Mikhail Kolyada: “In Pyeongchang there was a feeling that the fate of mankind depends on me. And I could not cope with such a burden of responsibility. Now I think differently.”
Interview with Mikhail Kolyada. About missing the Beijing Olympics after testing positive for coronavirus, how he overcame it and further plans.
source: rsport.ria.ru dd. 15th March 2022, by Boris Khodorovsky
What will you show us at the Channel One Cup?
Mikhail Kolyada: I prepare as usual. I jump, polish programs, work on choreography. In Saransk I will skate “The Nutcracker” and “White Raven”. As for the jumping competitions, I am waiting for instructions from Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin.
You have been working with Mishin for two years now. Was there any talk about continuing your cooperation?
Mikhail Kolyada: Yes, we had such a conversation and, as it seemed to me, Alexei Nikolaevich was delighted. He said he enjoyed working with me. I don’t want to end my career. I really like to skate.
Many people think that at the age of 27 it is difficult to reach a new level, and even more so to hold out for another four years until the next Olympics.
Mikhail Kolyada: But I feel like I haven’t reached my maximum. And it is impossible to predict what path the development of figure skating will take in the near future. There is talk of different options. There could be a separation of the technical and artistic components. Indeed, in artistic gymnastics there is an all-around, and there are separate apparatuses. Figure skating can also go this way. Together with the coach, we will start from how figure skating will develop in the world and in Russia.
If you were ISU president or vice president in charge of figure skating development, what reforms would you propose?
Mikhail Kolyada: I can not imagine myself in the role of such a high-ranking functionary. This requires appropriate education, work experience, authority, which is gained in years. Just like that, no one will nominate me to the ISU leadership. Fantasizing on the topic “If I were the president of the ISU” is not worth it.
Four years ago, Nathan Chen did not listen to anyone in Pyeongchang, complicated the content in the short program as much as possible – and finished outside of the pedestal. Now he has become more experienced, wiser – and won the coveted Olympic gold. From the standpoint of today’s experience, would you change something in preparation and performance at the 2018 Olympics?
Mikhail Kolyada: Certainly. If that Kolyada had my today’s brains, a lot would change. But history does not tolerate the subjunctive mood.
Are the Olympics really a special competitions that cannot be compared with the World Championships?
Mikhail Kolyada: For me, Pyeongchang is the only experience so far, and then I really felt a huge difference. There was a feeling that the fate of mankind depends on me. And I could not cope with such a burden of responsibility … Now I think differently.
Did you feel the absence of a flag and an anthem, as well as the status of an “Olympic athlete from Russia”?
Mikhail Kolyada: It didn’t affect me at all. Of course, it is an honor to represent the flag of your country, but it is much worse when Russian athletes are completely deprived of the opportunity to compete. It’s not fair.
You were named as the sole culprit in the 2018 Olympic team event loss, even though it was hard to beat the Canadian team that had no weaknesses. How did you manage to overcome this, and when did you move away from this?
Mikhail Kolyada: I partially managed to move away, but I still feel the burden of responsibility.
Some believe that the federation initiated the change of coach for you, others point to the Professor, who needed a 100% candidate for the Olympic team. Is it possible to finally close the question with the transition from Valentina Chebotareva to Alexei Mishin?
Mikhail Kolyada: It was my decision, which I thought about for a very long time. Having made it, I found Mishin’s phone number. After my call, Alexei Nikolaevich took time to think. Three days later I called up the leaders of the FFKKR to make the transition official.
Were there any doubts?
Mikhail Kolyada: It was difficult to notify Valentina Mikhailovna, to whom I owed everything. Chebotareva brought me from the children’s group to the World medalist. She has invested so much time, effort and soul in my development! I don’t know if I could have invested the same amount in the figure skater Kolyada with all his whims. I am grateful to Valentina Mikhailovna for everything she has done for me. I came to Mishin with a good technical base, and Alexei Nikolayevich always notes the contribution of my first coach and appreciates it.
Was the change in the training process painless?
Mikhail Kolyada: At first it seemed like I just changed jobs. Then it turned out that everything had changed: from the daily regimen to the training methodology, from physical training to work on choreography. It was quite difficult to adjust, but the details should not be brought up for general discussion. After about six months of working with Mishin, there were no more difficulties in the work.
When did you feel that Evgeni Semenenko, who is training on the same ice with you, is a real competitor for a place in the national team?
Mikhail Kolyada: From the first day.
In the course of the Olympic season, you, like Chen, who won gold in Beijing, changed both programs. Last season, which turned out not completed due to the coronavirus, you had a wonderful free program “White Raven”. Why was it necessary to choreograph a new one?
Mikhail Kolyada: I don’t even remember who came up with the idea to choreograph Schindler’s List for the Olympic season: Mishin or Nikita Mikhailov. Last spring I had a strong feeling that we won’t keep the White Raven. And I suspected that we would change the short program. Maybe just wanted to change something.
A lot of people liked your version of Schindler’s List. Didn’t want comparisons with Jason Brown, who kept this program from last season?
Mikhail Kolyada: At the competitions in Espoo, we skated one after another, and everyone asked whose “Schindler’s List” is better and how I feel. How? Fine! At some point, Alexei Nikolaevich simply said: “That’s it, let’s return to the Raven.”
On social networks, fans who know everything, always and about everything, put forward the version that skipping the European Championships was a tactical move. Was the injury that prevented you from going to Tallinn so serious?
Mikhail Kolyada: Unfortunately, we cannot avoid injuries in our sport. Instead of performing in Tallinn, I had to go to a physiotherapist for procedures. Taking into account the Olympic prospects it was not worth it to take risk.
What was the first reaction to a positive COVID-19 test?
Mikhail Kolyada: Shock. I was tested literally on the eve of flying to the training camp in Krasnoyarsk. And I felt fine! I was hopeful that the next test would be negative. After all, the first one was just to play it safe and calmly fly to the training camp. I wasn’t able to get a negative test before flying to Beijing.
Did you watch broadcasts from Beijing?
Mikhail Kolyada: Figure skating partly. I was so immersed in myself that I did not want to reopen the wound. It was the first Olympics that I did not follow. Everyone around watched, discussed, but it passed me by. There are times when you just want to close and be in myself.
Recently, the Hungarian choreographer Adam Solya came to St. Petersburg, who choreographed new programs for Semenenko and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. He appreciated your “White Raven” very highly. Did you follow his work?
Mikhail Kolyada: In training, I don’t follow anyone at all. Completely immersed in my thoughts and focused on my work. Yes, and it is more interesting to see a ready-made program than to follow its production. I have worked with many choreographers, including Stephane Lambiel and Ilia Averbukh. Everyone has their own approach, their own vision of me.
In the long term, do you see yourself as a choreographer or a “technician”?
Mikhail Kolyada: Now I don’t think about the long term at all. I would like to work as an active figure skater. I am interested in both the work of the choreographer and the opportunity to work on technique. How it will turn out, I don’t know yet.
Do you follow your fan groups on social media and your haters there as well?
Mikhail Kolyada: Now I don’t use social media at all. Sometimes in the sea of positive there is a small negative that can bring great feelings. It is better to distance yourself from this so as not to waste your energy. Especially now, when so many terrible things are happening in the world.
Can figure skating save the world?
Mikhail Kolyada: Figure skating is an art that gives beauty. People who come to see figure skating, a ballet, an art exhibition can get rid of the negativity that pours on them from everywhere. They enjoy the beauty which is known to save the world.
Alexander Zhulin: “We have been doing sports all our lives and in fact we can’t do anything else, and they deprive us of the right to compete.”