Evgenia Medvedeva: “I’m almost certain that nobody would have supported raising age minimum if it weren’t for the dominance of Russian girls.”
Interview with Evgenia Medvedeva for Hello magazine.
Zhenya, tell me about the “Russian Challenge” event (show programs competition – ed.). How do you like this format?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Bringing different generations onto the ice in one show is definitely interesting. I and Ilia Averbukh diligently prepared our performance, and I was fully focused on it. So, I haven’t had a chance to watch the performances of other participants yet to analyze them. For me, the most important assessment was the audience’s reaction and my fans, and I am grateful to them for the emotions I received. Many spectators supported me in the stands and sang along with the wonderful Mia Boyka. It was incredible!
How does an exhibition program for a show differ from an exhibition program for international competitions?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Overall, there is no difference. Except that the audience at exhibition performances at the World or European Championships is more professional. The competitive programs, short and free, for which scores are awarded, differ directly. Here, technique and skill are essential. And an exhibition performance at the Olympics or a competitions will be bright, spectacular, and literally exhibition-like.
You admitted that artificial intelligence helped you come up with an outfit for the show. How did you come up with the idea to use the program?
Evgenia Medvedeva: During the tour with Ilia Averbukh’s ice show, we were on a bus from Cherepovets. The trip was long, and there wasn’t much to do. I started thinking about the upcoming competition and my costume. Eventually, I opened an application with artificial intelligence, typed in a bunch of words about my look, and the program gave me possible options. I forwarded them to our tailor, she made several sketches, and we chose the most suitable one.
Are you interested in fashion? At one point, you even had a Fashion highlight on your social media.
Evgenia Medvedeva: I’m interested, but not as actively lately. Right now, I choose comfort. But I’m only 23, and I’m still trying to find my own style. It’s normal.
You’ve been providing yourself for a long time. Do you often buy yourself expensive gifts or only on important occasions?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I buy myself something valuable when I’m in a bad mood. (Smiling) But I never liked spending a lot. I can’t say I grew up in a very wealthy family. I learned to save and think about what I spend on at an early age. I remember from my childhood: I really wanted to buy one thing, I won’t say what, but my mom replied that it was very expensive and we couldn’t afford it. Fifteen years later, that company approached me for advertising and offered me a fee. I told my mom about it, and she said, “Oh my God, I’m so proud of you!” At that moment, it was both sad and funny. Interesting emotions.
Recently, you’ve posted a video where you cleanly landed a triple salchow during practice. Do you feel like you haven’t shown all your potential in figure skating yet?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I actually stopped competing involuntarily due to significant problems with my back. I even had to undergo a procedure called denervation to remove the nerves in my spine, but it didn’t help. By the time I was 18-19 years old, the pain was constant and at some point I physically couldn’t keep up with my level. That’s why the decision was made to retire from professional sports. I miss competitions a lot, but on the other hand, life is calmer without them.
Not too long ago, figure skater Ekaterina Korchazhnikova attempted a quad salchow at just 9 years old during a competition. Once, Yagudin commented, “If someone told me during my time that girls would be jumping four quads in their program, I would’ve said it’s ridiculous.” Why do you think women’s figure skating is developing so rapidly?
Evgenia Medvedeva: It’s simple – competition. When there are thousands of people in the sport competing for just one spot, everyone works incredibly hard. Additionally, we have a very strong coaching school with coaches like Tutberidze, Mishin, and Vodorezova (Buyanova -ed.). It’s also important to consider that Yagudin competeda 20 years ago when medicine and techniques were different. Science and technology are constantly advancing, not only in figure skating but in other sports as well.
You once said, “If it’s hard for you, it means you’re doing everything right.” What is the most challenging thing for you in life right now?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Probably getting up early in the morning. I hate early morning activities.
Not long ago, the age minimum for figure skating was increased: starting from the 2024-2025 season, only athletes over the age of 17 will be able to compete in seniors. What do you think, why did the sports federation make this decision? What are the pros and cons?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I achieved all of my major victories at 16-17 years old, so I can’t support these changes. But if we approach it from a medical and athlete health standpoint, I think there is some common sense to it. On the other hand, I’m almost certain that nobody would have supported these changes if it weren’t for the dominance of female figure skaters from Russia.
