Polina Tsurskaya: The main thing I regret is having left Tutberidze without saying thank you
Another interview with Polina Tsurskaya who recently has announced about her retirement. About reasons for leaving sport and Eteri Tutberidze.
by Kuzina Natalia for sovsport.ru dd. 10th July, 2019
At the end of May, you announced your retirement from sport, have you regret your decision?
– Not at all. I haven’t skated for three months by that time, I just announced it a little later. Now I have different life.
What kind of life?
– At first I didn’t know what to do. Yes, the first week was a pleasure, I thought – this is it, happiness. But then I realized that I can’t live without movement. I decided to give lessons for children. While this is the only option for earning money and not to stay at home all the time. I graduated from school, passed the exams in advance, classes in the institute starts only September 1st, so I began to look for children to train.
– Placed ads. And when I started working at the rink, other parents saw me and also asked me to work with their children.
How much does your lesson cost?
– If a person asks me, I will call the price, I would like not to voice it. My prices are average.
Was it much expensive with your coaches?
– I have never taken extra lessons.
Wow, now parents spend a huge amount of money on extra lessons.
– Yes, now it’s common, all children take extra lessons. But before it wasn’t like that. In Omsk, where I started to skate, there was enough ice. Then I came to Eteri Tutberidze. She doesn’t have such thing like extra lessons with some other coach at all. Everyone works with her in the allotted time. Managed to do all the work – well done, no – that’s your problem. But the process of work in “Chrystalny” is built in such a way that everyone has enough time.
Did you live at the rink?
– No, I lived near the rink in a five-minute walk, and practices, if you are talking about this, started not so early – at 10 or a bit later. I even managed to run to school, and then went to practices. Sometimes I was late, but Eteri Georgievna allowed to be late because of studies.
During the day – warm up, ice, break, warm up, ice, сool down. At half past seven in the evening went home. During the day break I always went home to sleep.
How did you get to Tutberidze, starting a career in Omsk?
– When I was 11 years old, there was a conflict with my coach and I thought that now I would just study in Omsk. But my parents contacted Alexander Kogan (now the general director of the Russian figure skating federation). He advised to go to Eteri Georgievna. I was told what kind of coach she was and who she brought up.
Six years ago, Eteri Tutberidze wasn’t so famous.
– Even then, her students achieved a lot: Polina Shelepen, Julia Lipnitskaya. Well, and Evgenia Medvedeva began to shine. Despite the fact that I was in the mood for quitting sports, at that moment I was afraid to say “No” to my parents: after all, because of me they decided on big changes in their lives.
Do you remember the first meeting with Eteri Georgievna?
– We were standing near the locker room and here comes Eteri Georgievna. Mom explained who we were, the coach looked me up and down and said: “The girl is tall. Are you sure that you want and will be able to?” We said “Yes” and she called us to the ice.
Of course, at the first training session I showed my maximum, but, it seems to me, Eteri Georgievna also liked that I heard all the comments and immediately corrected mistakes. In general, after the first practice, they told me that they were taking me.
And the golden time began?
– Yes, it was cool, especially in junior times, when everyone was younger. You can’t say that we had no childhood. During the breaks, we could have fun all together.
At the Olympics, were you cheering for Zhenya or Alina?
– For the Russian national team!
– For Zhenya. I didn’t see the competition live. In the morning I woke up, took the phone with fear to see the results. I was very upset about Evgenia, but at the same time I was happy for Alina, because then we skated together I saw how she worked and how she went to this victory. I was glad for Zhenya too – when I watched her performance and saw with what emotions she finished the program.
Why did Alina and Zhenya succeed in winning at the main competitions, and many, including you, didn’t reach the desired results. After all, you have same skating rink, same conditions, same coach, you work equally.
– Probably, after all, not everyone works the same way. Someone gives himself a break, someone cheats a little bit at trainings. Then these “a little bit” connect and make themselves felt.
Have you heard about the recent scandal over Zagitova program to the song of Billie Eilish, when Daniil Gleikhengauz was accused of plagiarism?
– This is a scandal out of nothing. This often happens in creative work – saw the movement and used it. We can’t say that the program was stolen from beginning to end. There was a dance on the floor! If skaters liked it, why can’t they take a few movements? Of course, if someone now had completely re-skated Yagudin’s “Winter” that would have been wrong. But from the floor to the ice … I think it’s cool. After all, they could have watched thousands of dances to this music, but they took yours, you have to be proud! I don’t see a problem here.
Describe Eteri Tutberidze.
– Demanding, purposeful, sincere.
Why did you leave her?
