Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro: “If you want to be a top athlete, you have to train and compete with the strongest”
Interview with Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro. About Channel One Cup, quarantine and coronavirus, plans for the future, friendship and other things.
source: kp.ru dd. 22d February 2021 by Andrei Vdovin
Tiffany, Jonathan, you performed great at the Channel One Cup. Was it your best performance of the season?
Tiffany Zahorski: Yes, probably the free dance.
Jonathan Guerreiro: We took part in the team event for the first time. So, we did not approach it as a show. Olympic Games are ahead – our goal, a dream to go there a second time. And there will be a team event. And we thought, why not try ourselves in such an event here and now? So we took it pretty seriously. In the short dance, even despite small mistakes on twizzles, we mobilized for ourselves and for the team, and skated the second half of the program, perhaps stronger than at other competitions. We were told that from the stands it seemed pretty exciting and full of energy.
These stands were giving standing ovations and chanted “Well done!” But also, these stands were divided into two camps: one for Medvedeva, the other for Zagitova. How did this rivalry look within the teams? Was it important for you to defeat Evgenia’s team for Alina?
Tiffany Zahorski: We didn’t fight against anyone. We fought for our team. There was a desire to prove that our team is the first, and not that someone else’s team is the second. It was also important for us to understand how you feel in a team event. We didn’t know how tired you get after the first day, whether you had time to recover for the second day. But the second day went “with a bang”, it was very cool.
Jonathan Guerreiro: It was important for us to feel like a team. And when I looked around on the second day, I realized that it worked out, yes we are a team, and even those we haven’t communicate much, we stayed together as a team. But in the second team, there was the same friendly atmosphere.
When the captains were choosing teams, did you want to get exactly to Alina? After all you’re friends with her.
Tiffany Zahorski: Oh, of course we were happy!
But still, the difficult relationship between Alina and Zhenya was breaking through. How complicated is the relationship in the world of figure skating? How tough is the competition?
Jonathan Guerreiro: It’s a sport. And like any sport, there is rivalry. How healthy it is depends on each person, his upbringing and worldview. Someone goes on the ice, and thinks only about himself and how to do what he can do on maximum. And someone first of all has a desire to beat the competitor, to prove his superiority.
Ok, and what’s about you?
Tiffany Zahorski: You chose for this conversation a pair who do not have such problems and conflicts at all. We have many friends. When we leave the ice, we leave our rivalry there. We don’t see a problem in being friends off the ice.
What is figure skating to you? Job? Or the pleasure because you can travel and see the world while young? Or a tool to satisfy ambition?
Tiffany Zahorski: Everyone who starts skating starts with a hobby. It’s a pleasure. Then it becomes your job. And everyone who skates adores their job. And everything about the atmosphere, friendship – it is a bonus.
Jonathan Guerreiro: All together. And also a very good school of life.
With an opportunity to earn? Someday the moment will come when you will have to finish. Will you be wealthy people by then? Such who doesn’t need to worry about retirement?
Jonathan Guerreiro: It’s not always a matter of money. It is often a matter of ambition. Everyone decides for himself what he wants from life, and each of the athletes at some point has to answer this question for himself. There are many athletes who retire at the age of 19, realizing that they did everything and make a mark in figure skating, and now they are ready to go further. There are those like our Italian friends who end their career at 35 and are absolutely happy. But at the same time, figure skating is a sport where it is very difficult to pause a career and then return. Only a few are capable of this.
Jonathan Guerreiro: Our closest goal is the World Championships in Sweden. Then our goal is the Beijing Olympics, and all thoughts are now about the Olympic season.
Was the covid season a blow for you?
Jonathan Guerreiro: To be honest, no. When the quarantine was announced and everything became serious, Tiffany and I lived in different cities, but we talked, talked about music, about programs. And we understood that sooner or later everything would return to normal. And during this time we took a breath, we were doing various things that allowed us to take a step away from figure skating. To think about it, but break out of the routine for a while.
Tiffany Zahorski: The skating federation in Russia did a great job – they kept the Russian part of the season for us. This is an important year, pre-Olympic, we needed to prepare, be in good shape, and suddenly all international competitions are canceled. And they understood this, kept the domestic competitions, the Russia Cup, the Channel One Cup, they kept our springboard to the Olympics. And many other countries do not have this opportunity.
But at the same time you had to pay with your health for this. Many skaters have had coronavirus.
Jonathan Guerreiro: A lot of people got sick at the end of November, but we could get it anywhere, no one is immune. And all our competitions are held according to the rules, everything is agreed, and no one breaks any protocols. At competitions, everyone takes tests, we had a “clean” area, there was a “dirty” area where masks are needed. We did not go upstairs to the stands. And other countries envied us a bit that we have competitions. And I understand that it is hard for people, sitting at home, seeing that others can perform, of course, certain feelings awaken there.
Tiffany got sick in the first wave. Have you, Jonathan, been ill?
Jonathan Guerreiro: Yes. Just in November.
Was it hard?
Jonathan Guerreiro: Relatively.
Tiffany Zahorski: He downplays a little. It was very hard.
Jonathan Guerreiro: Very hard – it is mechanical ventilation. I lost my sense of smell, and for the first couple of days the very feeling of illness was scary. But it was not easy to return, at a high pulse. I came back, skated a circle, and the puls was about 170.
Tiffany, do you know the song “Katyusha”?
