Elena Radionova: Figure skating is the sense of my life and I’m not ready to stop skating
Elena Vaitsekhovskaya’s interview with Elena Radionova. Translation. About motivation to stay in sport, new programs and Olympics.
In pre-season interviews, figure skaters usually tell not only about new programs, but also about how long and hard it was to break into new boots. What did you have to overcome during the summer preparation?
– I also changed boots, but usually this process goes more or less calmly for me. In the off-season I returned from vacation, started to prepare for Denis Ten’s show and at the same time started to break into new boots. At the first training camp I had a feeling that I haven’t broke into them yet, but it didn’t interfere the working process.
Was the summer work hard?
– This year – yes. Both psychologically and physically. It was very difficult to get involved in the process. The break was long.
I know that after not getting to the main competitions last December you’ve been thinking about the future a lot. What made you keep skating?
– Probably the fact that I really love figure skating. I often think that I haven’t fulfilled all my capabilities, I haven’t won all the medals. That I can do this, which means that I need to restart all work, forget everything that was before. Of course, you can’t forget everything, but it’s certainly worth reconsidering some points.
In order not to repeat mistakes?
– I can’t say that I made some critical mistakes. Last season, for example, I haven’t any. Everything went so well in training, smoothly. But during the performances some inexplicable things started to happen with me. The fall on the loop at the Russian championship, for example. I don’t remember falling on this jump in trainings. Before the Russian Nationals I did combinations with loop, with flip. I can’t understand why suddenly, for no reason at all, my leg swelled a few days before the competitions. Why did on loop my edge got in the trail on the ice.
Why didn’t you go to do the programs with Shae-Lynn Burne, like year ago? Many, I know, thinks that she is 100% “your” choreographer.
– This is indeed so. I thought about going to Shae-Lynn, figuring out if I could afford it, but then we discussed with Elena Germanovna all our considerations and possibilities and decided that this season we will do programs at home. As a result, both my programs are choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev and I’m very pleased with the result. My short program is “You Know I’m No Good” by Amy Winehouse. The free program is Cinema Paradiso from the movie of the same name. Two absolutely different programs. Before that, I’ve already worked with Tchernyshov on a gala program and I really liked his manner of doing the choreography. Petya draws with his legs. In figure skating, there is such a thing: you skate and usually turn in a comfortable for you direction. Tchernyshev on the contrary puts the steps in such a way that at first it seems that foot doesn’t go there at all. I remember that I was in horror, it seemed to me that I will never skate through this program. But somehow I managed. And I realized that some very interesting variations turn out.
Don’t you feel discomfort because over the summer the group has increased, and in addition to Masha Sotskova Polina Tsurskaya also joined the group?
– After all our sport is not like athletics where wins the one who runs a distance faster. Sometimes I watch how girls skate to spur myself a little, but usually everything that happens around me is not very important for me. It’s much more important to focus on yourself, to make yourself work. The main thing is to have contact with the coach.
What are your impressions of the Olympics in Pyeongchang?
– To be honest, there were no special feelings.
Wasn’t you surprised at all when Alina Zagitova won?
– Actually, I expected that she’d win, I think it was clear from the beginning of the season. Injury affected Zhenya too much. Alina didn’t manage to skate a short program clean at the beginning of the season, but in those competitions where she performed with Zhenya she skated very well. Apparently, direct competition mobilizes her strongly. Yes, Medvedev has a name, Zhenya is more experienced athlete, but usually unexpected people win the Olympics.
Do you remember your feelings when Medvedeva appeared on the senior ice and you started to compete with her?
– I remember the European Championships in Bratislava in 2016, when Zhenya beat me. I was very upset at that time: having skating both programs cleanly, I took the second place, although Zhenya fell on a double axel. But in such situations I never blame the judges or anyone else. Then I blamed myself. Of course, it was unpleasant, the second European Championships and the second silver. In 2015, in Stockholm, I was less than a point behind Lisa Tuktamysheva, and in Bratislava everything turned out so ridiculously. On the other hand, I understand that Zhenya earned her ratings primarily due to consistency. By the way, great respect to her, in the Olympic season she still was able to gather strength and recover. But still, Alina looked more confident in Pyeongchang.
What was you thinking about when you watched Medvedeva’s final performance at those Games?
– I know very well how she felt. I understand the reasons for such strong emotions, tears. In addition, it is doubly difficult when the main competitions of your life wins the person with whom you train in the same group. And looking at Alina, I remembered myself. How I went to my first European Championships, to the first World Championships. It was like a holiday: wow, do I really perform with all these people on the same ice? The head is not empty, but there is no doubt. You realize that even if you don’t succeed, it’s the first time, which means nothing to worry about. It even seems to me sometimes that Alina didn’t fully understand that she is performing at the Olympics. And Zhenya is a completely different story. It was psychologically much harder for her, a pressure of responsibility was very strong.
How dangerous as a competitor is the the current World Champion Kaetlyn Osmond?
