“Tutberidze helped me understand what I worth.” Anastasia Tarakanova about ending her career due to injury
Interview with Anastasia Tarakanova. About training with different coaches, her career injuries and decision to end her career.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 14th March 2022 by Marina Chernysheva-Melnik
A few years ago, Anastasia Tarakanova was one of the brightest single skaters: beautiful programs and complex jump combinations made it possible to win several medals in the junior Grand Prix series. In the previous Olympic season, when Nastya skated in the strongest group as a junior, she was destined for a brilliant career in the new generation.
Injuries and related problems ruined big plans, but the girl fought and returned to the ice several times, overcoming circumstances. Unfortunately, one bad landing in training caused such complications that she had to end her career at a very young age.
Almost a year after those events and the last failed competitions, Nastya accepted a situation in which she could not change anything. The figure skater, in a conversation with Match TV, Anastasiia told how she is now building her future.
At the Russian Cup stage in Kazan in November 2020, your performance was the most emotional moment of the event. After all, you returned after a long absence, injuries and doubts. What did it cost you?
Anastasia Tarakanova: Indeed, these skates were preceded by many difficult moments. After the pandemic, when all the skaters resumed training, I could not afford it – there was simply no skating rink. The question about continuing a career arose. My first Moscow and favorite coach, Irina Mikhailovna Klimova, invited me to a roller-sport training camp. There I worked as a second coach and had a great time: I mastered the roller skates, choreographed programs.
I needed to take a break and calmly assess the situation. When in September all the skaters were already showing new programs, I contacted Ksenia Ivanova, my coach at the Plushenko’s Academy. She immediately said: “Do you want to? We can try”. We agreed on a trial period of one month: it was important for the whole team to understand whether I was able to move on. After all, I came after a series of injuries, without a set of difficult jumps, without ready and prepared programs.
We prepared in less than two months, and already in November I started at the Russian Cup. At that time, it was important for us to show that I was back and ready to fight. It can be said that we cought the last train: showed up for the 4th out of 6 stages of the Cup, but you have to participate in two in order to qualify for the final and the Russian Nationals. Plus, during the pandemic, I gained excess weight, so I had a strict diet. But the coaches believed in me, which is why I performed so emotionally: there were flashbacks of what I had to go through in the previous months.
Why did you come to the group of Ksenia Ivanova and Adian Pitkeev?
Anastasia Tarakanova: Ksenia Ivanova and I developed a very warm relationship while still working at the academy, and after leaving we continued to communicate. And it was at that dead end moment – when no one took me to their groups – Ksenia Ivanova herself offered help. I am very grateful for this and will always remember.
Tell us about the programs that you showed then.
Anastasia Tarakanova: The free program was choreographed back in Svetlana Panova’s group. First there was “Frida”, but I did not feel and did not like this music. Choreographer Anna Novichkina suggested “Lacrimosa” at the height of the season, and I really liked it. In the team of Ksenia Ivanova, everyone decided to keep this program – we liked it, and there was little time to choreographed a new one.
I still think of Lacrimosa program with trepidation. The only pity is that it was not possible to skate it much and show it in all its beauty. We started doing the short program “The Girl and the Sea” a couple of weeks before the Cup. It took a long time to choose music, we couldn’t find the one that would impress all members of the team. Somehow I found a song on TikTok and offered it as a joke. Adian was inspired, immediately began to show something on the ice, and soon we decided: we take this music. Then many wrote enthusiastically that “The Girl and the Sea” suits me very much, it fascinates.
After the Cup, you announced that this was the “entrance” season, and made plans. Nevertheless, at the 2021 Russian Nationals, we saw you on the competitive ice for the last time. What happened?
Anastasia Tarakanova: Everything was decided by an injury received back in 2019, when I skated with Svetlana Panova. In training, I landed unsuccessfully in a hole and sprained my leg. The doctors at first said that it was nothing serious: my leg was swollen and ached, but I continued to skate. At the Grand Prix before the performance, my ankle was frozen to reduce pain. And three months later it turned out that there was a fracture. It is still a mystery to me and my parents why the doctors did not immediately recognize it. It turns out that I skated on a broken leg for so long, loaded it and did not treat it.
