Elena Radionova: “Now in figure skating, it is important to be born on time”
Interview with Elena Radionova. About life after sport, difficult period of her career, examples of feminine skating, Kostornaia, Trusova, Shcherbakova, Valieva, return of Zagitova, Medvedeva return to Tutberidze, quads, plastic surgeries and relationships.
Have you already tried something that you could not do during your active career? Was there any thought: “I will definitely do that after finishing my career”?
Elena Radionova: No, I never had any kind of crazy thoughts in my head. Because I was brought up in such a way, nothing was really forbidden – if you want to go somewhere, go. Mom always trusted me, because I always had a head on my shoulders, I’ve never got into trouble, I always had some kind of stop signal.
The only thing I would like to do is to go downhill skiing, because I haven’t skiing for a long time.
And what about gastronomic things?
Elena Radionova: Of course, there were all kind of things, because hands were completely untied. Of course, at first you eat like a horse. I talked to many girls, asked: “How it was with you?” And everyone told me: “I didn’t feel full, and I didn’t feel hungry either.” The same happened with me. Of course, it ends after a while, it is no longer interesting. You just need to go through this period.
Now I don’t limit myself in anything, and there is no constant desire to eat anymore. Absolutely all these psychological problems happen when you’re told “No, you can’t”, when something is prohibited you want it even more. And now when there no such psychological problems, I just keep myself in shape.
Recently I’ve managed to lose weight. I didn’t have such weight even when I was an active athlete. Now I’m in good shape, and they tell me: “Come on, return to sport, now the age limit will be raised, you should urgently return!” I say: “No, no, no, I’ve had enough.”
How did you come to proper nutrition?
Elena Radionova: Well, I have always eaten right, just I think all girls have periods when a girl grows up. And it happens that … I, for example, had some problems, and that’s why it happened. Everyone told me: “You are fat, you are fat.” Of course, it was very unpleasant for me to hear such things, but I knew that I just needed to wait, everything would be back to normal over time.
So it was a hormonal imbalance?
Elena Radionova: Well yes.
How hard is it psychologically at this moment, when you are gaining weight, you feel uncomfortable, you understand that it interferes – and suddenly Tatiana Anatolievna Tarasova says to the whole country: “Stop eating”?
Elena Radionova: I just know how much Tatiana Anatolievna loves me, and after these words I didn’t take offense at all. Of course, it was unpleasant inside, she bruised my ego. But I know that she wants me only good things, and I know how she worries about me. But I knew that I could not do anything about it, it no longer depended on me.
So, it was rather a cry because she did not know what to do, how to bring me to senses. A cry of despair. By no means I’m angry at her, because she did so much good for me, helped me throughout my entire career. And if I were a weak person by nature, probably her words would break me. But since in sports we are all complicated people, all have character, her words only mobilized me.
Was there an internal explanation for the hormonal imbalance? Was it growing up, stressful situation, loads? Or all together?
Elena Radionova: All together. Heavy loads and it seems to me that because of the specificity of our sport everything can shift. And of course, my last season was very unstable psychologically, because not everything went as I wanted, and there were really constant tantrums.
My mother said me that she was waiting for my call with a beating heart, because every time it was hysterical: “I won’t go there anymore, I don’t want to, that’s it!” And these attempts to quit, a step forward and five steps back, this incomprehensible situation, which irritated both the coaches and people around. But Elena Germanovna Buyanova tried to help me, and I’m very grateful to her. I’m sorry that we didn’t have enough time to show our result.
Elena Germanovna is really that person who if also swears me, I am absolutely not offended. I understand that she does only better for me.
Who is the example of femininity for you in figure skating?
Elena Radionova: Actually there are several of them. I think Carolina Kostner, Mao Asada, Yuna Kim and Ashley Wagner. And also Kiira Korpi.
Elena Radionova: Of those who are skating now, I like how Alena Kostornaia skates and Kamila Valieva.
You just immediately named four girls from abroad and did not mention any of ours. Moreover, one can recall Slutskaya, Butyrskaya.
Elena Radionova: You said – the standard of femininity. That’s why I named them.
What are our girls lacking?
Elena Radionova: Good question by the way. I don’t know, but I liked these skaters. It’s hard to say why. Because of the makeup or because of the hair. No, I liked them in general, as skaters. How they present themselves, how they skate, how they perform the jumps. We perceive all this…
In a comprehensive way.
