Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: “Job not finished. My job is Beijing 2022”
Interview with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. About victory at the Rostelecom Cup, quads and triple axel, new programs and personal life.
by Elvira Ondar for gazeta.ru dd. 28th November 2020
Two years ago, you jocked about your chances of success. “The only way for me to win gold in the Grand Prix Final is to rob a jewelry store,” you wrote on Instagram. How do you perceive yourself now?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I will never stop being ironic over myself, and I think I could use that joke even now (laughs). In addition, very little time has passed, and this is just one victory. I don’t like to think about my chances, because if you think about them, then you look into the future, hope for something … And I like to live in the present and assess the situation here and now. So now I’m just trying to catch this wave and continue it.
“Job not finished” – you wrote after your victory at the Grand Prix.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes. My job is Beijing 2022
After this victory, Tatiana Tarasova said “They will definitely reckon with her now.” What do you think about this?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I don’t know … I don’t want to analyze it somehow. Now I just need to skate at the same level, show good programs, and only with time we’ll be able to understand the whole result of this Grand Prix.
Short program. A chic triple axel and suddenly mistakes on simpler elements. You said that you were confused by small mistake during a warm-up. Was this really the only thing that led to problems with the second half of the jumps?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: My second series of jumps did not go well – I did not do one (the triple flip turned out with a small mistake. – ed). And yes, mistakes on this element during the warm-up affected, for some reason I had doubts. I started doing slightly different movements in technique, so that I had more confidence, or something …
When you are not confident, the body starts to work differently. And this led to such a stupid mistake.
And about the 3 – 2 combination instead of 3 – 3 – it’s not entirely correct to say that I didn’t figure out what to do (laughs). After all, I have a lot of experience, and of course I knew that I needed to add a 3 – 3 combination. But I just have a triple lutz from such an entry that it wasn’t very convenient for me to jump 3 – 3, and I thought that it would be better to make a good triple lutz – double toe loop in the second half than to do 3 – 3 – and it is not known whether it will be with positive GOE or not. So I deliberately went for a good performance of the 3 – 2 combination.
What was going on inside you at that moment when you saw the scores and realized that you had missed the opportunity to break away from Trusova and Kostornaia at a very decent distance?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Mm… I didn’t worry too much. Of course, it was a little offensive, because I could do that, but I have had a lot of such “ifs” in my career. That’s why, I take it calmly and just said to myself: “Do not allow such things in the free program.”
Without mistakes on the flip and with a 3 – 3 combination, you could have scored for 80 points, like Shcherbakova and Valieva – the strongest girls from Chrustalny. nd it would be a very cool manifesto that you are at the same level with these competitors or even stronger.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Of course, I want to show a good, clean short program and get high scores. Every athlete strives for leadership, or at least to get close to the best … Therefore, I hope that this season I can still show good skating in the short program.
In the free program the next day, everything was almost perfect.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I calmly spent the night, morning, day before the free program, I slept well – that’s why, probably, such a performance turned out. When I am calm, I show good performances.
Did the result of the short program took off some of the pressure and you were able to relax?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: This is not because of relaxation, but because half of the competitions has already passed, and it is always easier to continue than to start from scratch. You already have an understanding of the atmosphere, ice. In general, it is easier for many skaters to skate the free than the short.
You performed in a free program after Alexandra Trusova. How did this affect you?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I did not see her skating and hardly heard the scores, but there was such a feeling in the stands … I understood that Sasha didn’t skate clean. However, this did not affect my attitude in any way – everything remained about the same.
What kind of atmosphere was between performances in the warm-up hall and in the locker room?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Surprisingly, we had a good atmosphere, kind, calm. All the girls talked to each other. Pleasantly. Of course, there are different people: it is more convenient for someone to go deep inside before the skate, but someone wants to talk. But there was not such a gloomy silence, when someone was afraid to utter a word. Everything is good and friendly. And usually, if someone performs badly, then we support each other in the locker room.
The Grand Prix ended with great exhibition programs. You showed your famous “Destination Calabria” with saxophone, drum and drum cymbals, and Tiffany Zahorski and Moris Kvitelashvili helped you to change instruments.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: We came up with this idea just in five minutes, and the first rehearsal took place during the exhibitions (laughs). Tiffany, Moris and I are experienced skaters, so it was not difficult for us. It was a lot of fun, and I am incredibly glad that the guys agreed. It turned out very cool – especially with Moris, when we danced (laughs). It seemed to me that he would be the best fit for this role, and I invited him. And his exhibition program is the best, I think. He won these exhibitions.
After this show, the skaters had a banquet with a disco. And shortly before that, American journalist Philip Hersh criticized Russia for organizing the Grand Prix and threatened to write a complaint to the International Skating Union (ISU) for non-compliance with safety measures due to coronavirus. How do you feel about such claims? Would you like us to have a bubble competition like the US Grand Prix?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: These are more administrative issues, so I better won’t comment on this topic.
Then a question from your fans. Aren’t you afraid to attend public events now – movie premieres, cafes – when so many people are sick with coronavirus? A potential illness will hit the body, and a two-week quarantine ahead of the competition will be a disaster.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I very rarely get out somewhere, because I am also very afraid and worried about others during this virus. If I go out somewhere, I follow all the norms. So my fans don’t need to worry about me (laughs).
“I haven’t won anything for a long time. I’m shocked. I was expecting something else, as usual.” you admitted right after the victory. Do you feel that your subjective mark for the components has begun to grow?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It seems to me that this competitions was generally successful in terms of my skating. I am not taking the technical part now. Everyone noted that at the Grand Prix in Moscow, I showed my programs well, showed myself. Let’s see how they will judge me further. I hope that my skating will only get better.
