Carolina Kostner: “Figure skating is not only about jumps, medals, trophies or achievements. We have the opportunity to inspire young people to follow their dreams.”
Interview with Carolina Kostner for Russian media. About quarantine, age minimum, her clothing line and decision about her career.
source: Konstantin Kireev for sovsport.ru dd. 9th November
Carolina how did you get through the first wave and quarantine this spring?
Carolina Kostner: Honestly, there were all sorts of things: both good days and not so good ones. But as an athlete and as a person, I have always believed that such difficult moments should be used for self-development. During the spring lockdown I offered my help to figure skating schools and held many video lessons for students, participated in video conferences, plus we talked a lot with my colleagues athletes. I also talked with ordinary schoolchildren, not only with skaters. It was necessary to help their teachers to cope in such a difficult period. So I helped with physical education lessons, because it is difficult to keep children interested when they have to sit at the computer every day to study.
What did you do during the quarantine? Many have developed new skills …
Carolina Kostner: I also had the opportunity to learn how to cook, take up gardening and even create and launch my first sportswear collection. I tried to stay positive, even when I had to pause my life. In the spring, when we were all quarantined at home, I was filling into cooking. I love to cook desserts. I am originally from northern Italy (South Tyrol), and now I live in Rome. In Italy, each region has its own cuisine, its own special dishes. So I cooked different desserts, exchanged recipes with friends, studied Roman cuisine. I’ve recently prepared my first carbonara. Actually, this year I first met spring at home, and not somewhere else in the world. And you know, for the first time I saw how our garden blooms, I picked apricots and cherries. I could not believe that I hadn’t opportunity to enjoy all this in other years …
Carolina, but sweets are usually forbidden for skaters. I can’t believe you cook desserts and didn’t eat them, did you?
Carolina Kostner: Of course I did! I always try everything that I cook, there is no other way. But, of course, you can’t eat too much. Besides I’m lucky: my boyfriend eats everything I cook and does not gain calories.
You are a polyglot and speak five languages. What about Russian?
Carolina Kostner: When I lived in St. Petersburg, I understood quite well everything that was said to me. Plus I had books, I was constantly studying. Professor Mishin helped me, the lion’s share of how I spoke and understood Russian is his merit.
At the end of last season, you were considering whether to pursue your sports career. What decision have you made in the end?
Carolina Kostner: Now it is difficult to talk about anything. In winter, I had hip surgery. I hoped that I could recover from the injury and understand what my future will be like. But at the moment everything is very difficult: during the lockdown I could not go to rehabilitation and, accordingly, the recovery process was very delayed. I haven’t even been on the ice yet … The recovery turned out to be much more difficult than I expected. Therefore, while making a decision is postponed.
Have you followed the stages of the Russian Cup?
Carolina Kostner: I read a little, saw some information on the Internet, but I was not able to watch all the videos.
Under the guidance of your coach Alexei Mishin, Mikhail Kolyada found his second wind, as they say in Russia. Do you think he can break into the elite of men’s figure skating?
Carolina Kostner: I’m sure he has every chance. With Professor Mishin, Kolyada is in good hands and I wish him to make all his dreams come true.
Which young female figure skater do you like the most in ladies’ single skating?
Carolina Kostner: Oh, there are so many of them that it is very difficult to choose one, because each of the girls has her own strengths and weaknesses. Time will tell which of them will be able to grow not only in physical and sports terms, but also become a real artist.
Do you see yourself in any of the young skaters?
Carolina Kostner: Styles are very difficult to compare. There was a moment when I won a bronze medal at the Sochi Games and my skating may have inspired many girls. Here’s a dream that has come true. But for me personally, it is my great strength to know that I can help many girls, to feel that many admire me and take an example from me … All the moments when I fought with myself to become who I became. But I hope everyone can find their own style.
Do you communicate with someone from Russia after you left St. Petersburg?
