Maria Sotskova: there is nothing impossible in sport
Translation of Vaytsekhovskay’s interview with Maria Sotskova.
Masha you make an impression of a person who understands very well what he wants.
– It’s true. I decided early enough for myself that once engaged in figure skating, I must do the work so to get from it the highest result. Otherwise, it seems to me, it does not make sense to spend time on the sport.
Usually a more grown-up people: coaches, parents explain such things to athletes of your age.
– The first one who explained it to me was my mother. At that time I didn’t do well at school, started to have bad grades, and my mother said that if I can’t combine sport and school, I just need to give up sport. That it’s the most foolish thing to continue to combine and do both indifferently.
This I realized after reading that in addition to school you seriously learn English language. When professional sport appeared in your life?
– I was brought to the ice rink when I was three and a half years old, only for not to sit at home and not to become a fat child-lounger.
You want to say that your parents had feared such a prospect already then?
– Yes. You know for yourself how much free time have those who just goes to school and don’t involved in something else. I think that my mom just didn’t want me to spend time on all sorts of foolish things. Therefore, she decided to bring me into the sport, so I was really busy with something.
Your sports career is non-standard just because of the fact that at early age you went to train in America with Rafael Arutyunyan. Whose decision it was? Your parents or your coach Svetlana Panova? And in general how this idea appeared?
– While I was skating in Panova’s group, for a few years I worked on programs with Vera Harutyunyan and Nadezhda Kanaeva. Both of them are part of the coaching team of Rafael Vladimirovich. And once the situation turned out that Kanaeva wasn’t able to come to Moscow and do my long program. That’s when we all together decided that a trip to United States will be useful for me in all aspects: a new training experience and an ability to work well, without any hurry on the program. However, psychologically it was not easy. Before I left home only for training camps, where next to me was coach, athletes with whom I have been training for many years on the same rink, their parents. And here a trip alone to the other side of the world. And no one whom I knew.
However, you liked it?
– Very. I lived with an American family, where I was surrounded by all sorts of care, so I didn’t miss home. I liked that it was possible to speak in English, that people understand me and I also understand what they say around. So the whole month that I spent in America was like a fairy tale.
Didn’t you want to stay in America not only for trainings but also for study?
– I had such thoughts. When I was leaving to Moscow, even cried. Then I realized that I certainly will come back, and maybe more than once. But not for good, that’s for sure.
Not a tactful question, but who paid for your trip?
– I, out of the prize money. It was enough for the month in America.
Why at the end of the season you have decided to change a coach and moved from Panova to Elena Buyanova?
– This decision was not spontaneous. To left a coach who raised you it’s very hard: Svetlana Vladimirovna has always been like a second mother to me and this is not an exaggeration. But the idea that it was time to change something was getting stronger and stronger. And this thought came into my own head, not my mother’s or anyone else’s. I think in 16 years people are able to make such decisions on their own.
Especially I wasn’t satisfy the conditions in which I had to train. Lack of ice, lack of other things needed for training. When I finally talked about all this with Svetlana Vladimirovna, she said that she gives me time to think things through. But by that time I’ve alredy thougth very well.
Have you already knew that you’ll go to Buyanova?
– At first I made the former coach aware of my decision, if you’re talking about that. And only then called Elena Germanovna.
What if Buyanova had refused to take you?
– I did not have any plan for such situation. Rather, I had an understanding that Germanovna Elena is my only chance to stay in the sport. I don’t have thoughts to ask someone else.
– Probably because I wanted to get to this coach. Somehow there was a confidence that we will find a common language.
Why didn’t you try to go to Harutyunyan and continue training there?
– My parting with Panova automatically mean that such a possibility is closed for me. I at least so it seemed. Now I have absolutely everything you need for preparation: wonderful choreographers, coach with whom I have full understanding. So I don’t have to think about any other specialists.
Had that period you spent in the US, paying for your training from personal funds, changed your relation to work?
– Yes, changed radically. Prior to this, I could easily come to the rink and spend training time on some completely unnecessary things. In America we were not only paying for each training session, but this session lasted only 45 minutes and there were a lot of atheletes on the ice at the same time. So it was necessary not just to do all that was planned, but also continuously fight for your place under the sun. Rafael Vladimirovich taught me how to properly allocate the training time, so from the one hand have strength to do everything and from the other hand not to waste a minute.
