Veronika Zhilina “In Plushenko’s group If something hurts we reduce the load. In “Khrustalny”, if something hurts, you still have to jump.”
Interview with Veronika Zhilina. Coached by Evgeni Plushenko 13-year-old figure skater Veronika Zhilina told about training combinations of two quadruple jumps, what Eteri Tutberidze’s training looks like and why she doesn’t want to skate “only till the 15 years old”.
source: matchtv.ru dd. 17th March 2022 by Vlad Zhukov
Although you have already given interviews, there is not much information about you. As I understand it, you started skating in Arkhangelsk at the age of three?
Veronika Zhilina: Yes. But I don’t remember anything from that time (laughs). I was small, everything flew out of my head. I don’t remember the first two years at all, only from the age of five. Then jumped my first single axel and took part in the first competitions. I didn’t understand yet what was it like to compete. Didn’t worry at all. I just skated, like in training, and everything worked out for me.
But you probably remember that interview that you gave when you were very young. When they asked you who was your favorite skater and you named yourself.
Veronika Zhilina: I remember, of course (laughs). In Arkhangelsk, they have already knew about me and came to the skating rink for an interview.
Are you ready to repeat it now?
Veronika Zhilina: Oh, no.
Veronika Zhilina: Probably I’m more modest now. Then I was still very young and did not understand anything. Now everything has changed.
Did you follow anyone at all as a child?
Veronika Zhilina: A bit, but I don’t remember everything. I watched the performances of Evgeni Viktorovich (Plushenko), followed Nathan Chen. My mother showed me examples of those who skate well. Well, among famous figure skaters. Together with her, we watched and, one might say, analyzed. Of the girls, my mother showed Adelina Sotnikova, I remember her well.
Have the priorities changed?
Veronika Zhilina: I like all skaters, everyone has some strengths. I like Sasha Trusova’s jumps, Kamila Valieva’s spins and step sequences. Very much! Anya Shcherbakova has character. Even if she doesn’t succeed in training, she does everything in competitions.
For some reason, I knew that you would name Sasha first. By the way, you are compared quite a lot – at least in terms of jumps. Do you agree that you and her are similar in some way?
Veronika Zhilina: I think yes. In general, I wanted to be like her (laughs). When I was at Khrustalny, sometimes I managed to skate with the older girls. I watched them and wanted to skate just like them.
Going back a little. Do I understand correctly that at first only your mother coached you?
Veronika Zhilina: Yes. From three to 10 years. At first we were in Arkhangelsk, then we moved to Severodvinsk. Well, after that I lived with my dad in Moscow, my mother and sister stayed to work there.
Why did you decide to move?
Veronika Zhilina: There were simply no strong athletes in Severodvinsk, and I had to somehow move forward. Everything is native there, of course (laughs). But we didn’t have much ice – about 1:45 a day and another two hours in the gym. Now I have, for example, only three hours of ice a day.
In general, I needed to train more, I was growing up. At some point, we realized that it was impossible to progress here, and at the age of 10 we went to Moscow. At first, only with my mother. Immediately upon arrival, we went to Eteri Georgievna for a try-out.
Was the Tutberidze’s group your goal?
Veronika Zhilina: Yes. I went to the first training session, they told me that the girl is good, but they need to see how I will train.
Veronika Zhilina: Somethings like that. But we had such a problem – my mother and I came to Moscow without things at all (laughs). To be honest, we didn’t even think that they would take me. Then I skated with Eteri Georgievna for three days, and we had to return home to take at least some things. And when we were on the train from Moscow, they called us and said that they were taking me to the group. We took things and fully moved to Moscow – now with dad. And my mother stayed to work in Severodvinsk, she was not with me during training at Khrustalny.
What jumps did you have at that time?
Veronika Zhilina: I had double axel, triple salchow, loop and toeloop. And after a week of training at Khrustalny, I did flip and lutz.
Tell me, please, who taught you that awesome jumping technique?
Veronika Zhilina: It’s all my mom. I worked only with her until the age of 10, no one else at all. No extra lessons, nothing. She gave me a lot – we worked in the gym and on the ice. She holds great general physical trainings. Much of what I have now was laid down by my mother since childhood.
This is also why I was so nervous at the first lesson with Eteri Georgievna – I had never trained with anyone else, except for my mother. It was scary. Of course, I knew Eteri Georgievna when I went to a try out in her group. But I had no idea what it was like to be with her.
It was nervous. She watched my every jump and, of course, not everything worked out from the first time (laughs). Then she asked me to show the spins, and Eteri Georgievna praised me for them. They were really good.
How do you remember the time in Khrustalny?
Veronika Zhilina: When something didn’t work out for me, they told me what was a mistake. And even if there was no strength or mood, I still went and did it again. I could get myself together … Although now I can too (laughs).
While I was training with Eteri Georgievna, I had an injury – my heels hurt. For some time, my mother took me to Severodvinsk for treatment, then brought me back. I was probably 11 years old. And it was the only break in our work.
Can you recall who exactly you worked with in the Tutberidze group?
Veronika Zhilina: I was in the younger group, we had about 13 people on the ice there, and sometimes more. Sergei Alexandrovich (Rozanov) worked with us mainly. Sergey Viktorovich (Dudakov) and Daniil Markovich (Gleikhengauz) also worked with us, and Eteri Georgievna came a little less often, she was not always present at a younger group trainings. However, close to the time when I left the group, she visited us more often, corrected mistakes.
Then I began to work on the first quads. It seems that I fell at almost all competitions, especially in the free program.
