Sergei Voronov: Everyone has his own time, his desire, patience and will
Interview with Sergei Voronov. About desire to continue his career, new programs and development of figure skating.
by Tatjana Flade for fsrussia.ru dd 29th July, 2019
Sergei, we are talking in Alma-Ata, where you came to the Denis Ten Memorial Show. Last season, Denis choreographed one of your programs. After the tragedy that took Denis’s life, how was it to skate this program?
– Every time I took the starting pose, I mentally addressed Denis: “If you can hear me, then please help me a little”, because the responsibility was high. Competing with such a program is not just to skate it, but to pay tribute to the memory of a person …
Honestly, I still can’t understand why this happened, how can you kill a person in a daylight just like this ?! Never…
As they say, God takes the best. And Denis was the best of us … I want to believe that someday in another life we will meet … I believe it …
Terrible tragedy … Everyone was shocked. And so many skaters came to the show to support Denis’ parents, to pay tribute to his memory …
– Last season Denis helped me a lot when he agreed to choreograph me a program. It was a grand gesture and I appreciated it. It was very interesting to work with Denis. Because many people choreograph what is convenient for them, but Denis had a personal approach to each skater. He listened to the athlete and pushed him to explain what he wants, how he sees it … So sad that our cooperation didno’t last long … If it were not for the tragedy, then I’m sure Denis would have showed himself as a cool choreographer …
Sergei, let’s talk about you. Last season you started well, won medals at the Grand Prix, made it to the Final, but got injured before the Russian Nationals and could not perform there. It is clear that injuries in sports are not something rare. But when everything was so well and suddenly … Was it quite a blow for you?
– It was a force majeure. One of the most annoying things in sports when you get injured and you can’t compete. You stay at home, you watch competitions as a spectator – believe me, it is very difficult morally for an athlete.
But time has passed, and you know, such things break a weak person, but do a strong person even stronger. In my case, I didn’t give up. And this is good. Now I’m looking forward to the future, not looking back. Yes, it was a season, a cool season. I’m glad that I managed to skate well at Grand Prix, to get into the Final. Then I even thought that I didn’t manage get to the Olympic Games in Vancouver, and now, after 8 years, I made it to the Final. So, I know how to get what I want.
It’s good that you didn’t give up and didn’t finish your career. But have you thought about it?
– Others think about it too much. I’m not blind or deaf. I will say this: everyone has his own time, his desire, patience and will. When we discussed this issue with my team, no one said: “What are you thinking about? Don’t!” And then I really want to skate. This is my personal desire. And when you really love your job, failures just motivate you. And these are not even failures, but trials that happen in everyone’s life, and either you overcome them or break.
Well, yes, people don’t become champions immediately, but pass a certain path.
– Alena Savchenko is a vivid example. She has gone through such things! As a result, the gold of the Olympics in Korea, and everyone quickly shut their mouths. Character! Yes, exactly character! There is nothing to do in sports without character. Without character nothing happens. Nothing! Many, unfortunately, don’t understand this and the lack of character breaks them. It’s a pity. Because if some athletes has fought, then imagine what the competition would have been! It’s also so tough due to the fact that young athletes come. But still so many interesting things could have happen.
Agree. Moreover, now in men’s single skating, experienced skaters continue to perform along with the young guys – Alexei Bychenko, Michal Brezina, others …
– And we, at least, don’t make the world competitions worse. Performances of experienced athletes are really interesting. People of different age categories this is like in art: the era of antiquity, the Renaissance, and so on … And you can’t say which is better or worse.
All athletes are different. Some jump all quads, others – not all. But everyone should strive to make his skating interesting to watch. This is the main thing.
You have been performing for several years, hasn’t the competitive excitement passed?
– No matter how many years an athlete performs, every competition is like the first time. Because you never know 100% what will happen. Nobody knows. Even the two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu, stepping on the ice, is not sure how the performance will turn out. This state, adrenaline, emotions – everything that an athlete experiences before and during the performance is very difficult explain. Someone likes it, so he continues. Someone doesn’t like it, than the person quits and leaves the sport … I’m one of those people who love it. So what should I do?
Dmitri Soloviev did your new programs. Was that your idea?
– We wanted to try last year, but we didn’t manage to reconcile our schedules. This season I’m very grateful to Dima for finding the time. And the programs turned out great. I haven’t had such for a long time when I enjoyed both programs so much. Usually, you like one more, and this season I like both. This is probably the first time in my career. I chose the music myself.
Last season, the rules have changed: the programs became shorter, the GOE scale increased from -5 to +5; you can repeat only one quadruple jump … What do you think about these innovations?
