya Marchenko from ice dance. Also retired, now she’s coaching.
Has something changed since Kostornaia joined your group?
Artur Danielian: It has become a little more cheerful, warmer, more friendly. Alena can pull people closer together. I have known her for a long time, I knew what to expect if she came.
Did Alena consult with you about the transfer?
Artur Danielian: She asked about the coach, the training process, we bet whether she would be taken or not. Alena really wanted to continue her career. Then Elena Germanovna called – she found out that Kostornaia wanted to try to work with her. We first discussed our questions, and then she says: “Your friend wants to join our group, do you know?” I answered that I know. I said that she wants to continue skating and that Elena Germanovna might be her only and last chance. I do not know how much my word played a role. It seems to me that Elena Germanovna made the right choice, that she gave her a chance, and that they will succeed.
Alena said: where Eteri Georgievna explodes three times, Elena Germanovna will calmly explain.
Artur Danielian: I don’t know about Eteri Georgievna, I have never been on her trainings. Elena Germanovna is patient. Of course, everything has a limit. She really can say several times until you understand, or she can step aside and say nothing, and you will go and do it right. But if not, she will try to explain in a different way. For one reason or another, it is not always possible to perform many jumps, spins, glide. A limited workout, for example, is 45 minutes. Elena Germanovna has one request – no poping, no extra double jump and so on. So you warm up more on the floor. The focus is on quality and stability. I think it’s about the same with Alena – all that is required of you is to do what the coach ask.
You said that after moving to Moscow, you could go to Buyanova or Tutberidze. Was there a try-out at Khrustalny?
Artur Danielian: No. At that moment, I was at the training camp in Novogorsk with Viktor Nikolaevich Kudryavtsev – I was called there after some Russian competitions. There I took time off from one evening training session, went to CSKA for a try-out. Elena Germanovna was not there then – but I felt the ice, I did everything perfectly, I was even shocked. Then I once again asked to come, when she would be in training. Came — there was a panic at first. But she said ‘Come on, show me what you can do.’ I did everything, in my opinion, without a single mistake, showed my best spins at that moment, then I was able to stretch my legs, as girls do. She liked it – she shook my hand, said ‘See you in June.’
And the option with Tutberidze disappeared?
Artur Danielian: I was taken, why should I go somewhere else?
You missed the 2020/21 season due to an injury. Were there thoughts that you would not return to the ice at all?
Artur Danielian: No. I’ve been sad so many times – even before I had to have surgery to fix the problem. There was a case when I didn’t go to my first senior test skates, I didn’t appear anywhere at all, although I was preparing. But it were moments when problems had to be solved. It is impossible to train in “leaps”: either adding a load, or lowering it. On the contrary, I was motivated after the injury. I thought, what do I have to lose? The season was without international events. Everything worked out perfectly. The only thing I wanted to do was to show my work.
Nathan Chen or Yuzuru Hanyu?
Artur Danielian: Yuzuru.
Artur Danielian: This is the standard of current figure skating.
But the champion is Chen.
Artur Danielian: And Hanyu is not a champion?
Yes, but not of the last Games.
Artur Danielian: Hanyu lasts almost 10 years. With all due respect to Nathan – he is insanely cool, he improved a lot in components, artistry. I’m not even talking about jumps – this is part of it. But Yuzuru improves every time, although, it would seem, there is nowhere to improve further, for 10 years already. You can take an example from him and admire.
Three main tasks for the new season: both in sports and in life?
Artur Danielian: In sports – good performances, the same high level and stability. In life… And what in life? Live, enjoy, love. That is it.
Are you happy now?
Artur Danielian: Very.
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Interesting inteview. Artur is a good guy, I wish him to return to the top.