Petr Gumennik: “We worked on my quad technique with Rafael Arutyunyan. Of course, he could not attend the training personally, but he advised and helped.”
Interview with Petr Gumennik. About placing 2d at Nationals, having the same total score with the winner, his progress over the season, work with Arutyunyan, Nathan Chen and Ilia Malinin.
source: MatchTV dd. 30th December 2022 by Sergei Podgornov
One of the main dramas of the past Russian Nationals was the denouement of the men’s singles competitions. 20-year-old Petr Gumennik was in the lead after the short program, but Evgeni Semenenko became the champion. At the same time, for the first time in Russian figure skating history, both skaters received the same number of points: 295.07. Gold went to Semenenko because he won the free program.
The dramatic ending shocked many. Gumennik, on the other hand, remained calm and accepted the situation with dignity, claiming that his performance in the free program was far from champion-like.
I was amazed by your balanced and rational assessment of what happened at the press conference after the free program. What emotions did you have inside at the same time?
Petr Gumennik: When I later reviewed the moment when the scores appeared, it seemed to me that all the emotions that I experienced could be seen on my face. In the first seconds, when I realized that I was second, there were still thoughts of, “Maybe this is not the end, what if I can get another hundredth?” I thought so for a couple of seconds, but that’s all.
Did you manage to let it go quickly?
Petr Gumennik: There was no need to hold back emotions at the press conference. It was a little sad, but now I’m not too upset. On the contrary, it turned out cool and interesting with the same number of points. And whether first or second place is important is secondary.
Was there satisfaction in the fact that you became a participant in a historical event?
Petr Gumennik: Exactly. The thought that this historical moment happened to me even displaces the fact of the loss itself.
How did you and coach Veronika Daineko react to the outcome of the competitions?
Petr Gumennik: Veronika Anatolievna was pleased that I got into the top three. That’s the only thing she told me. She did not comment on the same scores.
How has your relationship with the coach been built? This event seemed to reveal that in your joint work, both of you have great emotions.
Petr Gumennik: Yes, Veronika Anatolievna is an emotional person, in fact. Me too. Despite the fact that my appearance suggests otherwise. Our relationships are very good. I respect her very much, and I think she appreciates me too.
It’s just that in Mishin’s group, there were questions about the amount of attention that was paid to you. Why did you choose Daineko when there are more eminent specialists?
Petr Gumennik: I skated with Mishin for almost eight years. All this time, Tamara Nikolaevna Moskvina was nearby. That is, first we had ice for single skaters, and then for pairs. Sometimes I even went to this ice in Yubileiny, where pairs skated. I knew Tamara Nikolaevna. She came to training, and we worked with her on the presentation of the programs. Therefore, it was a logical step for me to go to the newly opened Moskvina club. Veronika Anatolievna was also one of the coaches in Mishin’s group. I knew her too. Actually, she knew my abilities and understood where to lead me further.
After the bronze at the 2020 Junior Worlds, there was a feeling that your progress had slowed down. Some have a desire to quit everything when something does not work out. Did you have such a moment?
Petr Gumennik: No, I didn’t have that. At that moment, I started to learn difficult quadruples—for example, lutz. I started to skate a program with a lutz. At first, everything went badly. And I got injured because of it. After all, such a jump requires a lot of strength, and the back hurts constantly. In general, learning complex elements such as ultra-c always comes with a cost in the form of injuries. The jumps cannot turn out consistently right away; you need to adjust the technique, understand it. Try it in competition.
If now I fall from the lutz to one side, then I immediately understand what needs to be corrected and where I need to focus on each jump. When I just started working on them, I did not know this, which made them unstable and I got injured.
During the current season, Alexander Zhulin admired how easily you do quads with such height. Do you yourself have the feeling that now you are doing them easily?
Petr Gumennik: There are such moments. It depends on the physical shape. Sometimes you don’t expect to reach peak shape, but you come and do everything with ease. In the process of training, you gain courage and jump with confidence.
In quads, it is very important to catch the state when everything is perfect for you. You caught the necessary coordination, and then you jumped based on physical memory.
Petr Gumennik: I would say that when there is no big rise in strength, then everything depends on technique. However, if you are in a relaxed state and quadruples come easily to you, you can jump them even if they are not perfectly timed. You correct yourself at the moment of the jump.
How do you explain to yourself the reason for success this season? Did you consider that this is the post-Olympic season, and leaders may be out of shape?
