“I enjoyed watching and learning how Russian girls train. But it doesn’t affect how I skate.” Interview with Estonian figure skater Nina Petrokina

Posted on 2023-02-01 • No comments yet


Interview with Estonian figure skater Nina Petrokina.

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A post shared by Niina Petrykina (@petrykinaniina)

source: Sport-express

Before the start of the European Championships, the SE correspondent talked with Nina. They talked about the triple axels of Kamila Valieva and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (the Estonian works on ultra-c using the video of the 2015 world champion, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva), the nomination for the ISU award, and Anna Shcherbakova’s overcoming at the last European Championships.

How do you like training at the European Championships?

Nina Petrokina: Training is going on as usual; nothing new. The amount of training has been reduced. Usually I have an hour and a half of training at home; now 35-40 minutes. It is necessary to have time to do everything, preferably without mistakes.

Last year, you took eighth place. Any plans to place higher this year?

Nina Petrokina: I know that if I skate at my maximum, then there is a possibility of placing higher. But my task is to do the work first. Do what I can, show it, and then let’s see. It does not depend on me.

Will there be less competition due to the absence of Russian girls? They took all three places on the podium last year.

Nina Petrokina: It doesn’t affect me who I compete with. First of all, I compete with myself. This affects the next result.

On social networks, you said that you wanted to win big competitions.

Nina Petrokina: Like any athlete. Of course, deep down, I want to win and stand on the podium. This is understandable. But I try not to think about it before competitions. It’s necessary to focus on the skating.

So, do athletes try to put medal expectations aside before competitions, but in reality, they still think about them?

Nina Petrokina: Of course everyone thinks. We plan our goals for the season. Everyone has different motivations for competing. For some people, thinking about places helps; for others, it doesn’t. For me, it’s different every time. Now all I have to do is show what I have trained.

In December, you became the Estonian national champion for the second time. Does it give you confidence?

Nina Petrokina: I am pleased that I defended the title and did not fail, so to speak. Now I’m more conscious of the competition. Last year, I just returned to big sports, and there were no expectations; I just wanted to show myself at my best. Just like now, but more consciously.

Is defending a title harder than winning it for the first time?

Nina Petrokina: Morally, yes, it’s a little more difficult because juniors also show good results. But first of all, I do it for myself. It were competitions that helped to gain not even confidence, but rather attitude. Every time I try to set myself up in different ways, I’m looking for something. Despite the fact that we believe that all competitions are the same, you just go out and do your job, but psychologically something still plays a role.

At the European Championships, there are probably just more athletes, also from different countries.

Nina Petrokina: Last year, every competition had a wow effect for me. Every time I met one of my idols and spoke with them, we became acquainted. At the European Championships, I saw girls from Russia, and I was just shocked. I was very pleased that I was on the same ice with them and could skate and compete with them. I cannot say that now there is little competition because there are many girls from other countries. It might even be a chance for someone else to shine. I am glad that there is also very strong competition in other countries.

Wouldn’t you like to compete again with the girls from Russia?

Nina Petrokina: From the competitions point of view, it is more difficult morally. But if there’s no competition, then it’s even worse. I enjoyed watching and learning how they train. But it doesn’t affect how I skate. This influences the end result: a podium, medals, or finishing in the top ten or six. But the number of participants does not affect my programs or the results.

In the fall, you said that you had been training ultra-c for a long time. Is there any progress in this regard right now?

Nina Petrokina: Right now, in training, I jumped a triple axel; there is progress. But it is necessary to stabilize it in order to include it in the program. I haven’t yet trained it to the point where I can do it in the program. 

Are there any plans this season to try an axel in the program?

Nina Petrokina: We have plans; we just need to stabilize it. It’s a 50/50 chance if you try it blindly.

Why do you train the triple axel and not the quads?

Nina Petrokina: In fact, I train both the triple axel and the quads; it’s just that the triple axel goes a little easier. Axel has been my favorite jump since childhood. So it went faster. There are more chances to get injured on the quad. If I start jumping a lot, both triple axels and quadruples, then something starts to hurt. I want to hold out until the end of the season and then work on the ultra-c in the summer.

Do you take an example from someone in terms of working on ultra-c?

Nina Petrokina: I look at different girls. Boys have different techniques and different physiques. I do not take Kamila Valieva as an example, because she has some unreal technique that is just out of this world. I really like the axel of Liza Tuktamysheva. Basically, I watch it on video and see how she enters it smoothly, and I try to do the same. I also look at girls from other countries; Rika Kihira, for example, has a very clear axel. I watch, but when I jump it in training, I record my jump and try to understand what is wrong, and then I see that something is missing.

Liza is 26 years old, but she also learned the quadruple, and she has been doing the axel for a long time.

