Kamila Valieva: “As a person who has been competing since the age of 15, I can say that there are very difficult moments even at this young age. We should not undervalue the efforts of teenagers.”
Interview with Kamila Valieva.
source: kp.ru dd 11 April 2023 by Mikhail Antonov
Kamila, you managed to land an incredible triple axel this season!
Kamila Valieva: Yes, I landed a triple axel in the show this season. I had already landed it in the previous Olympic season, but I couldn’t do it this season. Towards the end of the season, unfortunately when there were no more competitions, I finally managed to do the triple axel. And now I have included it in my program. This season I was doing quad toe loops, so all of this is very pleasing.
Usually figure skaters relax a little after the Olympic season, but you, on the contrary, have reached great shape. Why?
Kamila Valieva: Well, I can’t say that I’m in very good shape after the Olympic season. I continue to grow and change, and I will soon be 17 years old. That’s why I’m very happy to slowly restore my jumps and hopefully get to the quad salchow. I really like that in sports, I can continue to develop. Because I really want to show programs that are no worse than the ones before. Even with the cancellation of international competitions, it’s great that there are Russian starts.
Kamila, people often do foolish things at 17 years old, and that’s normal. You’re an amazingly focused and serious person. Is there room for “slacking off” in your life?
Kamila Valieva: I don’t even know… That’s just how we’re raised. We come into the group at 12-13 years old, and we’re immediately told that we’re not just kids anymore, we’re athletes representing our country. And I believe that if you’re representing your country, you should be more serious. You’re an example for many teenagers. Although I can’t say that I’m such a good example. But that’s how we were raised, my coach raised me, my mother raised me, who spent a lot of time with me, talked to me, explained things, and finally, it became my own beliefs.
We know that figure skating is hard work. How many times in 2023 has Kamila Valieva said “I’m tired”?
Kamila Valieva: A lot (laughs). Very often. Almost every day. Well, not a single day goes by without it. And how can we train without saying that we’re tired? They won’t let us go if we just say “we’re tired”, they’ll say – great, good job! – and now let’s do it again being tired!
Kamila, is there room for something delicious in your life? Sometimes just thinking about pastries can add three kilograms!
Kamila Valieva: Well, no, actually, after the Olympics, I allowed myself to eat a lot of everything because it was… a little difficult for me. So a little bit, not for very long I ate everything I wanted.
Is that called “emotional eating”?
Kamila Valieva: Well, maybe, yes. But now I’m growing up, apparently, I understand that we only have one body and we need to take care of it from a young age, so I try to eat a little less of all this delicious but unhealthy food now.
Once again, you melted hearts when you prepared a program based on the TV series “Wednesday”. Whose idea was it?
Kamila Valieva: It was in December of last year, and I just realized that we needed a new exhibition program. And just then this series came out and became wildly popular. So I went to Daniil Markovich (coach-choreographer Daniil Gleichengauz – Ed.) and said, “We’re still thinking about what to do and I asked to try to do a program to “Wednesday”. Daniil Markovich said, “Let’s do it, no problem.” Eteri Georgievna also agreed, and it all worked out!
In the program, the sports component is still more important, but everyone watches “Wednesday” as a dance in the first place. How do you manage to find a balance?
Kamila Valieva: We skate our programs every day. We worked on “Wednesday” for a long time and I constantly added something from myself. At some moments, Eteri Georgievna and Daniil Markovich said, here it’s good – remember this, here it’s not so good, let’s do it differently.
When you skate the same program every day, doesn’t it get boring?
Kamila Valieva: Routine happens when we practice the short and free programs. And when you skate the same thing every day: short in the morning, free in the evening, you already think on the third month, why am I doing this? And at some point, you really lose the thought – what are you skating, why are you skating? But it doesn’t happen with “Wednesday”. It’s something special, I really like it.
Tell us about your costumes. Who helps you choose them? Your mom?
Kamila Valieva: Actually, my mom helps me a lot in many ways. She also cares how I look in my everyday life, and when we choose costumes, she will offer her suggestions until the very end, even if the coaching staff sees things a little differently.
Has your mom done a lot for your career?
