Elena Radionova: Now commenting you will think twice what to say because fans can start hating you even for some innocent phrase
Interview with Elena Radionova. About World Championships, current situation in Russian ladies’ single skating, quads, being a commentator and dresses.
by Elena Rodina for sport-express.ru
What do you think about the past World Championships? About Evgenia Medvedeva’s performance and that Elizaveta Tuktamysheva didn’t get to this competitions?
– Actually, I would like to congratulate Alina Zagitova once again, because, if I’m not mistaken, she is the only figure skater who has won all the titles. I’m glad for Alina, I was cheering for her, I like her as a figure skater and as an athlete. She’s also an unreal beauty! I’m happy for all the girls. Zhenya overcame herself, well done. Her way to the World Championships wasn’t easy, but she showed herself as a fighter. We all saw her emotions. First of all, she proved to herself that she is at the same level as she was. I felt sorry for Tuktamysheva, who did not get there. I think she could have been in this top three, because Liza has a triple axel, and it could have helped her there. I think Sofia Samodurova lacked a little bit of luck. It seems that everything is clean, that she skated well, but she lacks this world ranking and, probably, some kind of mature skating.
Zagitova’s record faded to the background somehow. A unique record, which belongs to her and Eteri Tutberidze. Everyone talked more about Zhenya and Liza. Did you expect Alina to win?
– Honestly, no. Because there were various talks about her readiness and about her preparation for this Worlds. It was interesting to watch, because no one knew how each of our girls would perform. Probably the most consistent was Samodurova, but also, as we know, there can be psychological problems at the main competitions.
You commented these competitions. How to hide your emotions or surprise?
– It seems to me that I’m such a commentator who doesn’t hide emotions, surprise or frustration at all. Of course, it’s just as exciting, because you can’t be calm watching figure skating.
When a skater goes on a jump, do you understand whether he will fall or not?
– Sometimes you can understand by the way a person enters jump. For example, sometimes an athlete is cautious before a jump. It happens that something go wrong in the air, the wrong trajectory of the jump. It happens that a person loses an axis, but still lands the jump thanks to his character. And there are people who don’t fight for the jump. In fact, everything depends on the person. Although, sometimes you can really see whether a person will make a jump or not. But this is more a question of psychology.
You took part in the World Team Trophy. How important was it for you? This year, Medvedeva missed this tournament due to injuries, Zagitova due to unknown reasons. What does this competitions mean?
– I think this competition has a very high-status. But many athletes are preparing for the individual World Championships and give there all their strength. Many take the team competitions less seriously, because it is not an official competitions, but I think soon it will become official because it is already an Olympic discipline. I can say that I prepared really seriously for these competitions, I’ve participated in two team competitions. For me it was probably even more exciting than Worlds, because I understood that I couldn’t let the team down. When you perform for yourself, when you fall is your own fault. But when the whole team is behind you, you just can’t let these people down, people who are trying, who are madly cheering for you. Figure skating is called an individual sport, but here all individualism fades into the background, the team spirit turns on, and it seems to me that every athlete needs to feel these emotions, switch from an individual approach to a team one.
In your opinion, who is the favorite to win next season in the ladies’ single skating?
– I think next season will be very interesting. I can’t say who will be the favorite to win, because there are so many girls. We have three very strong juniors: Sasha Trusova, Anna Scherbakova, Alena Kostornaia. I wonder what shape Alena has now, because she missed the junior worlds. As a figure skater she impresses me a lot. Sasha Trusova and Anna Scherbakova have ultra-c elements, they have quadruple jumps. The main thing is not to lose them.
Also Alina Zagitova and Zhenya Medvedeva stay. Here it is also very difficult to say in what shape they are, because there is not much time left, and whether they will learn quadruple jumps is also a question. Zhenya already tries, I know, but it seems to me that at that age it is very traumatic. It was much easier for Sasha and Anna, who learned it at the age of 12-13, than for Zhenya now.
