Elena Vaitsekhovskaya’s interview with Mikhail Kolyada.
I know that after your first experience working with Stephane Lambiel last year you intended to go to him for a longer period. Why did not it work out?
– Because in the summer we planned to go not only to Shamperi to Stefan, but also to Raphael Arutyunyan in the US. Plus, I hadn’t got my master’s thesis. Last year I went to Switzerland with our choreographer Olga Klyushnichenko, this season we went with my coach Valentina Chebotareva and Stanislava Konstantinova. With the same team we went to Arutyunyan. Valentina Mikhailovna really wanted to see how these specialists work, I was only happy about it. Even the most ingenious specialist can’t know everything. We must constantly learn, note something for ourselves.
Once, Julia Lipnitskaya admitted that she was in shock from working with Stefan, how fast he improvised on the ice.
– Yes, there are such moments. But, since I have already worked with him I was ready for this style of work. This is very interesting actually. Because when you try to remember what and how Lambiel shows, knowing that the second time he can repeat all the steps completely differently this really develops the memory. But I agree with Julia. When Stefan makes a step sequence, this is a separate attraction.
How comfortable are the programs that he choreographed?
– On some things you need work for a quite long time. Sometimes Stefan warns that some transitions will be uncomfortable at first. The main thing is that he doesn’t try to fit everyone to himself. He choreographed all the movements so that it was comfortable and beautiful and looked as good as possible. Lambiel always makes a layout first. Then he puts the main elements – jumps, spins. And only then he starts to connect all this, wrap it with steps. It’s very comfortable to work with Lambiel even because he is always near on the skates.
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Chebotareva works without skates?
– Now yes. When I was younger, she went to the ice sometimes.
At what point did you get have an idea to go to Arutyunyan?
– After the Olympic Games. He offered that.
To you or to your coach?
– To me. One day we were returning from the rink in one bus, and he offered. And I gladly agreed. Valentina Chebotareva also said that this is a good idea for us to go. They say that the unknown scares, but I did not have that feeling. On the contrary, it was very interesting to see how skaters in America work, how they live, how they rest. I understand that it’s very difficult to feel this all in two weeks, but I think I did a little.
What left the strongest impressions?
– Shots on the street in the evening. We lived in a motel in a Mexican town, someone started shooting. The next morning even the police came.
Did you look for housing yourself?
– Yes. At first we wanted to rent a house with three bedrooms, but we didn’t find such options. Therefore we had to live in a motel. More expensive housing we simply could not afford.
I know that Rafael Arutyunyan was very pleased with the work with you. What do you think?
– I also really liked everything. We mostly worked on jumps. Changed the entries, and the approach to training in general.
And more specifically?
– We worked very carefully on steps. Outwardly these changes were very small, but they made it possible to achieve different flight trajectory, different acceleration, different landing. We worked very detailed on quad lutz, which I jumped last season in competitions only two times – at the competition in Bratislava and at the Grand Prix in China.
In general, the mistake was that I didn’t have the right direction of the jump. Everything seemed to be visually good. But since quad lutz is quite a powerful element, I sometimes just didn’t have enough physical strength to land it. Pity that I began to understand all this already going to the jump. As we say, when you go on a jump, you must see the landing. And I didn’t see it.
However, you didn’t put it into the program.
– Not yet.
But are you planning to?
– Yes, of course. Now my primary task is to show the program and get high scores for it. With the changes in the rules, it became very unprofitable to fall. But with a good performance of triple jumps you can get high enough. In this season, I think, many single skaters will go on some simplification of their programs in order to emphasize the second mark.
As practice shows, the second mark in single skating is always pretty closely related to the technical one. If the skater skates without a quadruple jump, I’m not sure that the judges will react to this loyally.
– No one talks about complete refusal of quadruple jumps. I will just skate without quad lutz for a while. Salchow is also in doubt, but we are actively trying to make friends with it. I will do the quad toe loop both in the short and free programs. While we were in America, I basically jumped triples. I jumped them to such a state when I generally stopped thinking about the entries, to do them automatically. And only then started to do quadruple jumps.
In other words, your task at the test skates is to show not the complexity, but the program as a whole.
– Yes. To show programs, show good step sequences, spins. To try myself in front of the audience, to try costumes. This will be my first skate in competitive costumes.
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While you were training in America, did you communicate with Nathan Chen?
– A little bit, as far as my poor English allowed. I watched him more. I like Nathan as a skater. He is a very good person. Very sociable, kind.
How do you know this, if you don’t speak English?
– After all, we performed quite often at the same competitions. I noticed some things from the side, and then, each person has his own biofield. From Chen always comes positive energy, it’s comfortable to be near him.
According to Arutyunyan, Nathan has been crazy about quads since childhood, he even had a conflict with the coach because of this.
– In training, Chen really jumps a lot. But I was much more impressed by the fact that he goes to training to have fun.
