Svetlana Sokolovskaya about Mark Kondratiuk: “He’s lazy, but he has a special laziness. He knows when to stop. This helps him a lot. Being a lazy person is generally a big advantage.”
Interview with Svetlana Sokolovskaya, coach of Mark Kondratiuk, 2022 European Champion.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 16th January 2022 by Vlad Zhukov
When I asked Svetlana Vladimirovna Sokolovskaya to give an interview, she agreed immediately. And then she added: “… if I survive.” It is hard to imagine how many worries, doubts, turmoil, excitement she experienced in these few days. Although there was a lot of joy, too.
We met the morning after the men’s free skate in Tallinn. A few days ago she was a “silver” coach at the European Championship, and now Mark Kondratiuk made her “golden”. And at that moment, it seemed, there was no person happier than her in the world.
Svetlana Vladimirovna, what happened the day before yesterday?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: What… I don’t know, honestly. I don’t even know what to say about everything that happened in the free program. There was definitely something. But I haven’t figured it out yet, to be honest.
How emotional was it?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: You know, it wasn’t emotional. To my great regret, everything went very restrain. Very responsible. Mark, of course, needs to gain more experience. I’m very glad that two years ago he “boomed” for the first time at the Russian Nationals and now he is improving and gaining momentum. I’m very proud of him.
Before that Nationals, he did not skate at big events at all. Experience is needed here, Mark needs to grow up in terms of sports.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Emotionally – for me and for Mark. He can skate more emotionally. And restraint – he just doesn’t have enough experience yet. I know how he can perform. Mark likes the audience, when they cheer for him. The more viewers, the more open he is. The support of the audience gives him energy, it is a very good quality.
But I liked that even though he, apparently, thought up something for himself inside and began to worry, he did not miss his chance. Because when you go to a competitions, you want only clean performances.
Everyone says like that.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: But it’s true, that’s what happens. And when you are the first after the short program, and you already smell this gold, ambitions knock you out. When opportunity appears you should never miss it. And he managed to deal with it.
You know, I haven’t talked to him yet. I let him go mentally so that he could just have a rest for a day or two. On Tuesday, the 18th, he already starts his trainings. By this time, everything that happened should be forgotten, we need to move on.
Will Mark have any days off?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Well, he will rest in the remaining days here in Tallinn. Watching the women’s free program. He cheers for them, he is friends with all of them.
You say that Mark is comfortable to skate in front of the audience. This is, it seems to me, one of the main attributes of stars …
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Well, no, Mark is still not a star. He doesn’t have that.
I put only a good meaning into this word. Star = artist, showman. There are very few of them in our figure skating.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: I can agree here. Someone is frightened by a huge number of people, but Mark likes it. The more support he hears, the happier his soul becomes. And I’m very glad that Mark is so well welcomed. I’m very grateful to everyone for the emotions. It’s like oxygen for him.
And as for the showman… He’s different, that’s for sure. Absolutely different.
Is that his strongest trait?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: I think he has a lot of strengths. He is inquisitive. He’s lazy.
Have you just named a positive quality?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Certainly. In a good sense of the word, being a lazy person is generally a big advantage. I’m coming to this with experience.
Why is this a positive quality?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: The human knows his body better – when to strain, and when to let go. But he certainly doesn’t lie all day, not at all. He studies, reads, everything is interesting to him. He has a special laziness, specific. He knows when to stop himself. This helps him a lot.
He is also very open … as it seems to everyone. But in fact, Mark is mind on his own(laughs). He is a very versatile person. And I’m very happy that I have such guys.
Last night he came to my room and gave me his small gold medal. And I thanked him very much. Sasha (Samarin) made me a “silver” coach, and Mark made me “gold”. I’m so glad that they communicate, sincerely congratulate each other. They are two completely different people. And both are completely my people.
Mark and I then talked a little, and I told him “Can you imagine, it’s our ninth year with you.” I wasn’t wrong. He didn’t leave. I didn’t kick him out, I endured. And he endured. We went through a lot with him – and here is this medal …
You know, I’m very grateful to his parents. I just love his grandmother. They believed in me as a coach. That’s how it happened. This, of course, is only a small step, we still have to work and work. But today I’m very happy for this small step. Although there are still a lot of these steps…
God bless him for all this. He has a lot of desire, but it is necessary that his health does not let him down. He has a lot to do. Now it’s just a pinch of happiness. And I want more (laughs).
Do you think Mark has the opportunity to become a great skater? Truly great.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Great … Great – it’s completely different for me. Great is a doctor who saves lives. An inventor, a rocket scientist… Someone big, not an athlete. I don’t want to offend anyone, but personally I think so. Mark has the potential and desire to develop.
