Mark Kondratiuk: “Almost every athlete dreams to get to the Olympics or to win Olympic gold. It may sound strange, but I have never aspired to it. I just skated for fun.”
Big interview with Mark Kondratiuk. About team and individual competitions at the Olympics, this season, quintuple jumps and women’s skating at the Games.
source: sport24.ru dd. 25th March 2022 by Konstantin Lesik
The main emotion from the Olympics.
Mark Kondratiuk: Probably happiness. Happiness to be there. Just to be at the Games. I talked to the athletes who have already achieved a lot or who are just going to this goal, almost everyone has a dream – to get there or to win Olympic gold. It may sound strange, but I have never been going for it. And have never aspired to it. I just skated for fun.
So, a ten-year-old Mark, who begins his journey, just comes to the rink and does not dream?
Mark Kondratiuk: I didn’t even think about it. Maybe I’m wrong.
Have the expectation from the Olympics and reality matched?
Mark Kondratiuk: This is a completely different competitions. It has absolutely its own atmosphere. For me, as a person who have never dreamed about it, everything was very cool. But it’s not entirely worth the goal of a lifetime. If I have skated for 16 years for this… I don’t know.
I read the news that actor Ben Stiller praised you. Surprised? What was the most unexpected reaction to your performances?
Mark Kondratiuk: This is probably the main surprise. There was no way to contact him. But still it was nice, because as a child I really liked the movie “Night at the Museum”, where he played the main role.
How did you spend time after the end of the individual competitions?
Mark Kondratiuk: I went to competitions, walked with friends, we constantly went somewhere with the guys. I tried to move away from everything and understand that it was all over.
You tried to make a quintuple salchow in training. Was it for fun or do you admit that you can do it?
Mark Kondratiuk: I sincerely believe that it is possible. Not sure that for me and my generation, but in general I believe it’s possible.
Where to get one more rotation?
Mark Kondratiuk: There is something to work on – height, rotation, speed. It seems to me that this is possible.
How did you decide on trying it?
Mark Kondratiuk: I tried several times at the end of last season. Of course it’s scary. Whenever you learn a new jump, you go into some unknown. But you overcome some fear and move forward.
What were the closest attempts?
Mark Kondratiuk: Four and a half turns. I under-rotated and fell, so I doubt that I can do it myself. But I still feel that four and a half is not the limit even for me. I hope there is someone for whom this will be possible. Quintuples don’t even have a base value yet.
How much do you think it will cost?
Mark Kondratiuk: Hundred (laughs). I think a quintuple should cost a lot, but in our current system it won’t. In fact, the same quadruple axel is not worth the risk. For example, Yuzuru Hanyu has a goal to be the first to do an axel, but globally it is not needed. If you make a good Lutz or a very good salchow, it will be like an axel with zero GOE.
Let’s play guessing, how much can a quintuple cost?
Mark Kondratiuk: I don’t think they will make a table with values for quintuple jumps soon.
Why? Maybe they looked at your social media.
Mark Kondratiuk: Yes, all ISUs sat and watched (laughs). I don’t think they will do it in the near future. And so, probably, salchow – 15 points. It seems to me that it will not be cost a lot. But I would like to be wrong.
Did you manage to talk with Hanyu?
Mark Kondratiuk: Talked – it’s loudly said. We talked for five or ten minutes. Very pleasant, cultured person. We talked about figure skating, nothing special. I offered him to jump something, but his leg hurt, so he couldn’t.
We took pictures, and then I “saved” him. We were standing almost in the corner of the rink, and Volodya Litvintsev was skating there, and Yuzuru was standing not seeing him, and somehow they were getting closer catastrophically quickly … In the end, we managed to prevent a collision.
Do you think he will succeed with an axel?
Mark Kondratiuk: I just want to wish him to do it.
Would you like to try it yourself?
Mark Kondratiuk: I will never try it in my life. It’s just very scary. I saw salchow in my head, so I tried it, but I am very afraid of the axel. Salchow is the easiest jump for me. You do the same actions, and you get into it. It is high, easy, there is a margin.
I also saw your quadruple lutz.
Mark Kondratiuk: I jump it from time to time.
You also tried loop.
Mark Kondratiuk: It seems to me that the loop is the most difficult quad. I don’t know how Makar Ignatov jumps it. It is very difficult to control it. All other jumps: you do what you have already worked out, everything is the same. Therefore, if I will try to complicate the content, it will be lutz.
What about flip?
Mark Kondratiuk: Flip – edge. Therefore, I don’t have it in the programs, it makes no sense to do it. Once in training, I did a quadruple flip. Just to show myself “I can do all quads.” But putting into the program is meaningless, because there are problems with the edge.
How many days before the team event did you find out that you would be taking part?