Elena Radionova: Therefore, I named five who really show such feminine skating. Perhaps in a couple of years we will meet, you will ask me the same question, and then I will also name our girls. But for now …
Does Sasha Trusova have feminine skating?
Elena Radionova: Her skating has become more feminine than last year. It seems to me that this season she has become more plastic, more relaxed on the ice, and it is clear that she worked a lot with the choreographer, on plastic of her moves, on choreography. I see these changes.
Trusova, Shcherbakova or Kostornaia?
Elena Radionova: They are all so different.
In what things?
Elena Radionova: Sasha is a Russian rocket, as she was called. This is quadruple jumps, unreal content. Anya Shcherbakova – she is so light, airy, very girlish. Cutie, in a word.
But again, you did not name her among those who have feminine skating.
Elena Radionova: Girlish, yes. But I can’t say that she has feminine skating. I think she will have it with age. It is not the time yet, just as they told me, they called me a small chicken that will grow up. When I was in juniors, they also said to me: “Your skating is not yet feminine.” I thought “Why? I hear the music, I try to show emotions!” And then time passes and you see that your skating becomes more feminine from year to year. It’s not like you are directly working on it.
Of course, you work on steps, skating skills, but figure comes with time. And if you look at all the seasons, it seems to me that something is changing inside a girl. Turning into a young lady girl, she gets figure, a sense of self.
Elena Radionova: Kostornaia is a great performer. It seems to me that she can embody any artistic image. She has good contact with the audience, and this is her main advantage. I have always singled out Alena Kostornaia, because she is closer to me, because she, like me, communicates with the audience, energy comes from her.
Despite the jumping content of Trusova and Shcherbakova? That is, even knowingly losing to them in the number of quads, she can win?
Elena Radionova: The talent is that I look at their data. Alena is musical, Alena has a good push by nature. We see that she jumps high enough. So, according to the nature data, I think she is the most talented.
Who will go to Beijing?
Elena Radionova: Kamila Valieva.
By the way, you are the third who names her a contender for victory.
Elena Radionova: It seems to me that now in our sport one of the main features is to be born on time. I was unlucky in my time, I lacked six months to fight for the Olympics. And then I had a very good times. Everything was easy, I could do three run-throughs of the free program per training session, and did not get tired at all. And then it so happened that it was already too late.
Alinka Zagitova who was lucky in this regard, her peak was in the Olympic year. In our time, it is important to be born on time.
Okay, this is one spot. We have two more places in ladies single skating.
Elena Radionova: I think another girl of the same year will go. For example Dasha Usacheva. Or, for example, does Sofia Samodelkina can go? Akatieva?
Wait. We have Trusova, Shcherbakova and Kostornaia. And the third round for Tuktamysheva. And you name those whom the large audience haven’t seen yet.
Elena Radionova: Yes, but I think one of this three will go. I think Kamila, Anya Shcherbakova, and the third will be either Trusova or Kostornaia. Can I send four?
What is the strong point of each of them and what do you think each of them needs to improve to become stronger?
Elena Radionova: Kostornaia is a great skater, energy comes from her. This is her strong point. Of course, to compete for the first places, she needs a triple axel. If she masters the quad, it will only strengthen her position.
Shcherbakova. She is light, she also has a unlike style. But, for example, as a spectator, I want some kind of fiery images from her, because she always skates to lyrical melodies, she has such a lyrical artistic image. I’d still like to see an energetic program from her. An image that will show her from a completely different side. Because everything is ok with her quads, with the jumping content. She’s also strong in this.
Trusova. Well, of course, the content is serious, you can’t argue with that. But, probably, you want consistency from her, because she can do a lot, and in competitions she must do what she can. Her potential is huge. And, of course, now she is working on skating, on femininity. If she continues like this, then I think she will look very good.
Kamila. Well, actually Kamila is cosmic – flexibility, skating, and quads. Quadruple, right? She has one? I think she needs another quadruple to certainly be in the lead. And, of course, with age, femininity will come. If she continues to work as she works now, everything will come much faster, skating will improve. Kamila – it seems to me, a symbiosis of these three skaters, three in one.
The name of Zagitova was never mentioned. No chance for Beijing at all?
Elena Radionova: I just don’t know how is she, whether she prepares for the competition or no. I don’t know what she’s doing now. If she is preparing for competitions, then, of course, she has great chances, because she has experience, she is a person who won all the titles, no one will take them away. She will not have any psychological stress.