Of course, all skaters want gold, even if they don’t talk about it. But I would like him to be remembered by people. Like Alexei Yagudin, Evgeni Plushenko, Yuzuru Hanyu. Like Bestemianova/Bukin, Rodnina/Zaitsev. These are names for life! If Mark continues to develop, he has the opportunity to remain in the memory of people for many, many decades.
Although, you know, ask a person on the street now – no one knows anyone (from the skaters). They’ve just started to show. And many years ago – all the people went to see Plushenko, Yagudin, Bestemianova / Bukin, Linichuk / Karponosov …
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Yeah, it all kind of forgotten a bit. Whoever you ask – oh, Bestemianova / Bukin, Ira Slutskaya! By the way, I have a lot of respect for Ira. She was a brilliant figure skater. Here, again, not great, but brilliant. I like it that way.
Can’t an athlete be great?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Well, I don’t combine the words “athlete” and “great”. Bright, memorable, even brilliant – yes. But this is completely different. I don’t know, but “great” is a word from a completely different area for me. I don’t want to offend anyone in any way! Just my opinion.
And I would like Mark to remain in the hearts of people. And if the judges also appreciate it, it’s will be just wow! But, of course, everything will be – ups and downs. Everything will change. But we must endure it and remain in the memory of the public. To be loved, known and supported.
I remember once talking with Mark, and he told me this phrase: “You know, I’m very afraid of being arrogant. This is my biggest fear in life.”
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: And he is generally very shy of his great opportunities. When he won Nationals, I told him: “Why are you ashamed of your victory?” We are all very friendly – Sasha, Dima (Aliev), Makar (Ignatov). He is the youngest of them all. And how it happened, as if something did not work out for the older brothers and he climbed across them.
And he took it all with such a face, like “guys, but it’s not my fault!” (Laughs.) And I told him: “They are fine with this! Everyone is happy for you, congratulations, everyone wrote you words of support.” But he still has this sense of modesty. And this is good. I like it in him. Because if I see at least a little bit of arrogance in him, I will immediately put him in his place (laughs).
But I don’t think that it will happen. He has a very good family, and he himself is very conscious. We have repeatedly talked about this, and I told him that sport is such a short period … Someone, for example, studies. He also entered the Plekhanov university, he studies very hard. I strongly support this.
But at the same time, someone doesn’t have the opportunity to do anything other than study. And he (Mark) goes to competitions, performs somewhere. His parents gave him that chance. This time is short, and you need to make the most of it. At 30, you won’t be skating anymore.
Well, there are examples.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Yes, of course, but how many?
To put it mildly, not very much.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Exactly. God gave us the opportunity to get to this Olympics – now it would be nice to get there, with these tests … We have done all the vaccinations, we try to follow all the rules. But it is very important for us to gain momentum even stronger in the next four years. Then he will mature both in years and in experience.
And that’s all. Everything will end. You can, of course, try another cycle, but still … And then you want to get married, have children. But your time in sports is already over. And he understands this – if such an opportunity is given, he was put on the skates, he must take the maximum out of it. As in all other things.
You mentioned that both Mark and Sasha Samarin are your people. What does a person feel when one of “his” people went up sharply, and the other seemed to slow down?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Now I realized that it used to be more comfortable for me. Sasha is still a little older, and Mark followed him. And after Russian Nationals I seemed to be divided in two. One half is “wow!”, and in the second half – the heart hurts. It is not easy.
It’s good that I have guys like them. The most surprising thing is that Sasha is actually sincerely happy for Mark. I know Sasha very well – if he is upset, he cannot hide it. But he sincerely hugged us then and said: “Well, if not me, so at least a small one pulled us out.”
And Mark answered: “Sorry, I outskated you” (laughs). It was very, very sencire. But for me, of course, it’s not easy.
Do you think Mark can skate both programs in the Olympic team event?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Oh, I don’t think about that at all. We will arrive home now, get the equipment, and then the training camp. How many times to perform is the business of the federation. They say six times – we will skate six times, they will say one – we will skate one. We are ready for any conditions, but now we are not thinking about it. There is still a lot of work. We need to work on spins, check the step sequence why it got level three. Work on landings.
I’m talking more about the fact that it’s quite difficult physically – to skate two programs in the team and in the individual competitions.
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: Why? One person can, but ten other cannot? Everyone skate like that, all have equal conditions. Well, and in training they skate short program in the morning, free program in the evening. There are no problems with this. The problem is different – to show the maximum. Moral issue. To keep your head fresh, get a buzz, feel the holiday.
But have they talked with about this topic?
Svetlana Sokolovskaya: No, so far this topic (Kondratiuk’s participation in the team event) has not even been raised. I think this will not happen before the training camp in Krasnoyarsk. Now we need at least a couple of days to rejoice.
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