How much time is needed to make new programs? Alina Zagitova is now skating in the show, and, as far as I know, she doesn’t have programs for new season. Do you think she will have time, given that a couple of months are left before the test skates?
– I think she will definitely have time to get new programs, the question is how they will look like. Will she prepare them well or not, depends only on her.
Let’s go back to the quad. Tursynbayeva jumped it at the age of 20, so this is real? Do you believe in Zhenya Medvedeva’s quad jump?
– People will probably hate me, but… I don’t know. It’s hard.
Maybe it’s not necessary? Kostornaia also has no quadruple jumps.
– She has a triple axel. Just like Liza Tuktamysheva, who learned it at an early age, and then lost it during a transitional age. Now restored it again. She already had the skill, she knows how to do it, she just got the needed shape and everything worked out for her. And Tursynbaeva is still a child for me. She is very small. She has an adult skating, but she is really tiny, and due to this it is much easier for her to learn all the jumps.
And she is guaranteed a spot for the World Championships. And our girls will experience stress because there are not enough spots? It’s exhausting and probably scary.
– Of course, exhausting and motivating. Someone, on the contrary, loses motivation. As they say, the strongest survives. It will be very interesting next season. I forgot to mention Tuktamysheva, it is also not known what to expect from her.
Now we have a strange attitude to girls who jump quads. It’s believed that they have only technique, that they are robots, but they do not have artistry. Why do you think they say that? You said that you admire quadruple jumps.
– I really admire, for me it is really cool. They broke this wall. A couple of years ago, no one could even believe that girls would skate with such a serious content, as for the skating skills, I think this is an experience. A very professional specialist works with them, and I think they will work on choreography this summer.
So you think they need to work on this?
– Of course, junior skating is junior skating. Juniors do not skate like seniors. The girls will grow up, get femininity, some confidence, they will feel the music differently, and I think they will improve this season.
Do you think they will keep their quads? This is the most pressing question.
– I don’t know, it’s very hard to say. It depends on how the transitional age will pass, because it breaks so many of them.
Everyone says “breaks,” but Alexei Yerokhov, a student of Tutberidze, said that nothing breaks them, that quad jump is a norm for them.
– Well, they are still 14-15. When they’ll be 18, then it’ll be possible to say whether it break them or no, while it is too early to say.
Would you try quadruple if you were a 15 year old junior?
– Yes, probably I would have even started trying earlier. Because at the age of 13, to skate two free programs in a row was nothing for me. Even when I was going to my first Grand-Prix Skate America, I made two run-throughs of the free program just before leaving for the airport. For me, it was easy, and then I was then 15 years old. And at the age of 13, when I was skating in juniors, it all was much easier for me. Back then my coach and I, we just did not think about that. Then we jumped combinations “3-3-3”, when no one else had done this. Now, when I think about it, I realize that yes, indeed, it was necessary to learn.
Going back to Medvedeva, you still don’t believe that she will jump quad, right?
– It is hard for me to say, it is not me who jumps. It all depends on her. In comparison with Zhenya, who is already 19 years old, it is easier for junior girls to learn. I can say for myself that at 19 it is difficult to learn something new, this is another body, you already have some kind of self-preservation. It seems to me that it is important to break through this barrier psychologically. That is, to do a quadruple jump, you must prepare not only the body, you also need to be ready in your head.
Do you think that Medvedeva and Zagitova should finish their careers? Alina won everything. It is necessary to leave at the peak, how do you think? To step aside in favor of the younger ones.
– I don’t know, if girls feel the strength, then why not? It is necessary to leave when you realize that you have already taken maximum you could, when you’re already tired of it or you don’t see any further prospects. If they want to skate, then by no means should they leave! Otherwise, they will regret and think that maybe they should have tried, that maybe they would have won something else. I don’t know what their mood is. If they want to fight, then why not.
In your opinion, are Trusova, Shcherbakova, Kostornaia leaders now?
– Yes, perhaps they will be the leaders of the season. But so far it is very hard to say. Depends on who will be more consistent. Plus, Zhenya and Alina have a world rating. So with their clean skates it will be difficult for juniors to beat them.