How did you start to jump quads? I heard from several skaters that they themselves suggested coaches start working on them.
Veronika Zhilina: I also suggested myself. I started with a salchow – first I jumped a triple, and at some point it became clear that it was already quite high, with a margin. And I decided to suggest trying a quadruple. First, did it on the “harness” a little, and then without it. And after about a week of training, I did a quadruple salchow.
Then, a few days later, I wanted to go try a quadruple toe loop – without harness. I think, I did it right at the first training session. It was always easy for me to jump toe loop. And the triple axel is much more difficult, I lost it, then restored it … Now I restored it again.
I mastered all these jumps when I was 11. When I went to the first competitions with a toe loop, I didn’t worry at all. I just needed to show the new element, so I wasn’t under any pressure. Somewhere on the second or third competitions, I succeeded, and since then I started to worry (laughs). It was necessary to fix the result.
It seemed that everything was going quite well for you at Khrustalny. Can you tell us why you ended up changing coaches?
Veronika Zhilina: I don’t want to say everything. Let’s just say, for personal reasons. Sergei Alexandrovich (Rozanov) offered to follow him, and I agreed. It’s just that at Khrustalny he coached me the most, he always came to classes – that’s why it happened. So I ended up with Evgeni Viktorovich (Plushenko), and after a while my mother moved in with us. For me it was very important. It’s easier with a mom. Strength appear when she is around.
Isn’t it hard to train with your mom at all? I mean, after all, it is necessary to divide somehow home and work / training, and you see each other, in fact, all the time.
Veronika Zhilina: No. I just remember her remarks and try to do. We discuss mistakes at home, of course, but not very much. It just reminds what needs to be fixed.
What changes did you notice after the transition?
Veronika Zhilina: Here I was not so worried anymore – after all, I already had the experience of training with another coach. So I just tried to do the work which I already know how to do. Here is a different approach to work. If something hurts, some kind of injury, we remove the load a little and do something where it doesn’t hurt. In “Khrustalny” it is stricter – if something hurts, you still have to jump. I ended up with an injury and…
It seems to me that there is a more homely atmosphere here. But I didn’t feel it right away. At first I was worried about the jumps, that they didn’t work out to the music. Now I don’t worry anymore.
Why didn’t you immediately feel the atmosphere?
Veronika Zhilina: Then I just moved from Eteri Georgievna. In Khrustalny I was afraid to do something wrong – I thought they would scold me. And I came here the same, was afraid of something all the time (laughs).
There (at Khrustalny) no one joked with the skaters, everything was strict. To be honest, I was afraid to talk to the coaches. Now there is no more fear, I’m used to it.
If we talk about this season, how did the group manage to get in shape so quickly? I heard that they even shortened the rest a little.
Veronika Zhilina: I had the opposite. I just kept in shape on vacation, worked on the floor, ran crosses. So I came in good shape after vacation. Approximately on the third day after vacations, I already jumped quads. It’s not hard for me to get ready after the rest, even if it’s long.
Then you had a winning Grand Prix stage, and then an ankle injury. What happened?
Veronika Zhilina: My hip hurt because of the load, I did a lot of quads. At first it recovered, but then it started to hurt again. And then, after a short break, training on the floor, I twisted my right leg badly. Then – left one, but on the ice. It’s a shame – on the same jump I was injured twice. Jumped a triple axel.
I had a lot of “diseases” this season. But we recovered pretty quickly. Without music, it’s not difficult to restore the jumps at all, I get a little more tired during the run-through. I think I would even make it to the junior Grand Prix final if there was one.
By the way, here’s what I wanted to know. When Plushenko and I talked about you in the summer, he said that “until some point it was not clear who Veronika was training with.” What did he mean?
Veronika Zhilina: There was a period when I trained simultaneously in the group of Sergei Alexandrovich (Rozanov) and in the group of Evgeni Viktorovich. These were two separate teams, Rozanov had a total of seven people, including Alena Kostornaia. Plushenko sometimes came to us for training, but not all the time.
And then we decided that it would be better to work fully with Evgeni Viktorovich. At the same time, by the way, my mother began to coach me again. I immediately recalled Severodvinsk when we were with her. And I moved … I have a better connection with Plushenko than with Sergei Alexandrovich.
As a result, there was neither a junior Grand Prix final, nor a junior “Worlds”.
Veronika Zhilina: In general, the season passed very quickly. Faster than any other I’ve had before.
I heard that you have just started jumping 4-4 combinations in training. Truth?
Veronika Zhilina: Yes. I would like to be the first girl in the world to jump 4-4 combination. I hope I can do it, I will train it hard. I jumped quadruple salchow – quadruple toe loop and quadruple salchow – euler – quadruple salchow. We tried 4-4 at the beginning of the season – we started with a toe loop-toe loop, and then moved on to other jumps.
Did you start jumping after watching Ilia Malinin?
Veronika Zhilina: Well, no. I’ve been thinking about trying it before! I don’t know when I will be able to compete with this combination, but I will try to do it as soon as possible.
And besides 4-4, what are your goals?
Veronika Zhilina: I want to skate programs without falling at competitions …
That’s what everyone says.
Veronika Zhilina: … and then I will be able to go to the next stage of the competitions – move to the senior level. In general, I want to be remembered by people for my jumps, and spins, and gliding. As for the titles… I still need to reach them. It’s better not think about them in advance.
I would also like to skate longer – not up to 15 years old. Well, or not until the first Olympics. I don’t want to leave the sport early.
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