“Your expectations are your problems.” Alexei Yagudin about Alina Zagitova, test skates and upcoming season
Alexei Yagudin about his new co-host Alina Zagitova. Partly translated.
by Dmitry Kuznetsov for sport-express.ru dd. 10th September 2020
You have a new co-host, so unusual one. How do you like working with Alina Zagitova?
Alexei Yagudin: Oh, at the beginning the expectations were a bit different. Honestly, I thought everything would go longer. I don’t associate this with the fact that Alina is trying herself as a host for the first time. It is important to understand that this is a completely different profession, in no way connected with pure sports, with training. I remember when I tried this for the first time. My head ached, they gave me a microphone, someone was talking in my ear, the great Larisa Golubkina is next to me. I was 25-26 years old back then, but now, I have tasted this life. And then I was already quite an adult. And Alina is 18 years old. This is a great difference – between Zagitova, who was on auditions and the one we saw on shootings on Tuesday. Of course, we tried to help, but Alina made our life easier and accelerated the process. She came prepared and we finished quickly enough.
Was she nervous?
Alexei Yagudin: In a completely new environment, people start to panic. You can say in beautiful words: “Yes, we were a little worried.” But in reality it is panic. You are not just locked in a room with Leha Yagudin and say some text. There are people here who, you know, also want to go home quickly. Of all the participants, Alina knew, maybe, two or three people, in addition to the skaters. She is still “addressing me as mister”. I say to her: “Сome on, call me on first-name” And she: “No, I can’t. I was raised in such a way”.
Zagitova did not even have time to live an ordinary human life, when your entire route is not “skating rink – hall – changing room.” You don’t have these everyday things to get “food for thought”, to express yourself, to tell something, to invent something. The conversational genre is generally very difficult. I thought it would be more difficult. But Alina’s champion character helped her. A prepared person came to the shooting, who came to help us – just like we did for her.
Is it real to combine this work with trainings?
Alexei Yagudin: Sorry, but I absolutely don’t care whether she trains or not. It is important for me that everything is good here, at the “Ice Age”. What she does in her life, whether she will perform or not, is her business. Before shooting, I thought that six months of silence had passed. Everyone was at home, self-isolation and so on. I was anxious to return after such a long pause, although I am a person who has switched to a new profession. I was thinking how I would speak, put words into sentences, and sentences into a large text?
If we talk about Alina’s career, I recall Andrey Arshavin phrase: “Your expectations are your problems.” Maybe this sounds harsh to someone, but in fact we do not force someone to admire us. Look, an athlete doesn’t have to win for you. People do this primarily for themselves. Yes, I heard that there were many not very positive responses that Alina is a host now, they say – what about sports? But she makes decisions herself. Yes, we depend on the fans who watch us, admire us, this is a kind of cycle. But at the same time, Alina has her own life, she must decide whether to compete or not.
Even if we never see her at the competition again, it doesn’t matter. Agree, she gave us several wonderful seasons, became an Olympic champion, won the World championship after losing the European championship in Minsk. She could refuse to participate in the “Ice Age”. Say, “You know, I’m afraid.” But she tries. And this is her choice, and I personally respect her for this and help to make it right in every possible way.
What do you expect from the season in figure skating? Test skates are coming soon, the season is unusual, the Russian Cup has a status almost like a World championship.
Alexei Yagudin: I’m looking forward to the official competitions. For me personally, test skates mean nothing. I was so surprised when there were some skates in St. Petersburg, and there the leader in the short program, in the free program … What is the leader of the test skates? There are real competitions, take your places there. Of course now test skates have become something more official, they pass with the audience. For athletes, this is an opportunity to show what you are made of at the moment, to feel some moments in the programs. At one time it was possible to divide the short program into two parts, tired – stopped. For me, the test skates remain an opportunity for an athlete to try some things, for judges to see who on what can count, then adjustments are made. Nothing more. Just figure skating has become so popular that from the category of “joyride” it turned into an event. It’s good that the federation is holding it, the athletes will have an extra check.
I am waiting for the season, even if its beginning is not so bright, but maybe we will catch-up. Although I do not believe in holding the European and World Championships. The Worlds are still possible somehow without spectators, Europeans are not. Despite the fact that I am a complete optimist. And test skates, honestly, are not interesting to me, I want competitions.
Maybe they should make them closed? But to make more competitions. Because otherwise it turns out unfairly – “joyride”, as you said, but people draw conclusions.
Alexei Yagudin: I am not a federation. If our people are ready to pay money and come, realizing that these are test skates – it’s cool. Yes, it can be made closed, like we gathered in Novogorsk, Mishin’s group came. But this is people’s demand on figure skating – it’s not enough for them, let’s get more, more! Everyone, of course, is interested in the situation in ladies’ skating – how are Trusova, Kostornaia, Shcherbakova are doing? Valieva – what? But she’s a junior. Was she allowed to perform with adults? Etc. I say, it’s just test skates, here juniors can skate with seniors and vice versa. It’s like trying on new boots.
You mentioned several names. Do you have a favorite of the season?
Alexei Yagudin: Knowing how to manage my head and tongue by the age of 40, I will say this: on the world stage, I want to see the Russian flag at the top, and I absolutely do not care who represents the Plushenko, Mishin or Tutberidze group. This is sport, the main thing is victories. I am often asked – why are you against raising the age for senior skating? I believe that this is sport, and sport is about faster, higher, stronger, and it doesn’t matter if you are 12 years old, 15 or 18. If you are ready to go and fight with 30-year-olds – go ahead!
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