“YOU ARE MY FAMILY! You are the ones that I skate for, thanks to who I skate.” Interview with Ekaterina Kurakova part1
Translation of the interview with Ekaterina Kurakova about Grand Prix Series, Challengers and plans for the future.
Interview is kindly provided by Emilia Sokolik
Original source: sport.poinformowani.pl dd. 1st January 2024
English translation: Weronika Surowiec [instagram: @figure.it.out23]
Ekaterina “Katia” Kurakova, a Polish figure skating representative, in November 2023 won another gold at the Warsaw Cup – an international competition that is a part of the Challenger Series. Katia agreed to do an interview for Poinformowani.pl where she talks about this year’s Grand Prix Series and Challenger Series performances, new skates, fans, and plans for the future!
Q: This season you have taken part in two competitions from the Grand Prix Series. The first one was Skate America where you placed seventh. How would you grade your performance there and how damaging your boot before free affected your skate?
Ekaterina Kurakova: I needed a boot change two weeks before Skate America but some events made it impossible. First, the person who makes the skates gets sick and then he forgets a special piece of equipment that is used to adapt them in the right way. I always need my boot moulded to the shape of my ankle otherwise I have issues with my leg. Three days later I was already leaving for Canada so there was no point in changing skates. For a week there, I taped up my boots to make them sturdy for training. At Skate America during the short program, I felt that something was wrong which resulted in me doing a triple flip – double toe loop combination in place of a triple-triple one. The next day, during the practice for a free program I was having a hard time, I felt that the boot situation was pretty bad. But I am not the type to just give up. There would need to be a catastrophe for me to withdraw. I wanted to take up that fight and stay strong until the end. That’s why I was happy and proud of that performance. I skated the first half clean and it was a somewhat strong skate, I gave it all I had at that moment.
Q: Next was the Grand Prix Cup of China which you got invited to at the last minute! How was that?
Ekaterina Kurakova: It was stressful. Right after Skate America, I got new skates and just three days later I learned that I was going to China! I had only four hours to get a visa. I needed to collect my passport, take a new picture, and fill in ten pages of necessary documents. The whole time I was thinking “I just got new skates. I am not ready, I did not expect it.”
The mistake in the short program happened because of that lack of preparation. I was very happy with my free program although the amount of points I got, if I am going to be honest, was quite disappointing. But I don’t skate only for the scores, I skate for my fans and my pleasure. I am glad that the Polish Figure Skating Association and my coach – Brian Orser, appreciated those performances. Brian was really happy with me, and he is not a person to praise his skaters often – for that to happen you need to do something extraordinary. After the free, he came up to me once more to say that he saw the huge progress (even in the duration of time between Skate America and Cup of China), especially in my condition, presentation, and the way that I skated. The next day was the gala but in my head, I was going through my short program at the Warsaw Cup, which was supposed to be just two days later.
Q: You came to Warsaw straight from China, it was a tiring journey, wasn’t it?
Ekaterina Kurakova: We came back from Chongqing, where we performed, to Beijing from where I took a 10,5 hours flight to Vien. There I had a layover to Warsaw, and after landing there I took a taxi to my hotel, where I left my bag and then headed straight over to practice. The next day I had
an official practice and a short program to skate. It was hard.
Q: How did that affect your short program at the Warsaw Cup?
Ekaterina Kurakova: Despite being tired, I wanted to do the harder, triple-triple combination because I am aware that it is needed in my programs. However, Brian Orser wanted me to achieve a clean skate with a good quality of the elements, so we planned an easier combination. After performing, I felt that this was one of the best short programs of the season. The choreographical part was good and I skated without mistakes. I was tired and jet-lagged, but the performance did feel good.
After seeing the scores I was disappointed, not because I thought I was judged wrong, but because I didn’t understand why the score was so low. I have tried so hard… Why did it not work out? What was I lacking? I was expecting to be in the first three after the short program, that is what I felt after skating it. My feeling turned out to be wrong. I tried to keep thinking positively, and I tried to let it go but this season at every competition I was always a few points behind the podium. At the Nepela Memorial in Bratislava, for example, I skated very well and still, it was not enough for the podium points-wise. I am an athlete who tries to achieve my goals, so those situations hurt me, especially here in Warsaw.
