Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: “If competing against girls who can do quads affected me mentally, I would have retired a long time ago. Instead, I go out there and focus on performing well and doing my job with quality.”
Interview with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. About past season, master-classes in Mexico, plans for the future and personal life.
source: sportsdaily.com dd. 7th July 2023 by Evgenia Kolivanova
How do you assess the past season? Were you able to achieve all your goals?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I consider the past season to be successful because there wasn’t a single bad competition. There were only podium finishes and, of course, placing on the podium at the Russian Nationals, which is a very good and serious result. I am satisfied with the past season.
Is the bronze at the Russian Nationals the maximum, or could you have competed with Kamila Valieva for silver?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I don’t like to think about the past and what would have happened if I had done something differently. I am very happy with the bronze because it has been a long time since I stood on the podium. Maybe I could have competed for silver, maybe not. We will never know.
How did you maintain motivation in the current conditions?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: The motivation was simple: I wanted to understand what else I was capable of, to try something new, to improve in my professionalism. That was my motivation, I wanted to do something new. The free program (“Solitude” to the music by Igor Krutoy – “Sport Den za Dnem”) was the key to making this season even more interesting for me.
Was there ever a desire to quit and hang up the skates?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: No, there was no such desire.
The most challenging moment of the season.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: There wasn’t one in particular. Maybe the Russian Nationals was more difficult and nerve-wracking than other competitions.
Which tournament did you like the most?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: The show program tournament “Russian Challenge” was memorable because it was something completely new and interesting. But I enjoyed it the most because there was almost no nervousness.
Did you follow international competitions?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes, I did.
Do you agree that without Russians, there is no progress?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: There is progress in some disciplines. Certainly, in men’s single skating, there is tremendous progress because a young man executed an almost unprecedented element of extreme complexity. (American figure skater with Russian roots, Ilia Malinin, landed a quadruple axel for the first time in the history of figure skating – “Sport Den za Dnem.”)
There are good teams in ice dance. In pairs and womens’ single skating, perhaps, but I wouldn’t say that there is no strong competition there. The ladies had fewer attempts at ultra-c elements this season, but that doesn’t mean the competitions became less interesting. In some disciplines, a loss of Russian athletes is visibe, but I wouldn’t say that I watched all the other competitions without interest.
During the off-season, figure skaters try themselves in other sports: running, fencing, something else. Do you have a desire to try something new?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I’m open to new things, but I don’t have any plans to pursue something specific. The only thing I would like to try is surfing. I haven’t had the opportunity this summer, so the dream remains.
Some skaters try themselves in the field of journalism. Could we ever see your own show on online platforms, for example?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes, there is a possibility. I will strive to work on making it look high-quality and somewhat professional. I find it interesting at this stage, and I’ll be learning. I’m interested in trying it out. And if it doesn’t work out, then I’ll think about something else.
Don’t you want to organize your own show? You already have the experience – “Hot Ice” in St. Petersburg in 2020.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: To create a high-quality ice show, you need to put in a lot of effort and time, find sponsors, make it relevant, and attract an audience. It’s a labor-intensive process that I’m not ready for yet. It’s better to just do a show with great skaters. I think that would be more interesting for the audience, at least in Russia, because we have many talented athletes.
Is there a personal threshold for when to end competitive activities?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: When I realize that it’s no longer interesting to me and that I step onto the ice without the same passion. If I feel tired of it all.
What are the advantages of being in the media spotlight?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: The fact that people can approach you for advertising – it brings in good finances. Actually, for me, it’s a deep question.
And the downsides?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: When a person lacks tact and enters someone else’s comfort zone when it’s obvious that I’m busy with my own affairs. I don’t understand such behavior. One must understand if a person is ready for communication or not.
Do you have a desire to seriously engage in coaching activities?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: At some point in my life, I see myself in that role, but not right now.
Have you ever tried teaching a child or an adult to skate from scratch?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I went on the ice with a football player. We had a collaboration with Zenit. It was, I think, his second time on skates in his life. (In December 2018, Portuguese footballer Luís Neto skated with Tuktamysheva – “Sport Den za Dnem.”) I don’t know if that counts, but it’s the only such moment in my life. I haven’t brought anyone else onto the ice.
This season, you had the opportunity to travel to Mexico and conduct masterclasses. Let’s start with the basics: how long did it take to get there?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It took about a day to get there. One flight was about 14 hours, and the return journey was also about a day, but the flight was 12 hours. But the plane was good, so I was comfortable, and time passed quickly.
How do you evaluate the level of preparation and training of Mexican figure skaters? How are things going for them?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Things are going well. There are several potentially good girls, quite talented. Overall, there are knowledgeable coaches who continue to develop in their field and invite different specialists. I’m glad that they are so actively engaged in figure skating because they have opportunities and young coaches who find it interesting. Perhaps soon we will start seeing more Mexican figure skaters on the ice.
So, in your opinion, in the near future, will Mexicans be competing in international competitions, including the World Championships?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think so.
