Deniss Vasiljevs: “I don’t support the admission of Russian athletes to the Olympics. Time must pass, the war must end, everyone must look at what happened and understand the situation, and only then can we start talking about it.”
Deniss Vasiljevs about European Championships, preparation for Worlds and his attitude towards possible return of Russian athletes to the competitions.
source: sportacentrs.com dd. 4 February 2023 by Roland Elins
Latvian figure skater Deniss Vasiljevs, after taking fifth place at the European Championships, admitted in a conversation with the Sportacentrs portal that he was left with a feeling of unfulfillment both because of his skating and because of the place. He also stated that after winning Latvian Sportsman of the Year, he feels extra pressure to perform better and expressed his thoughts on the IOC’s plan to allow athletes from Russia and Belarus to compete in the Olympic Games. “I don’t think it should be considered at this point. I certainly wouldn’t have any sense of security that it would be a good move.”
“The word to describe my performance at the European Championship would probably be ‘unfulfilled,’ ” said Denis Vasiljevs, who was in third place after the short program but took fifth place overall. “I know that I can skate really well, and I’ve done some really amazing performances, and I just had to do it again. Don’t think too much; don’t start thinking about other things; just do it. But I tried to improve a little; I tried to complicate the programs a little, but in the end, I didn’t get complete satisfaction and didn’t get the number of points that I had hoped for.
“The European Championships in Finland were a bit different than usual. Due to the fact that there were no Russian athletes, it was more interesting from a sporting point of view,” Vasiljevs said. “Let me explain: Russian athletes in figure skating are still among the leaders in Europe, maybe not so pronounced in my discipline, but in general, and now that the entire balance of forces has changed accordingly, the situation is accordingly more interesting.”
Vasiljevs has publicly emphasized several times that his priority at the competitions is not the place taken, but the connection established with the fans and presenting his skating to them, as well as personal emotions. He admitted that the competitions held in Espoo did not go as well as he had hoped.
“Like in a fairy tale, I probably lacked emotions in my heart; somehow it got too cold,” said the Latvian figure skater. “In figure skating, however, you need to feel easy and free, not tense and thinking too much about what exactly needs to be done and what elements to complete.”
Vasiljevs now has the World Championships in Japan ahead of him in March. He will have one more competition in February before that, but then he will have four weeks to prepare for the biggest competitions of the season. “I don’t want to say that I will prepare for the Worlds then, because I am already ready,” he laughed. “But there will still be time to polish some things and get myself in the right mood for the competitions, so I can go on the ice ready for a great skate.”
Vasiljevs has the 11th-best result in the world this season. Does he think it’s a fair reflection of his place among figure skating’s elite? “Yes and no,” Vasiljevs said thoughtfully. “However, points and places are not the main emphasis in my competitions, and points alone are not the best comparison. Will I be happy if I get into the top ten at Worlds? Yes, in terms of places, I probably will, but I will emphasize again that we calculate a lot of things in terms of places and results tables.”
This month, Vasiljevs received the Three Star Award as Latvia’s athlete of 2022, for which he expressed surprise, joy, and honor. “It’s a great honor for me, absolutely,” Vasiljevs said. “The biggest joy for me is that my sport has been appreciated in this way in Latvia; it has been noticed, and such an award is an advertisement for all figure skating.”
“Does this put more pressure on me now to prove something to someone, namely that this award has been given to the right person? I will say that I have additional motivation to achieve better results and show better skating,” admitted Vasiljevs. “At the same time, it’s also an opportunity to explain my position and my views on what I consider sports to be. I saw some sports programs recently where they talked about competitions and training. Don’t get me wrong; obviously training is hard work and it’s necessary, but what was said there seemed so hard and harsh to me that sport was presented there almost as a war. I can’t agree with that and would like to show a different view of sports. You have to enjoy what you do, try to become a better person, and develop yourself through sport.”
During the conversation, the non-admission of Russian figure skaters to the competition was already noted, and Vasiljevs did not deny that he was also aware of the current discussion in the sports community, namely, the topic promoted by the International Olympic Committee regarding the admission of athletes from the aggressor countries Russia and Belarus to the Olympic Games, because the opposite option “would mean discrimination against them.”
“Yes, I have an opinion on that,” he said. “Knowing what is happening in the world right now and remembering the doping case of the Russian skater Valieva at the Beijing Games, it is difficult for me to say, “Yes, let’s go and skate together.” I don’t think there is such a sense of security and trust that if they were allowed to the Olympic games, then everything would be fine and everything would be in accordance with the Olympic values. Time must pass, the war must end, everyone must take a breath and look at what happened and understand the situation, and only then can we start talking about it and discussing it at all. At the moment – no, I do not support.”