And psychologically, isn’t it pity to lose to 15-year-old girls who already can do something more complicated?
– I was the same 15-year-old girl who also beat seniors. Well, what to do? That’s how it is. I was also in their place.
How do you think, is it necessary to allow a quadruple jumps in a short program?
– I think, yes, but I did not know that they are prohibited. I think, juniors shouldn’t do anything super difficult in a short. Juniors are juniors. It is necessary to do everything gradually. Well and it won’t be interesting if junior program is more difficult than senior.
How do you think is it necessary to raise the age for seniors to make it women’s skating, not girlish?
– Well, I don’t see much difference if they increase the age by a year or two. If change then by more. A year won’t change things much.
You had very beautiful dresses in the show last season. Where did you order such dresses?
– Some dresses are made by Olga Ryabenko. She also sewed costumes for Alina Zagitova and Zhenya Medvedeva. Some dresses I ordered in other ateliers. I think very good costumes have turned out.
Are they expensive? How much does one dress cost?
– Depends on the rhinestones. We are usually use “Swarovski”.
What was the most expensive dress?
– Probably the most expensive was by Alena Akhmadullina, for the Titanic program.
How much did it cost? Thousands dollars bill?
– Each dress is worth more than a thousand dollars. Something like that.
What skaters do you admire?
– Karolina Costner and, probably, Youna Kim and Mao Asada.
You’re also left-handed like Kostner. But you skate like a right-handed person. Why?
– Well, in Europe and Russia there are different approaches. They have more individual approach, we have a group approach. You jump like everyone else. You will not be asked whether you are right-handed or left-handed, skate like all the rest.
Who do you like more – Yuzuru Hanyu or Nathan Chen?
– Nathan Chen. I think Yuzuru is some kind of cosmic figure skater, there’s no one like him, he is different from everyone. And Nathan Chen has more masculine style of skating. I think he is a very charismatic skater. When he skates, he has an unreal energy, and the arena stands up after his performances.
In your opinion. how strong was Brian Orser’s contribution into Yuzuru Hanyu. Would have he been so cosmic with another coach?
– I think Yuzuru with any coach would have been so cosmic. Of course, a lot depends on the coach, but it means that Brian found an approach to him, and they both found the strategy that helps to win over the years.
What do the children sacrifice for sport? After all, figure skating takes childhood.
– It’s all nonsense. Figure skating gave me a name, the ability to travel, earn money. I got only advantages from this. I don’t think that I would have been living better if I had played every evening with the children in the yard, attended school like normal children. Figure skating gave me a lot more than if I just lived a normal life.
When you competed there weren’t so much haters.
– No, thank God. I faced more of them when I started commenting competitions. Now you will think twice what to say, because some kind of
innocent phrase can turn into a quote, and “evil fans” can begin to hate you.
Do you get insulting messages after your comments on Medvedeva and Zagitova’s performances?
– Yes, they wrote once. When I said that Alina had an underrotation and we re-watched in on a replay. I said that I was not quite sure. Then the judges didn’t call it underrotated, so then I received so much negativity. They wrote to me: “You don’t understand anything in figure skating,” “You are a loser” and “You just don’t like her.” I didn’t respond. I understood that I didn’t say anything bad. I am very respectful for each figure skater, I understand how hard it is. I did not want to hurt anyone.
How did you react to Maxim Kovtun decision to retire?
– I think I was the last one to find out. I have not seen the guys from CSKA for a long time. For me it was a shock, because I remember how everyone was preparing for the Russian Nationals, for the Universiade. And then such news! For me it was very unexpected. I saw how Maxim spends the first half of the season. It seemed that he had revised his attitude to figure skating. And then I don’t know what happened. Perhaps, Maxim realized that he could not fight with the guys who jump all quads. Maxim did not learn new elements, he understood that it would be hard for him to compete, but I think he wanted to be in the leading positions. So he decided not to lose time and now tried to find himself in something else.