“It was impossible to get into the Russian national team. Now the leaders perform quads and triple axels, but I can’t master this content anymore.” Maria Talalaikina about change of sports citizenship
Interview with former Russian skater Maria Talalaikina who now represents Italy. About her decision to represent another country, training process and life in Italy.
source: rsport.ria.ru dd. 3d February 2022 by Boris Khodorovsky
In December, the Russian Figure Skating Federation (FFKKR) gave permission to Maria Talalaikina to change sports citizenship. The St. Petersburg figure skater, whose best result at the Russian Nationals was 9th, will compete for Italy. In a telephone conversation with a RIA Novosti correspondent, she told why she decided to skate for another country and how her adaptation in Italy is going.
You have been living and training in Italy for half a year now. How is the adaptation going?
Maria Talalaikina: I really like the trainings at Lorenzo Magri center in Egna. Friendly group, everyone tries to help. Outside the rink is more difficult. I miss my mother and cat Ksenia very much. Although the guys help in everyday life, but for me this is a new experience. I’m the only child in our family, and my mother was always with me. Of course, I helped her at home, but my mother always took a main part of the house work. Now I have to deal with it myself. I call my mom several times a day.
Did you move from your native Chelyabinsk to St. Petersburg with your mother?
Maria Talalaikina: Sure. We were together all the time. That’s probably why it’s so hard right now. I call my mother every day, I try to go to Russia whenever possible.
If it’s not a secret, did you name the cat in honor of your St. Petersburg coach Ksenia Doronina?
Maria Talalaikina: When we brought the kitten, we could not choose a name. I suggested the name in honor of Ksenia Sergeevna.
The current coach was not offended?
Maria Talalaikina: On the contrary, she was touched. Said it was funny.
Why did you decide to move from Chelyabinsk to St. Petersburg, and not to Moscow?
Maria Talalaikina: There were simply no opportunities in Chelyabinsk. My coach went on maternity leave, and there were no other options for continuing trainings in my hometown. At that time, only a few coaches worked there, and I had already worked with everyone. My grandmother and I went on an excursion to St. Petersburg, and my mother called the figure skating academy. Alla Yakovlevna Pyatova picked up the phone, and my mother asked her to “look at the girl from Chelyabinsk.” That is how I became a St. Petersburg figure skater. At first I trained with Pyatova, and then she handed me over to Doronina.
How long have you been thinking to switch to Italy and have you informed Evgeni Rukavitsyn, in whose group you trained?
Maria Talalaikina: It all started when my mother texted Angelina Turenko on social network and asked if a figure skater was needed in Italy. She replied that it would be interesting. That’s how it started. I did not immediately inform Rukavitsin, but Roman Aleksandrovich Usatov, who led me, was aware from the very beginning.
Were there any doubts, still it’s a serious step?
Maria Talalaikina: I really wanted to compete in serious international competitions. I even asked for help from coaches from the St. Petersburg figure skating academy. I understood that it was impossible to get into the Russian national team. Now the leaders of the Russian team are performing quadruple jumps and triple axels, but I can’t master this content anymore. I just wanted to skate and enjoy my performances.
Did you consult with Anastasia Gubanova, who also changed her citizenship and competed at the Beijing Olympics as part of the Georgian team?
Maria Talalaikina: I am very happy for Nastya, who made her dream come true. She also wished me good luck when she found out that I would train in Italy with Angelina Nikolaevna. She even texted me: “You will find a common language.”
Was Turenko involved in solving organizational issues related to your transfer?
Maria Talalaikina: We were in touch with her every day. She helped with paperwork. The Italian Federation alos has done a lot.
If a coach from St. Petersburg hadn’t worked in Italy, would you have decided to move?
Maria Talalaikina: You may not believe it, but before I read your interview with Angelina Nikolaevna, I did not even know that there is a Lorenzo Magri club in Enya and she works there. Of course, this inspired me even more.
Skaters from different countries train in your club. How easy is it to get along with them?
Maria Talalaikina: Here the training process is organized a little differently and people communicate with each other a little differently. After a fairly hard workout, you don’t even feel tired. At first I was surprised, I thought that I didn’t work hard enough. After all, in St. Petersburg, after training, I just wanted to fell on the bed from fatigue. Gradually I started to realize that I was less tired psychologically. The atmosphere in the rink is relaxed. Everyone supports each other, and you don’t feel pressure.
Is it due to the fact that in Russia everything is focused on the result and the competition is very high?
Maria Talalaikina: Maybe. It was very difficult for me to rebuild to a new system, and I have not fully adjusted so far. All the time, if something doesn’t work out, I try to concentrate as much as possible and I don’t even allow myself to smile. Coaches don’t like it. Magri says all the time: “Enjoy! Have fun.” The idea is that if you feel good, then you can do a good job.
Ekaterina Kurakova, who skates for Poland, is training in your group. Is it easier for her to adjust after Brian Orser’s trainings?
Maria Talalaikina: Katya is generally a sunny girl. I have never seen her in a bad mood. In Russia, we did not know each other, and therefore I cannot say how the process of adaptation took place with her.
Did the Italians start to speak Russian, taking into consideration the appearance of two former Russian skaters and a coach from Russia?
Maria Talalaikina: Many figure skaters who know Russian also come to our trainings. I constantly hear “hello” and “how are you?” on Russian from Italians, and Gabriele Frangipani, in my opinion, already understands everything and can say a lot.
Do you know Italian?
Maria Talalaikina: The first three months after arrival, I studied with a teacher. I got some kind of base in order to communicate in everyday life and on trainings. Now, when the trainings have become more intense, there is no longer any strength left for additional language lessons. Although practice is a great thing. And I began to understand more, and I try to communicate. Fortunately, everyone is trying to help me.
Do you manage to go to Milan on weekends and visit the restaurant where your coach’s husband works?
Maria Talalaikina: The main activity on the weekend is to clean up the house where I live. It takes about five hours to get to Milan by train one way. This is Angelina Nikolaevna who “flying” by car in two hours.
Have you already entered a university in Russia?
Maria Talalaikina: I studied at the Olympic Reserve School at the Lesgaft University. After I decided to move to Italy, I took the documents. It was possible to continue their studies only as an athlete of the Figure Skating Academy. As soon as I learn Italian, I will try to enroll in a local university. Both Daniel Grassl and Gabriele Frangipani suggest the institution of the Italian Ministry of Internal Affairs where they study.
Are you inspired by the example of Carolina Kostner, who worked in the prison office?
Maria Talalaikina: It’s interesting! Although I am more inspired by the example of Kostner the figure skater.
Are you already preparing the programs for the new season?
Maria Talalaikina: It’s too early. I skate the old ones, which were choreographed back in Russia.
How did the Italian figure skaters react to the fact that strong competitor appeared in the team?
Maria Talalaikina: We crossed paths several times, and I didn’t feel any negative attitude. The girls wished me luck. The people here are generally very friendly.
Alexander Zhulin: “Valieva has learned two magnificent quadruple jumps and triple axel. What dope are you talking about? She just doesn’t get out of the ice and withstands wild loads.”