“Because of political situation, the Italian government didn’t give me a residence permit. Without it, I couldn’t represent the country at international competitions.” Maria Talalaikina about returning to Russia and Evgeni Rukavitsin
Interview with Maria Talalaikina who planned to represent Italy but had to return back to Russia.
source: rsport dd. 10 October 2022 by Andrei Simonenko
The news that figure skater Maria Talalaikina, who decided to skate for the Italian national team a year ago, is returning under the Russian flag, surprised many. The fact that the athlete will train again with Evgeni Rukavitsin made us wonder. Earlier, she supported Elizaveta Nugumanova, who accused the coach of insults.
Maria, you said that everything worked out well for you in Italy. What made you decide to return?
Maria Talalaikina: Yes, everything was fine. But due to the political situation, the Italian government did not give me a residence permit. Without this document, I could not represent the country at international competitions. And I wouldn’t be able to stay in Italy either.
Were there options with other countries?
Maria Talalaikina: Yes, they were, with Croatia. But there were logistical difficulties, again, because of the situation in the world. With flights, and border crossings with a Bulgarian multi visa with a Russian passport. Tickets are very expensive, my mother and I are not able to pay for our stay in Europe for a long time. I had a sponsor from the Italian side. Since I could not represent Italy, his interest in me also disappeared.
Were you strongly upset?
Maria Talalaikina: Of course, it’s sad, I spent almost a year in the so-called sports “quarantine” in Italy in order to compete in international competitions in the future. But nothing happened. I plunged into a state that probably cannot be called depression, but as if you are looking at yourself from the outside.
Were there thoughts of leaving sport?
Maria Talalaikina: At first I thought, but at some point, I realized that I can’t do without figure skating. There is nothing to replace the emotions that I get after performances. So I decided to return.
What options were considered the next steps?
Maria Talalaikina: Of course, I wanted to return to where I left. There were fallback options, but I only asked Evgeni Rukavitsin. More precisely, first I called the General Director of the Russian Figure Skating Federation Alexander Kogan, this was the first step. I was very worried, I thought that I would not hear anything good. But he entered into the position, and responded, for which I am very, very grateful. He said that he would be glad to see me on the ice, that I should continue skating, and that he would help with the transition back.
I wrote a letter to Olga Glinka (the choreographer of the Rukavitsin group – ed.), we met with her and talked. We seemed to understand each other, and Evgeni Rukavitsin agreed to help me. But, unfortunately, I did not manage to return to Roman Usatov, who worked with me before. I don’t think he could forgive me. Galina Kashina agreed to take me, for which many thanks to her. And, of course, many thanks to Evgeni Rukavitsin for taking me back.
I can’t help but ask the next question because all those who followed the story of alleged insults from Evgeni Rukavitsin against Elizaveta Nugumanova are waiting for it.
Maria Talalaikina: I also expect it.
You wrote a post on social networks that was perceived as an expression of support for Liza. Please clarify the situation, how it really happened.
Maria Talalaikina: Let’s start from the beginning. Since last year I have already been in Italy, flew to Russia only for the New Year holidays, and immediately flew back. Therefore, I did not see and could not see what exactly happened to Elizaveta Nugumanova. I was in another country.
This year in May, she informed me that her interview regarding Evgeni Rukavitsin would soon be published. And she asked me to help. She sent me the text before publication. After reading all this, I realized what she wants to achieve – a wow effect, a hype. At first, I decided that I would not interfere, but Liza is such a person. If she needs something, she demands it long and hard. It’s easier to agree than to refuse.
As for the situation itself, Evgeni Rukavitsin is the head coach in the group, but only Roman Usatov worked with me. No one has ever humiliated or insulted me. But Liza asked so hard to support her that I agreed.
At the same time, I do not refuse my words that in sports, as in any other sphere of life, there should be no place for humiliation and insult. But my phrase has nothing to do with Evgeni Rukavitsin.
Did you explain this to him before returning?
Maria Talalaikina: Yes, we also discussed this with Evgeni Rukavitsin. I am very grateful to him that he understood and agreed to take me back to the group. The process of paperwork in the federation is already underway.
You said that it is objectively difficult for you to break into the Russian national team. What are your goals then?
Maria Talalaikina: I want to compete. I can’t live without performances, without figure skating. The Italian experience was very important for me, during the training in the group of Lorenzo Magri I learned a lot. Coach Angelina Nikolaevna Turenko helped me, but it turned out to be impossible to influence getting a residence permit. It’s a pity that I lost a lot of time. In Italy, everything is done so slowly because they enjoy life.
Are you ready for the Russian training process? It will certainly be tougher than Italian.
Maria Talalaikina: Ready, I really missed it. It may sound strange, but the light cheerful approach is apparently not for me.
Do you need to restore your jumps?
Maria Talalaikina: I do triples and combinations, everything is fine, I didn’t lose them. The only thing is that I need to work because lately, I have been training only on public skating. But starting Monday I return to the group, which I am very glad about. We will discuss which competitions I could compete in.
And most importantly, I feel good at home with my mother and cat. I really hope that it will be the same with my coaches.
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