Mark Kondratiuk: Nice try! But I won’t tell. This is not a tricky question. If the federation hasn’t talked about it, then why should I? This is not some kind of secret information, it just seems to me that this is not entirely right for me to tell.
OK. You found out that you were performing. What was your thoughts at this moment?
Mark Kondratiuk: I was not surprised, because when Misha (Kolyada, – Sport24) was skating, I thought they would send him. When he could not go, I realized that most likely it would be me. I mentally prepared myself for this and skated more.
You said that the short program in the team event was incredibly nervous. How did it affect? Could you at least sleep?
Mark Kondratiuk: I slept well, they woke me up. We got up at 4 am. I know myself well and knew that I would not get up. More precisely, I can get up, but I also can stay in bed.
I had 4 performances at the Games: I woke up by the alarm clock once for a free program in the individual competitions. I gave the key to our doctor and left the door open – he woke me up. I really could oversleep.
How do you now remember the day of the short program in the team event?
Mark Kondratiuk: It was very scary. It’s one thing to let yourself down – that’s your own problem. I went on the ice with the idea that in some way the gold medal depends on me. I’m the first to start… The experience of other participants in Pyeongchang also had an effect. I just went and did what I could.
I saw from the stands how you struggled on landings. At this moment, did you have time to think about something?
Mark Kondratiuk: That’s because of nerves. I just landed the jump and continued to work. I remember, I went for the first jump and I had all my life before my eyes … I landed, exhaled, went on. It wasn’t a nice landing, but I landed it, thank God. The second jump was also not beautiful, but I landed it and went further. The third one was a good one by the way. I performed well, and I felt better, then it was easier.
The main thing in the team event is to skate the short program. Because if you perform poorly in the free program, you will bring 6 points, and if you perform poorly in the short program, you will get one.
Stepping on the ice for the free program, I saw how Roman Sadovsky and Boyan Jin skated, not everything worked out for them they. I needed just to skate ok, and I would be third. I knew all the layouts, I even read an article what medal we would get with different performances of our skaters. And there it all came down to the fact that I need to get into the top three, then this is one hundred percent gold.
That’s how we found out that Mark reads the articles.
Mark Kondratiuk: I’ve never hidden it, I look at the scores of the one who skates before me. It’s calmer for me this way. At European Championships, I knew how many Daniel Grassl and Deniss Vasiļjevs scored. I saw that they skated very well, and it motivated me. Here I saw that they guys didn’t skate well, and I realized that this was my chance. I needed to do my thing calmly. Understanding the situation calms me down.
When you went to reporters at the Olympics, you said: “I have a great desire not to let other guys down, they deserve to be here more than me, I wouldn’t want to spoil.” Did you really have thoughts that you are the weak link of the team?
Mark Kondratiuk: Certainly. Well it’s true. I just knew that girls, dancers and pairs would just do their thing. Maybe they will not be the first, but the second, but globally nothing changes from this. And I really could let everyone down. And I worried about this.
Were you surprised by the second place in the free program?
Mark Kondratiuk: Actually, at that moment, I didn’t care anymore. I skated and knew that it was definitely the third: and that’s good. I went to give an interview, and Olga Ermolina (the press officer of the FFKKR) was standing there, asked her about the result. It turned out that I was second.
Why didn’t it work out so well in the individual competitions?
Mark Kondratiuk: In the team event I clearly understood that I would go and do my job, that I could do everything. And in the individual competitions, I understood that I could, but I didn’t have the strength. I can’t get myself together. I had no moral strength. Even looking in my eyes in the team event, you could see that I was scared, but I’m aware. And in the individual competitions, I felt like I’m in a void. I tried to do everything that was in my power at that time. It was difficult, but I got the opportunity to skate four times.
By the time of your free program, doping trials had already begun. Did it somehow affect you?
Mark Kondratiuk: And how can I influence this situation?
No, but you read the articles and see what’s going on.
Mark Kondratiuk: Yes, I knew about everything, but I could not influence this situation in any way. What’s the point of me worrying? For example, I can worry, because according to the layouts I need to become the third, I can influence this. I need to go and skate either good or bad.
But what can I do in this situation? Nothing. I can only support Kamila, who is having a harder time than me, support the other guys in the team and that’s it.
When it was not yet known who from the team got into this story, many thought of you. Including that you allegedly smoked something there. How did you react to this?
Mark Kondratiuk: I was sitting in the room, reading the comments and laughing. It was funny. As they say, “the meme is funny, the situation is terrible.”
At that time, did you know that this did not apply to you in any way?
Mark Kondratiuk: Yes, I knew I was fine.
What do you think about the stereotype that people who are engaged in creativity are believed to use some illegal substances?
