Ekaterina Kurakova: After quarantine, we all will appreciate more the time when we skate
Interview with former Russian skater Ekaterina Kurakova who now represents Poland. About training quads during quarantine, having fun with Medvedeva and other skaters online and Tarasova’s idea to gathering the skaters at the close skating center.
by Elvira Ondar for gazeta.ru dd. 2d May 2020
This season have been suddenly ended by quarantine. What was its result for you?
Ekaterina: I am upset that World Championships was canceled because of the coronavirus, because it was supposed to be my debut. Until the end I believed that it would be held in the fall of 2020. I am always for competing, even if I feel unwell, I will still overcome myself. For example, after the Junior Worlds in Estonia, I immediately flew to Canada, and a day later we were working on the programs. Without rest.
Nevertheless, I believe that the decision to cancel the World Championships was right, because the situation was critical.
About positive results: I am very glad that at the Junior Worlds, my last competition of the season, I was able to show myself well. All jumps was fully rotated, that is, we corrected previous mistakes. I wanted to show that during the sports quarantine, which I had because of my transition to the Polish national team, I did not stay out, but did a lot of work.
You said that in the end the body was so tired that blood came from your nose.
Ekaterina: It was the hardest and busiest season in my life. I tried to get my best shape, ate very little, drank very little, so my body was tired.
At the training session before a short program at the Junior Worlds, my nose started bleeding – and it shot so hard that it hit my eye. It was such a stream. I tried to cover my face, there were a lot of cameras around, everyone started to take pictures, but no one came to help me.
My coach, Brian Orser, said, “Let’s finish this training,” but I refused. As a result, they put a tampon in my nose and I finished performing jumps for a short program.
This season, you were actively working on quadruples and triple axel …
Ekaterina: This is what makes me so upset! When the World Championship was canceled, we all came to the rink, Brian tried to cheer us up, we did some funny exercises … there wasn’t such a thing that the coach said: “Once the Worlds was canceled, we’re resting.”
And then I set a goal for myself to finally learn the triple axel, since I had more time. We started practicing it on the very first day, and there were such good attempts that I decided: “That’s it, I’m putting the trixel into a short and free programs.”
But fate decreed otherwise. I just could not imagine that we would not skate for so long and that we could only dream of just going on the ice.
Tatiana Tarasova calls for Russian skaters to be allowed to a closed sports centers. Would you agree to be closed indefinitely at some ice rink?
Ekaterina: I would agree. Because for me the main goal is to skate well at the 2022 Olympics. This season, for example, I could arrive and go to the skating rink in the evening right after the airport. And I decided that it would be so until the Olympics. Each training session I will give all my best, so that later I will not regret anything. So, if I were offered to be locked at the rink and without a possibility to go anywhere, I would answer “Yes.”
How did they informed you about the closure of the ice rink in Canada?
Ekaterina: Sent an email. I remember it was a day off. Initially, they wrote that the rink closes for two weeks. We thought: “What a horror! Two weeks!”
However, the opening dates were constantly postponed, and then from the embassy called and urged us to return to Russia, because Canada was closing. We flew with a connection in London. Only one person sat on each row, then there was a completely free row, and then again one passenger.
The Canadian airline worked cool here – kept the distance. Then in London we waited ten hours to collect five flights there and take them all together to Russia. This is such a disaster, to be honest.
While you were in Canada, you did jogging, walked in the forest. Didn’t afraid that the police would stop and give a fine?
Ekaterina: Then there were no such severe restrictions. In general, among the guys at Cricket Club, we first had such conversations: “We are young, we are definitely not in danger.” There were even some jokes that this is nonsense. Now, of course, I am ashamed of these jokes. No one imagined that everything would be so serious. I walked around Toronto, drank coffee, met with friends … Then I mentally rested because I had huge fatigue after the season.
There is a cool video on your Instagram where you, Jason Brown, Cha Jung Hwan and two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu thank the fans for the season.
Ekaterina: The idea of this video belonged to Brian and Tracy Wilson. They called the four of us at the end of the training session and said: “Guys, let’s thank the fans, let’s say that we will not relax, because one of the most important things for the skater is to feel support, even when you face setbacks”. Each of us expressed gratitude in our own language. I am in Polish, this is also my language. The video was very sweet and sincere.
How do you keep in touch with the guys now?
