Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: “Like any athlete I had thoughts to end my career.”
Interview with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Elizaveta told about new challenges, shared her expectations from the return of Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, tried to guess all the champions of the Olympic Games in Beijing.
source: by Vasilii Konov, youtube channel KonOff; text version rsport.ria.ru dd. 16th February 2021
A team event has been recently held in Moscow. What are your impressions?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It was a very emotional start. First, because it was three days in a row. And it turned out to be more difficult than I thought. After the jumping competition, I was very tired, because we were busy the whole: there was a jumping competition, then a rehearsal of our opening number, and on the day of the short program I was already like this: “Ok, hold on, your competition is just starting now, so get it together.”
Overall, I liked the event very much, it was fun and cool. I think that many skaters will remember it for a very long time.
You said that the competition is starting. That is, you treated it as a serious competition?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I try to take all competitions seriously. After all, when you go out in public, you need to perform well, and because of this you have some kind of excitement.
But this is a show!
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It’s not really a show. The World Championships is still ahead, so every competition is important.
What do you think about jumping competition? This very event, boys against girls.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I rooted for the boys very much.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Because I like them better (laughs). I was rooting for the boys, but there was a nuance, this rivalry between boys and girls … I think it would be better to draw lots before the jumping competitions, make a teams of several girls, several boys. In this case, as it seems to me, the forces would be more or less equal and one could count on any result, so it would be unpredictable. And when there is a combination of five jumps, it is very difficult to make those combinations that Anya Shcherbakova, Kamila Valieva and Sasha Trusova performed. I just admire them! It’s very difficult, I would never do that, I think.
We discussed the draw for a very long time, that it was not entirely fair. In your opinion, is everything ok with the draw?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I would still do in a different format, so that it’s not necessary to choose people. For me, from our side, from the side of the athletes who performed it was a little bit…Well, not humiliating, but perhaps I’m just not used to being chosen (smiles). Maybe this is my character, but it seems to me that mature skaters, such as Zhenya Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov or Tiffany and John … Well, that is, you can change this moment a bit. As for fairness, it seems to me that everything was tantamount, but the girls were the only discipline where the first-second places were in the same team. That is, usually the first place is in one team, the second place – in another. But I don’t know, maybe it was a tactical move on purpose.
I would even make the jumping competition a separate competitions, because I liked it so much, but you really get tired after it, so it’s already hard to perform on the second and third day. Or add a break day. I would definitely keep the jumping competition, but I would slightly modified it.
What is the reason for changing the Spartacus short program?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: We choreographed this program back in February last year and, apart from the lockdown, I skated this program very often and was already a little tired of it. So I decided – new year with new emotions so that this freshness would appear in skating, emotions, this pleasure of the process, because when you’re tired of the program it is difficult to force yourself to pretend that you still yearn to skate and work on it. At least I’m not like that, I show everything I have inside. So we changed it.
You chose a romantic song by Billie Eilish and Khalid. Why? Didn’t you want something cheerful, danceable?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: In fact, it was Alexei Nikolaevich’s idea. He sent me music, and I was shocked how much my coach follows fashion trends (laughs). I really like this track, and I especially liked that we added accents at the end of the program so that the program goes upwards. Answering your question about the dynamic program, I was ready to consider any option, but this music really touched me, and when Alexei Nikolaevich suggested it, I immediately said yes. I feel it very well, I skate with pleasure! I have wanted a modern program for a long time, like “Drumming Song” last season, I like to keep up with the times. Therefore, I deliberately did not make a figure skating costume, roughly speaking, but something else, more in my style. I think it was the right decision.
What are your feelings and expectations from the Russian Cup Final?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think it will go like another good competition. It will be held at Megasport arena, we have already skated at Megasport so many times that I do not expect anything special, but I set the task for myself to approach this competition in the best possible shape. As a rule, I never build expectations.
But this turns out to be more than usual Russian Cup Final. This is, in fact, a selection for the World Championships.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes.
And taking into account the seventh place at the Russian Nationals, The Russian Cup Final becomes for you almost the main competitions of the season.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: This is one of the main competitions of the season, always and for everyone, because those who, for example, did not get into the national team at the Russian Nationals, have a chance to get into the national team after the Cup Final. That is, this is a very important start for everyone. Actually, that’s why I say that it is really important and you need to approach it seriously and thoroughly.
In the spring you told me that you were full of hopes for a third attempt to get to the Olympic Games. What are your thoughts on Beijing now? Is it real?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I don’t know at all! Anything can be. I hope it’s real, but you need to make every effort to get there. Everything I have in store should be invested in this season.
Is a triple axel enough?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: No. Quadruple is needed.
That is, a quadruple toe loop?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes.