Many figure skating fans were outraged that you with a triple axel were losing to competitors without ultra-c. Among the professionals, Evgeni Plushenko dedicated a post to this: “I am for fair judging in sports, where an athlete who jumps ultra-c should win, since this is primarily a sport of the highest achievements, and not just skating!” Do you agree with that?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It seems to me that there should be a balance. Both skating and complex elements.
You have improved a lot in spins – all but one got the level 4 at the Grand Prix. How did you work on this? Did you work with some specialist?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: No, we just really devoted a lot of time to the spins, step sequences, and artistic image, so that it would be appreciated by the audience. As soon as we were back on the ice after quarantine, we began to work hard on it, because we realized that we prepared serious programs – and such that people do not quite expect to see from the figure skater Tuktamysheva. It’s not easy to switch and show them properly, so I look different. So we worked really hard on choreography and spins from the very beginning. I changed the spins a lot. It took a long time to develop them to make them look more or less ok (laughs).
Did the old back problems return because you started doing Biellmann spin again, which requires tremendous flexibility? A year ago you said that it’s generally undesirable for you to bend in your back and do Biellmann.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I monitor this process, everything is under control. I try to keep it under control.
You restored the quad toe loop you learned last year. How many clean attempts do you make out of ten?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I started jumping it again not so long ago, and there are not many stable attempts so far – after all, this is a difficult element. There are plans to stabilize it for the Russian Nationals, but whether this will be realized, I still cannot say.
You’ve also tried quadruple salchow before.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: We focused on the toe loop now, so we have not returned to Salchow yet. In general, I have tried only toe loop and salchow so far, and the rest are still scary to me. But Alexei Nikolaevich says that the potential for quads is very good – there is enough height and speed.
When teaching quadruples, Mishin uses the same approach to you as to single men, or does he create a new technique for you?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think he has an individual approach to each skater, but the technique remains the same – the technique of Alexei Mishin, because it is the best.
Now you jump a sequence of triple lutz + double axel or triple flip + double axel in a free program. It costs less than a combination. Are you planning to replace it with something more expensive soon?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: So far, I think, there will be no major changes, but in the future we plan to complicate the program and put a 3 – 3 combination there. In the meantime, it’s easier for me to make a sequence with a double axel in the second half. I’d rather choose a stable double axel + triple toe loop than triple salchow + triple toe loop, which costs only a couple of points more, but the consistency will be much less. This is not reasonable. It’s better to make a program that looks good and is clean.
You coolly restored the triple axel after a long quarantine. Can we say that you have figured out the secret of this jump and will not lose it?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: You shouldn’t say so surely about anything – that I will never lose anything. I worked hard for this and I’m glad that triple axel is getting better. But what will happen next if there are again some changes in the training process because of the coronavirus pandemic … there can never be guarantees. Especially in sports.
Compare, like a pro, your triple axel and Alena Kostornaia’s triple axel, which she had last season.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: We have different technique. Different execution, so we have a different perception of the jump, a different picture.
You were able to restore your triple axel, but Kostornaia has not restored it yet. If Alena asked you for a secret of how to return this jump, would you agree to help?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think yes, of course. We do not have such a situation when someone does not talk to someone and hides something. If someone asks for help, then, of course, he will get it.
How would you react if a girl with quadruple jumps asked to join your group? Tatiana Mishina said in an interview that it would be interesting to work with the conditional Trusova, but before that the coaches would ask you how you feel about this.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I am pleased that the coaches consult with me. But in any case, this decision is not for me to make. In principle, I am always for this, but you need to know the person, to understand his character. We care about a harmonious, good atmosphere – this is the main thing.
And how has the atmosphere in the group changed when top single skater Mikhail Kolyada joined the group?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It seems to me that nothing has changed much. Yes, there are a lot of new things for Misha, but for us the training system has remained about the same, so everything is calm, as before.
It’s hard to believe that the choreography of this free program was done online with the participation of your followers. How many details that were suggested by the audience were preserved in the final version?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Almost everything. Actually, there weren’t many people suggesting, so we initially put those movements that the audience invented, and didn’t remove them. They were able to offer really interesting things.
Do you fully provide yourself only through figure skating?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes.
You bought yourself a car and an apartment. That is, the top skater in Russia can afford it only doing sports?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: For this, the skater must be a top not only in Russia, but also perform at the international level, preferably at world championships, has a result there.
You recently launched your Empress Wear clothing line. How did this idea come about? And how much have you invested in this business?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I put my soul into it (laughs). This is the most important. Everything developed slowly, gradually, and I realized that I had to try it while I’m young. And then come what may.
In general, I started working with a person who has experience in this business, but then I realized that it is better to do everything myself in order to understand this business more. If they did all the work for me, then I would not be able to understand how everything works.
Recently, many figure skaters published autobiographies – Trusova, Alena Savchenko, Adelina Sotnikova will publish soon. Have you thought about a book about yourself?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes, of course, I have such a long journey that such thoughts have already occurred. But I always understood that it was better to end my career and only then approach this matter. You need to have what to tell.
Is it true that the hieroglyph on the back of your free skate dress means “love”? “Yes this is true. I chose it because this is the most important thing in a person’s life,” you said after the Grand Prix. Why is this the most important thing to you?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Without love there is no happiness, inspiration, desire. Caring, understanding is all about it. Love is energy.
But now in your life there is no such energy in terms of relationships?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes. I am single. But I feel good. Fine. I have friends, best friends, family, so I am not deprived of love (laughs). Love can be different. Of course, it’s nice to share something with your loved one, but being a self-sufficient woman is also not bad.