“I brought a happy person from the Olympics, and for me it’s very important.” Svetlana Sokolovskaya, coach of Mark Kondratiuk
Interview with Svetlana Sokolovskaya, coach of MArk Kondratiuk. Why individual competitions turned out worse for Mark than team event, how the skater copes with attention and why Kondratiuk tried a quintuple jump.
source: sport24.ru dd. 24th March by Konstantin Lesik
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Emotions from the Olympics have faded a little, because a different life has already begun. First of all, we are glad that we got there, that we had this honor.
In general, I can be wrong, maybe someone will correct me, but there has been no such case in history as Mark’s: at the end of May he gets a master of sports, then he confirms the third spot that Misha (Kolyada) and Zhenya (Semenenko) earned, gets an international master of sports, then wins Russian Nationals, Europe, gets to the Olympic Games, becomes an Olympic champion in a team event, gets an honored master of sports and is now awarded the Order of Friendship. It’s nine months and he’s got such a big career move!
People dream of getting there, some who are not into sports don’t know what it is like at all, they only see it on TV. 18 years old, and he has already got so many bonuses. For his work, for his patience, for his love for this work. Therefore, I have a lot of emotions, ”the coach shares.
How is Mark feeling about this? So much has fallen on him, so much attention.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Well no. He doesn’t worry. I like that he is very different from other athletes, and indeed from people in general. We talked a lot on this topic: we must learn to enjoy today. Even when you come to competitions, it may sound offensive for the fans, for the federation, but in fact there is no goal to win. There is a goal to enjoy, get pleasure from what you do.
Everything else is not his job. This is the work of the judges, fans: whether the fans will like him or not. He shouldn’t think about it. I think he agrees with me. He goes to have fun. They say: “Why go to the Olympics and just be present there?”, “It’s a shame, it can’t be like that!” Why shame? Why can’t it be? It can be! We went there, we got there.
And in the team event everything worked out. We got the first place. There was only one very big problem for me and for him – not to let the team down, not to let your country down. God forbid, there is some kind of mistake in the team event – that’s all. I was very worried about this. But he did the best he could.
Mark said that he was very worried before the short program in the team event.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Of course. First, you are the first, you set the tone. Few people believe in you. Maybe someone likes you, but who knows what you gonna do. He’s still a completely inexperienced boy.
But he doesn’t have jitters. He has such concentration… I don’t know how to explain. This is concentration, and he listens to music a lot, lets go of the situation. It’s not like lying down before the program, relaxing. He is different. Some things I don’t want to say, and some I can’t explain. But you can see it. He was a little different there, but I liked the way he was there.
When he steps on the ice before the program, do you understand how successful it will be? From the first glance, first pose.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: A lot depends on the starting point. These are the first seven or ten steps, I can see what he is like in his legs.
In general, this is my first experience, I was at the Olympics for the first time! Before, like everyone else, I saw it only on TV. There is a slightly different spirit, my relatives ask me: “What is different?” Well, different! This is neither European Championships, nor World Championships, nor any other international competitions. Everything is different there. Therefore, having no experience of the Olympic Games, it was nervous. It’s both festive and cool. You think: “But I got here!” And then: “Well, you got there, but now you shouldn’t embarrass yourself.” This is a state that cannot be explained – a very, very exciting holiday: you need to make sure that everyone likes it and you also enjoy it. Doubly.
In the short program, entry on the first jump was nervous, and then I already realized that everything would be fine.
Mark said that before entering the first jump in the short program of the team event, his whole life flashed before his eyes. Didn’t you also have that?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: No. I once thought, I will move like everyone else. Here you watch many, somehow all the coaches move, skate programs and so on. I think now I will relax and I will skate the program with an athlete, for example, with Sasha Samarin. Every time I want to do it, and every time I come to my senses before the last spin. Then I review. I don’t remember many things that the athlete did. I don’t know, somehow like this … Everything’s a blur…
At the Olympics, only two skaters skated four programs in a week. Host of the Games Boyang Jin and Mark. Did the harsh schedule affect the mistakes in the individual competitions?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Of course, it’s my fault. This is the lack of experience of the Olympic Games. But I don’t blame myself for it now. But just imagine: short, then free in the team. event The next day: the girls had a free program, or something. Should have I not let him root for the team? It’s silly. Of course, he went to some sports committee, found a flag, bought rattles. Attributes in our team box – that’s all he did. Thought, “How is this? Americans are so funny, and our box is empty?” He truly cared about the guys!