How is it going?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I have not yet fully recovered it after an illness. That is why I did not perform it at the jumping competition, because I need to be in a very good shape, almost perfect, in order to rotate it and start doing it, especially stable. This is a completely new element, I did it last year for several months, then everything closed, and I lost it again. Then I started to bring it back, I did it, but then I got sick and lost it again (smiles). In short, I can’t do it stably for several months in a row, at least half a year.
That is, do I understand correctly that you cannot win without quads in modern ladies’ single skating?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It is definitely impossible to win without quads now. You can get into the top three without quads, but it will be very difficult to fight for the World or Olympic champion title.
Is there anyone who can really compete with Russian girls?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It seems to me that the Japanese Rika Kihira is quite competitive, now she jumps the quadruple salchow and triple axel. She is a strong athlete.
What does Alexei Nikolaevich say about the Olympic hopes?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: We have not seriously discussed this topic with him yet, our goal now is to qualify for the World Championships.
One way or another, everyone is still discussing the Olympic season. Alexander Zhulin has recently told me that Vika and Nikita have already been offered musical pieces for the Olympic programs. Have you looked that way yet?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Literally in January I gave an interview and said that I had ideas for a short program, and now I already have ideas for the free. But it happens to me that I think it over in advance and think that it will be so great, but in the end it turns out the other way around and we take completely different music. There are ideas, but I will not voice them yet (smiles).
Classic or something modern?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Neither classic, nor modern.
As for ladies’ single skating in Russia, in your opinion, what was the catalyst and the main reason for the crazy popularity and such audience interest that we have now?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: The first thing that comes to mind is the appearance of very strong girls in Russia. I think we haven’t lost World and European Championships since 2015, all the time the first place was taken by a Russian girl. Accordingly, when they win in sports, it already attracts attention. Plus, the competition has grown, the Olympics in Korea, when people were divided into two clans.
What clan were you in?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: In my own (laughs). I think that some bright moments or headlines, they still generate this popularity, so that people read and be interested, because the more news there is, the more the person and figure skating will be know.
This is an element of show business, which was added even more after the start of the confrontation between “Chrustalny” and “Angels of Plushenko”. By the way, looking at all this from the side, haven’t you thought “Oh they’ve turned figure skating into show business?”
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It seems to me that it will also be popularized the sport and probably even more people will start doing it. I don’t know, in fact, how to feel about it, because I have nothing to do with either one or the other, I live in St. Petersburg, in “Yubileiny”. Everything is so calm there that I am far from all this gossips.
Have you ever thought of leaving Alexei Nikolaevich?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Not. Absolutely not.
Not even once? Even in some emotional outbursts or breakdowns?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Like any athlete I had thoughts just to end my career. But to betray a coach who has put his soul into you, who develops himself, and you know that he is one of the best coaches in the world, it would be very stupid, I think. I certainly would not forgive myself for that. Mishin – forever (smiles).
You said there were moments when you thought about ending your career …
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: It was not even during the Olympic season, the post-Olympic seasons goes well for me. Probably, in 2017, when I had two years of mediocre skating, roughly speaking, I didn’t know if I could do something else, and that’s when I had moments “Maybe that’s all what am I capable of, and figure skating has already stepped forward?”
Probably, there was no inspiration and motivation, but then it appeared – I went to rest, started to learn the axel, started jumping, I felt comfortable, I had a great desire to skate, compete, show my programs.
I had one moment, I didn’t even talk to Aleksei Nikolayevich about this, that is, I didn’t take it so seriously, it was just a fleeting desire that would be very difficult to fulfill.
What is the motivation for Elizaveta Tuktamysheva now, when she is 24 and a crowd of young girls are jumping quads non stop?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: The fact that I am one of the few who still holds on, and I want to show that this is possible. It seems to me that I still play some role in figure skating, despite the young girls and the rejuvenation of the sport. I stand out a little, and for now this is enough for me to continue skating and delight fans and myself that I have not shown everything yet. And I have this feeling.
It seems to me that that I won’t finish until I skate a clean free program with a clean quadruple (laughs). I need to do this because I know it is possible.
You said that you admire the technical arsenal of Trusova, Shcherbakova, Valieva. The moments when you see their programs, is there desire to say “What am I doing here?” and quit?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: They have their goals, I have mine.
Any athlete, probably, has the goal to win? In addition to jumping a quadruple toe loop in a free program.
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I am more philosophical about it now. If I thought so, I would have finished long ago. I treat it more calmly and continue to skate, precisely because I do not have this fanaticism to be always first, and I do not break myself every competitions, being in a prize place, but not first.
I could be wrong, but is there no fear that only the Russian Cup and the Russian Nationals will remain with such approach?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: There is fear, but, again, let’s see how it goes. There are always fears, but we have the majority of skaters in the country who perform only at Russian competitions, and only three representatives in each discipline can go to international competitions. I go to international competitions, to the Grand Prix, and I really like it.