Petr Gumennik: I didn’t think that the bet should be made specifically on this season, despite the fact that it is post-Olympic. I didn’t think about it. As I already said, I just stabilized the quads and found the right technique. We worked competently with Veronika Daineko and Rafael Arutyunyan. Of course, he could not attend the training personally, but he advised and helped.
Didn’t you contact Nathan Chen for some advice?
Petr Gumennik: No, Nathan only said hello to me. I haven’t talked closely with him. But we did communicate with Rafael Vladimirovich.
What tips helped the most?
Petr Gumennik: We started working together more than a year ago — we changed my technique. This was difficult. At first, it got even worse, one might say. Still, it was unusual with the new technique. Now I have already adapted it to my body. Everything has become comfortable, and the jumps are going well.
Did Mishin’s base go against Arutyunyan’s advice?
Petr Gumennik: I have a very specific technique. Veronika Anatolievna believes that it is my own technique.
So now you can give advice to the guys in your group?
Petr Gumennik: It’s not the best technique, though.
Did Rafael Vladimirovich congratulate you on an excellent result?
Petr Gumennik: Yes. He also gave a pep talk about the need to work on gliding.
If you add a quad lutz to your program, then you will have the most difficult technical content among Russian male single skaters. Is there a desire to strive for this?
Petr Gumennik: Now I jump it all the time, every day. It no longer causes injury. However, it is not always advisable to perform it. For example, in competitions where you can score more points than everyone else even if you don’t have itIn such cases, it is more logical to skate without it.
Do you focus on your competitors’ content?
Petr Gumennik: Yes, that is right.
And when you see that Ilia Malinin is doing a quadruple axel, is there no desire to try?
Petr Gumennik: I thought about it. I tried the quadruple axel on a harness in the summer. I came to the conclusion that quadruple jumps should not be learned this way: jump with half a turn underrotation, then constantly fall and fall, trying to jump, making new attempts. You have to try it out. If it doesn’t work out, then you need to wait, practice something, increase the jump height, increase the rotation speed, and then try again. Because technique deteriorates from falls, fear or injury may also appear.
You are often compared to Nathan Chen. You also said that you liked these comparisons. And what do you think—are you similar in some way?
Petr Gumennik: We are similar in that we are both pursuing higher education and jumping all quadruples.
Can you say that you look up to him?
Petr Gumennik: Nathan has shown that it’s possible to do both: study successfully and skate. One does not interfere with the other at all. In this regard, I really look up to him. When I graduated from high school, I resolved not to enter the university until I had retired from figure skating. But in the end, I went to the university, inspired by his example.
For many athletes, studying becomes an additional source of discipline. You need to find a balance between training and classes, and this makes you grow up and be more responsible.
Petr Gumennik: Most of all, I like that I don’t think about sports all day long. When there’s only figure skating in your life, it becomes boring, and you start to dwell on it. It interferes.
You study in the difficult department of software engineering and computer technology. Do you see your future in this area after a career in figure skating?
Petr Gumennik: Yes, I see. I like solving programming problems. I am developing my brain. This will come in handy anyway. I know that I can work in the IT field.
Do you follow international competitions?
Petr Gumennik: Yes, I watch. The coolest event of the season is Malinin’s quadruple axel.
Do you keep in mind that someday you will need to enter the international arena and keep up with Malinin, the young Japanese who have now appeared?
Petr Gumennik: Of course I understand that. Therefore, I try to develop technically.
I noticed that you have black blades. Spotted this from Shoma Uno?
Petr Gumennik: They sent them to me from John Wilson. These are new carbon blades; they are slightly lighter than usual ones. Well, carbon is black. I chose not by color but by material.
We have a lot of tall single skaters; you are one of them. Artem Kovalev says that he often breaks blades and boots. Is it the same for you?
Petr Gumennik: When they sent me carbon blades for the first time, they broke quickly—parting in the heel. As a result, they made me some special reinforcements to keep them from breaking. But no more boots or blades broke. I just tear my laces all the time. The laces broke twice during this Nationals.
What to do in such cases? Take a new one?
Petr Gumennik: I did not have time to put a new one. The first time I broke it, I just tied the pieces together. When it broke the second time, it became too short, so I had to pull it out of two holes and tie it.
Doesn’t it affect the stability of the foot in the boot?
Petr Gumennik: It has a minor impact; fortunately, the lace broke at the very base of the lacing, where it serves no purpose.
You also play the piano.
Petr Gumennik: I went to a music school, played in a duet, won contests. We even went on tour in Germany.
If you hadn’t become a figure skater, were there other options?
Petr Gumennik: Yes, I could become a pianist if I wanted to.
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