Evgenia Medvedeva: “When the scores were shown my dream fell apart. But now I understand that silver medal at the Olympics was my blessing”
Big Interview with Evgenia Medvedeva. About Tutberidze and Zagitova, love, money spent working with Brian Orser in Canada and losing the 2018 Olympics.
Are you already done and leaving the big sport or just temporarily on pause?
Evgenia Medvedeva: In fact, it’s quite a long story, I don’t want to go into details about health problems now. Everyone already knows what happened: back problems, I was seriously ill with coronavirus. It knocked me out of shape, I lost a lot of weight, my muscles were gone.
I don’t like this topic. It turned out that I’m not in the national team. And, probably, I decided that I would not qualify for the selection to the Olympics. This season I’ll definitely skipp, and then we’ll see.
That is, you are not planning to make any statements yet?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Not yet. Over the past four years my life has changed so dramatically that I realized that as soon as you make any promises, everything turns out exactly the opposite. Maybe this is some feature of my fate or given from above.
About Tutberidze: first meeting, lack of praise and toughness
How did you get to Tutberidze? Why her?
Evgenia Medvedeva: By recommendation. We went to the director of our skating rink, I skated at CSKA then. We said that we want to leave, suggest us where. The director told us: there is such a young coach, Eteri Georgievna.
What were your first impressions of her?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Oh, at first I was very scared. I was scared how serious her approach to figure skating was.
You haven’t seen such before?
Evgenia Medvedeva: No. When I came, they asked me: can you jump a “dupel” (double axel)? And I thought: what is dupel? I didn’t even know the names of the elements. Two more children came with me on the same day, but they were not taken. Probably she saw something in me. I don’t know what. Because those guys were stronger than me, taller and stronger. From that moment on, the serious path of figure skating began.
Were you praised when you took some places?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Mom and grandmother – yes, the coach – no. After the first World Championships, perhaps I didn’t really need it, because I was 15, I didn’t even realize what had happened. After the second World Championships I wanted to be praised, really wanted. But I just kept working hoping that the more I work, the more chance that I will get approval. I got it in the form of work and trust. I saw that my coach trusts me, believes in me.
There is such a book – “Five languages of love”. It is important for me to hear, this is my language.
They say that coaches’ toughness allows them to grow champions. Is this true?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I believe that in my case, the rigidity took place, of course. There were difficult moments when it was simply impossible to force yourself. Before the Olympics my leg hurt so much that I just howled. Here rigidity helped: you either go and do, or you die in my eyes. So you go and you do.
That is, if the coach was softer, you would not have achieved everything?
Evgenia Medvedeva: This is 100% true, I would not have achieved it. Her methods work, but as you get older it gets harder and harder to endure every year. Then either you need to change your mindset and devote more time to your mental health, or endure. There is no other option.
You and Zagitova were at the Olympics together. Alina suddenly appeared then. But her program was more difficult.
Evgenia Medvedeva: Yes, technically more difficult, but for some reason everyone focuses on the free program, but let’s recall the scores. We have the same scores there.
You saw each other’s programs. Why did Alina win?
Evgenia Medvedeva: She won because of the technical content in the short program. Technically, her program was stronger.
Why was yours weaker?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Well, first of all, I was injured. Trained much less. Secondly, at the beginning of the Olympic season I had a free program, which was technically much stronger than the one I skated at the Olympics. There was a different costume, a different music, content, different complexity. But then the coaches decided that I needed to do the old content, which is simpler. Well, I entrusted. Although I asked to keep the strong program.
They were afraid, did not want to take risks?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I do not know. But it happened so.
But did you realize that if you both skate clean, you will take second place?
Evgenia Medvedeva: After the short program, I already understood what was happening. And I skated the free program so calmly that this is probably my best and most meditative moment in my entire career. I skated in the middle of the program and was not tired at all. I have grown wings. This is the pinnacle of what every athlete wants to experience. It was just amazing.
I am sure that only 1 percent of athletes in their careers can experience this in competitions. I am lucky to have achieved this. And after the last jump, I burst into tears.