Alina has also become very feminine now, her skating is just mesmerizing. In general, she is a very beautiful girl. Therefore, if Alina herself is ready, then, I think, everything will work out.
She had a very beautiful exhibition program at the Grand Prix, but it turns out that she had a year pause from competitions.
Elena Radionova: It’s very hard. I know it myself, when I also kept in shape, just for the show. And I understand that there is no competitive practice, you get out of the habit of it. And it’s hard to force yourself to work the way you are used to, it is difficult when you are already a little out of this schedule.
Is it real to learn quadruple now?
Elena Radionova: Of course, when you practice it at the age of 13, this is one thing, but when you practice it at the age of 18, it is completely different … This is someone else’s body. If you asked me whether I could, I would easily answer.
Elena Radionova: At what age? At 13?
Elena Radionova: Now? Of course not. Now it’d be hard to restore all triples, because I have not skated for a long time. But at 13 years old – yes, I could learn a quadruple.
It’s just that Alina is not 13.
Elena Radionova: Alina – yes, not 13, but it’s hard to get into someone else’s body and say. Everyone feels differently.
You said that the return of Zhenya Medvedeva to Tutberidze was the initiative of Eteri Georgievna. Where does this information come from?
Elena Radionova: Insider information.
It turns out that Zhenya did not succeed in Canada and she returned, or is this a forced situation?
Elena Radionova: This is a forced situation. As we can see, now it is impossible to fly by airplane, especially to another continent. I think this is a fairly right choice.
Again, Zhenya’s name was not mentioned in the list of those who can go to Beijing.
Elena Radionova: Yes, because I named those who are currently competing throughout the season.
Girls who become other athletes outside of “Chrustalny” – we saw this on the example of Yulia Lipnitskaya, on the example of Zhenya, while a short period has passed, but still we see it on the example of Trusova. What is the reason for this changes?
Elena Radionova: And what is the difference?
Elena Radionova: Well yes, that’s because Eteri Tutberidze’s system works and brings very good results. Eteri is a great coach.
What is the secret of the system?
Elena Radionova: First of all, discipline. Every athlete comes and knows what he wants. Plus the secrets of the training process, which only Eteri Tutberidze knows. As far as I know, everything is very disciplined. I think it’s great when an athlete comes and knows why he is doing it, what he needs to do.
Tutberidze or Tarasova? Which one of them, in your opinion, is the greatest coach?
Elena Radionova: I think Tatiana Anatolievna cannot be put on a par with anyone, because Tatiana Anatolievna is our mother of figure skating, a legend. Therefore, it seems to me that Tatiana Anatolievna is beyond competition.
I remember you said in some interview that you are generally a rebel. Is a desire to remove ribs a variant of rebellion?
Elena Radionova: Well, it was a transitional age, when I wanted to change everything in myself: ribs, cheekbones, nose, lips, breasts, everything, everything, everything. Make yourself a silicone barbie.
At that moment it seemed beautiful to me, looked very harmonious. But then you realize that this absolute nonsense.
How do you feel about plastic surgery? What is acceptable within your boundaries and what is not?
Elena Radionova: It seems to me that now is generally the time of naturalness. Everyone is tired of silicone, silicone asses and breasts. But if a person doesn’t like something about himself, go and do it, but moderately. But I generally against it, because it is first of all your health. It seems to me that now everyone is trying to have a healthy lifestyle, trying to look more natural, so it seems to me that plastic surgery is no longer fashionable.
How did Konstantin (Kuchaev – football player -ed) appear in your life?
Elena Radionova: He appeared himself, texted me, wanted to meet. It was quite a long time ago, then, it seems to me, my career was in the first place then. It was an Olympic year, and I had no time for it at all. But Kostya somehow made me interested.
How did it happen that before Kostya, no one knew about your previous romances?
Elena Radionova: Becauese they were no other romances.
Elena Radionova: That is why I say that I was absolutely not interested in dating. Well, I was always told that it could wait. Of course, there were guys who tried to court me. Kostya is probably the guy who really wanted to have a relationships with me, and achieved his goal and left me no chance at all.
Kostya is a successful footballer with a stable financial position. Could you imagine a relationship with a man who earns less than you? Is this moment important?
Elena Radionova: It depends on what period, probably. Because I should be proud of my man, this is important to me. It is important for me that a man motivates me too – as I motivated him.
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