During the off-season, I seriously took up my health, but complications came – precisely because everything was neglected. That is, the bones on the leg have grown together, but this injury worsened my condition in general. And then in September 2020, when I resumed the load, the leg made itself felt. At the Russian Nationals, I performed on injections.
Why did you withdraw from the 2021 Russian Cup Final at the last moment?
Anastasia Tarakanova: I really wanted to compete and hoped to the last. We talked with doctors for a long time, developed a detailed treatment plan in combination with loads. Prepared according to this scheme, but during training I felt that my leg hurts even after injections. I couldn’t spin at all. Jumping was not so painful – after all, these are seconds, and during the spin we spin on one leg for quite a long time. We still came to the Final, but at the training session before the short program, little worked out. We doubted whether I could handle full performances.
As a result, after examination by sports doctors, we decided to withdraw. And that’s how the season came to an end. I had a rest and began to actively treat my leg, but at a certain point the doctors directly said that I should finish with the sports. I still can’t load my leg every day, not even talking about jumps.
Have you immediately come to terms with this inside?
Anastasia Tarakanova: No, I did not accept the situation for a very long time. I even came to the rink, went on the ice and tried to do something. I categorically did not want to talk on this topic, so I did not answer any questions about competitions. For a long time I could not believe that everything was really over. To this day, I miss the sport, but the stage of acceptance has already passed.
What helped you get through the tough times?
Anastasia Tarakanova: Since the doctors’ verdict (it was announced at the end of May 2021), I simply avoided the topic of ending my career and made plans for the future. I always knew that my path after sports was coaching. So I occupied myself with thoughts about how to do this now. We cannot change the past, we must think about the future. So I made plans, made efforts. This is what saved me.
How and where did you start coaching?
Anastasia Tarakanova: In the summer, for some time, I left for my native Volgograd and coached athletes there. Returning to Moscow, I worked for two months in the group of Oksana Bulycheva. Today I coach in a free schedule. I am in the senior class, I am preparing for the exam and I want to finish school worthy. I spend a lot of time and effort on lessons, tutors.
During the years of sports, I paid little attention to studies. On the one hand, after training, I always sat at home with textbooks. But this is not the case: I spent a minimum of time at school, and when international competitions began, I missed even more. As a result, there are gaps that need to be filled. So now I sometimes organize training, without being tied to any school. I take some kids to competitions.
Have you decided to dedicate yourself to coaching? After all, you could skate in the show, while your age allows.
Anastasia Tarakanova: I have always loved this profession – I was interested, studied the secrets of educating athletes. Working with different coaches, I watched their work and accumulated some thoughts for the future. I thought: I will become a successful and famous figure skater, I will win many medals, I will know the happiness of victories … and then I will start sharing my experience. At the age of 10, I started helping younger athletes. Of course, this could not be called full-fledged training. I just looked at the children from the side, prompted them something. Today I know exactly that I like to teach. Therefore, I will definitely enter the physical education institute.
I was also eager to perform in the show, went to the casting for Averbukh’s show, but they didn’t take me. The producers told that girls are not particularly in demand in ice performances. I also applied to other shows – to all famous producers, but, alas, it did not work out.
What did you manage to teach the kids while working with them? Have you already choreographed programs?
Anastasia Tarakanova: Oh, yes, I started creating programs back in the summer of 2021 — in Dubna, at the roller skating training camp. I also choreographed programs for Volgograd skaters, and now in Moscow sometimes. But more often I work on individual elements – jumps and spins. In single skating it’s more important than the artistic image. There is one figure skater whom I have been giving additional lessons for a long time, taught triple jumps. She recently switched to represent Poland, but we keep in touch: the girl’s mother sends training videos, I give advice. I am glad that my former student made her debut at international competitions. No, this is not Katya Kurakova (laughs). In general, I am glad that I was entrusted with working with children, I already feel responsible for them.
How do you feel when you take children to competitions as a coach?
Anastasia Tarakanova: Something completely new. To make it clearer, let me describe my emotions of sports times. I had only pre-start excitement: I walked a lot on the eve of competitions, breathed fresh air, warmed up. At the warm-up, jitters and adrenaline came. But as soon as you step on the ice and make your first jump… you feel that the process has begun. I somehow let go of the nerves, it immediately became easier.