Nina Petrokina: If the body allows it and there are no injuries and nothing interferes, then why not? She is a good role model. You can look at her and enjoy. Yes, she is motivating. Just like Carolina Kostner. Many people say that at the age of 18–20, it is already too late to skate. But if a person wants it and is ready for it, then why not? Liza Tuktamysheva competes at the highest level possible. I think she can do even more.

You mentioned Carolina Kostner. Is she an example for you in terms of career longevity? Or her program components?

Nina Petrokina: Well, I can’t say anything about this, because I have never seen her skate live. Everyone says, especially the coaches, “Look at Carolina Kostner, her programs.” I watched, but now I pay more attention to those girls who are performing now.

And which of the skaters do you like in terms of the components? Or among men, single skaters?

Nina Petrokina: I do not know. Can’t answer. I take something from everyone—a  feature that you can train, take, or do in your own unique way. I admire many skaters: some have gliding ability, while others have artistry. I can’t single one out.

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One of your choreographers was Adam Solya. Tell us about your collaboration.

Nina Petrokina: We met at the World Championships last season. Before that, we watched the free program of Loena Hendrickx, which he choreographed. I really liked it. He recognized me; we met, talked, and agreed that we could create something. Moreover, I chose a style with which, I think, few would have coped. But Adam did. I really enjoyed working with him. He is a charismatic person, very cheerful. It was nice to work with him.

Would you like to work with someone else in terms of choreography?

Nina Petrokina: I don’t know, I haven’t thought about it yet. It is necessary to look at the programs of others and see how they work. 

Are there any programs from the history of figure skating that are most memorable for you?

Nina Petrokina: There are a lot of them. I need to think. Of course, this is Alena Savchenko and Bruno Massot’s free program at the Olympics. But this is more about the emotions that they showed after it. Sometimes I watch Alexei Yagudin’s short program “Winter.” I really liked the step sequence; we even tried to repeat it.


Nina Petrokina: Something, yes, but not like he did. But in general, I like many programs.

You also did rhythmic gymnastics, but in the end, you chose figure skating. Why?

Nina Petrokina: I was so small! I was very young. I don’t even remember it. I just had to choose—there was not enough time to do both. But I liked figure skating more, despite the fact that I always wanted to quit it. 

Why did you want to quit figure skating?

Nina Petrokina: Like all children, I did not understand what they wanted from me. There was a desire to play with friends more and not play sports. But when the first successes appeared, I jumped the axel in training or something like that, then I switched to professional sports. I started working hard.

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A post shared by Niina Petrykina (@petrykinaniina)

You have a lot of things to do: you are graduating from school, you train. Do you have time for leisure, hobbies?

Nina Petrokina: Sometimes yes. But I distribute strengths so that I have enough until the end of the week. That is, I have the opportunity to miss something at school, which I use. It’s hard to survive otherwise. When I have time during the breaks, I complete hometasks. I love animals, my mother has a horse. At home we have a dog. I love doing things. Recently I finished a picture of rhinestones. It was something new and cool. I also like to draw and do things with my hands.

Where does this passion for design come from?

Nina Petrokina: Since childhood, I liked to invent, design something. And it remains to this day, however, on a different scale. Perhaps in the future, if possible, I will connect my profession with design.

You seem to have even said that you want to go to university to become a designer.

Nina Petrokina: I thought so. But first, I will learn to be a coach and get an education. And when I have a salary, then I will try the design in order to not dwell on one thing and develop in different directions.

If we talk about your success, the ISU included you in the shortlist for the best newcomer award. Have you expected that?

Nina Petrokina: I did not expect that at all! It is very nice. This is not some kind of responsibility, but an indicator that the audience liked me. This nomination really lifted my spirits. When I saw that I was in the top 3, I even posted it on my page on social networks. It is very nice. I will try to show good results and raise the level of Estonian figure skating even higher.

What were the most memorable moments in figure skating last season?

Nina Petrokina: The first is overcoming. It was difficult to perform after the illness. I had so many competitions last season. Everywhere I performed well, I showed good results. I was inspired. And by the end of the season, there was not enough strength or energy. Then I went to Africa for a week of rest, and everything started over: new programs, new emotions. All was good.

And if we’re not talking about you, do you remember the performances of other skaters and the results?

Nina Petrokina: I am very happy for Kaori Sakamoto and Loena Hendrix that they won their medals. I saw these emotions. I’m very happy for them. I saw the same thing happen to Anya Shcherbakova at the European Championships. But she overcame herself, gathered herself at one moment, and skated her program on maximum. That’s what I’m learning: to do my job at the right time. I don’t want to talk about the Olympics; there were too many things there. It doesn’t concern me; I haven’t seen everything.


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