“I didn’t think it would be that hard. For some reason, I wasn’t destined to go to this Olympics. So, I’ll prepare for the next one.” interview with Georgian skater Alina Urushadze
Interview with. About not getting to the Olympics, unique coaching approach of Svetlana Sokolovskaya, skating idols and Mark Kondratiuk.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 9th May 2022 by Marina Tchernysheva-Melnik
Alina Urushadze has been representing Georgian women’s single skating for several years, winning spots for the country. She began to represent Georgia during the Korean Olympics period – had a try-out in the group of Svetlana Sokolovskaya.
However, Alina did not go to the recent Olympic Games, as well as to other major competitions of the season. A year ago, a strong rival appeared in the Georgian national team from among the Russian single skaters (Anastasiia Gubanova – ed.).
Now Alina has already let go of the situation and decided to tell how she went through a difficult period.
Last season was very difficult for you from an emotional point of view. Let’s start chronologically – about programs. How and with whom did you work on them?
Alina Urushadze: The author is Nikita Mikhailov, our favorite and permanent choreographer. For the short program, we have chosen a jazz song by British musician Albert Hammond. Free – “Anna Karenina”. I show on the ice her meeting with Vronsky, falling in love and the tragic ending of the story. I really like this program, I was not afraid to take it just because famous skaters had already skated these theme.
When and how did you find out that Anastasia Gubanova became a member of the national team?
Alina Urushadze: To be honest, I don’t remember exactly – last spring. Much earlier than it became publicly known. By the way, Nastya and I have known each other since the time when she trained at CSKA with Elena Buyanova. Both were new at the rink. We communicated well.
What did the leaders of the federation tell you about the choice between you and Nastya? By what criteria did they plan to determine the participant of the main competitions of the season?
Alina Urushadze: They said that they would look at the results of the first part of the season: at our performance at the competitions, how we will show ourselves and increase our rating. We do not hold the Georgian Nationals, there is no internal national selection. My team, of course, set the main goal of the season – participation in the Olympic Games. Until the last moment, it was not clear who would go there, so we were preparing until the last moment.
How do you think, what did you lack for a podium at the Budapest Trophy?
Alina Urushadze: It was necessary to jump higher, then the place would have been higher.
In the autumn you participated in the junior stage of the Grand Prix. Does it brings ratings at the senior level?
Alina Urushadze: Yes, it gives some kind of rating. But the main thing is experience. At that moment, I just needed to perform somewhere, and in a pandemic, the choice is small. Plus, there are no junior ladies in the Georgian team yet, but we didn’t want to lose a place in the Grand Prix series. I was the right age, it is logical that I was sent.
Did you consider the option of alternate participation with Anastasia in the three main competitions?
Alina Urushadze: No, right away they didn’t say anything about a single competitions. First, they announced the decision on the European Championships, and then, in mid-January, about the most important thing. Mariam told the coach, and she told me. The whole team believed until the very end that we would win.
But I am glad that nevertheless Svetlana Vladimirovna went to the Olympics – with Mark.
How did you take this news?
Alina Urushadze: On the one hand, I mentally prepared for this option, but it still turned out hard. I didn’t even think it would be that hard.
Thoughts were different – up to leaving the sport. But as soon as I said emotionally “I won’t go on the ice again!”, I understood that I was not ready to quit. The desire to continue was overpowering. Svetlana Vladimirovna was on my side, supported me all the time.
Now I slowly let go of the situation, it is easier to talk about it. So that’s how it had to happen. For some reason, I was not destined to go to this Olympics. So, I will prepare for the next one.
How did you motivate yourself to train further? Did you take a break?
Alina Urushadze: I skated until the very beginning of the Olympics – after all, I was the substitute. But a little earlier, I injured my leg. I used to come to the ice, trained through pain, but my leg still did not recover. Now I haven’t skated for a month. I do physical training and choreography. This is probably good – life gives a pause to rest and recover morally.
Maybe unexpected competition within the national team encourages you to learn new elements? Ultra-c, for example?
Alina Urushadze: I tried triple axel a couple of times. But it’s very hard, we gave up trying. Now it is more important for me to fulfill my maximum content, to rotate all the jumps.
You are an international girl: you were born in Riga, you live and train in Moscow, you have a Georgian surname and you have been skating for Georgia for the fifth year. Tell us about your roots and family.
Alina Urushadze: I am from a mixed family – Russian-Georgian. My paternal grandfather is Georgian, and my surname comes from him. My parents lived in Riga for many years, where I started skating, and until the age of 13 I skated for Latvia.
