Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I’m definitely not ready to quit figure skating
Elena Vaitsekhovskaya’s interview with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. About triple axel, summer preparation and test skates.
I know how much you dreamed of performing at the Olympics, but twice – before the Games in Sochi and Pyeongchang you showed probably your worst results at the qualifying national championships. Didn’t you have a feeling that maybe it’s a fate? That the Olympics is not your story at all?
– I had a lot of different feelings about this, and in general, I got used to them to some extent. Therefore, now I perceive any situation as a matter of course: everyone probably has his own destiny in sport, his actions, which a person must perform. So I’m calm about everything that happens to me. I’m quite happy with how I left the last season, with what mood I work now. Many mistakes have been made over the past three years, now I hope that all past failures will be compensated at least to some extent.
In the summer I read one of your interviews and it seemed to me that between the lines you were saying to yourself: if it’s not possible to return to the previous level and compete with those who only appear in senior skating so let it be. So, it goes wrong for the right reasons.
– To some extent, yes.
Why then did you need to restore the triple axel?
– To overcome myself, my fears, be stronger than Liza who skated a year ago, three years ago and even five years ago when I first won the senior Russian Championships. It’s not about competition with little girls. I just try at every training to be better than on previous one. Of course, I would like to return to the leading positions this season, to get to the main competitions. Of course, I would like to return to the leading positions this season, to get to the main competitions. Therefore, I stopped thinking about the future: I try just to do my job and approach training and competitions reasonably.
In the same interview, you said that none of the previous injuries bother you anymore. How did you manage to achieve this? Have you changed the training system, or just start to work more seriously on the state of your muscles?
– Actually, the only real serious injury that I had is a back injury. It took a year and a half to completely cure it. In addition, I learned how to properly prepare the legs for breaking into new boots and in general for the training process. I know how and where to put silicone gaskets, so my legs don’t have even a slight discomfort. As a result of these manipulations, I forgot about the pain in my legs. It’s such a pleasure to skate when nothing hurts! It turns out that after going through all these injuries, I just found a way for myself how to avoid them. Now I have learned very well that in any case you shouldn’t bring discomforting sensations to the extreme where they turn into injuries, any damage should be immediately healed. Well, and of course we pay much attention to physical and special training to make the body ready to perform all the elements. Unfortunately, the understanding how much all these things are important comes only with age.
How long did it take to recover psychologically from the previous season?
– It was surprisingly easy. We started to prepare for the new season right after the Russian Nationals and despite the fact that it’s difficult to consider seventh place a success, I was quite satisfied with the way the work was going on. Suddenly all thoughts somehow formed into an absolutely clear picture. Starting from February we began to work on new elements, learn new combinations. In this case, I really skated for pleasure. In April we put two new programs that I really like. The work was so productive that at the end of the season I even started to jump triple axel. And on these sensations I was able to quickly restore the jump after vacation. Summer preparation was also very successful, in my opinion.
In 2015, I remember you said that when you jumped the triple axel for the first time in competitions, you got a goosebumps, so ncredible it was. But nevertheless on the jump you went like under the bus. Has something changed now?
– I still remember these goosebumps. I can’t say that psychologically it has become easier for me now, but there is no previous excitement before this jump. By the way, I did triple axel at the test skates in St. Petersburg, during the warm-up. There is still no stability that I would like to achieve, but there is some certainty: yes, this is my jump, I can do it. I learned to do an axel with fewer strokes – now a half circle is enough. In the 2015 season, this required a whole circle.
In that season, I remember, you and Alexei Mishin amazed everyone with the number of competitions in which you participated – seven competitions before the Russian Championships, including the Grand Prix final and six victories. Do you also plan to compete a lot now?
– While I don’t know in which competitions I will participate. I know for sure that I will perform in Bergamo “Lombardia Trophy”, we will go there right after the test skates in Moscow. Then, perhaps, we will take another “B” event or some of the “Challengers”, and then will begin to prepare for the Grand Prix in Canada and Japan.
Before the International Skating Union changed the rules regarding the assessment of jumps in the second half of the program, have you ever thought about changing the usual layout of your elements?
– You know, we tried to change it. But apparently I so used to the content that I skate year after year, that from the very beginning understood: for me it’s better to skate the program clean, even if the last three elements will not be the most difficult and get bonus because all jumps will be well executed. In the current rules, as far as I can judge, the judges want the same thing: to see the best execution of all elements, the best quality of jumps, height, banding. If you perform all the jumps at the end of the program, they are unlikely to be made as confidently and clearly as in the first half. So, the program also won’t turn out successful. So, when we began to work on programs we decided to keep the same content that we had before. With small changes.
Talking about the new rules for single skating, in my opinion, they are made in favor of mature skaters.
– I also thought about this, yes. The first emotion when I read the new rules was that this was really done primarily for those athletes, whose trump card is a mature and beautiful skating, not lutz-loop at the very end of the program.
Did it inspire you?
– To some extent, yes. There is a hope now that it will be possible to compete on an equal with the younger athletes.
Over the past two seasons, you have spent quite a lot of time on the same ice with Carolina Kostner. What was the most interesting in this experience?
– It was interesting even just to watch how Carolina trains. It’s clear that Alexei Nikolayevich (Mishin) gave us practically the same tasks in training. But Kostner’s approach to work, her thoughts, her manner of warming up – it was all very useful for me. Something I tried to repeat, and eventually I realized how important it is to find my inner core, the sense of right work.
By the way, for whom did you root at the Olympics? Kostner?
