Morisi Kvitelashvili: “I jump toe loop and salchow in a way I learned in childhood. Well on replays it’s noticeable that I lift my foot a little. Take a closer look, please.”
Interview with Morisi Kvitelashvili. The most successful Georgian single skater tells how he came to the gold medal of the Grand Prix stage at the age of 26, the peculiarities of moving to the Georgian national team and training with Eteri Tutberidze.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 5th December 2021, by Vlad Zhukov
Was you surprised by your victory at the Grand Prix in Sochi?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: To be honest, yes. It was unexpected, especially after the free program. I was unhappy with it, at trainings I skated better. I was a little upset when I fell on a quad toeloop in the second half. And the skating itself … There was a lot of struggle, there were no clean landings. Going off the ice I thought that I would be off the pedestal.
You went quite smoothly through the program, but you had an unpleasant fall. Such falls usually greatly make you out of breath. Was it like that?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: It’s just hard to re-gain speed. When you calmly go from element to element, you don’t loose speed and you just keep on gaining it. This gives additional stimulus and strength. In addition, the audience is excited, supportive, and you keep on gaining speed.
And the arena is also Olympic.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Yes, “Iceberg” arena is very beautiful. As for inconvenient board for photographers, I didn’t even notice it. Probably because I just don’t have the elements in that corner.
You won your first serious gold medal at the age of 26. What else would you like to improve?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Probably emotions. And stability of the elements.
What thoughts did you have entering this important season?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Well, that I need to work.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I’m serious! (Laughs.) How else? There is only one way: you work – you perform. And that’s all, there is simply no time for something else.
But you can’t do the same thing every day. Training in Eteri Tutberidze’s group is probably changing somehow.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: We mainly try to work on quality and complete run-through. We simulate situations like in a competition.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: For example, we make a draw (of starting numbers). All together – girls and boys. We draw six numbers and perform according to them.
And the last skater is waiting for his turn for 40 minutes?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Not always. Depends on how long the discussion with the coaches lasts (laughs).
Well, that is, the one who got the last number just glides alongside? Or is everything just like in a competition? Does he take off his skates and runs in sneakers, warming up?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: In sneakers, like in a competition. Effect of real presence in the competitive atmosphere. Sometimes I had time to lie down after the gym. We spend all day in training, and sometimes you have such a condition that every part of your body is tired, you cannot do anything. And you also have a run-through ahead… After a six-minute warm-up, you have time to take a nap a little, then warm up, and after that, you skate.
Are you given scores during these training skates?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Scores – no. But then the coaches make the protocol. Eteri Georgievna evaluates how well did you make each element – “+1”, “+3”, “-2”, “0”. They count the rotations. And then all this is discussed in detail.
You are talking about imitation of the atmosphere of the competition. Do you also have such an imitation, when you are brought to the state of “I can no longer do anything”, and then you are sent to skate programs in order to adapt to any conditions?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: It happens, yes. In general, it happens sometimes that when I’m full of strength, and it is harder for me to perform.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Yes. But physically too. I start to do it sharper, faster, but I just need to finish the program … I’m sharp and impudent myself (laughs). I need to be a little calmer, without jerky movements.
In general, there are such states in competitions when you simply burn out. You get into the starting position and you understand – that’s it, I’m tired (laughs). I don’t know what it is … Emotional something.
And what to do with it?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Nothing. Just fight on.
In general, everything is going well for you. It took you quite a long time, but in the last couple of years you have begun to show yourself very cool. Why do you think it happened? And why didn’t you start to show results earlier?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I think that before I wanted it too much. And it somehow confused me. It happens sometimes – you come to a competition and try to do better than in training.
Does it interfere?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Yes, and very much. Well, imagine, you have not done this before, and then suddenly decided to give it all. And you are not ready for this, the body cannot take it. And mistakes happen.
That is, the secret of inconsistency is in this great desire?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I think yes. You just need to be a little calmer, grow up to that. I always had a pretty big desire – both when I skated for Russia and for Georgia. And now I calmed down a bit and began to enjoy the skating.
Well, then let’s move from pleasure to tricky questions. Many people wonder why your salchow and toeloop are so similar?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: You know I jump them in a way I learned in childhood. It is difficult to change technique in adulthood. All the same, the old one will show up, which was learned a long time ago.
Have you tried to change the technique of these jumps?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I tried, long time ago. But it turns out as it turns out.
But okay, on replays they still can see which kind of jump you have.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Well, yes. It’s also noticeable that I lift my foot a little (laughs). Take a closer look, please.
What’s in your head now, what sporting guidelines? It is clear about “clean skates, fourth levels” and all that, but let’s be honest.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: You know, at the beginning of the season I even wrote my goals on a piece of paper and pasted them on top of my bed (laughs). I am waiting for these wiches to come true. When these written thoughts become one whole in your head, everything will work out.
In fact, I’ve had this before. Last year, some of the wishes that I wrote to myself were actually fulfilled. It’s amazing.
What is the most important one?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Well, since sport is my life now … Probably it’s consistent skating.
What a perfect answer. Now let’s do it one more time.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Okay, I’m ready.
Let’s try it again.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: … consistent skating (laughs).
Let’s move on to the main topic – the transfer to Georgia. How and when did this option come about?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Actually, I had my first performance for Georgia when I was a child – at a CIS competitions on a special program. Then even the president of the federation was different. At that time I was skating at CSKA with Svetlana Bukareva.