Kamila Valieva: Of course! When I was a child, she took me to all sorts of extra classes. I even went to preparatory classes at the Moscow State Academy of Arts for dance and acting. Without her, a lot in my life would not have happened. I really want to thank her. Mom, thank you, thank you, thank you, and thank you again!
Does your mom have a big influence on how you dress in your everyday life?
Kamila Valieva: No, not really. Maybe until I was 15, but now she says, ‘Let’s have you choose everything yourself.’ Mom teaches me that I need to prepare what I’m going to wear the night before. And I… Five minutes before leaving, I start thinking about what I’m going to wear. I get dressed quickly and ask, ‘Mom, how does this look?’ She says, ‘It looks fine.’ For now, I still ask my mom.
Kamila, can you tell us about the show that “Team Tutberidze” is currently performing? What will we see?
Kamila Valieva: You will see a lot of Olympic programs, with skaters who are not afraid to attempt ultra-c elements, such as quad jumps and triple axels. And after the final, there will be a battle of quad jumps, which is impossible to see in regular competitions.
Did you say they are not afraid?
Kamila Valieva: Yes. The performances take place in the dark, under spotlights, and the absence of light is an additional stress factor. There is a slight disorientation. But in a way, it even helps, because later, in competitions, you calmly execute all the ultra-c elements, knowing that you already did them in the show.
And there will also be “Wednesday” and “Bolero,” which have not been included in the show programs before.
This show is definitely not a vacation for the participants!
Kamila Valieva: Yes, for the team of Eteri Georgievna Tutberidze, everything is not the same as in regular ice shows. We try to make everything as close to competitions as possible. We perform the short program with a triple axel and combinations, so it’s almost a competitive program, and again, quad jumps, which we don’t always do in shows.
You once performed with Dmitry Soloviev. How was that experience?
Kamila Valieva: I liked it. It was ice dancing. Before that, I tried to do lifts that are mostly done above the head, with an extended arm, only on the floor. It’s very scary! But dance lifts, although they are low and not above the head, they are slightly more complicated for the partner because there are many interceptions to be made, but I found it much more interesting. And it’s great that you don’t have to jump in ice dancing.
Kamila, on social media, fans of figure skating are terrible people. Sometimes they write things that become really scary. How do you react to such commentators?
Kamila Valieva: Negative comments are mostly written by people with strange accounts, meaning a person anonymously tries to express their opinion. But in person, they would never say something like that to you. “No one will recognize me, so I’ll write this now”… Therefore, it makes no sense to react to such comments at all. The most important thing is that viewers like what I do. It’s obvious…
Fans “lose half of their lives” when you and your teammates compete. And how do your relatives behave during competitions?
Kamila Valieva: My mom always asks, “Do you need me now during the preparation for the start?” But I try to separate myself from her a little, because there shouldn’t be a habit of relying on my mom. Still we all grow up… In the Olympic season, there were COVID competitions when no one was allowed in. You fly alone, one coach for one athlete. That’s it. You’re alone, and mom can’t come. At the Olympics – the same thing. We lived in a small apartment with three rooms. We only lived with the girls, none of the parents could come. Therefore, you need to learn to do everything independently. But of course, I’m pleased when my mom is in the stands, that she came, watched, was happy for me, and supported me. And I still try to learn independence and do everything myself. I do my own makeup, get ready myself, and somehow it makes me calmer.
Athletes in individual sports probably have a good understanding of psychology. Do you have any plans to become a psychologist?
Kamila Valieva: Yes, I would like to study to become a psychologist, but then I realized that it would be difficult for me. I get very involved and very emotional with the person I’m working with. And I don’t think I would last long in such a profession. So I’m more inclined to believe that studying psychology is necessary in order to better understand people. At competitions, I often envied ice dancers and pairs skaters because they have a partner next to them who is always with them, who is also rooting for them because they skate together, and it’s calmer that way. But when you’re alone, you go through everything yourself. I’m used to doing everything myself.
But have you already thought about what you want to do after your career is over?