Do you understand why you were crying then?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Yes, I understand what kind of tears it was, but I’m not always ready to talk about it. At least not for a large audience. Relatives and friends know and understand perfectly.
How did you feel when you were waiting for the scores?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Like the world had collapsed. The scores were shown and my dream, I had been going to for many years, fell apart. From juniors I have been going to it. Five years.
Why is Olympic gold so important?
Evgenia Medvedeva: This is a stereotype and prejudice. That if you are a high-level skater, you must win the Olympics. If you don’t win, you… well, so-so. But in tennis and football there are much more important competitions than the Olympics. But this is how it is for skaters.
That is, in figure skating, silver is not a victory? You lost.
Evgenia Medvedeva: Depends on the context. When your level is fourth or fifth places and you get on the podium, it’s wow and cool. But when you go to the Olympics as the favorite and become the second, well … It’s already different. It was a defeat for me. I was ready for anything, but when you skate both programs perfectly, you expect good results.
About Zagitova: insults and unfollowing in social networks (and then following again)
And what is your relationship with Alina now?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Neutral, fine. We say hello, we say goodbye. But we are not friends.
Were you worried about being played off against one another?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I do not like to be in bad relations with people. Especially when they say that I offend someone. Because I didn’t do it, that maybe someone thought something, maybe I was in a bad mood – this also happens. Perhaps I was angry. But I know for sure that I have never offended a person. But when they say that I insult someone and that I am such a scum, well … Who will like this?
Have you and Alina discussed this somehow?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I had such a conversation against all this background. It seems we unfollowed each other. Then started to follow again, that’s it. I somehow approached her, I said: well, maybe, still our relationship is fine. But somehow this topic came to naught, nothing has changed, I think – well, okay. The main thing is that to my own self I am pure.
About leaving Tutberidze
Evgenia Medvedeva: Now when so many years have passed, I understand that that silver medal at the Olympics was my blessing. Very often I think: God, thank you for not letting me win then.
Many aspects of my life and the desire for personal growth depend on when I am lacking something. Therefore, you crave knowledge, you crave to improve. This is the tremendous force that drives me forward.
But you left Tutberidze right after the Olympics. Everyone believed that this was because you won silver, not gold. That this is because of betrayal that Tutberidze did not hold Zagitova in juniors and did not let you win gold. How true is this?
Evgenia Medvedeva: We are both good, we both screwed up. I don’t evade my responsibility. I will not say that I have never made mistakes. I know my character and I know who brought up such a character in me. Therefore, we are both good. But now we communicate well, keep in touch. I skate the same skating rink. We try not to look back and not to talk about the past. What for? The past is past.
But you left her without even talking? She says she found out from the media.
Evgenia Medvedeva: It is not true. She found out from the federation. I went there and talked about my intentions. I wanted to talk in person, but everything was boiling in me so much that I decided it was better to talk through a third party. And I think that it was the right decision, because if we had started talking then, I don’t know how it would have ended. It could have been much worse.
About nutritional problems
You said you’re learning relationship with food. Have you had any problems with eating disorders?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I had such problems, but I am one of those people who were lucky with the environment, upbringing and with the opportunity to give myself time to recover. You just need to let the brain eat off.
Was it bulimia or just overeating?
Evgenia Medvedeva: There was no bulimia, thank God, it didn’t come to that. But there were breakdowns, overeating. You constantly go on diets, control yourself, and then it blows your mind and you eat everything. And then it take a week for you come back to senses.
How many kilograms did you gain maximum?
Evgenia Medvedeva: After the Olympics, I realized that my body was missing something. I began to put my head in order about nutrition. Then I gained 8 kg, but I understood that it was necessary. I felt much better. I was such a dumpling.
How much did you weigh when you competed at the Olympics?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Usually girls do not talk about their weight for some reason, but I think that this is absolutely ok. At the Olympics, I weighed about 43 kg. At 18 years old. After the Olympics, I thought it was too little. I gained up to 51-52 kg. But when I started to train, I realized that it was hard. Now I have about 45-46kg.