How old were you?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I think 8 or 10. Then I had the opportunity to try (to skate for Georgia). But since I was born and raised in Moscow, I skated for Russia on a regular basis. But at some point my groin started to hurt. I even had to spend time in a hospital. Nothing serious, fortunately, but it needed some treatment.
At this time, I began to think what to do next. And I decided that since my groin is still hurting, I can’t jump – I’ll go to ice dance. I came to Alexander Zhulin, skated in his group just one day. Well, I was wondering, I decided to try it.
After this training, my parents began to receive calls from abroad – from Germany, America, Georgia. They ask: “Well, has Morisi switched to ice dance? They say he’s been skating there for a month already.” And I just came to try it for one day! (Laughs.) Rumors have spread so much. Well, in the end, they started asking me if I was interested in performing for Georgia in ice dance. But I thought that it was better to perform in single skating after all, because I didn’t want to change anything dramatically.
Well, in Georgia they agreed that I skate for them as a single skater. As a result, at the season 2016 and 2017, I switched.
What do you think were wrong during the time you skated for Russia?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Probably the great desire that I’ve mentioned before. Because I won some competitions, took places in the top three. Stages of the Russian Cup, for example. I won the Cup Final. At the Russian Junior Nationals, I was the third. But this was the same year when we had two spots for the Junior Worlds.
And the most important competitions were not successful for me – the nationals, for example.
How does this process take place in general? The head of the federation addresses you, you communicate, they write letters to our federation … Or what?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: It was rather my desire to move. And then the federations are already writing letters to each other – they say, the person wants to move. They agree among themselves.
From your side, did you have to do something?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: No, this is what the federation is doing.
Well, for example, how to get citizenship?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I have a double citizenship – Georgian and Russian.
Did our federation try to keep you?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Honestly, I don’t even know …
But were there any conversations with you about this?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: No. We signed the paper – and that’s it, I got a release. You see, questions appear only when a person shows some results. Before that, there are no problems.
You’ve changed the country, but not the coaching group. In this regard, have there ever been any questions for you? Well, you know yourself, a “foreign” skater trains in a Russian state school and stuff like that.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: No. This is also discussed between all parts – federations, coaches. Athlete is the last one whom it concerns.
Was there an option at all that with the change of sports citizenship, you would have to leave Eteri Georgievna?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Well, in any case, so far no one has set such conditions. And it’s great.
Did Eteri Georgievna herself somehow influence the issue of changing citizenship? Maybe she advised something, dissuaded or pushed to do it.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: In fact, we just had such an option, and we initiated the process. Eteri Georgievna, of course, was aware. And she supported this decision.
What has changed in you after transferring to Georgia? Maybe it became a little calmer to perform, less pressure and stuff like that? After all, now you have an almost guaranteed opportunity to go to the main competitions.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: It became calmer – this is probably true. As for everything else, it’s more complicated. After all, I have always had certain goals – both when I skated for Russia, and now. So I wouldn’t say there is relaxation. And when you show some kind of result, it only gives an additional motivation.
But at the same time, you still have, roughly speaking, time to prepare.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: In fact, I can honestly say that in Eteri Georgievna’s group we are completely ready already at the training camp in Novogorsk. Programs were already being skated there. And by the time of the test skates, the girls and I were in good shape. Therefore, I cannot say that after transferring to Georgia, I began to enter the season more slowly.
Do you often visit Georgia
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Only for some business. Now, for example, I have just returned from there, but before that I hadn’t been there for about a year and a half. There is simply no time to go to Georgia. And no one will let me go.
What tasks does the local federation set for you?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: “Skate clean and the judges will appreciate you.” Probably something like that.
Well, that’s also a good approach. There is no strong pressure.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I would not say that there is no pressure at all. Still there were different situations, especially when I skated badly. You still need to go to the competitions and show good skating.
A tricky question, but I want to ask. You probably have faced the condemnation of your decision. Say, he’s a “traitor” and any such nonsense. How do you react to this?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I don’t really see such things now. And before … Well, I did not react at all. What’s the point? I had the opportunity … Maybe I would have finished with sports and would not sit with you in this studio now and would not discuss anything.
Did you yourself ever have thoughts of “betrayal”?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: No. This was my decision and I stuck with it.
Now Georgia has a very strong national team – you will surely compete for medals of the team event in Beijing. At the same time, almost all of your leaders in the past were somehow connected with the Russian national team. Is there some feeling of revenge? Well, they say, at the time we were not useful to you – so now we’ll show you.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: I think no. The main thing is that the guys have the opportunity to compete at the Olympics. This means a lot to the athlete. Fight for your historical homeland, for yourself. By the way, this is also a historic event – Georgia has never performed in the team event.
As we can see, now the level of men’s single skating in Russia is quite high, but at the same time the guys are unstable and, in fact, there is no absolutely confident leader. That is, you could have calmly fight for a place in our team and, in the future, go to Beijing as part of the Russian team, the main contender for gold. Tell me, but honestly, is there any regret that at one time you decided to make the transition?
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Nope. I made the decision to compete for Georgia long ago. And this gave me the opportunity to do what I love and take part in major competitions, including the Olympics. Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have skated anymore. So I have no regrets about the transition.
It’s great. So you made the right choice after all.
Morisi Kvitelashvili: Yes. In general, I had two such choices. The first is when I decided to go to Eteri Georgievna. Because before that, I also thought to end up with sports.
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