Maria Sotskova: There are no friends on the ice, we are all rivals there
Translation of recent interview with Maria Sotskova. About debut season, upcoming Olympics, new programs, friendship with Polina Tsurskaya and revelry with Elena Radionova.
Interview was taken after inspection of general director of the Federation of figure skating in Russia (FKKKR) Alexander Kogan and technical specialist Alexander Kuznetsov.
Masha, what did technical specialist advice?
– To work on spins, add nuances to the step sequence, but overall they liked everything. No need to redo anything.
The leadership of the federation came unexpectedly? You even made a mistake entering the camel spin.
– I felt dizzy, after the medical examination I did not understand where I was. It was hard to spin.
– Short – “Swan Lake”, waltz. Free – “Moonlight” by Debussy.
Did you choose the “Moonlight” yourself?
– No, coaches – Peter (Tchernyshev), Elena Germanovna (Buyanova), Irina Anvarovna (Tagaeva). I resisted for a long time.
– And worried for a long time. I did not see myself in this music. First impression: well, here again a slow rhythm, the same image … I wanted something new, more active, faster. But we decided that in the Olympic season it’s better not to take risks and pick up what really suits me. We need confidence that the program will be right.
It suits, but isn’t it too easy, without accents, like last year’s Schnittke?
– To the “Moonlight” Peter picked me up a very beautiful choreography. In full set – with a beautiful dress. At competition with a clean performance, everything should be fine. When I saw myself later in this image, it was useless to resist. I went into the process and I really liked it. I fell in love with this program and skate it with pleasure.
But it seems, there’s no tears and emotions?
– No. This season we decided to make an emphasis on beauty and execution of the elements. To avoid difficulties with choreography, since the season is difficult. Everyone will focus on the elements now.
Last season was your debut at the senior level, and despite the melodiousness of the programs to Schnittke’s music, there was a fight – a fight on the ice for every element with a lot of stress …
– It was a new image for me and it was difficult for me to skate it. Last season’s free program was harder for me in preparation than “Moonlight”. But Debussy – now it’s already mine, it seems to me, it suits me a lot.
Drawling, with smooth movements.
– Yes. It’s easy for me when I’m like this.
Which elements did you add?
– We added a tano jumps and the rest remained the same. The usual average set of elements, like everyone else has. Without triple axels and quadruple salchows.
Well, it’s ridiculous.
– Why? Unfortunately, this season I have no quadruple salchow.
– At the end of the season I tried it, in principle it was possible master it.
– No. With big under-rotation. I tried it only to understand for myself: I can or can not. I realized that if to work on it, then nothing is impossible.
It was possible to learn the quad salchow already this season?
– While I tried it for myself. A couple of times. Didn’t repeat it insanely. This season we didn’t do it. We preferred to polish the existing elements, then the quads.
Why this salchow is amazing for you?
– The fact that you need to catch the entry to the jump. There is nothing complicated in the take off, but the moment of entry… But I think, no one will take risk this season, because clean programs will be evaluated better than with triple axel and mistakes. Although the Japanese are already perform triple axels even at the show. Wakaba (Higuchi), Yuna Shiraiwa fall, but do all the turns. When you are sure that you will skate the full program with it, then why not, as Liza did (Tuktamysheva). She could did an axel or not, but she had enough strength to do the remaining elements.
Tuktamysheva’s coach Alexei Mishin said that the axel “left” her.
– Axel, in principle, is such a jump – here it is and here it’s gone.
– Difficult to say. But many skaters have problems with the triple axel. I do not know how it can look in my performance. I have never tried it.
How did you take the Waltz from the “Swan Lake” ?
– At once! Peter put the music and I agreed without hesitation, the process went very fast. I have wanted the Swan Lake for a long time. Not exactly a waltz, but a swan … But in my program there is no hint of a swan. In general, nothing in common. There will be just a waltz on the ice, I stand into the starting pose, someone calls me to the ball, I turn around … In the end a reverence.
Swan Lake “without a swan?
– Do not be surprised, everything will be fine.
Traveled to Japan successfully?
– Yes, I adore this country, Japanese fans. I had to take an extra suitcase, since I was given a lot of toys, I could not leave without them. One girl herself makes bears, so she asked how it is more convenient for me: to give it personally or send by mail. The second option was clearly more optimal. I returned to Moscow, and a week later the parcel arrived.
Did the Japanese fans faint?
– When they saw me? No. But when Nathan appeared (Nathan Chen), the girls squealed like crazy: “Nathan, marry me!”. I caused more calm emotions, but it was very nice. Applause,posters – it is impossible to be indifferent to this.
Who choreographed “Kalinka” that you performed there?
– Peter. While we were chosing music for the free program, he said: “Let’s do the Russian folk song?” I thought that free program to a Russian folk motives in my performance – it would be too hard for everyone. We discussed and came to the conclusion that this is too much. But decided to do an exhibition program “Kalinka”. In my opinion, it turned out very good.
All the year before last, you competed with Polina Tsurskaya, and this summer rested together.