And when I now put a skater on the ice, the jitters do not let go until the last. He started skating, and you, the coach, freeze like an icicle. You are worried about how the child would fulfill everything that you have worked on together in training. You calm down only when the skater has done everything planned. Exhale together, and now you can praise. If something did not work out, immediately analyze: where is the mistake? why? We discuss with the athlete every part of the performance: here he relaxed, here the wrong movement, failed the element, etc.
Already in the evening, when everyone has rested and calmed down, we are building a new training plan – what exactly needs to be finalized, what should we pay more attention to now. I have a notebook for each skater. Since my sports career I have such a habit to write down everything, record the results of each workout. It has always helped to make a big picture and forecasts.
Assessing your sports path in general, which medals and competitions can you sign out?
Anastasia Tarakanova: The bronze of the Junior Grand Prix Final in Japan in 2017. It was my first international and happiest season. And of the competitions, I cherish the last two stages of the Russian Cup and the stage in Moscow in the fall of 2019, where the premiere of Lacrimosa took place. There I performed with an injury, I was poorly prepared, because in training I never skated the entire program. I just could not withstand the load on the ice and tried to make up for everything in the gym. But I took a chance, I wanted to prove to myself that I can. I gave myself the same challenge a year later. You always appreciate more what was hard to get.
You have had many coaches. What has each given you? Maybe you can recall the most valuable tips, motivational phrases at the right time?
Anastasia Tarakanova: I skated with Svetlana Panova for a very long time. I came to her at the age of 9 and learned all the triple jumps. It was with this coach that I started at a high level: I qualified for international competitions, got into the national team, participated in the first Grand Prix. All these events are associated with Svetlana Vladimirovna.
Eteri Georgievna (Tutberidze) helped me understand what I worth, who I really am. I will never forget how she told me: “At home you are Nastenka, Nastya, and on the ice I want to see Anastasiia Tarakanova!” I rememberd that phrase, it helped in competitions and in life.
Evgeni Viktorovich (Plushenko) gave high loads, and this strengthened my physics. It became really easier to skate programs.
Ksenia Semyonovna (Ivanova) has always supported me both in trainings and morally. With her, I became more restrained and calm. And how Ksenia Semyonovna helped me to return is a particularly reverent topic. I am very grateful to everyone, to each of my coaches.
Are you reviewing your performances? Or is it hard?
Anastasia Tarakanova: Now I watch and recall different situations with a smile on my face. Sometimes it’s sad, but, most importantly, I have already passed the stage of accepting the end of my career. Therefore, I can safely turn on videos of my performances.
Do you follow competitions now? Who do you like?
Anastasia Tarakanova: I watch mostly girls at major competitions. Sometimes I read the news when I have time. The Olympic Games, of course, brought a lot of emotions. I was very worried about Kamila after the team event: it was clear that her condition was difficult and it would clearly affect her performance in the individual competitions. It’s so sad about this talented girl! I cried with Sasha Trusova: looking at her, it seemed that everything should have been somehow different.
I remember how after the 2018 Olympics, many people said about Zhenya Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova that they were both golden. This year I thought the same about all our top girls, I wanted to see Liza Tuktamysheva on the Olympic ice. Our country is wildly short of quotas! It’s a pity that we don’t have many competitions, there is no opportunity for all the talents to medal. For example, every competitions have a personal stage, a team stage, and a jumping competitions!
Do you think girls of your generation will continue their careers?
Anastasia Tarakanova: I think everyone will continue. After all, after the last Olympics, those who had only triple jumps left. Then there was a breakthrough with quads, and many could not stand the competition. And now quads are no longer know-how: adult single skaters have them, children are just catching up. It is unlikely that anything exceeding quads will happen. And our veterans, I’m sure, will show themselves again. I know them – how they train and relate to sports. I root for every one of my age.
What would you like to fill your life with, besides figure skating and studying?
Anastasia Tarakanova: When studies in the university begin, I will resume acting classes. I went last year and was very inspired – I revealed new facets that helped distract my thoughts from the routine and will clearly bear fruit in my profession. Now there is simply not enough time for acting, but this area is extremely interesting to me.
I also abandoned my YouTube channel due to life changes: there was nothing special to post, and there was no desire too. But soon I will return to the project. And I also want to take up dancing – modern types. In general, I like to dance, but I used to do it within the ice and the choreography class. And now I will master the style on the dance floor – to get more inner freedom.
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