– I respect her very much. She also didn’t succeed immediately, she had serious injuries. But she fought, fought, and eventually she has all the titles, which no other female skater in the world has now. She won both the World Championships and the Olympics.
You don’t make difference between the Olympic team medal and individual?
– As for the team event, there are different opinions, but I believe that the answer is always on the scoreboard. What is written there is already the history of our sport and nothing can be crossed out. After all, there are sports where a person can sit out the whole tournament on the bench and still win a title.
Have you ever thought how your life will look when there will be no figure skating in it?
– I think everyone thought about it. Every time I imagine this life differently. On the one hand, I understand that I love figure skating very much and I’m not ready to stop skating. Yes, let it be hard, difficult, let there be some moments that I will need to overcome, but it’s still the meaning of life for me. Very loud words, probably, but it is. And really, why should I hide it, I’m a person who loves to be in public, loves to skate for the audience, loves attention. I like to skate for the audience, not for the coach or the judges, luckily there are a lot of various programs, shows. And all this is very interesting for me.
Many years ago we talked with Katia Gordeeva and she said that figure skating is a very dangerous sport for a woman. Because if a person is in demand, it can be very difficult to stop. All this becomes such a big part of life that you just miss the moment to have a family, to have a baby. Suddenly you realize it, but this train has already left.
– Yes, it’s true. I think it’s very important to feel the line when you should stop. To have a family. I think that family should be in every person’s priority whatever he does. Because this is the only place where you’re really needed. A person can think that he is cool, famous, everywhere in demand, that there is money, glory. But still it all ends at some point and you’re left alone.
Are there places where you especially like to skate?
– I like to skate in Moscow. I also like Japan – there I will have one of the Grand Prix this season. The Japanese are unrealistic in supporting skaters. There are always a lot of fans, but they do not create fuss, but on the contrary somehow relieve the atmosphere.
So it’s like a holiday?
– The very atmosphere of Japanese competitions relaxes, it gives strong emotions. You understand that for those who sit in the stands it doesn’t matter what place you take. They just root for you, worry, support, love. Of course you have a desire to give these people everything, to give them pleasure.
Have you ever been tired of fans’ attention? How in general looks the fan group of Elena Radionova?
– I don’t think I have such group. There’re a lot of different groups on Instagram and my communication with fans is mostly limited by social networks. Fans can leave a comment, I can like this comment, that’s all. I’m very grateful to people for supporting me, but I don’t communicate with some of them close. I know one woman in Japan who always writes comments to my photos, sends letters. At one time, she was rooting for Yulia Lipnitskaya, then she began to root for me and even created the group “Julia-Elena.Ru”. She has been rooting for me for a very long time. And she herself sews teddy bears in my costumes. I already have two such in my collection. Now this woman makes one more for me. Probably, with her I have the closest relationships among fans.
If you were among those who made a decision about the age eligibility in women’s single skating, would you vote to raise the age for doing seniors?
– I think, yes – at least up to 16. I also would like to have at least one competitions held not with flag participation, but as in tennis, according to the rating. Many countries in figure skating don’t have enough spots. And those countries who have spots not always have enough athletes to fill this spots. So why not keep one championship in the current format and make the second one held by rating? And make these competitions equal in importance.
As for age, this is generally a difficult topic. It’s interesting to look at mature skaters at least because they really have programs. It’s clear that when there are such athletes as Zhenya and Alina, as it was last season, everyone starts saying that they compete only among themselves. By and large, they didn’t leave any intrigue. But sometimes I caught myself thinking that it would be more interesting for me to look at Carolina Kostner or Kaetlyn Osmond, will they be able to squeeze into the fight or not? Juniors are generally a separate world, a separate element in which you don’t understand who will “shoot” and who won’t. This is so unpredictable, everyone has such a different sporting destiny. For example Sasha Trusova. God blesses, she will be healthy as long as possible and will be able to jump quads when she reaches senior level. It’s interesting what will happen to her.
Can you imagine what it’s like to skate with such incredibly long plaits as Trusova’s?
– You know, I’ve been getting used to skate with my hair down in shows, although they are much shorter than Sasha’s. If I make a ponytail, I can’t jump at all – the ponytail starts to pull me and it becomes very difficult to keep balance in jumps and spins, the head involuntarily goes back. Similar sensation sometimes creates heavy headbands. Therefore, I don’t skate with hair down during training. I do it only in ordinary life, if I’m going somewhere. But when I skate in shows with my hair down, many people say: wow, this is so cool!
Have you ever thought to cut your hair?
– I wanted to. But they сonvinced me that short haircut won’t suit me. On the other hand, I remember, once I came to the hairdresser, asked to cut the ends of the hair. We cut eight or ten centimeters and I was upset … I went home and thought: how much time it will take for my hair to grow back? Yes, there are times when you want to change something in yourself, but if your style has already developed, then why?
by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for rsport.ria.ru