Dmitri Aliev: “I didn’t focus on money reward at the Russian Grand Prix, for me it’s a bonus. I’ll use it to resolve housing issues, it’s important and necessary for me now.”
Interview with 2020 European Champion Dmitri Aliev.
Dmitri, in Moscow, after a free program, you kissed the ice, and then said that you decided to do this in advance in case of a successful performance. In Kazan you also kissed the ice. Was it an inner rush?
Dmitri Aliev: Warm emotions overwhelmed, there was satisfaction from what has been done. Probably, when I succeed, my soul opens, and I want to thank everyone and everything. And ice is where I stand on, where I perform all these quads. Therefore, part of the gratitude should have gone to the ice. Well, at the same time, after the skate, I wanted to cool down, or something (laughs).
There were still a couple of small mistakes in the free program. It turns out that you are not very upset because of them, right?
Dmitri Aliev: No. I knew that it would be hard to jump the loop due to microtrauma of the foot. Therefore, I didn’t get upset and after this jump I gave it all on the step sequence. I felt how the energy was rushing. Maybe that’s why after the skate there was such a surge of warmth. You know, sometimes you wake up in the morning and realize that a wonderful day awaits you. Here you finish the program and you understand that the audience will give you a standing ovation, and then will come the realization that you have overcome yourself, you have coped. And before that I wanted to give a little more energy with this kiss of the ice.
Also the 500 thousand rubles for the victory waited for you at the end of the competitions. And together with the same amount for gold at the stage in Moscow, you earned a million. How are you going to spend this million?
Dmitri Aliev: The financial reward for the first stage has already been received. I try to use it to resolve housing issues, it is important and necessary for me now. But in general, to be honest, I didn’t focus on money either at the Moscow stage or at the Kazan stage. And now, after the victory, I don’t think that another 500 thousand rubles are waiting for me. For me, this is a bonus. Of course, I pay tax and share with the coaches, each group has certain rules, because they contribute to my victory. As for the rest… What will life lead to, if the money is useful there, then be it.
Maybe you have a dream you are saving for?
Dmitri Aliev: I will reveal a little secret, I am not very good at saving finances (smiles). Of course, I can save up for something if I set a goal, but now I need to solve various current issues, spend on the needs that arise in life, plus help my parents. I always try to send them something. When I come home to Ukhta, for example, I go to the bathhouse, which my father built, including with my financial participation. Well, I would like to have some kind of money reserve so that at the end of the season there is an opportunity to have a comfortable vacation. Or to spend on some from my wishlist. I am a fan of computer games, I will purchase something from this area, for example.
Evgeni Plushenko wrote in his book that, as soon as he could afford it, he bought a car. Does your wishlist include a car?
Dmitri Aliev: I bought a car for myself too when had the opportunity. This was my dream. The season after the Olympic Games in Pyeongchang, I was 18 years old and I bought myself a BMW. Let it be used one, but I was very proud that I bought it myself, no one helped me. Now I live a two-minute drive from the skating rink and at the same time a five-minute walk, but I always go by car.
Do not like to change cars?
Dmitri Aliev: I have a friend who knows how to competently sell and buy cars, even without significant finances. He knows this process. And I have no time to do this, and I don’t have such a need. The main thing for me is that I have a seat for my butt. And so that I can safely get to work or to visit someone. That’s all.
Recently I had a chance to see you giving a small but emotional lecture to the young group of Evgeni Rukavitsin during a training session. Is this already a try of a future coaching career?
Dmitri Aliev: Perhaps, but I don’t this on purpose, but when there is an inner desire. It is always a pleasure to share the experience with the younger generation in our group. It happens that I pull two or three guys out of the locker room and start to scold them softly, so to speak. I just remember myself and the other guys in the group as a juniors. Of course, we also clowned around, but it seems to me that we had more sports competition. Who will be the first to jump a triple axel or quadruple, for example.
Dmitri Aliev: Well, there was such a moment recently. I gathered the guys and said: “Whoever jumps the triple axel, I give him a money reward personally.” And last week, a guy from the group jumped the first triple axel. Now I owe him money. But I’m not upset at all because literally three days after the first guy, another guy also jumped triple axel. The third one could not rotate it at all, he was afraid, now he is starting to rotate normally.
In Kazan, you, together with you coach, stood at the board when Mikhail Polynsky, a junior skater from your group was performing the free program.
Dmitri Aliev: I want the guys from the group of EvgenI Rukavitsin to succeed. And I want to help. Juniors look up at us. I want the guys not to lose their heads. Therefore, I am always open to giving them some advice. And so that they would not be scared, they knew that you can always come up to me and ask something. Or play, for example, to jump a triple axel. If the junior wins, can you imagine what kind of “boost” he will have from this? When he comes home, he will tell his mother “I beat Dima Aliiev in a triple axel!”
And when you were a junior, did you play like that?
Dmitri Aliev: Yes, I played with Kostya Menshov. He always gathered at such moments (smiles). But I remember one time I won. I was happy in the locker room, then I hid my emotions from everyone. And in the evening I came home and called my mother, boasted! I felt uplifted. If it works, that’s great! So let the guys know that they can always play with me like that.
It turns out that you don’t have such hazing in the locker room, which Plushenko also spoke about in his book, everything is peaceful and constructive.
Dmitri Aliev: I will say this – sometimes athletes piss off coaches. And sometimes I piss off when I’m in the wrong mood for a workout. It happens. But when I see how young athletes make the coach angry, sometimes I go up to them and say “Well, let’s move to a corner.” And there I explain “I see how the coach looks at you, why do you make him angry? Come on, pull yourself together and go to work!”
The last question is about the results of the stages of the Russian Grand Prix. Two stages – two first places. Did you expect this? Do you feel the drive now?
Dmitri Aliev: In general, of course, I am satisfied with two victories. At the same time, I do not have a specific goal for the season, I rather enjoy the process. Evgeni Vladimirovich sees that I am inspired, and he’s like an open book for me, and I feel this process of exchanging positive energy. But I understand that it is necessary to stabilize the performance of both programs, both short and free, to show the result that I want and which we are planning with the coaches. In Kazan, before the free program, a force majeure in the form of a foot injury helped me, it made me to pull myself together. But you won’t look for these force majeure on purpose. I want to approach every competitions with a cool head. And make people happy. My large support group came to Kazan – people from St. Petersburg, from Moscow, from different cities. I know many people, we communicate. They gave me Pikachu and other toys. Yes, I know that my family, the coaching staff are behind me, but there are also so many people who follow me to competitions. Maybe I didn’t notice it before. And now I just feel and understand that there should be a return from me on the ice. I have no right to act somehow negligently, to let them down. Therefore, my respect and gratitude to them that they are part of my sport shape. They seem to keep me too.
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