But this is how I lived, I am already more calm about it. If I had not won that World and European Championships, probably I would have taken it more seriously, but I had this year when I was having fun every second, and it’s so amazing to feel that you are the favorite of the competition, this gives such energy that you cannot be stopped at all. I just say thank you to myself for that year, and now – work, try, do your job, and then we’ll see how much more I will last.
How long do you think it will be?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I think till the Olympics for sure, and after the Olympics we’ll see. But the body is still saying: “Liza skate, everything is fine!” (Laughs.)
Liza Tuktamysheva comes to the bookmaker’s office and bets on the winners of the Beijing Olympic Games in men, ice dance, pairs and ladies. On whom?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: In men – Nathan Chen. I think that he will not forgive himself for another such performance, I think it was his only bad performance – at the Olympics.
In pairs – I hope, with all my heart I believe that it will be Zhenya Tarasova and Vova Morozov (smiles). In ice dance, I believe with all my heart and soul that it will be Vika and Nikita, Sinitsina / Katsalapov. I really want it to be!
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: In ladies, if Kamila Valieva skates cleanly and will jump two quads in a free program with a triple axel, then it will be very difficult to beat her. It seems to me that Kamilla can win.
And who among the guys can get into the top three? Or will it be difficult to get into the top three?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Misha Kolyada can get into the top three. It will be very difficult to win, but with his talent he can easily be in the top three.
How did you take his transfer?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I was happy for the boys of our group, because they have a very strong competitor now, and, as we can see, competition helps you to achieve more serious results. Therefore, I reacted calmly, and I am glad that Alexei Nikolaevich finds a balance between training both me and Misha at the same level.
Misha, by the way, has an amazing free program. When it was creating you probably saw something. What were your first impressions and first impressions of a complete run-through?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I really liked the music when I heard it. I saw this program in its raw version, but even then I understood that it would be one of the best programs in his skating career, so the impressions were very pleasant.
Is the return of Zagitova and Medvedeva to a competitive level real or not?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Looking at my career, I can say that everything is possible, because I was in an even worse condition, as it seems to me, and was able to get out of there. I had the desire and the energy for this. If they have a desire and a goal, then I think they will be able to overcome all the obstacles in order to reach a good competitive level. But again, I repeat: without quads, hardly anyone can win.
Is friendship in ladies’ figure skating possible?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes. Why not? I communicate well with Stasya Konstantinova, if there were older girls, I would communicate with them, like with Lena, Adelina, Yulia. We had such a cool company! If there were older girls, I would be happy to communicate with them, and so I communicate more with mothers (laughs).
With the moms of our girls?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes.
Have you thought about motherhood yourself, by the way?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Of course I thought about it, but it’s too early.
In this case, it would probably be wrong not to ask if you are single now, after the end of your relationship with Andrei?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I’m single. But I do not want, I am not interested in any relationship now.
Because it takes a lot of time and emotions?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Yes. Now there is not much time left before the Olympics, and I just want to prepare specifically for the first time in my life, be a real athlete (laughs).
You are probably one of the few people who are not shy about sexuality on the ice. Is this deliberate?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: And how can it be not?
Were there such splashes as after “Toxic”, when, how many there, +20 thousand followers on Instagram after the first performance?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: No, there were no more such splashes, that is, the effect was much bigger than I expected. This never happened again. I don’t know what needs to be done to repeat this, so that it can be shown on the TV (smiles). Well, I’m not going to do that.
As for sexuality and some kind of frankness, I have already said more than once in an interview that the female body is wonderful and I don’t see anything wrong with showing some part of it somewhere. I don’t go on the ice completely naked, it’s all within the bounds of some decency, after all.
Is it possible that after the end of your career, you sweep aside all thoughts about education, show business, television, shows and leave to live in another country?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I will go to live in another country, provided that I will work, fly to Russia and I will have some kind of income so that I can live in another country. This is actually a very good option.
What are the options in terms of countries? What do you like, where would you like to go?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Italy or America.
What an opposite poles!
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: I just want to try a lot in my life and visit so many places. It is very important for me not to sit still, but to move, learn, learn, develop and see all places on the earth.
Where does love for art come from?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: Once in adolescence, I began to be interested, and I liked it. I don’t remember how it happened. I cannot say that I understand art, that I am a fan and want to collect … Ah, it all started with Van Gogh! There was an exhibition in St. Petersburg, I went there and was amazed how much strength, inspiration and emotions it gave me. I was inspired, I had a lot of energy, and I realized that this is art, this is what art gives.
As for life outside the rink. What is she like, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva?
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva: A bit tired this season (laughs). I am very dependent on emotions in life, I am impulsive, but at the same time calm – I don’t know how it works. It is very important for me to get energy and emotions from trips, from seeing something new, from some travels, anticipation that now you will learn something, see. And that, unfortunately, did not happen this season, and it was not easy.
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