In 2018, there were talks about you potentially changing your citizenship and competing for Armenia. In current circumstances, changing citizenship is often the only chance for many athletes to showcase themselves in international competitions. What is your take on this?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Actually, all the talk about me joining the Armenian national team is not true. I never even thought about it. I was born and raised in Russia. This country has given me everything I have at the moment. But I don’t deny my Armenian roots. Maybe we’ll come for an ice show someday. It would be interesting for me to visit Yerevan.
As for changing citizenship, that’s everyone’s personal decision. It happens all the time in any sport. Brazilians play soccer for the Russian national team, Korean Victor An won three gold medals for our country in Sochi, and American Vic Wild won two golds and a bronze for Russia in the Olympics. I take it calmly, with understanding. Everyone has their own life.
It’s hard to believe, but you recently celebrated 20 years on the ice. They say that figure skating never leaves an athlete’s life. Do you agree with that? Was there a moment when you thought, that’s it, I’m never going back to the ice?
Evgenia Medvedeva: You can survive all failures, believe me. Thoughts of giving up have crossed my mind more than once. I think every person has experienced a moment when they feel like giving up. In those moments, it’s worth looking back at your life and taking note: your loved ones are alive and healthy, you have a place to sleep and food to eat. There are a huge number of problems in the world that are more important than Evgenia Medvedeva’s sports career. And it would be a shame for me to complain about my life.
You’ve said that you don’t see yourself as a coach, yet you’re actively developing your career in sports journalism. What do you see yourself as?
Evgenia Medvedeva: That’s a difficult question. I enjoy conversational style, and I want to move in that direction. I’m working on my speech technique and developing my own style. I have different ideas, which I’ll tell you about in hindsight. But I don’t forget about sports either. Right now, coaching is not relevant for me, but I’m ready to share my experience.
You’re actively collaborating with the football club “Dynamo.” What do you like about football, do you follow the league table?
Evgenia Medvedeva: It happened by accident. I was invited to the final of the Russian Cup “Dynamo” – “Spartak” in 2022 at the Luzhniki Stadium. “Spartak” had more fans in the stands. I thought to myself, damn it, I’ll root for “Dynamo”! Firstly, they have a cool uniform – I love the color blue. Secondly, there are a lot of young people in the team, and that’s appealing. In that match, unfortunately, “Dynamo” lost, but I really liked the atmosphere in the stadium and the overall game. Soon after, I was invited to a couple of matches of the club, I was impressed by the VTB Arena, and I caught myself thinking that I want to go there more often. I became friends with Sabina Koch, an employee of the club, and then with other guys. That’s how our friendship with “Dynamo” began. I was offered to participate in various content activities of the club, and I agreed with pleasure.
What are your current hobbies, how do you spend your free time?
Evgenia Medvedeva: The first 20 years of my life were very active, so now it’s: couch, TV and delicious food. (Smiling) Sometimes I just want to be lazy and do nothing. But if we talk about active leisure, I recently got interested in skiing.
In “Ice Age” you skated with Danya Milokhin, who unexpectedly left the show. What did this experience teach you? What is your relationship with him now?
Evgenia Medvedeva: He did what he did. At the moment, we have no relationship. We just don’t communicate. I want to note that we didn’t argue and there was no conflict between us.
Among your friends are many popular bloggers. You have been pursuing your dream for a long time, while they became popular in just a couple of years. What is the difference in your worldview and what unites you?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I really don’t want to go into long speeches about how I achieved success through hard work and blood, and the guys did it differently. No, not at all. All the guys are very cool and talented. The one quality that unites all the people I communicate with is kindness. We have a similar worldview. We don’t wish anyone harm, love to fool around and enjoy life. Perhaps, I allow myself a little bit of pathos and say that the only difference between us is that I can be more disciplined in some areas.
For some reason, in Russian figure skating, there is a trend where no one reveals details about their personal life. Why did you personally decide not to publicize your relationships?
Evgenia Medvedeva: My mother raised me to believe that personal things should be kept private. But at the same time, I’m not saying that I’ll hide my whole life. I just don’t like to share the details of my personal life. To be honest, I don’t even understand who could find it interesting.
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