– For Zhenya Medvedeva. I think that she deserved this gold medal more than anyone else.
Was Carolina this summer with you at training camps in Courchevel or in Tartu?
– No, she didn’t come there. But it seems to me that she is not going to finish her career yet.
Do you believe that the continuation of a career can turn out to be just as successful for Carolina?
– Looking at the way Kostner skates, with what desire and love, it seems to me that she can compete in competitions quite well.
Wasn’t you jealous when you wasn’t selected for the main competitions and Alexei Nikolaevich completely focused on working with Carolina?
– We still have Tatiana Prokofieva in our group, who, as the second coach, periodically replaces Mishin, so everything developed harmoniously. Many coaches have five or six elite athletes and all have enough attention. Alexei Nikolaevich also coped well with all the tasks.
Is it matters for you who goes with you to competitions, stands behind the board?
– In recent years, I have been going to all important competitions with Alexei Nikolaevich and Tatiana Nikolaevna, so I didn’t think about these things at all. Mishin and Prokofieva have been worked together for a very long time, they have the same system of training, the same view of many things. What causes, of course, great comfort, even when one of the coaches can’t there with you. They also have more than enough skills to get the skater together before the competitions, so no psychologists are needed.
Can you name the three most vivid events of this summer in relation to your life?
– The strongest emotions are connected, first of all, with the triple axel. In July, I made it absolutely clean for the first time.
– No, we have already moved from Courchevel to the training camp in Tartu. For me it’s just a fateful city: once I’ve started jumping axel in Tartu and returned to it now. Apparently, there are special conditions, very suitable for training, a special aura that gives the athlete an inner certainty. I have never jumped axel so confident in the off-season. When it began to work out it was like a breath of fresh air for me. There were other bright moments. I began to jump the lutz-toe loop. Well, and probably new programs are worth noting. When you like your programs so much and it turns out to skate the well this is a strong emotional moment for me.
And what was remembered from the events not related to ice and training?
– Unfortunately, there were no such events this summer.
Didn’t you even buy a new outfit?
– Even if I had, it wouldn’t have brought so much emotion as jumping. Turns out that in my life everything spins around the ice.
How much shows where you perform on a regular basis are in your life?
– There are no such shows. I took the decision not to be destracted on shows, but to concentrate completely on professional activities. Therefore, I refuse to all.
Do they often invite?
– Yes, I can honestly admit that it was difficult to refuse some offers. But it was necessary: it is very difficult to match the tour schedule with training and competitions and to find even a few days off. For me sport is more important now.
Have you ever been to Plushenko’s academy?
– No, never.
Did Zhenya invite you there?
– Also no. I think he knows perfectly well that I will never leave Alexei Nikolayevich and won’t got to any other specialist. So, it makes no sense to invite me.
Are your sports plans limited to one season or made for four years, as usually consider the Olympic cycles?
– I don’t like to think ahead, but I definitely think of more than one season. When I think that I can be without competition, without sports, without training, without all this excitement my heart is cringing. I’m definitely not ready to quit figure skating: I’ll skate while I feel the strength. I like it. All this, of course, is a great stress, but also very interesting. Therefore, I will say that in the next two years I will definitely skate and then we’ll see.
What exactly are you afraid of in relation to leaving sports?
– I don’t know. Finishing of the career seems to me as very serious and significant step for the athlete. And a very difficult. Whatever one may say, it’s still parting with the most intense and interesting stage of life, which required total dedication for many years. Maybe I will miss the adrenaline, people I’m surrounded by. When I start to think that the end of a career is actually just around the corner I become very sad. It is difficult to accept. Therefore while I try not to think about that.
Many former Mishin’s athletes even having completed their careers remain in his school to work. Do you see a place for yourself in this company?
– Thought about it. But as I said while I postpone all these topics in a separate black box in my head to ponder them when the time comes. Of course, I’m almost sure that after the end of a career life in some way will bring me to figure skating again. But how this all will happen and where exactly I don’t know yet.
If not mistaken, you are now studying at the Lesgaft sports university. Is it hard?
– Yes, it’ll be my third year. Fortunately, teachers understand how serious our sport is and how much effort it takes to train. Examinations and tests I pass external, when there is no possibility to visit the university, I come to the teachers, receive tasks and do it in my free time. In principle, there is nothing too complicated. The main thing is that I have to study something that I know and that will be needed later in any sports profession.
How can you describe your condition before the open test skates? Is it excitement, fear that the new season has almost come or anticipation?
– There is some excitement, I want to show my programs to the leaders of the federation and to the public as soon as possible. Moreover, I think I’m in a very good shape. That’s why we decided to take part in the test skates that took place in St. Petersburg.
Did you skate both programs there?
– Yes, but without triple axel. I did it only on the warm-up, to show that I have it.
Will you morally kill potential competitors with triple axel in Moscow?
– I plan to do it twice on the warm-up. Before a short program in Novogorsk and before free program in Megasport (arena Megasport in Moscow). Just before the free I will have to try to find a place for this jump on a six-minute warm-up – there all have to warm-up so many elements and this can create certain problems.
What do you expect from this season in general?
– I don’t think that there will be some revolutionary changes in connection with the new rules. All rivals are mostly known, I don’t think that any of them will experiment strongly with the programs. Of course I judge by myself: when from year to year you do the same content of elements, it is very difficult to decide to change something dramatically. Yes, you can complicate something, at least try. But to change the picture of the program completely – it seems to me that very few people are able to make up their minds for this now. Especially with the new rules.
by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for rsport.ria.ru