I saw how your grandmother worried at the competitions.
Evgenia Medvedeva: My mother and grandmother are very worried. Mom doesn’t come to competitions – she’s so worried … Grandmother is confident in me, she knows that I will do it. And my mother is rushing about, very nervous. Therefore, she prefers not to come.
I grew up with my mother and grandmother, and I have never had such a situation that I feel pressured because of what my mother wants. I feel the energy of the person and the message regardless of what he says. The energy that she gives me to succeed in becoming a champion. And not so that she could raise a champion.
About expensive clothes
Do you love clothes and shopping?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Yes, I love good, expensive clothes. I really love Dior, Burberry, all sorts of shiny things. I’m a skater, everything should shine. But lately I realized that this is not my goal. I had a period when I worked in order to earn money for an expensive bag. It really gave me pleasure, I absolutely do not regret the money spent.
Now I have slightly shifted the spectrum of attention towards minimalism and realized that 3-4 pairs of jeans are enough for me to look cool. And a shirt. Of course, I combine this with everything that I bought then – and everything turns out great. I do not feel the need for brand new clothes.
Leysan Utyasheva said that in rhythmic gymnastics all girls should be virgins while they compete. Because as soon as you lose your virginity, your body begins to look different.
Evgenia Medvedeva: Nobody canceled the hormones.
Does figure skating have the same policy?
Evgenia Medvedeva: If you have a boyfriend and a serious relationship at the age of 17-18-19, no one has the right to dispose of your reproductive system. You decide who you are.
I mean, the coach says: you are preparing for the Olympics, and you have a boyfriend and so on.
Evgenia Medvedeva: Eteri Georgievna is absolutely calm about this. Prohibitions, taboos, we do not sign any contracts in order to live without relationships. There is more of a psychological factor here: you are preparing for the Olympics – what boy friends and partying? You need to think about sports, not that your boyfriend dumped you.
There is not a taboo, but an insistently recommendatory form: let’s do it without a relationship, because it distracts.
In fact, girls do not start a relationship as long as they participate in competitions?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I did not have. I don’t know about other girls, we don’t talk about this.
Well, did you want to have a relationship, to fall in love?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I wanted to. Well I’m not saying that I haven’t been in love. I fell in love, and more than once – it helped me emotionally. But I didn’t start serious relationship – I thought it was early for me, and I thought correctly. To start a relationship, I have to grow my mind, I have to understand, to take this seriously. Don’t just walk by the hand with someone: ahh, we are dating.
I always had such a mindset. Nobody forbids falling in love, but falling in love and relationships are completely different things.
Have you had a serious relationship?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I have never had a serious relationship. There was no such thing as to live with a person, to move in, to meet with parents.
Are you ready if such a person appears tomorrow?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Perhaps. I think that I am already quite an adult lady. 21 years – well it’s considered youth. But I think that in recent years I have gone through so much that I have enough experience.
You never talk about your dad in an interview, you don’t communicate?
Evgenia Medvedeva: No, we are communicating. I have a strange attitude towards talking about my father. I can’t say that I know him well: it so happened that our communication was built in periods. It mostly depends on me. I have a dad, everything is fine with him, we communicate, we’re in touch.
Did you lack a dad as a child?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Probably, everything was super for me. I didn’t have a need, like: mom, where is dad? Or: mom, let’s have a brother, a sister? In this regard, I’m probably selfish.
What character traits did you take from your dad?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Stubbornness. Both in a good way and sometimes not quite in a good way.
And from your mom?
Evgenia Medvedeva: When you fall into a stressful state – yes, you are nervous and rush about, but in your head you think over a plan. It’s from my mom. You immediately run and do – and you can avoid more fire. This is stress resistance.
About favorite active skaters
Of the girls who perform, who do you single out? Whose skating style do you like more?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Of course, I like the way Kamila Valieva skates. As far as I know, she did ballet as a child – she has this ballet posture, ballet movements.