And what, should I have said: “No, go to the room and rest, because you have competitions later?” Probably I should have, experts will tell me. But I didn’t. And he was emotional, stayed until 11 pm, at 12 arrived in the village. I don’t know if he went to bed at all, but at four in the morning he was already up. We got up at four, we met at five, and we had training at six.
I look at him in the morning: he’s so tired. But happy! I understand that he is physically fine, but he is all in this happiness and empty for competitions. All his emotions are there. Yes, I should have done something then, but we only live once. This innate team spirit that is present in him … Am I supposed to extinguish it? Instead, I decided to let go. He skated the short program: he did everything he could at that time. Yes, the quality wasn’t good. But I know that he is happy as a person. This is very twofold, you can condemn me, you can say anything about me. Well, she didn’t think. She lacked experience, desire, and knowledge. All together. It’s not Mark’s fault, it’s only my fault. That’s how it happened.
Before the free program, we took an official day off. And what is the official day off for Mark? It’s the whole village, all the friends, that’s just everything. He boils, he lives there in this Olympics. Should have I closed him in a room? I didn’t do that. Should have limited his communication? Perhaps someone will say that this Sokolovskaya haven’t thought about the country. I have thought, but thought more about him. And then at four in the morning – getting up, at six – training and at nine – start.
Now I’ll tell you a secret. The situation before going to the six-minute warm-up: a minute before the warm-up, but he is not there. The team doctor ran and took him out of the locker room. Mark came out, greeted the audience, skated up to me: “Can I go out?” I say: “Son … a six-minute warm-up”, “I beg you, I really need it.” He left, he is happy, but mentally tired. He did not have time to put on a jacket, he just put on an olympic shirt on top, he had half-tied boots, he went to tie them. As a result, he warmed up for about three minutes, probably. Unprofessional for the Olympics, you can kill me.
I tell things that I could not tell. I’ve lived this life: it’s like this, funny, cheerful. It’s a shame, yes, forgive me, fans. But this is my fault, there was no such experience: competition-training, competition-training Olympic Games. Now I’ll do some things next time, maybe I’ll do it, maybe I’ll keep it the same way. We had people with us who went through 14 Olympics. And for us it was the First Olympics, and we chose a festive mood at this Olympics: we realized that we live once. And we don’t regret it.
To be honest, I have not saw any condemnation. On the contrary, Mark was told that he did a great job – he gave all his strength in the team event.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Well, a professional person could skate all four programs. I tell you where we missed. It was not so difficult, I just let go and gave my athlete a right to feel these emotions. He came so happy. He is ready to go further, he wants to skate further, he wants more Olympic Games, God blesses that everything will work out for us. I brought a happy person, and for me it is very important. A lot has happened in these six months. And he’s happy, and I’m happy that he’s happy.
After the end of competitions, Mark stayed in Beijing for a few days. There were even joint training sessions with Yuzuru Hanyu.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: This is the rule of the Olympics: people compete and immediately leave the village. But this misunderstanding happened, and we stayed for a couple more days until the circumstances were clarified. And he says: Could I, please, stay to the end. I really want to stay until the end.” And this rule does not depend on me, thank God, we stayed at least for a couple more days. And, since we stayed, I asked the federation to give us training: this is also usual, when people stay longer, they have the right to train. I asked our leaders, and they gave us ice where the Japanese skate.
They jumped something side by side there, competed. Talked to everyone, got to know everyone. He’s so sociable. How can I deprive him of such a holiday? Mark was on the ice with all the idols.