We have a big family: I have an older brother and a younger sister. Alas, I rarely see them and our parents. The first month after moving to Russia, my mother spent with me to help me settle down and resolve formal issues. Then she came sometimes, but not for long, because it is difficult: Latvian citizens need a visa. I am the only one in the family with Georgian citizenship, and we see each other outside of Russia. Now my relatives live in Spain, near the city of Alicante. In February, for the first time in four years, we all rested at the sea together.
I read that you got into figure skating at the age of two, inspired by Ice Age. Which member of the show did you like?
Alina Urushadze: I can hardly remember anyone specific, because I was too small. Rather, the atmosphere of the project, skating, bright costumes, music. Everything was very spectacular, and it inspired me. But I remember which of the athletes I followed: first Alena Leonova, then Elizaveta Tuktamysheva.
How did your transfer to the Georgian team happen?
Alina Urushadze: At one of the international competitions, I was invited to talk with the president of the federation, Mariam Giorgobiani. I think she was interested in my Georgian surname. Then they just wanted to form a national team, of the athletes there was only Morisi Kvitelashvili. True, I performed unsuccessfully at that competitions: I fell from five elements out of six. But the leadership looked at the figure skaters with Georgian roots. Perhaps Mariam saw perspectives in me.
Did you immediately determine the coaching group of Svetlana Sokolovskaya for yourself?
Alina Urushadze: Yes, there are few figure skating specialists in Latvia, so Mariam said that we should look for those in Moscow. I immediately agreed – I felt that this was a step into a great future.
I remember that I came to CSKA for a try-out, I was invited to a two-hour ice training. I came, and Lena Radionova, Alexander Samarin were skating there … Athletes whom I had only seen on TV before. It was wow! And a little later, Tatiana Anatolyevna Tarasova came – real happiness! She has been an idol since childhood.
What does a skater usually show at try-out with a reputable coach?
Alina Urushadze: Usualy it’s just a working process. Coaches watch how a newcomer behaves on the ice, how he approaches the work, whether he keeps distance.
Svetlana Vladimirovna’s approach is also different because she also look at what kind of person the future student is. If he suits the spirit, then she takes it. And a set of jumps at this moment is not so important for Svetlana Vladimirovna. I remember I popped three jumps, and the coach calmly, without anger, left the ice. In the end, she took me to the group. I returned home to finish businesses, and by the beginning of spring I arrived and plunged into work.
What are your financial conditions as a member of the Georgian national team?
Alina Urushadze: I must say right away that each of us has different conditions – depending on the results. I have a scholarship and the training is paid. Salary is promised when results improve. There are no advertising sponsors yet, only the skate manufacturer helps with inventory.
Do you know the Georgian language?
Alina Urushadze: I can count to ten and say hello. Last year I started learning the language, but then I had to direct all my efforts to prepare for the state exam. I hope I will resume my studies soon – it’s time to speak the language of the country I represent (smiles).
Your teammate Mark Kondratiuk has achieved so much this season! How did the team support him?
Alina Urushadze: Of course, we all wished good luck the day before, wrote kind words. A little shocked by his results – in a good sense of the word, just unexpectedly (smiles). After the victorious European Championships, we all met Mark and Svetlana Vladimirovna with balloons, posters. I am glad that our Mark has become much more confident and continues to develop.
Not so long ago, Alena Kostornaia and Nikolai Kolesnikov joined the CSKA team. Do you spend time together?
Alina Urushadze: We often chat with Alena in the locker room. She is a very bright, loud and outgoing person. Kolya is amazing! So small, so cute. I’m glad that he’s with us.
What are your plans for next season?
Alina Urushadze: First of all, heal the leg and recover health in general. The schedule of competitions is not clear yet. I think we’ll start with the Challengers, as usual. The ideas of new programs were not discussed either, but I am almost sure that we will keep the free program. I skated Anna Karenina too little and did not have time to enjoy it.
What about education? A couple of years ago, you said that you wanted to get a profession that was not related to figure skating.
Alina Urushadze: After all, I decided to study to be a coach, so that there was some kind of safety cushion. I already have some experience of coaching kids. This is what I do best after sports, and getting some extra money wouldn’t hurt. You never know how life will turn. So in which case, I can start coaching at any time.
But in general, I do not exclude the option of a completely new profession when I finish with figure skating. But for now, I don’t even want to think about it.
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