Kamila Valieva: I’m 17 years old and it’s not the age when you have to figure out everything and make decisions already. I will definitely enroll to get a coaching degree, and then, when I’m about 20 years old, I hope that I will understand a little more about what I want to do, and maybe I will get a second education. For example, I like to appear in music videos, I’m interested in acting. I would really like to try myself in this direction.
What is your opinion on the introduction of an age minimum in figure skating?
Kamila Valieva: I will soon turn 17, which is the age when skaters will soon be allowed to compete in senior competitions. And as a person who has been competing since the age of 15, I can say that there are very difficult moments even at this young age. We should not undervalue the efforts of teenagers. Yes, it may be slightly easier for them than, for example, for me at the age of 17. But there are other difficulties. Because you are not yet fully developed, still very young, it is harder for you to convey adult emotions on the ice, for example. Everyone wants to see women’s skating with real emotions. And at 15, it is hard to do without any experience. At 17, you have already experienced something and, probably, yes, it is right that they raised the age minimum. Maybe with the context of extending the career of female skaters, so that they do not finish at the age of 17, but only start and continue to delight the audience, judges, themselves and coaches for a longer time.
Tennis player Andrei Rublev said on our show that he doesn’t like watching tennis. Do you often watch figure skating?
Kamila Valieva: Honestly, I watch very few. That is, those who are really interesting to me, those who show very cool skating. And I watch specifically those who I want to aspire to, because they have cool skating and they know how to convey emotions. But just turning on the European or World Championships without Russian skaters – no! Only if someone recommends watching a certain performance. I probably don’t have the patience to watch figure skating from start to finish because there is already a lot of figure skating in my life.
And other sports?
Kamila Valieva: Very rarely, but I watch rhythmic gymnastics. But rather, I don’t watch sports. It is more interesting for me to devote my free time to self-development, for example, I really like ballet. I recently saw “Giselle” and I really liked it!
We conducted a small investigation. Zagitova has an Akita-inu, Medvedeva has French bulldogs, Trusova has six dogs. You, Kamila, have a Spitz. Where does your passion for dogs come from?
Kamila Valieva: Well, it’s like having a second friend. They greet you so sweetly. You come home and they have almost childlike emotions. Probably they think every time that you will never come back, and suddenly you come back and they are thrilled! My dog even sleeps with me. His name is Leva. He’s fluffy and ginger. He looks like a lion, hence the name Leva.
And how much time do you spend on social media?
Kamila Valieva: It varies. But at some point, it seems like they lead you to degradation. You go on and think, ‘I’ll just look for five minutes and that’s it.’ Two hours go by, during which you could have gone for a walk, slept, played with your dog, talked to friends, but instead you’ve spent two hours scrolling through the feed and being on your phone. There are kids who don’t even keep track of time, and it’s just scary that they can sit there for five hours.
You watched ‘Wednesday,’ and we got an outstanding program. What are you watching now?
Kamila Valieva: At the moment, I’m more of in the process of choosing what to watch. But recently, I watched two seasons of ‘Vampires in the Middle Ages,’ and I’m absolutely thrilled. It’s a really good series.”
Kamila, I’m sorry, but do you have enough time for your personal life with your endless training?
Kamila Valieva: Not really. Moreover, I confess to you that I have very few friends. Everyone thinks that the more popular a person is, the more friends they have. No. People talk to me like this – they talk, take a picture together, and that’s it, and I don’t see them anymore. Many are just interested in being close to me, but I only have two friends. It’s Eva Uvarova, with whom we’ve been friends for almost three years, and actress Masha Lobanova, whom I recently met but already get along well with. Sometimes I coma after training and realize that they’re busy too, they’re also in-demand people in their profession, and there’s just no one to walk with, talk to, and so on. And this moment is a little scary, of course. I’m rarely recognized on the streets, but for example, I can’t go out alone in the evening. I need company to take a walk in the evening.
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Anna Shcherbakova: “I was one of the last female athletes of the national team to get in shape in the beginning of the season. I knew that any break and I will need to start everything from scratch.
its very easy to see how alone she is just from her responses, she truly feels that she has no one rooting for her. poor girl
i know the pain of having a few friends in a big city, well you can always try new hobbies and sports :)