How can you have fun when you jump so many quads?
– This is the main question. For me it was a very good experience to skate around and see how a person works. Chen really have fun from everything he does. Even if something doesn’t work out for him, he gets over it and goes on. For me it always has been different. If something doesn’t work out I get upset and dig myself into this psychological hole.
I also thought that Rafael managed to create a great team and a very workable atmosphere in terms of training. There is no such that someone is tired and the work is finished. Somehow you find additional strength, so you go and do more, more, more. At the next training you go to the ice, at the beginning you feel tired, but you skate, you jump – and everything on a new one. Constantly on a wave, as on surfing, you don’t skate, but fly across the ice.
How many hours on the ice did you have per day?
– Three workouts, each per hour. There were classes in the gym, choreography, special physical trainings. But sometimes after the ice I did only stretching.
Did you train in America paying for every hour of work?
– Yes. In America, in general, all train as much as their wallet allows. Fortunately, St. Petersburg Federation of Figure Skating and Russian Skating Federation helped our group a lot in this regard.
In Russia, athletes usually don’t think at all trainings are worth something. When you realize that every lesson is paid for by a real money, does it make you change attitude to work?
– Honestly, I didn’t think about it. I just have never been in the shoes of those people who pull the money out of their own pocket. But I can say for sure: when you are surrounded by those who pay a certain amount for a specific time on the ice, when you see how people work, you involuntarily begin to experience a similar condition. It is clear that at the any rink there are always those who come just to skate, not chasing any result. But there are those who work hard, knowing exactly what they want. It is always very well seen.
If you had to pay for the work with Lambiel and Arutyunyan from your own pocket, would you go to these specialists?
– Yes. It’s money well spent.
We slowly came to the most painful topic for you – short program at the team event at the Olympics.
– It’s still terrible to think about it. You know, after that skate, I had a feeling that I was standing by the wall, I saw my own projection as in reality and this projection shot me from the machine gun. The whole day after that I didn’t want to eat, sleep or see anyone. I went to my room in the Olympic village, lay down on the bed and didn’t think about anything at all. Only that everything is bad.
For me, those experiences were a tremendous shock. Before coming to Pyeongchang, I thought that I understand approximately what Olympic games are, but I wasn’t even close to what they really are. How much the responsibility for the result presses on the athlete. I realized that the most important thing at the Games was to learn how not to get under such pressure.
I tried to understand, why skating after all the main competitors who made big mistakes, you didn’t simplified your short program? Why didn’t you remove quadruple lutz, a quadruple toe loop? After all, even with triple jumps you had an excellent chance to finish the program if not with the best result, but ahead of Patrick Chan and Nathan Chen. I found only one explanation: you was so psychologically jammed that you didn’t have the ability to make decisions.
– Something similar really happened to me.
How did you get out of this state?
– Friends, relatives, close people helped a lot. After the first shock was over, the next day I stupidly sat with the phone. They called me, I called them. It has never been so hard for me in my life. Physically, I wasn’t even tired, but morally was completely killed, experienced a strong emotional shake. I will not wish anyone to experience the same.
I read your interviews after the World Championships and was frankly surprised by your attitude to both the personal result at the Olympics, where you stayed the eighth and to the bronze won in Milan, despite the fact that you had all the chances to win this competitions. There was an impression of some nonchalant: it could have been better, but it’s still great. Everything is cool, I liked everything. Did you really perceive your results this way?
– Probably, the emotions of the team event in Pyeongchang were so powerful that I simply didn’t have any emotional forces left. Everything else – both the individual event at the Olympics and the World Championships I perceived as happened what happened.
For your free program you took the theme of the Toreador from “Carmen” and turned out that you wasn’t the only one.
– Yes. Maxim Kovtun and I have already laughed about it in Novogorsk. Alina Zagitova also has “Carmen”. We can have a special club.
Doesn’t it bother you that you will have to skate to the same music at the same competitions?
– On the contrary, it’s very interesting. When two people skate to the same music, it is always interesting to compare: who presents his vision of the work better, who shows better emotions. And then it’s up to the judges whom they like more.
You don’t make any predictions about your own result this season?
– No. I don’t tend to plan my life for more than one season ahead. There are certain plans, of course I think how to implement them, how to solve some issues. But nothing more. I try to live the moment and not to think about what happened and what will happen. In this regard, I began to treat a lot of things in my life, not only sports, a little bit differently than before. It is clear that this is a long process. You can not wake up become another person. It’s possible only in the movies. But the process is on, and I think it’s going fine.
Not so long ago, you were considered a very young skater, who has everything ahead. How do you feel now? Did not you get the feeling that every year you grow older and perhaps there is less and less time to realize yourself in sports?
– I really hope that I will skate for a long time. As long as health allows. In this case it turns out that all the best is really ahead. And further, as the song sings: “All life ahead, hope and wait.”
by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for rsport.ria.ru