Kamila Valieva: “I deliberately watched my Olympic free program three times with tears in my eyes. I watched it because I needed to do it to close the gestalt.”
Interview with Kamila Valieva, about her trainings now, Olympics and growing up.
source: Channel One dd. 22 April 2023 by Max Trankov
What is your interaction with your coaches like now? How often do you suggest programs? Do you ever argue?
Kamila Valieva: It’s not like I just come up and say, “I’ve decided to skate this.” No, I try to talk to them about it. Sometimes we have disagreements, but I think that’s normal.
They’ve started treating me more like an athlete who knows what to do to warm up, practice my program, etc., and less like a little kid who won’t do their homework without being constantly monitored. There’s no more of that wild total control that there used to be. It used to be, “Do this many of this, and so on.” Now they understand me better, at least I hope that’s my perception that I’m growing up and making some right decisions too.
You have three coaches. Who do you find it easiest to resolve issues with?
Kamila Valieva: You have to resolve issues with Eteri Georgievna (Tutberidze) right away. That’s 100%.
Who do you find easiest to talk to?
Kamila Valieva: Probably Daniil Markovich (Gleikhengauz)… I can tell him everything.
Is it because he’s younger?
Kamila Valieva: He communicates with us more. And you kind of feel more comfortable with him… I wouldn’t say we treat him like a friend. No, he’s still a coach, and we respect that. But sometimes it’s interesting to talk to him about various topics and get his opinion.
With Eteri Georgievna, it’s also sometimes very interesting to have conversations, which wasn’t really possible before. It used to be all about training, training, training, but now we can talk about various things. She also shares her experience, and her experience is colossal: in life, in figure skating. It’s always interesting to listen.
I’m not as close with Sergei Viktorovich (Dudakov), but it’s still interesting to get his opinion. I generally enjoy working with interesting people and it’s very pleasant to be around them. Well, sometimes there are moments, but that happens to everyone.
About the Olympics
To you, popularity came quite early. But when did you realize that you were really doing something very well?
Kamila Valieva: Probably only after the Olympics. I was very afraid to feel it before the Olympics, I thought I would stop working on myself. But still, just by reviewing my programs, I realized that I was doing well.
Do you review all of your performances? Or only the good ones?
Kamila Valieva: Well, no, sometimes I watch the bad ones too, but I can’t review some programs, I just don’t want to. When I don’t have to.
For example, the free program from the Olympics.
Kamila Valieva: I did that. I deliberately watched it three times with tears in my eyes. I watched it because I needed to do it to close the gestalt – what it looked like from the outside and what was inside me. And I watched it, and I just let it go – okay, it already happened, that’s it, enough thinking about it.
I understood that if I had flown to Moscow for even a couple of days, which was impossible then because of COVID, but it seemed to me that a change of scenery would help a little. You’re such a fresh one on the team. Fell? Everything is fine, it will be better in individul competitions.
And when you’re still in it for ten days and you have some baggage behind you, you realize that some athletes in the dining room look at you so strangely, turn around, and you can’t help but think about it. And you understand that you are supposed to be a strong girl, but… It was so difficult for me to jump because of what I had built for myself and because of what was heaped on me. That’s why a change of scenery would have been good.
When you wake up every morning and don’t know if you’re going to participate – how do you come out and, for example, jump rope in the gym?
Kamila Valieva: It was actually normal the other way around. At first, I was even afraid to go to the gym because they told me: you shouldn’t be there for training. They suspended me at first, I walked for one day, and on the second day, I went to train. This is some kind of relaxation for me: I work, everything is fine, I jump rope. This routine calms me down.
But the most difficult thing is when you come out for training, and instead of a few photographers, there is a whole arena of these clicking cameras. No matter what you do they all take pictures, they all post them. You’re used to being in front of the cameras, but not to such an extent… I kept looking and thinking: oh my god!
You always emphasize that your mother has been very helpful and supportive in sports. Do you think you could have gone through this path without her involvement?
Kamila Valieva: No. Absolutely not. She enrolled me in dance classes, made sure I did exercises that helped me in the gym. Now it’s already a formed habit for me.
I understand that to achieve flexibility I need to go to dance classes, build my muscles. We did a lot of development off the ice. She helped me a lot, I did choreography every day twice a day. I went to the Moscow State Academy of Choreography for “preparation” classes.
I want to say a big thank you to my mom for this tremendous effort. She spent a lot of time on me, and it all paid off. I hope it made her happy.
At the most difficult moment in your career, you were without your mother. How was that? Did you still feel her support or did you miss her a lot at that moment?
Kamila Valieva: I didn’t want to worry her, so I filtered what I wrote to her and when I called her. I needed communication, I talked to people, but very carefully, because she worries a lot. At that moment, I had so many worries myself, so I talked to her carefully.
Mostly, I spoke out everything I thought about the whole situation to Mark Kondratiuk. But I tried to get the most support from my mom, while being careful with how I approached her.
About growing up
Kamila Valieva: I don’t know why, but for the first six months after the Olympics, I thought it would be incredibly difficult to continue, not to think about everything that was written, said, and done back then. And you grow, your body changes, you go to training after rest and realize that you can’t do a triple jump. You just go for a triple loop – but it’s not there.
Over time, when you slowly recover, and you go to competitions with an audience, you realize what tremendous support you have – not only from within a small group of people, inside the coaching staff, family, and friends, but also from the outside. People really believe in you, they want you to skate. And inspiration comes immediately, and the desire comes.
I simply set new goals and calmly go towards them, not rushing and trying to make the path for a long distance, not a short one.
Eteri Georgievna spoke about your personal growth: “Last season she showed herself to be stronger than she was in the Olympic year. Even after one of the performances, she said, “Oh, if I had had these qualities then.” What qualities are we talking about?
Kamila Valieva: It is very pleasant that Eteri Georgievna highlighted this. That means it’s all true. Perhaps I started to worry less if something didn’t work out. I started taking training more seriously. I feel my body more.
Before, I could come to the rink one and a half hours before going on the ice – and you train to such an extent that when you step on the ice, you are already burnt out, your muscles are tired. You don’t have that much reserve of strength and energy – especially for such a small child, teenager – in a stressful situation, to withstand two hours of constant training.
Now I feel that if I’m ready to warm up, it’s no more than 30-40 minutes. I feel my body more, and I’ve just matured – that’s the most important thing.
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