Carolina Kostner: In Russia, I felt a strong friendship when I trained in St. Petersburg with Professor Mishin … He taught me not only wisdom, but also friendship that tied us together. Now I am very attached to St. Petersburg and to Russia: you have so many champions in figure skating that we here in Italy can only dream of. This is a very powerful engine for the younger generation: children see that victory is possible, that here he is – a person who has become a world or Olympic champion. And for girls from other countries, all this is much more difficult, because all their idols were not born in their country. I admire it so much in Russia … And yes, of course, we communicate. For example, with Liza (Tuktamysheva), Evgeni (Plushenko), Alexei Yagudin, who has always been my idol …
Evgeni Plushenko is a coach now. Do you think he will be able to become a strong coach?
Carolina Kostner: He has experience and talent. I can only wish him all the best, I am sure that he will be able to convey all his sports enthusiasm to his skaters.
Do you discuss figure skating with Liza Tuktamysheva? Do you give her any advice?
Carolina Kostner: In general, even when we trained together, we almost always talked about something else. And even now, when we communicate, we are discussing travels, cooking, in general, everything that does not concern figure skating. And, of course, I do not give Liza any advice: she is already a real expert and she herself knows what and how she needs to do.
Many now complain that figure skating has lost its grace and turned into jumping. What do you think of it?
Carolina Kostner: Figure skating is not only about jumps, not only about medals, trophies or achievements. We have the opportunity to inspire young people to follow their dreams, and believe me, you need to have the courage to fight for your dreams. To achieve something, not only talent is needed, but also patience, constancy and perseverance in training. And the longer you work, the more and better you will be able to convey this, as I or Lisa did …
Lately there has been a lot of talk about increasing the age minimum from 15 to 17 years old, but what do you think about that?
Carolina Kostner: My personal opinion is that you need to make the right decision to protect the health of young athletes. But it’s not me who should discuss this, but those who know the situation from a medical, pediatric, physiotherapeutic and coaching point of view. It is important. An athlete, let’s say, has his own expiration date. In some sports, the limit reaches 30 or 35 years, then you have your whole life ahead. And women want to have children and good health is needed for the life that comes after sports. When we are young, we think that sport is everything, but it is not. Health should always come first. So let’s leave this decision to the specialists. But I hope that in the future our sport will be given the opportunity to create not jumpers, but real artists. And this comes, as we know, with maturity, experience and time … Puberty is a very difficult age when teens should be able to grow, mature and develop correctly.
Should we wait for the return of Alina Zagitova?
Carolina Kostner: I don’t know. It’s hard to make predictions, and that’s none of my business. I hope she finds something that makes her happy. After all, you can skate and not take part in competitions. Even if she never returns to competitions again, she still has lots of experience that she can pass on to those who strive for victory. She can do this by training, or competing, or doing something else. Only Alina knows what is right for her.
Have you thought about opening your own school? In Russia, Lipnitskaya and Sotnikova have their own academies …
Carolina Kostner: Yes, in the long term I would really like to open my own school, this is my dream. But at the moment my priority is myself, I need to recover from an injury, regain good health and then make a decision. There are various projects where I take an active part, I really like all this. For the rest, I think the future will show. During quarantine, I created my own clothing brand ICENONICE. My collection is dedicated to those who want to look good on and off the ice. The collection is rather small. Leggings with different inserts, T-shirts for training and slightly more elegant ones for competitions. It’s such a golden mean between the costume for competitions and the classic comfortable pants, almost with holes, for training at home. But there are also clothes to leave the house to go to a cafe for an aperitif.
I like to dress comfortably and elegantly at the same time, it’s such a casual chic. In a word, I am for universal clothing. I created what I was missing myself … Besides he clothes are entirely made of eco-friendly materials, the production is completely made in Italy. And I am proud to have participated in every stage of the brand development. By the way, we have distributors in Moscow and St. Petersburg, and you can also buy clothes online. Of course, launching a new line during such a period is very difficult, but my team and I believe in success and we’re sure that everything will be fine. The main thing is to believe in your dreams and take the first step, then, I am sure, the Universe will support you.
Going back to figure skating: if the situation with the coronavirus remains at the current level, is it worth holding the European and World Championships?
Carolina Kostner: It’s hard to say, but in the world of sports you learn to be innovative and constantly experiment. I do not exclude that there are a number of activities that can work, the main thing is to think over all the details well. As an athlete, I can say that competitions in an empty arena without an audience is not what we are all used to. Now is a difficult time, but during such periods the most creative ideas are born. Let’s see where will bring leave us…
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