Ksenia Stolbova: A year and a half ago I really had no idea how to live further and what to do
Elena Vaitsekhovskaya’s interview with Ksenia Stolbova.
By Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for rsport.ria.ru dd 26th August 2019
Starting to train with a new partner a year and a half ago, at the age of 26 you actually began your sporting life from scratch. Did you often have to make concessions in during training process?
– No. Even despite some difficulties and injuries. To start skating again with someone at 26 is not like in 16 or 18. This is a different behavior, communication, everything is perceived differently. But, firstly, I understood from the beginning what I was getting into. Secondly, Andrei and I are not at the age to sort things out, there simply is no time for this. In addition, our goals and tasks are exactly the same.
Probably, it still was hard to force yourself to work, knowing that for quite a long time you wouldn’t have the opportunity to compete, compare yourself with others and get competitive adrenaline. Instead, you will have to do monotonous work, that seems endless.
– You know, it seems to me that it all was for a better. For me for sure. Throughout my previous career, when I skated with Fedor (Klimov), we never had any long breaks in competitions. Those pauses that happened were always forced, and for the same reason – injuries. Because of it, every return to the ice was always rushed, and this is a very big psychological and physical load, constant stress: you worry that you can’t skate, your partner can’t skate, so time is running out, you have to skip competitions. Now, Andrei and I understand: there is a certain work plan that we had to complete in a year in order to prepare for the test skates. And do everything on maximum. So far, this is the most important task for us, because in many ways where we will perform next depends on the test skates. But we don’t have to rush somewhere. There was a lot of time to try, to learn elements, to dance and all this gives incredible inner freedom, which inspires and motivates even more.
It’s a paradox, but when I watched how you worked and performed with Klimov over the past two seasons, I had a feeling that your time in sports is running out, and it’s irrevocable. Now there is no such feeling, the result is visible.
– Of course, time goes fast, but I can tell you for sure that during this year I took maximum from each day of work. I didn’t miss a single opportunity to learn something.
So you don’t have a feeling that some things could have been done even better?
– Of course I have. And I think I will always have. It’s like with the performance of programs. No matter how ideally you skate, you always know what could have been done better, what and where to add – technique, expressiveness. Perhaps I just have such character. For all previous years of performances there was only one skate, when I really understood that I showed my maximum on the ice.
Do you mean the Grand Prix Final in 2015?
– No. Free program at the Olympics in Sochi. I had a lot of questions about my performance in the Grand Prix Final.
What are you most satisfied with now? Could you continue the phrase: “I’m good, because …”
– Not me, but we all. I liked it, and to this day I like how the year goes, how I get on the ice, how I feel, how I behave, but all this is not only my merit. I’m grateful to Andrei, and Kolya Morozov, and to all those specialists who worked and helped us. Tamara Moskvina gave us her ice for work in St. Petersburg without any conditions, and Florent Amodio – in Vozhani, where we had one of the training camps.
Did you have any fears that the desired result, despite all your efforts, may not happen?
– Of course. But Andrei and I gave ourselves a clear guidance to do everything in our power to make all these fears go away.
To what extent does this relate to a triple twist which is a problematic element for you, about which it was said once that not a single specialist will be able to teach you a high-quality twist?
– Regarding the twist, I immediately told my team that I would do whatever they think was necessary. And I will do everything in my power to make this element better than it was. In my opinion, we have significant progress.
Your partner has already told me what a titanic work Stanislav Morozov has done with you. But another thing is not clear to me: all the years that you skated with Klimov in Nina Mozer’s group, Morozov worked there. Why haven’t the mistakes on the twist been fixed before?
– We have never worked with Stanislav. From the very moment we came to Moser from Lyudmila and Nikolai Velikovi, we trained only with Vlad Zhovnirsky.
But why? After all, even then, Morozov had a reputation of a specialist who knows every detail about twists and knows how to teach this element any pair.
– I will correct you a little. Not just “knows how to teach”, but rather, he can explain every component of this element to such an extent that it becomes simply impossible not to understand how and what needs to be done. I haven’t met another coach who would be able to explain the technical task so thoroughly.
Therefore, it’s strange to me that your former coach didn’t use the help of such a specialist, knowing that you have a serious problem with the twist.
– It’s hard for me to explain why this happened, but from the beginning Nina Mikhailovna and Stas worked exclusively for Tanya Volosozhar and Max Trankov, and it was clear to everyone that this pair was a priority in all respects.
Perhaps it’s possible to say that you and Klimov, and Vera Bazarova – Yuri Larionov, who came to the Moser’s group at the same time with you, also worked for Tanya with Max – as sparring partners.
– First of all Fedor and I worked for ourselves, in order to qualify for the Olympic team and go to Sochi. That was my biggest dream, incredibly huge dream. So I wouldn’t say that we worked for someone. The same way, we are working with Andrey now. I think that our joint training with Stas, with Pavel Slyusarenko, with Andrei Filonov was a big breakthrough. We didn’t want to rush at all the elements at once, so we carefully built the whole chain: we worked separately on steps, on jumps, on pair elements. When it came to adjusting the twist, a huge amount of time was spent on the floor. We came to training at five in the evening, and left at 11pm. The main problem was that for 13 years I had been doing a twist with a mistake. To this was added the difference in tempo, after all Andrei also used to perform the element in his own way. All this was corrected step by step.