Ekaterina: Jason Brown recently wrote so sweetly to me “Katyusha” and said: “Let’s call each other on Thursdays, do some exercise; someone will show the exercise and the rest will do it.” As a result, Jason, Zhenya, Jung Hwan, Corey Circelli, Conrad Orzel gathered.
Did Zhenya call from Japan?
Ekaterina: Yes, Zhenya flew to Japan, when the country was still open, she had to had a two weeks quarantine and skate there. But now, if I’m not mistaken, in Japan all the skating rinks are also closed.
And how did the Cricket Club online training go?
Ekaterina: We had a lot of fun! Jason was in charge, we did different exercises. Everything was nice and positive.
It was very nice to see everyone – you feel kindred souls, because usually we spent every single day together, we skated at more than one training session together, and I really miss the guys. At the end of the training, Tracy Wilson also joined us and asked how we were doing, where we are now, how we were feeling … There was a very nice atmosphere.
You said that you can easily comfort a person, for example, once you comforted Hanyu after an unsuccessful training. How many people have you had to comfort during quarantine?
Ekaterina: I can’t say that someone came to me and whined. But there was such a case: I noticed that the Canadian skater Corey Circelli posted photos in solitude. I asked what was the matter, he said: “Well, somehow it happened.” Then I tried to spend more time with him, because I know for myself how hard it is to overcome a difficult period if you are left alone.
In the family, I comfort my grandmother and mother. Mom is very worried that I’m left without ice for so long, and I assure her that everything will be fine. Now the main thing is to take all safety measures, and just believe that everything will be fine.
You’ve been in quarantine for a month and a half. Do you feel rested?
Ekaterina: I don’t know … on the contrary, now I have worries that I can lose shape. I want to maintain good shape, no matter how difficult it is. Because of this, I try to train a lot – at least twice a day. But I prefer skating rather than doing off-ice — jumping on the floor, running … Although, of course, I like this, but when it lasts for a long time, it turns into a routine. But now I think that there is some positive in this: after such a period, we all will appreciate tmore he time when we skate.
Usually at the end of the season I came to the rink with such thoughts: “Oh, okay, I have to hold on a little more …” And now I understand: “Katya, how thankless you were, you had to appreciate what you had!”
Brian Orser calls, asks, how are you doing or not?
Ekaterina: Yes, three times a week we have online training with Brian, but not the whole group calls up, only those who want.
What are your goals for the time you spend without ice?
Ekaterina: Read three motivational books. Prepare for the exams well. Do not lose shape, jump on the floor a lot of triple axels and quadruples…
Wow, can you do quadruples on the floor? Even Alexandra Trusova admitted that she could not.
Ekaterina: Yes, I jump the quadruple toe loop. At the same time, I can’t do triple lutz and flip off the ice, but I can do a quadruple toe loop – my left leg jumps very well on the floor. In general, I need to keep in shape and, of course, spend time with my family. This is very important, since I have not been to Russia very much.
For the role of Alice in Ilia Averbukh’s show, you had to learn pair elements, among which were very risky lifts. Many single skaters say that they will never trust their body to another person and are very afraid to do lifts …
Ekaterina: It’s soooo cool! I really liked when they raise me, twist.
In this case, you can switch to pairs, if you want.
Ekaterina: In fact, I was offered many times to do pairs – they wrote from different countries. Many people from Russia asked, even when I started to represent Poland. But I replied: “No, so far I feel more like a single skater.” I’m not ready to do pairs now, but let’s see what happens.
One gets the impression that 95% of single skaters are really lonely – absolutely nothing is known about their personal life. Tell me, do skaters really usually can’t find time for something other than ice?
Ekaterina: It seems to me that this is more secrecy. Someone, I know, can’t show the relationship because of the contract, because the fans are very jealous. In my opinion, this is practiced in Asia. But since I’m not so popular, I’m not hiding it (Ekaterina dates Polish skater Filip Bojanowski). Although I do not flaunt my relationship, but to publish some nice photos – why not?
I didn’t really have a relationship before. But not because I did not have enough time or desire, just the circumstances interfered. I doubted these relations, because we are now at a distance. But true love overcomes the distance (laughs).
I have never kissed anyone before him, I haven’t walked with someone holding hands … I decided for myself this way: if I feel something, then in this case I can fall in love, and if I don’t feel, then won’t start a relationship just to post pictures and say that I have a boyfriend … And at that moment I felt this and was afraid what if this is really my man and I can lose him.
Relationships may harm someone and take energy. But I have the opposite – I feel more rested. It is also important to feel support and love from a person who is not from the family.