Mark Kondratiuk: Well it’s true, there’s such thing. I don’t think the percentage is much higher than among other people. Perhaps many creative people are prone to this. But when I read this about myself, it was just funny to me.
You watched the girls’ short program from the stands. How was it?
Mark Kondratiuk: Incredible tension and crazy emotions. If I say that I didn’t worry about myself as much as when I watched their short program, it really would be true. The same with my short program in the team event – nervous and scary. All the other three programs were easier to skate than to watch our girls skate.
I was lucky, I watched the girls in the studio of Channel One. There were Zhenya Medvedeva, Alina Zagitova, Rita Mamun, Moris Kvitelashvili and employees of Channel One. When the girls started to skate, I just hugged everyone and stood, because I could not stand on my own. I felt really bad, I was so worried.
Free program I watched in Moscow. I came to visit Artur Danielyan, we sat in an embrace and watched the girls. It was already easier, but then I sat for a long time trying to realize what had happened. The most important thing is that these emotions were completely different. It is difficult to live everything in a super-short moment, when you are happy for one person, upset for the second, worry about the third.
Probably, there was a desire to support each.
Mark Kondratiuk: I did so in private messages. I know that a lot of people posted stories with support, but I don’t see the point. If I can text personally, why should I post something? Like I want to show the public what I stand for. I do not need it. I personally texted to all the girls everything I thought same evening everything.
You often say that you are a shy person. But watching the Olympics, it seems that you were more of a leader.
Mark Kondratiuk: At that moment, I was confident in myself. I knew that I needed to do something cool, so that it was interesting to watch and the audience had fun. For me, the Olympics is not a battle or a war, but a celebration. And at the celebration it is customary to have fun.
If I skate for pleasure, then I also spend time at competitions, enjoying what is happening. Olympics happen once or twice in a lifetime, you need to take the maximum of emotions and impressions from it, because they remain for life. Just sitting in a room and being bored seems stupid for me.
After the Olympics, you said that you were recognized on the street. How does it usually happen?
Mark Kondratiuk: I can’t quite describe it, but you usually feel it. Even before you are approached, you feel that you are recognized. Either by the look, or by some actions, you pay attention to this and think: “It seems that they saw me.” Usually they just come up, praise and ask to take a picture.
How many people wrote to you during the Olympics?
Mark Kondratiuk: Thousands!
Was there anything interesting?
Mark Kondratiuk: About a hundred people tried to get acquainted through me with some figure skater. “Tell her to read my message.” “Tell the other that I want to meet her.” This is strange. There was nothing unusual in my direction, everything was calm – neutral or positive.
When you came to media after the short program in the individual competitions, the journalist asked you: “Who killed Mark?” It’s offensive?
Mark Kondratiuk: I saw that some were worried that it might be insulting. But no. If I didn’t say anything about Miron (Oxxxymiron, musician, – Sport24), then it would not be offensive, but simply not the topic. But in the context of what was happening – cool. Therefore, I am not offended.
Do you like giving interviews?
Mark Kondratiuk: Yes. It’s cool. You can convey some thoughts or something else.
If we talk about the media community, is there any toxicity in figure skating?
Mark Kondratiuk: Definitely, toxicity, probably present. But I am sure that such people are present in any sport. Unfortunately it is so. I want to tell people to be kinder to each other and enjoy this wonderful sport.
What do you feel when you hear: “Olympic champion Mark Kondratiuk”?
Mark Kondratiuk: I do not believe in this. Like it’s not about me.
Why don’t you believe?
Mark Kondratiuk: I have never been going for it. I was always told that I could, but I didn’t believe it. This disbelief probably continues.
Will you ever believe?
Mark Kondratiuk: Once upon a time, yes. Maybe. I am aware that this has already happened, it is a fact, but I cannot fully comprehend it. After the Games, I know that I won the Russian Nationals, the European Championships. For the past year, this has seemed real to me. But not an Olympic medal. About six months ago, I said to myself: “If you manage to take a medal at the European Championships someday, then you didn’t skate in vain.” I overfulfilled the plan. It seemed a realistic goal that could be reached. I didn’t even think about the rest.
Medal at the European Championships?
Mark Kondratiuk: Yes. I sincerely believed that if I get it, no matter what, I skated not in vain. The Russian Nationals is cool, but I wanted something more.
You say that you skated not in vain, but you have the motivation to continue. Now what is the motivation?
Mark Kondratiuk: There are still a couple of unclosed gestalts.
Channel One Cup?
Mark Kondratiuk: This is the most important. The most important unclosed gestalt. Evgenia Medvedeva will be on my team. I’ll take her to the team. We must win this event together. Well, the World Championships.
Betina Popova: “If we kept in mind the absence of leading athletes, then a lot of people wouldn’t be considered World and European champions. All victories at the World Championships are deserved.”