Tiffany Zahorski: No. Is this a Russian song?
Jonathan smiles, he understands what this is about. By the decision of the Court of Arbitration for Sport at the World Championships and Olympics, the Russian team will not be called the Russian national team in the next two years, there will be no anthem, there will be no flag. And instead of the anthem they offer to play the song “Katyusha”
Tiffany Zahorski: Yes, we followed it, read it every day. We even told each other the news in the locker room every day. What’s happening? Who heard what? We were afraid of the worst thing that the entire Russian sports could be suspended for 4 years. It scared us all very much. It is a pity that there will be no Russian flag, but our task is to compete with dignity at the Olympics.
Jonathan Guerreiro: After all you represent not only yourself. You live here, here is your whole family, all your friends. It is clear that this is important. “Katyusha”, not “Katyusha”, the main thing is that we was allowed.
That is, it is also important for you.
Jonathan Guerreiro: My mother is Russian, I grew up in a multinational family. At our house in Sydney, we had rooms of grandparents, where was NTV + channel, broadcasting from Russia. That is, a purely Russian apartment in a house in Australia.
With a sideboard? And was there really a carpet in Sydney?
Jonathan Guerreiro: Not on the wall – on the floor. Grandmother took care of the interior herself. Everything that was in the apartment in Moscow, she moved there, and they really liked it. I had such a house of contrasts. And I always felt that it was a part of me. I have spent most of my adult life in Russia. And when they say “foreigner” to me, I have mixed feelings. For a long time I have been connected with Russia more than with Australia.
During this whole story with the possible suspension of Russia, some Russian athletes considered the possibility of changing their citizenship. Someone even did that. Have you received any offers to skate for other countries?
Jonathan Guerreiro: As soon as we started skating together, we decided that we would skate only for Russia. Although we had proposals from Azerbaijan, Australia, and England.
From England? And you, Tiffany, did you refuse? Why?
Tiffany Zahorski: If you want to be a top athlete, you have to train and compete with the strongest. Best are in Russia.
But you were 19 then. And it was necessary to fly to an unknown Russia.
Tiffany Zahorski: I’ve been traveling all my life. My father was a figure skating coach, he even met my mother at the rink. And we moved a lot. I was born in London, lived in Cardiff until the age of 10, and there really was my family, friends. And when I decided to move to another city at the age of 10 (Sheffield – ed.), it was my first experience. And I lived there until I was 13. Then we moved to another country (France – ed.), Where the language is different. And my mother even moved with me to France. She did not move to Russia, but I was already an adult, 19 years old.
Adult? At 19? And this despite the fact that you have traveled only to Europe before. And here Russia – unfamiliar world, with its own views, values and mentality. And you even didn’t speak Russian back then.
Jonathan Guerreiro: In fact, everything was easier. For the first few years she lived with my family in Moscow, and my father and mother speak English. That is, she was able to acquire this culture gradually. Everything turned out very well. Our first coach, Alexander Zhulin, spoke English well, he lived in America. This is also a big plus for Tiffany, she was able to speak the same language with him. The transition was very smooth. Tiffany wasn’t given a backpack and thrown with a parachute into Siberia.
One of my friends, a professional photographer, when he first shoot figure skating, returned from the ice so amazed: “It’s just some kind of sex! I have a complete feeling that I was shooting erotica right now.” How difficult is it to play such emotions on the ice?
Jonathan Guerreiro: Why “play”? We are skaters, not actors, but rather artists. What is the difference? Tiffany and I think that we are living these four minutes on the ice. To play a role is different, it is to adhere to a certain scenario. And on the ice we are not tied to the role, every time we can find something new. You must live your artistic image, let it pass through yourself, and perhaps it’s easier for us. Because we have one and the same partner. You can find love and passion inside for this person. It doesn’t need to be played, I think. And there is a difference: there is an artistic image, and there are situations when people start to play it in a vulgar and cheap way. You can feel it. So that’s right, when they say that children shouldn’t skate a love or drama.
Jonathan Guerreiro: Because it’s impossible to show on ice what you’ve never felt. How can you show love if you didn’t have it? Why did many people say that no one skates drama like the Russians? Because Russian people suffered a lot. Delirium or not delirium, but there is such an opinion. And some believe that in the West, skaters skate with a plastic smile. There is also such an opinion.
Tiffany Zahorski: I agree. If we play a role, some feelings, then only those that we have inside. I won’t be able to play what I’ve never felt.
Now In Russia, parents sometimes do not want their children to engage in big sports, because there is such a fear that the coach must first “break” a person psychologically and then put him back together in the way he sees fit. And in order to survive all this, you have to be a special person, this is probably what is called a champion character. Have you faced this in figure skating? How did it all happen with you?
Jonathan Guerreiro: My mother began to train me in Australia. But these were not professional 6-hour classes. I skated between the school and the pool. And then something started to work out for me, I liked it, we went to Russia, there was already another story. There was a try out. But the very idea of “breaking” the child … It seems to me that some coaches, perhaps, show the child a framework that he needs to fit in to achieve the result. But to change the child completely, I do not know such coaches.
Tiffany Zahorski: I think that any child needs to be taught, prepared well mentally. So that they don’t get nervous at competitions, that they work well, that not skating is bad. But exactly to break – I don’t understand it.
Related topics: Tiffany Zahorski Jonathan Guerreiro