If you were invited as a prospective coach to work in Mexico, would you agree?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think at the very least, I would consider it.
Did you have a chance to explore Mexico for yourself? What did you like and find surprising?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It’s a very colorful country. The people in Mexico City were very kind. It’s an incredibly beautiful country with an interesting history. We visited pyramids and museums in the city center. It was a completely different, new country for me that left a lasting impression.
What specifically stood out in this trip?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: The colors. There were so many bright colors.
Alexei Mishin said in one of his interviews that he was going to Mexico because you wanted to swim with sharks. Did it happen?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes, I went swimming. It was cool. I thought I would be very scared and wouldn’t jump into the water when they told me to. In the end, I was looking forward to it and was thrilled.
Were you able to combine the masterclasses with a vacation? Does your form quickly fade during the break?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: During the vacation, especially at the seaside, yes. The form fades very quickly, literally within a week, because you completely disconnect from figure skating. You swim, sunbathe, and relax. If you spend a week in St. Petersburg and engage in some of your own activities, knowing that the rink is nearby, in some miraculous way, you don’t lose your form as much. Mental work also takes a break. Even if you just think about figure skating, you don’t lose it as much. I don’t know about others, but that’s how it works for me.
What other plans do you have for the summer? Is there anything else besides training in Turkey and the masterclass in Switzerland?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Nothing else is planned at the moment.
Do you have any ideas for programs for the upcoming season?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Not yet. I think Alexei Nikolaevich already has some ideas, but honestly, I’ll think about it when I fully start focusing on it. For now, I’m free.
Should we expect something in a Mexican style?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think anything is possible from me. I don’t even know what to expect from myself, so anything is possible.
Are you ready to drastically change your image so that no one recognizes Elizaveta Tuktamysheva on the ice?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: If it suits me, then of course. If I know that I look good with a certain style and image, then why not. But changes just for the sake of change are unlikely to be for me.
Do you participate in the selection of music and the creation of costumes?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Of course, everyone on the team participates.
Whose word is final?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Probably, in the end, it’s my final word because I’m the one skating, feeling the music, and conveying the character.
Is there a possibility to increase the difficulty of your content in the next season?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: For now, I’m satisfied with my content featuring two axels, three for both programs.
Is there a chance to see a quadruple jump in competitions?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: There is a chance, but with each passing year, it becomes less likely.
What about the quadruple axel?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It’s a mission impossible for me.
Is there a possibility that women in Russia will start performing this jump?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: In the current generation, maybe someone will dare to try, but I doubt that anyone will be able to execute a quad axel. It’s very difficult, requiring a tremendous amount of strength, talent, quick rotation, and very precise technique. So, for now, I don’t see any of the girls even attempting a quadruple axel.
How challenging is it to compete against skaters who can execute quadruple jumps? Does it affect you mentally?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: If it affected me, I would have retired a long time ago. Instead, I go out there and focus on performing well and doing my job with quality.
What’s the secret to your longevity in the sport?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It lies in the love for what I do and the trust I have in my coach. Overall, it’s not so difficult for me, and I enjoy it.
What’s the secret behind your long collaboration with Mishin?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think we have a similar character and got along well, so to speak. It’s very comfortable working with a coach when there is mutual understanding. That’s the secret. There’s no need to change anything because everything is already working well.
Have you ever thought about changing your coaching staff?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: No, the thought of switching coach has never crossed my mind.
What is the most important thing you’ve learned from Alexei Mishin?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: To calmly handle various setbacks. He acts wisely and calmly in certain situations. For example, when we’re late for a flight or end up in the wrong place, I panic, but I learn from Alexei Mishin how to remain calm and composed.
What is the most challenging aspect of working with Mishin?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: For me, there is nothing particularly difficult overall.
How do you react to criticism?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I remain calm, but I try not to read it.
Whose opinion is more important: your own, your coaches’, your family’s, or your fans’?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: The opinions of my family, coaches, and friends. There is no one single opinion that holds the utmost importance.
What else is there in your life besides figure skating?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Family, friends, and dogs.
Is it difficult to balance personal life and professional sports?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think that if people love and understand each other, then nothing is impossible. However, in my opinion, it’s certainly easier if you focus on just one thing. But for others, it may be the opposite, as they might get tired from it. There is no right and universally effective formula for love. Everyone has their own approach.
Do you have close interaction with your fans? Do you organize meet-ups?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Not so often. I used to organize them, but it’s been a long time. This summer, I plan to have a meet-up in St. Petersburg.
What is the most memorable gift you’ve received from fans?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I don’t think there was such a thing. Or maybe I’m very down-to-earth and not emotional.
What do you like to receive as gifts then?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I don’t know, something for personal care – hair or skincare products. I really love pajamas. So, lingerie stores and cosmetics are a safe choice. Books and candles are also nice, more feminine gifts.
What do you do with the toys that are thrown onto the ice after your performances?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I leave them on the rink and ask for them to be given to the children who helped collect them.
What would you wish for yourself in the upcoming season?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I would wish for inner peace and harmony in this endless eternity.
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