– I’ll start with the quads. I don’t have all the quads, so I can’t do wrong math. I have no such problem. The fact that they increased the GOE scale is interesting. If you make a mistake, you lose a lot. Do cleanly – get a lot. But this is part of the sport. The shorter program, in my opinion, is a minus. Flight of thought, creativity is stung in a rigid framework. But I play by the rules which we have. It’s not interesting without difficulties and complexity. We live in a new time, when new elements appear, everything becomes more complicated, better. We cannot go back to triple jumps, when no one jumpa either quadruple or triple axels. So everything goes on as usual, and this is right.
If there was such an opportunity, what would you change in the rules?
– Interesting question. Probably, I would change the system of the second mark. I wouldn’t do separate categories “transitions”, “skating skills” … I would do a bit different components. I would also do so that technical mark does not affect the perception of the program. So the second mark doesn’t depend on the first. But perhaps these are absurd ideas.
Not at all. There were ideas to make two judging panels, where one evaluated the technique, and the second – components. But in general, how do you see the development of figure skating?
– Now I see that figure skating is moving to a sky-high level of difficulty. In terms of artistry, expressiveness it’s possible that it has lost something, because it has gone to the side of complexity.
However, according to experts the changes in rules slowed down the progress of figure skating, because, for example, men began to jump less quadruple jumps, focusing on clean and not so risky performance.
– Boys – yes, girls – on the contrary. Let’s see what will happen in the season. In men’s skating, there is an interesting season ahead, the same in ladies’ skating because our juniors are moving to seniors.
Does it hurt that your girls jump more quads than boys?
– Not for me, because in my life I jumped a lot of quads. On the contrary, I’m very happy for our girls – Anna Scherbakova, Sasha Trusova, Alena Kostornaia, who is trying a triple axel. I know the price for that, how much effort and health is invested. And I don’t feel envy because I understand what kind of work it is. Only lazy and mediocre can envy. I can only respect the results of our girls.
In your opinion, how do girls manage to perform such difficult jumps? Easier physically, because they weigh less and can rotate faster or what?
– Due to the fact that they work a lot. Believe me, this is true. Without work, nothing happens.
Perhaps, the mental barrier has been overcomed?
– Of course. When someone did it, the others will follow. Because you go to the practice with the thought: “If he succeeded, then why not to try?” And if the athletes also skate in the same group, every day they see what their friends are doing, then all the mental barriers disappear very quickly.
Girls try new quads, and what do you think about the prospects of quad axle for boys?
– If someone is confident in his abilities, then why not. I saw in training how Keean Messing tried it, Yuzuru Hanyu worked on this jump, but because of the injury the work stopped. It is interesting. Previously, the triple axel was considered an ultra-c element. It’s still a difficult jump. Four and a half turns is another story, here the whole body has a different load. And if the landing is not so successful, then the price of mistake, in all senses, increases. But the quad axel is a royal jump, and it will greatly raise the athlete who will jump it above the rest.
Do you want to try? You have a good triple axel.
– No. The reason is not even in “physics”. If an experienced athlete has a good physical shape, then the main difference from the young is in a longer recovery. The problem is different – in psychology, mentality. In adulthood, you do everything more consciously. And this has both advantages and disadvantages.
But you did a quad loop.
– I haven’t made it clean at competitions.
– You see, you can say what you have done only if the jump was clean at competitions. For example, Hanyu jumped a quad loop at competitions, and he has the right to talk about it. I can say for myself that I was trying to make a quad loop, but so far it hasn’t turned out. If I succeed, then I will say that this jump is counted in the protocol, which means that it was made. And it’s not serious to shoot your jumps on video and show what you did in training. Training is one thing, and competition is another. We have a lot of clowns and kings of trainings. After all, what is the main difference of professional sports? The fact that you have to go to the competitions and do it at the right time and in the right place. When you’re on adrenaline. And you have only one attempt. And this is could cost you a medal…
If I understood correctly, the difference between training and competitions is to overcome the psychological barrier?
– In overcoming fear. Let’s be honest. Everyone is nervous before competitions. But someone can handle himself and someone can’t.
Oddly enough, but this is the attraction of big sport. This is such a state because of which people cannot end their sports career. Before the competitions, even the psychological state changes a little, it’s like you’re in a different dimension. Where else in life will you experience this? The first parachute jump? Riding a speed bike? Something else? But you get used to everything. And in sports every competition is the first one!
How do you prepare before competitions?
– Well there is no special secret or special manipulations. Everyday hard work is the answer. At competitions, first of all you need to be prepared in your head. Be on your wave, do not waste emotions too early, then there’s more chances to succeed.
– I don’t burn the leaves, don’t use dolls … I believe in work, in material things. You will show what you have prepared. If you’re not ready, then counting on a miracle is ridiculous.
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