Is it true that with Harutyunyan you tried to jump a quadruple salchow?
– No, I did that jump two years ago when trained with Panova. But back then I was ten centimeters lower and much lighter than now.
Explain then, if you were able to rotate four turns, why now appeared under rotations? Or is it a consequence of the changed parameters of the body?
– I have no problems with under rorations at trainings. At competitions under rotations usually happen from one reason: you’re trying to control the jump more carefully than usual, start entry more carefully, push off less powerfully and jump immediately loses an altitude. In all cases when I had under rotations affected exactly this: an excessive desire to insure. Plus the current season is new for me in many ways: first senior “Grand Prix”, first senior tasks. I don’t think that underrotations are a real problem. More likely it’s a temporary.
Alina Zagitova who was ahead of you at the Russian Championships in Chelyabinsk, did all the jumping elements of her free program in the second half. Could you implement a similar scheme? Do you think it’s necessary?
– Well, if Alina was ahead of me, then this tactic is justified? Basically, we all perform the same set of jumps. So you constantly need to think where you can gain extra points.
Mastering a quad for example.
– You know, if I had not tried a quadruple myself probably I wouldn’t understand why men popp guads so often. It’s really difficult to do such jump. It is difficult to find the ideal moment when to take off, to land and not get injured. It is difficult to do triples again after a quadruple because all sensations changes too much. Therefore, you have to be very well prepared before you go on quad.
The same with a triple axel?
– I can’t answer. I need to fully understand the jump before trying it. I don’t understand triple axel and quadruple toe loop. I do not know how to jump them. Unlike quadruple salchow.
By the way, when you have grew up sharply, wasn’t there fear of jumping?
– Oh, it was all like a snowball: first I was injured because of it didn’t go to the World Junior Championships, I hadn’t skated for six weeks. And during that time I grew up by 12 centimeters. When I came back on the ice, it was difficult even to skate, all sensations have become unaccustomed. It was just awful. I thought even to try myself in something else, so unbearable it was to restore everything again. For a long time I had been doing only double jumps and really didn’t know what to do next.
There was also a colossal internal grievance: I have worked so much, tried to prepare for the competition as much as possible, so why it happened to me? Especially since I was very well prepared before the Junior Championships, and the memories were very fresh. All this took place in the surroundings of increasing anount of greatly jumping little girls. On this background I, a cornstalk, who can’t do anything.
Answering the question about cherished desire at the end of last year, you said that you want to get into the Grand Prix Final and won’t say about the rest. Can you now reveal the secret what else was on the list?
– Of course I wanted to qualify for the European and World Championships, and I am very happy that coped with this task. The next goal is to skate clean in Ostrava and in Helsinki. For me it is more important than taken place. Let the judges count points.
The vast majority of fans are sincerely convinced that nobody in the World can beat Evgenia Medvedeva. What do you think about this?
– I think that there is nothing impossible in the sport. You just need to work. Get +3 for all jumps, like Medvedeva do. She really jumps very well but personaly I don’t see any impossibility to beat her.
What part of your life now occupied by figure skating?
– The major one. At 10 in the morning I go to the skating rink, at 11 I have the first training on the ice. Then a break, during which I do choreography, physical trainings, rest or teachers come to me. Then the second training on ice, after which I return home. In the evening, again I engaged with the teachers.
The fact that you are constantly compared with Adelina Sotnikova annoys or flatters?
– Frankly, I don’t understand talks that after moving to Elena Germanovna I became similar to Adelina. Maybe there is some similarity in skating skills, because we have the same coach for skating skills – Maxim Zavozin. Adelina skates very fast and wide, I see only advantages to be able to skate like this. As for the programs and skating styles, we’re different.
Nevertheless, remains an impression that you are completely comfortable only in your free program.
– The short program just turned out very unusual for me, tough and fast. I prefer more delicate and tender images.
Lyrical style and pink color?
– Well approximately. But this does not mean that I will skate in such a style for a lifetime?
When in the evening you go home on the subway your thoughts are full with studying or figure skating?
– Neither one nor the other. I either read or listen to music.
Don’t you want to at least for a day to drop everything and just be a little girl?
– I want to, sometimes. But I understand that is unlikely to happen. I’m too used to keep everything under control. Including my own desires.
photos from Maria Sotskova’s Instagram m_a_r_i_y_