Mark Kondratiuk: “You don’t always need and should to work on maximum. Sometimes you need to take a break in order to gain strength and work further.”
Interview with Russian National Champion in men’s single skating Mark Kondratiuk. About winning Nationals, his programs and goals.
source: fsrussia.ru dd. 8th January 2021 by Tatjana Flade and Olga Ermolina
About winning the Russian Nationals
Mark Kondratiuk: I did not expect this. I had a thought that I could compete for the top three, because it worked out at the last Russian Nationals. But I realized that this time it will be much more difficult. And indeed, if you look at the scores, then if I had skated the same way as a year ago, then I would have been eighth, not third.
But I thought that there was still a chance to fight for the top three, but I couldn’t imagine even in my wildest dreams that everything would up end this way.
How did you set yourself up in such a situation?
Mark Kondratiuk: Before the short program, I decided that I would go on the ice, not to fight with myself, with other guys, that I won’t think about the selection for the Olympics, I will just skate for pleasure, for the audience. At the start, I was almost calm, even cheerful. And when the performance turned out, I decided do the same before the free program. And it seems it also worked out. But I still haven’t fully realized that I have won the national championships. I understand it with my head, but I cannot fully realized it.
Will the gold of the Russian Nationals add confidence for the European Championships?
Mark Kondratiuk: I’m not ready to answer. To understand this, you need to come to the next competitions. Let’s see.
Are you making a mental fail-safe?
Mark Kondratiuk: I’m just more comfortable this way. If you go to competitions too confident in yourself, then when something doesn’t work out, it’s a too big blow. It’s better not to burden yourself with unnecessary thoughts and responsibility.
The beginning of this season was going well for you. You were in the top three at the Nebelhorn Trophy, where you confirmed the third Olympic spot for the Russian national team, second place at the Challenger in Kazakhstan. And after the 8th place at the Grand Prix in Sochi you said there were health problems. Can you explain?
Mark Kondratiuk: At the competitions in Kazakhstan, my back began to hurt. And for three weeks between competitions I tried to recover. It became easier only the last week before the Grand Prix. I started jumping, before that I skated without jumps. But when I arrived in Sochi, I realized that I didn’t feel very well. But this is not an excuse, because in any case it was possible to fight. I skated the short program very badly, but in the free program, in that situation, I showed almost my maximum. Until Sochi I didn’t skate the whole program – I couldn’t. But, looking back, if I could skated my free program at the Grand Prix without one element, then the short program could have been skated better.
Have you thought to withdraw from the Grand Prix?
Mark Kondratiuk: I felt bad to do this, because I was given the opportunity to perform at the Grand Prix, but they could have gave it to someone else, who would have had two stages. I felt bad about other people, guys, federation … If the problems were so serious that it was impossible to skate, this is one thing. But when it’s difficult but still possible to skate, it would be wrong not to compete, I could not do that.
Have you found out what is the cause of your back problems?
Mark Kondratiuk: I feel better now. The survey showed nothing serious. I continue to do special exercises, necessary procedures, and consult with specialists.
This season you have two new programs. How much to they suit your character, temperament?
Mark Kondratiuk: I love the music from my free program “Jesus Christ Superstar”, especially the ending. The same thing happened last season with the Swan. Great energy comes from this kind of music. Firstly, together with the reaction of the audience this energizes, and you do not just crawl to the end of the program, but give all your best. Secondly, it is inadmissible to skate to such a music without emotions, otherwise, the music will simply “eat” you. Perhaps I still do not feel the artistic image itself, but I convey the music well.
And the short program is to the soundtrack to the Turkish TV series “The Magnificent Century”, it’s something new for me. I have never skated such before and it is very interesting for me. There is something ethnic in this music and program, maybe even a little arrogant … This is a completely different image.
You perform both programs quite energetically and emotionally. But emotionality has its advantages and disadvantages. Agree?
Mark Kondratiuk: Advantage is that in this aspect, it seems to me, I am a little different from others. Perhaps this can be considered my peculiarity. And disadvantage – I can get carried away, at some point, emotions can overwhelm too much. It just happened at the Nationals, when I, one might say, was on the edge. I was giving all of myself in the free program. A little more emotion and I would have fallen somewhere on the step sequence … All this was too much … It’s always necessary to keep a balance so that there are emotions and control of the situation, because it’s silly to fall at the end of the program.
You said about the peculiarity of your skating. How would you describe your style?
Mark Kondratiuk: It seems to me that I am not yet professional enough to develop my own style. I think there are abilities, but first you need to become a master in figure skating.
Which skaters do you like?