Q: You have mentioned that the Warsaw Cup at Torwar ice rink is your favorite competition, isn’t it?
Ekaterina Kurakova: Yes, this competition is really my favorite. The Warsaw Cup is something special to me, of course, I always want to show my skating on a high level, beat records, and get the medal but here something else is more important. This “something” is my fans, who hardly ever can come and see me in other countries. Since Warsaw is in Poland, it is a bit easier for them. There are always so many people here. All of those banners, gifts, plushies… it is all so nice and I am super grateful for it. Hearing the support and seeing so many Polish flags makes me aware of how many people come to see me. This competition is always the best moment of every season, it is an incredible feeling. And I know that the medal I win here is never only mine, it’s ours! My fans’ and mine. That is why it is so special every time I stand on a podium here.
Q: You have gotten your Seasons Best in a free program and jumped from sixth place to first. How did you do that?
Ekaterina Kurakova: Well… I have no idea. I was crying in my hotel room after the short program. I was thinking a lot about the fact that I was sixth and was so far away from the podium. I gave all I had and even if I had made a mistake, I would have nothing to be ashamed of. I am only human, not a machine. I always try to be good and understanding towards myself. Angelina Turenko, who is my coach, talked with me a lot that night. After that, I couldn’t fall asleep for a long time and when I woke up, I was in a bad mood. Usually, I am ready for a fight but this morning was different.
I came for a practice too early because I just couldn’t cope in the hotel much longer. I am glad for Andrzej [t/n: Gawarkiewicz, from the Polish Figure Skating Association] who saw me sitting alone in the audience listening to sad songs. He came up to me and just started a conversation on various topics. That really helped me smile and take my mind away from everything. I skated the free program for my fans to thank them for their support. But I also need to thank Andrzej for the mindset he got me into. I think he might have had the biggest impact on me that day, that’s why I asked him to be with me in the Kiss&Cry.
Q: Are you already used to the new skates?
Ekaterina Kurakova: Yes, it is much better now. For me skating at competitions is the best way to break them in. When I am about to start the program I don’t think that my back or leg hurt. I don’t think about the fact that my skates are new. I focus on giving my all during the performance.
Q: During the Warsaw Cup, you were given a lot of gifts including a book with music suggestions for your programs.
Ekaterina Kurakova: I was always curious about what fans thought would suit me and what their expectations were toward me. Now I have an answer to all of those questions. I truly enjoy handmade gifts. It is amazing when someone buys something for me but those hand-made presents are very special. You couldn’t buy them anywhere and that makes them my prized possessions.
After the Warsaw Cup free program, I have stayed at Torwar for a very long time. I had a lot of interviews and recordings but I also met with my fans. I wanted to talk and take pictures with everyone. Sometimes people say to me: “Katia, you need to be careful don’t come too close…” Pfft! YOU ARE MY FAMILY! You are the ones that I skate for, thanks to who I skate. I will always come close to my fans. This is the most important thing for me. I also think that people like me for how open I am.
Q: And finally, what are your plans for the rest of this season? When and where would people be able to see you?
Ekaterina Kurakova: I will take part in the European Championships in Kaunas in January, and then in March in the World Championships in Montreal. As for personal goals, I would love to get to my ideal condition, for example, the one I had during the Olympic, 2021/2022 season. My dream is to be so light and confident, to be able to skate two clean programs. I wanna be satisfied with what I do. At the moment it is really hard, I am feeling a huge difference in those two years so I want to get that ideal condition back.
The second part of this interview about the coach situation, new image, raising the age limit, and qualifications for the Beijing Olympics, will be posted soon.
Huge thank you for the interview to Emilia Sokolik (Polish version) and Weronika Surowiec for English translation.
Related topics: Ekaterina Kurakova
Kamila Valieva: “Currently, due to certain circumstances, I cannot set specific goals. But I want to skate as long as my health allows.”