In training, he tried quintuple salchow.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: He got inspired because Shoma Uno tried quintuple toeloop. The Japanese tries – and Mark, I see, got inspired. I say: “Mark … Well, okay, if you want – let’s try.” We’ve tried it before on harness, so there’s nothing new here.
In your opinion, is it possible to rotate a quintuple?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Well… Previously, someone thought that it was impossible to jump five quads in the program. I don’t know, while it’s not possible yet. And what will happen in the next generations? On harness it is possible, even six or seven rotations are possible.
Have you seen Yuzuru’s quadruple axel?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: I saw it. He’s great, I respect him. He has a slightly different position in relation to the Olympic Games. Judging by all these moments, he went there not for some gold, but for history. Hanyu is the first who tried the quadruple axel. You can say anything: bad, good, fully rotated or not. He took risks, went for it. I think he has the right to do whatever he wants. Yuzuru has already proven who he is, what he is and how he is.
Mark also uploaded a video of a quadruple lutz. Is this the next complication of the program?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Don’t ask provocative questions! He works on everything, yes, and he does a lot of things in training, but that doesn’t count. That’s when Mark comes to this and decides with his head, will do it at the competition, then I will say: well done! He can do a lot. But I don’t know yet how it will turn out.
On what does success depend?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Competition. The more serious it is, the more he begins to improve. They can tell me: here is the Olympics, competition. But we are still “raw”. I think he showed himself very well in the team event. And then he grew up, understood a lot, saw a lot. He went where not everyone can go. I can see that he is interested in doing more.
On the one hand, Mark says he is shy. On the other hand, he picks up the flag, pulls the team along with him. So what is he really like?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: What is he modest about? Whatever happens, there is an upbringing that comes from the family. He will call back five times, ask permission, thank you, please, report back. He keeps discipline, he doesn’t have this: “I’m already done well now, I can be late, not warn.” He will never be late, he will always warn. He is shy when he is praised, when compared to someone that he is better. He is uncomfortable. Somewhere in the depths, he understands that this is good, but he is uncomfortable
And he takes the initiative, because he is a sociable person, clever. He has a very good head, he is interested in communicating with people, seeing something new, developing, talking. This is completely different. Modesty is only in praise.
Mark told me that after the Russian Nationals he had thoughts that he took someone else’s place.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: I talked to him about this too. They are all friends: Sashka Samarin, and Dima Aliev, and Makar Ignatov, and it seems like we have Mishka Kolyada as number one, and for him this is the same awkwardness. I say: “Are you a fool?” Work is work and friendship is friendship. We are normal people, so we are all friends.
Evgeni Rukavitsyn and I treat each other with understanding. If you yourself did your job and it turned out better than your friends’, if they are friends, then they will understand it. And everyone understood: Sasha, and Dima, and Makar. And Mark… He was their youngest, the year before last, when they were such little stars, and he had only triple jumps, sometimes he was sick, sometimes he didn’t skate, or something else.
And then it turned out that the baby jumped forward. This is not modesty, this is some kind of awkwardness. I told him: “Son, it turned out like this.” This season, so, it is not known how it will develop further, what if someone else appears? And what, won’t he be right if he turns out to be better than you? This is how it happens in life. Therefore, this awkwardness hinders him. I always teach him: do not be shy, you should be modest, but not shy. Do not be ashamed of your result, this is ok.
You learned this element today, well, then don’t learn the element if the people nearby don’t know how to do it. You develop, you learn, you don’t look, if Vasya hasn’t learned, I won’t learn either. It’s the same in life: today you won, step off the podium, went further. Tomorrow, maybe you will win, or maybe someone else. Such a life. Today you are a star, and a week later you have been forgotten. It’s OK. For now, well done, just enjoy it.
Did this breakthrough somehow change Mark? He’s a star. Recognized on the streets.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Nothing has changed at all. I don’t feel it. Mark and Mark. He’s the same. I don’t see it from the outside. Can not say. He has studies, right after the Games he had to finish the session, exams. You need to live and work, you can rest later when you are over sixty. Now we need to work, work, gain knowledge, authority, so that later we can live a great life.