Mark Kondratiuk: Those athletes who not only do elements, jumps, but also skate programs. Alexei Yagudin, Yuzuru Hanyu … Everyone saw how Kamila Valieva skated her free program…
What is your character?
Mark Kondratiuk: Open, but humble, especially when I am praised.
Are you embarrassed?
Mark Kondratiuk: I am pleased, but I am shy. Of the bad qualities, I am lazy.
Mark Kondratiuk: If there is an opportunity not to strain and solve the problem in other ways, then I will choose this.
Perhaps this is not laziness, but a rational approach?
Mark Kondratiuk: It can be interpreted in different ways. Another of my weakness is that I am absent-minded. I often lose something, I have five keys in hotels, because I put them in and forget where. And when I leave, I find and return all five.
Have you forgot costumes?
Mark Kondratiuk: It happened in childhood. Once I was going to competitions, got off the bus and when I saw it leaving, I realized that the costumes were there. But I knew the bus route and managed to reach the next stop. Took them … But that was long time ago.
But I almost left the skates a year ago. We had competitions in Togliatti, there was little time left before the plane, everyone was in a hurry. And only in the hotel, when I began to collect my things, I realized that something was missing. I remembered that the skates remained at the podium when we had a medal ceremony. On the way to the airport we stopped at a skating rink, I thought I wouldn’t find the skates, I even mentally said goodbye to them, but I was lucky. That’s the kind of person I am.
What can tick you off?
Mark Kondratiuk: When they write about me, it doesn’t touch me. But when they write about people I know, it really hurts me.
What are you afraid of?
Mark Kondratiuk: Difficult question. I’m afraid to be overconfident. I don’t want to be like that.
In what way do you coincide with your coach Svetlana Sokolovskaya?
Mark Kondratiuk: I appreciate that she always believed in me, waited for me when it was needed, always helped me. We have been working together for over 8 years. And all this time she tolerates me. I will not say that I am the most difficult person, but far from the easiest. But in spite of everything, she tolerates me, loves me. Svetlana Vladimirovna always says that she takes people into her group not only according to their abilities, but also according to their spiritual qualities, those in whom she sees close people.
I remember when I first came to CSKA, I was 10 years old, and I was immediately listed for some kind of competitions, I fell six times – I skated “beautifully”. But they told me: good boy, let’s take it. And they took …
At that time, I just came to skate, nothing more. Now I look at the children who train at CSKA, everyone is so motivated, everyone has specific goals. In 10 years old I did not think about it. And if I was asked a question about the goals, I probably could not clearly formulate it.
You are quite a versatile person, besides sports, you are fond of drawing. How is this reflected in your programs?
Mark Kondratiuk: I try to make my programs not just a set of elements, but closer to art – with artistic images, composition, so that it would be interesting to watch them not only because of how many quadruple or other jumps I made, but how I skate the program, what I skate, what I want to say …
Do you have time to paint now?
Mark Kondratiuk: It’s hard. I have little time and energy, because I also entered the university, economics department.
An amazing combination: on the one hand, art, flight of imagination, figure skating, musicality, emotions. On the other hand, a rational and pragmatic approach to the profession.
Mark Kondratiuk: I want to try everything. We chose the economy together with parents. For two years I have been preparing with tutors to enter the university. In parallel, there were competitions, training, but I still studied. In September, October I went to classes, but then competitions began, back problems, I had to be treated, so I dropped out of the educational process. I have no idea how I will make up. But it will have to be done.
Judging by the choice of profession, your parents are probably not athletes?
Mark Kondratiuk: No. My grandfather did skiing, was a master of sports. He helped me when I started figure skating. My grandfather was not very versed in this sport, but he understood what a sport of the highest achievements is. I remember one of his advice: you not always need and should to work on maximum. Sometimes you need to take a break in order to gain strength and work further. It sounds banal, but I think this is good advice.
What are your ambitions in sports?
Mark Kondratiuk: I don’t want to talk yet. The task is to skate clean and stable.
And outside of sports?
Mark Kondratiuk: While I am focused on sports. There will be time for everything else – to do what I want, go wherever I want, try something else … Big sport is a very limited period of time in a person’s life, and while there is such an opportunity, you need to make the most of it. The will be time for the other things.
How do you see the future development of men’s figure skating?
Mark Kondratiuk: I am for balance, so that there are complex elements and skating, then the programs will look interesting. If we talk apart from the program, just about jumps, I think we need to move forward, develop. It’s great that Yuzuru Hanyu tried a quad axel. It seems to me that quad axel and jumps with five rotations are real. In any case, I would very much like that. And I believe that with time the athletes will be able to do it.
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