Back in Soviet times, there was a lot of research, according to which the athlete works most effectively in the first three weeks of the training camp. Then a person begins to tire faster, the effectiveness of training decreases. You spent two months in the training camp in Perm. Wasn’t it difficult?
– Of course, there were such moments, after all we worked a lot. But this was compensated by the opportunity to discover something new every day. We choreographed programs, worked on pair elements, skating with much younger pairs. But most importantly, I wanted all this myself. I understood why this was necessary.
When you and Andrei just started skating together, a lot of people felt a certain skepticism about your future. Did you feel it?
– Of course. In general, I always felt this, even when I was skating with Klimov. I’m used to the fact that no matter how we skate, there will still be those who criticize something. But from the beginning I had a very great trust to Andrei. Therefore, it didn’t matter whether someone believes in us or not. The main thing is that we believe in ourselves.
Have you asked yourself where did that confidence come from?
– Why? I certainly don’t doubt that we make our own luck. I’ve already realized that everything happens for a reason. Since I met Andrei at a specific moment in my life, then that was how it should have happened. Perhaps somehow I deserved such a wonderful partner and such a reliable person.
And a great coach.
– And the coach, and the team, and all those who helped us and still help. After all, a year and a half ago I really had no idea how to live further and what to do. And completely unexpectedly, Tarasova and Kolya Morozov suddenly appeared nearby. Actually, Tatiana Anatolievna told me, and in such a way that I immediately believed her: “Don’t you dare quit skating. You just don’t have the right to do it. And we will cure your leg.” But I certainly didn’t expect Kolya to repeat these words and stood up next to me. Although not so long ago he admitted that for a long time he didn’t believe that something would turn out.
Have you asked when exactly Morozov changed his point of view?
– No. But, I think, the whole point is that I was very eager to work. When a person works hard from morning to night, and most importantly wants this, what can you do?
Does such support from not the latest coaches in the world impose responsibility on an athlete?
– Of course. But this is not an obligation. I’m quite skeptical of the word “obligated”. The only persons I really owe to are my mom and dad, for giving me life. Here I’m just immensely grateful to all those who help me one way or another. And I can express this gratitude only with one thing: my work.
I know that Tarasova often comes to your trainings. Does it help?
– Of course. Any person from the outside is a fresh look. It is always useful. Tarasova always notices every little thing and knows how to motivate perfectly.
Have you watched World Championships in Saitama?
– Yes, but I’m unlikely to remember something that impressed me. Usually, some performances sink into the mind, such as Alena Savchenko’s performance at the Pyeongchang Olympics and the performance of Chinese (Sui Wenjing / Han Cong). But last season I didn’t have such vivid impressions, with the exception of the same Chinese.
Your former coach Lyudmila Velikova admitted that she wants to see how you will take the pair skating in your hands again.
– Why does this surprise you? I have been skated with the Velikovs for many years, and the base that they gave me, not to mention nerves, souls and everything else, hasn’t gone anywhere. This is not a relationship between a coach and an athlete, but almost a family. If it weren’t for the Velikovs and our choreographer Stepin, such a figure skater as Stolbova, would hardly have appeared at all. My parents in pair skating are first of all they. Plus, we went through a lot together, and Lyudmila Georgievna knows me like no one else. So, probably, she said that not for nothing.
How carefully do you have to monitor your physical condition now?
– Carefully – not the right word. I would say that there is total control of absolutely everything. Both in the training process, at home, and on vacation. I limit myself very hard in so many things – I understand that this is now necessary.
Don’t you get tired of such a necessity?
– More likely the opposite. This attitude allowed me to understand and feel my body and my abilities much better. This doesn’t happen at all that I do something without understanding why this is necessary.
What about sparring? Do you feel a lack of it?
– We didn’t have a lack of sparring this year. When we were skating in Perm, we constantly felt a certain pressure from young pairs. Yes, they still don’t know how to do something, but at the same time, their eyes burn so you feel this boldness. You look at them and say to yourself: “Why are you skating circles? Start working until they are not hitting you from behind.” It really really motivated me.
If everything depended on your wish, in which competitions would you prefer to participate?
– First of all open test skates. And a more global goal is the Russian National, where we, of course, would like to qualify for the national team.
I meant something else: do you plan to participate in some minor competitions before winter? Do you and Andrei need to perform as often as possible in order to gain joint competitive experience quickly?
– We are trying to have competitive format in training. We are trying to understand whether we need to compete every week, or it isn’t necessary. Here, it’s not important whether we want to compete or not. We need to understand how the body will work in a competitive mode, how much time it will take to recover. In this regard, the junior body and the adult are two big differences. What I really want is to try something completely new to myself. Even when we choreographed programs, and Kolya suggested using some steps and transitions that I had before, I refused. I don’t want to repeat myself. It is clear that the existing rules put all skaters to a fairly tight framework, where everyone has to make very similar elements, but where it’s possible to get as far away from these frameworks as possible, we are doing this with Andrei. And it gives me tremendous pleasure. I want to change even my appearance. I’m growing my hair.
Does the concept of “home” exist in your life now?
– Home is where a person feels good. I feel good on the ice now. There is a partner, there is a coach, and nothing else is needed.
Related topics: Ksenia Stolbova Andrei Novoselov