Petr Gumennik: “From the age of eight, coaches constantly told me to lose weight. Mom kept me on black bread and bouillon. But I couldn’t stand such food and used to spent all my pocket money on chocolates.”
Interview with Petr Gumennik, bronze medalist of the Junior World Figure Skating Championships. About cooperation with Rafael Arutyunyan,, weight, why he doesn’t want to be a coach and plans for the 2026 Olympics.
source: sportsdaily dd. 28th May 2022
Let’s start with a rather categorical question. What keeps you in sports now? What global goals do you set for yourself for the next period?
Petr Gumennik: Figure skating gives me pleasure, brings joy and partly gives meaning to life. It is unlikely that in the near future I will be able to find an alternative for myself. I will compete next season in domestic competitions. I hope that there will still be an opportunity to compete in international events.
In the conditions of the imposed sanctions, can you suggest a change of sports citizenship?
Petr Gumennik: Now it is difficult to guess. We haven’t discussed it with the coach yet. We need to understand for how long our team is suspended.
Did you have a goal to get to the Olympics this season?
Petr Gumennik: Of course, every athlete wants to go to the Olympic Games, but after the Russian Nationals there was no regret that I didn’t manage to qualify for the team (Gumennik took 5th place at the Russian Nationals-2022 – ed). I understood that even with a perfect skating I could not get on the podium in Beijing. My Olympics, where it’s necessary to take a medal, is the next one.
During your sports career, you have worked with two coaching teams. Tell us how cooperation with Mishin differed from working with Daineko.
Petr Gumennik: Alexei Nikolaevich is a figure skating professor, an important person. When I skated in his group, his assistants worked with me more. Mishin himself trained Elizaveta Tuktamysheva. Mishin is calm, reasonable, but the approach of Veronika Anatolievna Daineko suited me more. She works with me individually, understands me well as a person and as an athlete. Male coaches are more calm than women, but on the contrary, you need to shout at someone in order to motivate.
Did Mishin try to keep you in his group when you have been leaving him?
Petr Gumennik: No, he didn’t try to keep me. We parted without conflict.
Can you recall the most valuable advice that the Professor gave you.
Petr Gumennik: I often recall his words: “If the process gives pleasure, then the result will come by itself. It is necessary to enjoy not the final result, but the road that leads to it.”
Now it has become fashionable to talk about relationships with coaches. For example, Alena Kostornaia, Sonya Shevchenko and Liza Nugumanova have recently gave controversial interviews. How do you feel about such “revelations”?
Petr Gumennik: I don’t have any “skeletons”. We have a good relationship with the coach. I would not skate where people infringe my rights. As for the girls’ statements, I would not do that. But they may have their own reasons, perhaps they are offended by the coaches or want to create a newsbreak.
Your ex-team colleague Liza Nugumanova talked about problems with being overweight and regular diets. Do you have any trouble with the shape?
Petr Gumennik: I don’t think I’ve ever had a weight problem. But you need to constantly monitor your appearance. From the age of eight, coaches constantly told me to lose weight, and this did not depend on my current weight. Mom kept me on black bread and bouillon. But I could not stand such food and spent all my pocket money on chocolates. My parents gave me 200 rubles for lunch, and I bought 10 chocolates. If something sweet appeared at home, I also ate it quickly. The strategy to keep me on a diet was ineffective.
How did the coaches say about the need to lose weight and what sanctions did they apply to violators of the regime?
Petr Gumennik: The coaches carefully approached my mother and talked about my problems with weight. The coaches had tremendous authority, so we could not disobey them. If at the weigh-in the number did not suit the coach, then he called parents. Girls could be not allowed on the ice. I think this makes sense. Excess weight provokes unnecessary injuries.
Were there any difficulties during the active phase of growth?
Petr Gumennik: When I started to grow, the problem of discoordination appeared. Today, for example, I can jump Axel and Salchow, but tomorrow I come and get some kind of nonsense. I had to get used to my body again. It pissed me off, but I didn’t want to quit. I understood that these are temporary difficulties and I must endure them. Now it seems to me that my height, on the contrary, helps me.
You are one of the few Russian figure skaters who works with Rafael Arutyunyan. How did you come up with the idea to ask him for help?