Alena Kostornaia skates very beautifully. Anya Shcherbakova, who has crystal skating. You look at her and afraid to break her. I know her from that age of 6-7 years old.
Now, music is turned on from our phone in training. And before there was a cd recorder and a disk, the children came up and put the discs on the table. She was the smallest, below the board. And she stood like this, looking for her music, I was passing it on to her all the time.
Liza Tuktamysheva, who has mature feminine skating, with passion, sexuality. Liza is a hero, really worthy of respect. A person who has won respect over time. She skates for a very long time, and it’s great.
There is Maya Khromykh, who works frantically and jumps a lot of quads. Dasha Usacheva skates with us, she is talented.
About leaving for Canada
What offended you the most from what the media wrote about you?
Evgenia Medvedeva: The hardest thing is when they called me a traitor to the motherland. I will never understand this. Compatriots, people who watched figure skating all their lives and supported Russia. Only because I changed my environment to Toronto, without changing the country I represent, without changing my patriotic views. They called me a traitor to the homeland.
And I did all this just to continue performing for the Russian Federation and to please the fans. I never understood what right they have to say that. People should pay for such words, well I don’t know, there should be criminal liability for this. If your tongue turns to say this, it means that your brain must turn to be responsible for your words.
Don’t you think they just wanted you to explain your decision?
Evgenia Medvedeva: If a person wants an explanation, he asks: Zhenya, perhaps something happened? Maybe there was discomfort? What influenced your decision? It should be a dialogue. If you want to get an answer, you need to ask a question.
Have you been asked?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I was asked, but at that time I was not ready to answer in expanded form. And even now I am not ready to answer what influenced such a sharp change. I think that over the years I will be able to fully tell my reason for leaving. People need to understand that every person has the right to answer or not answer questions. I am not obliged to answer provocative questions.
A lot of people talked to me – they convinced me that there was no need to react like that. I also worked with a psychologist on this topic, because at some point it was really hard.
About money: who paid for training with Orser and how much it cost
If you continue to train with Eteri Georgievna, do you pay her yourself or does the federation pay?
Evgenia Medvedeva: These are personal agreements.
When you left for Brian Orser, did you pay him yourself?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I paid myself, no matter what people say. There were articles that they gave me 6 million rubles (81000 USD) a month to train Brian. I would really like to, it would make my life very much easier. I just sat and thought: where is my 6 million a month, huh? Can I please have them?
No, we paid for everything ourselves.
Is training with Brian expensive?
Evgenia Medvedeva: He has one standard price for each athlete. $ 100 an hour – and they are unchanged, that’s all he takes for his work.
Does money play a big role for you?
Evgenia Medvedeva: I would like to say no, but the older you get, the more you understand: money is an opportunity. And you want to have opportunities. Unfortunately, you should dress for success. So I would also like to have clothes. I would like to have a good education, which also costs a lot of money. I would like to see turquoise water and white sand in the Maldives, which also costs a lot of money.
Blitz: about happiness, fears and amazing superpower
What makes you happy?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Recently I’ve realized that the slow pace of life. That I can wake up, stretch, hug the dog, drink tea, read a book. Then pack up and go about business – those that you like. But to get such a rhythm and such things, you need to work hard.
What are you afraid of?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Death – my own, relatives, friends. And everything else …
What are you dreaming about?
Evgenia Medvedeva: My dreams and goals are completely different things. The goals are material, which I strive for and can achieve. And dreams … My dream is a family, two children, and for my children to live well. So that neither me nor my husband had to work two jobs to provide for the children. But if necessary, we will.
I believe that every person has a mission on earth. What do you think is yours?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Make beauty. Go on the ice and do something beautiful is my destiny.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Evgenia Medvedeva: In the sports field, for sure – in the figure skating field of art. I do not know where exactly it will lead. But I know that it will be related to figure skating. Because – well, I really know it.
What superpower do you have?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Bones grow together quickly, ha ha ha.
What would you say to children who look at you and want to be like you?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Do not think that everything is so simple.
What would you say to little Zhenya?
Evgenia Medvedeva: Much to be done, but it worth it.
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