– Injuries started. Psychologically it became hard. Eteri Georgievna tried to revive me. Perhaps she did it not too softly, and I took it so overly dramatic. Still, I had a transitional age, and I thought that I know and can do everything myself. Perhaps I was lazy, she forced me, again I did not like that, I answered her back.
What do you mean “answer her back”?
– With words!
Is it possible?
– Yes, at that moment, apparently, I had too much courage and audacity. They tried to put my head in place, but it didn’t work out and I decided to leave.
Now you regret it?
How did your parents, who moved to Moscow for the sake of your career and, in particular, work with Tutberidze, reacted to this decision?
– They tried to talk with me, but they understood: there came a moment when I can make a decision myself. Moreover, I was in such a state of being lost that they realized that their intervention was useless.
How did you announce your decision to leave to Eteri Georgievna?
– The main thing I regret is having left without saying thank you. I should have come to her with flowers, thanked her for everything.
But it’s never too late.
– So I did it after all! On the same day, when announced that I was leaving sport completely. Well, I have wanted to go to her for a long time, but could not catch her. And of course, I was a little afraid and I was very embarrassed. And that day I was at home, texted with friends. And suddenly Diana (daughter of Tutberidze) wrote to me: “Polina, Eteri Georgievna is at the rink.” I jump up and start gathering. They ask me: “Where are you going?”, “I’ll be back soon”. And I ran to buy flowers.
Was she surprised?
– She smiled, we had a good talk. Well, I didn’t know what reaction to expect: maybe she was offended, maybe she didn’t want to see me. But everything went well.
Having left Tutberidze, you kept friendly relations with her daughter?
– We have always been good friends with Diana, communicated a lot, until she switched to ice dance.
I don’t remember a big scandal when you left Tutberidze, although this is always an event.
– There was no big scandal. This happened against the background of Evgenia’s leaving, and everyone was discussing it.
Did her decision inspired you?
You told about warm relationship with Diana and Zhenya. So friendship between skaters is possible?
– It’s possible. My best friend is Masha Sotskova. Well, probably, our strong and sincere friendship with Masha is a rare case for our sport. But it happens. And we made friends in our junior season, when we both were the main contenders for gold.
The school of Tutberidze is often called a heartless conveyor that provides young champions who quickly disappear, breaking either physically or psychologically. How do you feel about such talks? Don’t you consider yourself a victim of this conveyor?
– No. Well, for example my first injury. It wasn’t from stress or fatigue – it just happened. It didn’t even happen on the ice. Usual jump on the floor and I twist my leg. Ligament rupture. I broke not because I was jumping quad, not because I spent five hours on the ice and on the sixth one it happened. It was an accident that can happen to anyone. And why is everyone talking only about figure skating? For example ski jump. Isn’t there a huge load on your knees, on your back, on everything else? Nevertheless, no one discusses and condemns it that way.
So you, the person who was inside the volcano, do not support these attacks?
– Of course, any professional sport affects health. I will never give my children to big sport. But at the same time, the children who train want it themselves. Nobody forces parents to bring them there. Everyone understands, for the sake of what they do it and are aware of the risks. But it is their choice. And if nobody had risked, figure skating would have stoped in its development. Everything would have been like 30 years ago. Would it be interesting?
Being brought up in a factory of stars jumping quadruples, did you try these jumps yourself?
– No, but I tried triple axel.But mostly on harness.
Whose quad did you first see live?
– It was Sashka Trusova.
How did everyone react?
– Of course, everyone was delighted. Applauded her, congratulated.
And Eteri Georgievna?
– She applauded too. This doesn’t happen every day. It was like a flight to space. Girl! At such a young age!
When you changed the coach, did you feel better?
– But not physically. I changed something, and it felt like I got that burden off my shoulders. But in general: the same ice, the same gym, you also need to work well. But I moved in the offseason, at this time there are no such loads, no one is skates the program entirely. Interesting trainings: new steps, entries. But in the season all the same started.
Did Tatiana Tarasova work with you a lot?
– Yes, she did both programs for me, tried to come before competitions. If Elena Buyanova left, Tatiana Anatolievna usually attended the training sessions. If nothing turns out and you have some kind of collapse she always helped. Elena Germanovna could always call her: “Come, put an athlete together!”
How did she “put together”?
– With words. She is a great psychologist. Always helped.
And in the end, the only season in CSKA became the last for you.
– This is not because I went to CSKA and didn’t succeed there. I just graduated from school and chose study. I always studied well and clearly understood that I don’t want to be a coach.
I used to see myself as a good economist, but now I understand that everything can turn so unexpectedly. When I posted ads to train children, I thought I would do this for a while, but slowly I got involved. I got offers to work at training camps. I absolutely didn’t have this in my plans, I thought that maximum I’d skate in shows. But now – no shows.
– I don’t want to skate.