Petr Gumennik: I have always considered Rafael Vladimirovich as the best coach in the world, plus I really liked his athlete Nathan Chen. When I left Mishin, we called Rafael Vladimirovich and agreed to meet. We came to Los Angeles, skated there for two weeks. Then I was in a very bad shape, but Rafael Arutyunyan praised me, he saw potential in me, said that I was a future champion. He said that I was lagging behind in physical development, but you need to wait a couple of years, then everything will be fine. And indeed, a year later I started to jump and win competitions. Then I found out that Rafael and Nathan are working from different cities via video chat. We agreed on the same scheme of work.
How is your cooperation now?
Petr Gumennik: The time difference does not allow us to train online. If I have problems with the elements or I’m interested in technical aspects, I record a video and send it to Rafael. We have a call, he gives me advice, sends videos with exercises in response.
How does Daineko feel about your tandem with Harutyunyan?
Petr Gumennik: Good. First, my results are directly affect her. Secondly, she can learn from his experience. We are working together now.
Did you have an idea to follow the path of your groupmate Aleksei Krasnozhon in Mishin school: to change citizenship and perform for USA with Rafael Arutyunyan?
Petr Gumennik: Krasnozhon said that he changed his citizenship due to the lack of international competitions and the bad attitude of the federation. I always get into the national team and compete in competitions.
Does Arutyunyan take money from you?
Petr Gumennik: No, he trains for free. Rafael says that he is pleased to work with me and he does not need money. It certainly inspires me.
Do you know Nathan Chen?
Petr Gumennik: We are not friends, but we saw each other at competitions a couple of times, talked a little.
Recently, you and Nikolai Morozov choreographed new programs for the next season. Will you open the cards?
Petr Gumennik: Okay, I’ll tell you a little. Short – neoclassical, violin. Free – Spanish motives. Morozov is my favorite choreographer. We worked with him in the past year. When he has time to make a program for me, we always get a good result.
How does Morozov work?
Petr Gumennik: He likes to give steps that seem difficult, but in fact the athlete does not waste energy on their execution. Nikolai has his own style of interpreting music. He gave me Alexei Yagudin as an example and showed how ridiculous he looked on the ice before working with him, and how he has changed after. During work, Morozov is on courage, he can work without stopping for several hours. At this training camp, there was a moment when he blushed all over, sweated, but continued to created until his eyes went dark. The programs turned out very good.
Most athletes after the end of their careers become coaches. You, as I understand it, have no such idea?
Petr Gumennik: It seems to me that many skaters do not think about having exams successfully, because in the future they see themselves involved in sports. I want to diversify the risk: if it doesn’t work out with figure skating, then I will have another opportunity to grow. I don’t want to be a coach.
Your high state exam results shocked the public and were actively discussed. How did you manage to combine sports and studies?
Petr Gumennik: I think I’m intellectually gifted, and sports did not prevent me from studying. There are 15 hours of wakefulness in a day, I can skate for 6 hours maximum, the rest of the time can be devoted to intellectual activity.
What university are you planning to enter?
Petr Gumennik: I will do it this year. At first I thought about medical science, then bioinformatics, now I decided on computer science, at ITMO. No subject gives me as much pleasure as computer science, but I have not passed the exam yet. To get on scholarship, you need to get 94 points for the exam. I will enter the full-time department. We agreed that I would skate in the evening and go to university in the morning.
Did you draw a parallel between yourself and Nathan Chen, who combines his studies at the university with a career of a figure skater?
Petr Gumennik: I look at Chen and think: he has achieved such results in sports, he studies at the best university, so this is possible. In Russia, almost none of the figure skaters dare to study another profession. If I was guided by them, then I would have thought that between sports and study you need to choose one thing.
What are your hobbies besides figure skating and studies?
Petr Gumennik: As a child, I studied at a music school, but I never finished it, I studied for myself. Now sometimes I play the piano, learn some compositions. I like to read, I study investing and French. I like to walk and talk about some topics. I choose, for example, a question and analyze it for myself. I love to ride a bike.
The circle of your communication is mainly figure skaters?
Petr Gumennik: All my friends are skaters, because I don’t live in other circles. But we practically don’t talk about figure skating, there is so much of it in our life.
How are things going with your personal life?
Petr Gumennik: I don’t have a girlfriend. Relationships can help someone in their career, inspire, give strength, but for someone, on the contrary, they will interfere. My girlfriend doesn’t have to be a figure skater.
Are you in active search?
Petr Gumennik: Passive search.
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