– We decided on spontaneously. In general, we have been friends for a long time, we spent ten days almost in a closed space, sharing one room at the Youth Olympic Festival. It united us. I myself gathered Polina for a rest. A month before departure, I realized that I can not go alone, I will be bored and sad. Polina quickly agreed, although there were some problems, since she was underage, and on the trip we went with my mother.
What is it like to be friends with a person when she is first and you are second, and after a year you are such an adult with your successes, and she is still a junior?
– When she first appeared in juniors, I did not know her at all. It absolutely didn’t matter for me to compete with her and then we became friends. It’s clear that there are no friends on the ice, we are rivals there. When she won, I was hurt for myself. But I was happy for her, because she did great and was worthy of it. We don’t mix sport with life.
Will she return to her level?
– Oh, I can not say anything right now, but Polina is very talented. I hope she will succeed.
The new season begins – the second after your debut. Do you now have more excitement, or is there a sense of experience?
– Experience. Last year taught me a lot and proved me a lot. For this season I was preparing with peace in my soul, calmly, without exhausting myself morally. I had enough of that situation after the Russian Nationals and European Championships, when it was unclear whether I was going to the World Championships or not. That waiting knocked me out. I was terribly worried. It was morally difficult for me to get myself together. When I finally got to the championships in Finland, a new wave of stress came which is called “The first World Championship in life”. At that moment, I still remembered that I was just a yesterday’s junior. As a result, I did not fully cope with myself, but afterwards there was relief and understanding: I should be calmer. Since then, I convince myself: if I can do this in training, then I can go to the start and do the same even better.
It is clear that you can not turn off your head, but when you think too much about the mindset, you drive yourself into a corner. There is no sense in this, this understanding is my personal experience.
Then, in Finland, you confessed to me that at the Russian Nationals you seemed to have a “killing” mindset.
At the new national championship will you be different, or “to kill rivals” – this is a very good approach?
– Then it was a very good mindset, which gave the result. In a short program I was worried, but kept calm, and the free program came an understanding what kind of fight is going on! You see, physically I was ready, psychologically ready very well. But still I skated on “character”, because it was difficult to get together. There are a lot of people and only three spots. What will happen (at the December Russian Nationals in St. Petersburg), it is too early to say. I need to set myself to several competitions before it. In any case, I will accumulate positive, because there should not be any negativity in my head. In my head, everything should be fine, then you just have to go as fighter and stand to the last. We try to create beautiful art, but the picture will crumble without a core inside.
Does Elena Germanovna has enough time for you and Elena Radionova?
– Of course. We are a bit separated, I came to training later than Lena. Elena Germanovna did correctly, so she has enough time for both of us.
She does not risk to coach you both simultaneously – two actually rivals?
– Well, not because of that we have a different time. What can we do? Kill each other? The fact is that the coach also needs to be able to switch from one athlete to another, from one program to another. A person has only two eyes.
How is it more convenient for you: to compete with Radionova or to be at different corners?
– We still meet on the ice, we see who does what. But we do not think about competition now, because there will be enough nerves during in the season. Now I am disconnected from the surround world, at trainings I see only myself.
How do perceive Elena? As more experienced one or, given that you have withstood a very difficult debut, already as at equal rival?
– I do not even know. I try not to pay attention to such analogies and also to who came to the group, who left, who skates next on the ice …Last season I looked at Sasha Samarin, at his male speed, which I also wanted to gain. And I took it a little. Therefore, today I’m more and more individual in training, more and more self-concentrated, today I’m not so much watching others, I’m rather learning myself from a coach Maxim Zavozin to improve the quality of my skating.
Do you discuss the Olympic prospects with Buyanova?
– No, but it’s clear that the season is responsible. Everyone is focused and everyone is capable. But for me, the past one was just as important, because I was moving from juniors. And in a year later there will be a new responsibility because of some important issue. There’s no such that we’re working only for Olympics. From the nearest and very important – there are the Grand Prix series. What it is? This is a step where you can either say: “Look, here I am! I can!”, or lose consistency and fall off. Then there will be the Russian Nationals – this is probably the hardest competition of the season. And only then, perhaps, there will be something else …
Do you understand that you are becoming attractive as a woman?
– Well, of course. I’m growing, I’m already 17, 18 soon, but I’m uploading photos not for “I’m looking for” reasons. No, I’m still looking for myself only on the ice. And I like to post on Instagram, my friend and I process the pictures to make them look attractive. There are so many bloggers on the network who beautifully draw up their accounts, and I look at them and get inspired. I also try to make beautiful pages, but without any subtext.
People started to confess their love more often?
– It seems to me that skaters never had problems with this. Someone will see you on TV and starts to write on Instagram, in social networks. But after the summer photos there was no extra excitement. Everything as usual (laughs).
Do you have a boyfriend?
– No, I don’t have time for this. Attention is nice, compliments are flattering, but I have other purposes. I’m not ready to give up figure skating and plunge into love.
by Anatoli Samokhvalov for rsport.ru