“I always feared Eteri Georgievna’s gaze, but she’s actually a very good person, cheerful, with a good sense of humor.” Andrei Mozalev about switching to Tutberidze’s group.
Translation of the interview with Andrei Mozalev about his decision to switch to Tutberidze’s group.
original source: TASS dd. 12th February 2024 by Daria Kuznetsova
Translation of the interview with the 2020 World Junior Champion, Andrei Mozalev. After a not very successful performance at the Russian Nationals where he placed eleventh, he decided to change coaches and switch to the Eteri Tutberidze’s group.
Q: How difficult is the adaptation process in Moscow?
Andrei Mozalev: I arrived and initially stayed with relatives while looking for an apartment. It wasn’t easy — first, I had to find an apartment, then rent it, quite a quest. Few people are willing to give their apartments for rent for the young people of my age. I was lucky to convince someone on the first try.
Q: Is it hard when friends are left in St. Petersburg? Who do you spend time with in Moscow?
Andrei Mozalev: Of course, it’s tough, but I also have friends here in Moscow, many acquaintances, and relatives. I’ve known Daniil Samsonov and Nika Egadze for a long time, and my longtime friend from St. Petersburg moved to Moscow at the same time as me.
Q Have you found ways to spend your free time in Moscow?
Andrei Mozalev: Not really, currently, I’m just focused on intensive preparation for the Spartakiad, so I’m not thinking about that.
Q: At what point did you become fully confident that you would have to leave your previous group?
Andrei Mozalev: I thought about it for quite a while after the Russian Nationals, and the certainty came closer to the New Year.
Q: I remember, at one point, you didn’t want Kirill Davydenko to accompany you to competitions. Was there already a premonition of this then?
Andrei Mozalev: No, Kirill Anatolyevich (Davydenko) asked me then whom I wanted to go with, and I thought I’d try going with Denis Lunin, maybe it would help.
Q: What exactly was lacking in Davydenko’s group, why did you feel the need to make such a drastic change in your life?
Andrei Mozalev: Everything was enough; I just needed to change something, and it was difficult to do that in St. Petersburg.
Q: Was it more about moral feelings or sporting results?
Andrei Mozalev: Mostly moral.
Q: Can it still be said that there was a misunderstanding with the previous team?
Andrei Mozalev: I wouldn’t say so. We still have good relations.
Q: How different is the workload now compared to before?
Andrei Mozalev: It’s hard to say, the workload here is just different, of course, more ice time, more training sessions.
Q: What does your training day consist of now?
Andrei Mozalev: We have choreography from Monday to Friday for 45 minutes, then an hour and a half on the ice, stretching, a break, warm-up, another hour and a half on the ice, and cool down for 40–50 minutes, including running and stretching. Our group is divided so that different people have days off on different days to have as few people on the ice as possible. Usually, it’s six working days and one day off.
Q: When you joined the new team, were you aware that Kamila Valieva had a doping case hanging over her, were there any concerns about that?
Andrei Mozalev: No. It doesn’t concern me in any way.
Q: Did you consider finding a coach in St. Petersburg?
Andrei Mozalev: I only thought about going to Eteri Georgievna for some reason.
Q: Where did the confidence come from that you needed to go to this particular coaching team?
Andrei Mozalev: Why should there always be some kind of confidence? It’s all a risk, and I took it. He who doesn’t take risks doesn’t drink champagne.
Q: What were Eteri Tutberidze, Sergei Dudakov, and Daniil Gleikhengauz like in your first meetings?
Andrei Mozalev: They welcomed me well, everyone seemed happy to see me, sort of (laughs).
Q: Figure skaters often say that they are afraid of Eteri Georgievna at first, did you experience that?
Andrei Mozalev: I always feared Eteri Georgievna’s gaze, but she’s actually a very good person, cheerful, with a good sense of humor.
Q: Who primarily leads the on-ice training sessions?
Andrei Mozalev: There isn’t a specific person; both Eteri Georgievna, Daniil Markovich, and Sergei Viktorovich are involved in the preparation.
Q: What have you already worked on in Eteri Tutberidze’s group? What is the main focus now?
Andrei Mozalev: We’re polishing the programs we have and preparing for the Spartakiad; we’re practicing all parts of the program.
Q: Will there be any changes to the content for the Spartakiad?
Andrei Mozalev: No, the content will remain the same.
Q: Does Tutberidze plan to accompany you to the Spartakiad?
Andrei Mozalev: We haven’t discussed that yet.
Q: But would you like her to?
Andrei Mozalev: Yes, why else would I have switched in the first place? I really hope she’ll go. Whatever she says, goes.
Q: How do you feel during training in the new team?
Andrei Mozalev: I feel good, no problems at all. Everyone wants the best, so I listen to and accept all the feedback.
Q: What do you attribute the less successful performances at the Russian Nationals to?
Andrei Mozalev: There were many factors involved — I was sick before the nationals. I got sick a week after returning from the stage in Samara. I spent a week at home, couldn’t even get out of bed; it was tough. When I returned to training, I had two weeks to prepare. I felt like I was at the beginning of the season; I couldn’t complete my programs during training sessions, couldn’t even imagine how I would finish the free skate. Also, after the short program at the Russian Nationals, I had pain in my tailbone, probably from falling on the triple loop; I couldn’t decide whether to skate or not. When they announced that there was one minute left until the end of the warm-up before the free skate, I decided to go for it.
Q: Did you turn off your mind during the program?
Andrei Mozalev: I completely forgot about everything, even about the pain in my tailbone. I almost didn’t feel any pain due to adrenaline; I completely forgot then that I was at the Russian Nationals and skated calmly. I skated quite well as it may seem.
Q: How would you describe your mental state during this period?
Andrei Mozalev: Of course, it’s tough after changing teams and cities, but when I step onto the ice, I don’t think about it. I forget about everything and just work. When I come off the ice in the evening and sit at home sometimes, I wonder if I did the right thing or not?
Q: “Did the right thing” in what sense?
Andrei Mozalev: Well, that I switched.
Q: Do such thoughts still occur to you?
Andrei Mozalev: Of course.
Q: What are they based on?
Andrei Mozalev: What if something goes wrong, what if it’s all in vain; in any case, it’s a serious step and a risk, although I trust my new coaches a lot.
Q: How long do you think it will take you to fully adapt to the new group and city?
Andrei Mozalev: I’m already somewhat used to the team; after all, it’s not the first day we know each other, so it’s easier in that regard. But a change of scenery, the fact that my parents aren’t nearby, and not as many friends as before — that’s already tough.
Q: Aren’t you afraid that you might let the team down at the upcoming event?
Andrei Mozalev: I’ve had those thoughts fleetingly, but I try not to dwell on them; it’s better not to burden myself unnecessarily and prepare calmly without such thoughts.
Q: Can you say that you haven’t lost motivation despite the absence of international competitions?
Andrei Mozalev: There’s even some interest in that. If we are allowed to compete and there remains only one spot for European and World Championships, you need to be the best in Russia. This can be compared to international competitions. I’m sure I’ll still compete in international competitions; I’m not that old yet. I don’t know what will happen; we keep working.
Q: What goals do you set for the rest of the season?
Andrei Mozalev: The goal is to at least make it to the Russian national team.
Q: What would you like to regain?
Andrei Mozalev: What I used to jump before — another quadruple jump. I would like to add another quadruple jump to the program by the next season.
Mihoko Higuchi: “As a goal, Shoma mentioned ‘self-satisfaction,’ I thought it was good, but as an athlete, he doesn’t want to lose either. Being at the top, expectations are high.”