Bagriantseva's interview with Kvitelashvili

TAHbKA

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Maya Bagriantseva's interview with Morisi Kvitelashvili


MB: The Europeans are over. Were you able to get back into the normal?
MK: I can’t get back into the normal the whole season. Can’t find the balance.

MB: Is it related to your move to Italy? Have you ever spent so much time away from home?
MK: Never for so long. I do travel quite a lot – the training camps, competitions, so it seemed it would be the same. A year ago before the Worlds in France we spent 2 weeks in Begramo. I liked and it thought it would be the same.

MB: Where the idea to send you to Italy come from? Whose idea was it?
MK: It was a common decision of my coaches and the Georgian skating federation. Hence I said from the very beginning am not leaving `Khrustalny’, we just decided to work a bit differently. Frankly it was quite spontaneous. In October I had my first competition of the season in Finland. I had to rush there 10 days before. We were all afraid the borders would close down and we will not be able to travel at all. I first took a train to St. Petersburg, then my friend picke me up with the bus and we crossed the border with the Finnish plate numbers. Then the insanity in Finland began. I moved 6 times within a week from a hotel to a flat and so on.

MB: Quite a stress before the competition
MK: Yet it was my best competition of the season. Guess I pulled it with what I worked on before and the little I had left in me. I then flew to Georgia to issue the UK visa, came back to Finland and flew to Bergamo form there. The goal was to make it there, settle and just practice. Everything was decided in a rush, I didn’t even know where would I be sleeping after arriving. I landed at midnight, the hotel was too expensive so I decided to start heading to Egna, where the rink is. Seemed it was possible with 3 buses. So I began the journey and the adventures started.
I come to the bus stop, it’s 1am, there is no one there and my phone is down to 10%. Fortunately I bought the ticket in advance. So I thought I’ll recharge my phone on the bus, there should be an internet as well, and all I have left to do is to get on that bus. So I wait there for 10-15 minutes, no bus. Half an hour later it arrives, a dude gets off and starts swearing his suitcase was stolen on the way. I need to board the same bus and leave my luggage with my skates. I put the bag in and spent the whole journey looking out of the window making sure no one will take my skates by mistake.
Hey ho, am looking for a plug and there is none. My phone is dead. Fortunately a neighbour gave me a charger for like 20 minutes. I was lucky to be able to buy the next bus ticket while charging.
So I get off on my stop and again, no one there, it’s 3am, there is no internet, so I was using it from the passing by buses. Then an Norwegian guy comes and says his wallet and documents were stolen, I also need that bus. So on my half dead phone am trying to buy him a ticket and he offers me to stay with his brother. Quite a story.
It’s almost a morning. One with no phone, one with no money and then a German guy comes and says he’ll help us and we’ll be ok. Though none of us knows where the bus stop is and where the bus we need departs from. That’s how the jokes usually begin: a Georgian, a Norwegian and a German walk into a bar…
So ok, the bus comes. I try to buy the ticket for the Norwegian and then the bus driver comes out and says the bus is full and there are no places left. He lets me in but closes the door in front of the guy. I was able to give him a 50E so he would not remain with no money at all.
In the end I made it to Trento, which is an hour away from the rink, recharged the phone on the bus, I get off, it’s 5am and no one there and my roaming is dead. I have no connection. Kazakova/Reviya were supposed to pick me up, they left Egna by car. By miracle I caught a wifi from a passing by bus and sent them my location. They found me an hour later. Picked me up, took me to one hotel, then another. It was not a fun journey.

MB: The adventures of the Georgian in Italy..
MK: Then things began to work out. The Federation helped and rented an apt for me. I didn’t have a washing machine and was riding a bicycle to a nearby town through the apples plantation for the laundry. And only before leaving I learned there was a washing machine after all – in the basement.

MB: So how long have you spent in Italy in the end?
MK: Almost 2 months. It was spontaneous – I left Moscow with almost nothing, had to buy things on the spot, the coaches helped me a lot. Like the bicycle. I was riding it every day to the rink, since the weather was mild – it’s warmer there than in Moscow.

MB: Any good memories of that time?
MK: It was all ok in general. Just something was missing. I was trying to dedicate all my time to the practices, was doing cardio on the bicycle. But the jumps were not going. The schedule was unusual for me -by 3pm we were done. The practices begin quite early and the 2nd part of the day is free.

MB: The Italian coaches claim you have to have a life outside the rink.
MK: Am not used to that. In Moscow it’s the other way around – you chase things all the time and there is never enough time. But all the friends are there… My level of English did not allow me to communicate freely. Though there are Russian speaking guys – Kazakova/Reviya, Samoilov, the coach Turenko. But I just didn’t feel right there, was living somewhere between, not here and not there and my mind was elsewhere.
In a way I still live that way. I can’t understand where do I belong. It was an interesting experience, it was not bad. Perhaps I should had stayed and get over.. But I missed home so much. My parents missed me a lot as well, they were calling all the time and I was always in a bad mood. Of course they felt it and kept asking perhaps I should come back? So it was a rollercoaster – do I go back? Do I stay?
I needed to be left alone, I guess, to have a chance to make up my mind. In the end I never made a decision. I was dwelling in these thoughts. For me the lack of decision is the worst. It eats me from within.

MB: The athletes have a very decided upon life. Perhaps the lack of schedule influenced you?
MK: No, it was really the same – you train and compete. There are no excuses, I should had been able to deal.

MB: I think you are too harsh on yourself.
MK: That’s the only way in the sport – for the result you have to be harsh on yourself. I realized I should had overcame. It was hard for 2 months, perhaps after 4 it would become ok, or so my friends kept saying. I was even given an Italian and an English teacher. I know you can’t deal without the language.
I had enough free time and I tried studying every day but it was depressing: you study, study and study and remember nothing – no progress at all. Everything was bad, I can’t explain myself, I don’t understand anyone even though reading was not bad. But any attempt to speak was a dead end.
I couldn’t overcome it, these thoughts drove me insane. So we decided it might be better to prepare to the Europeans in Moscow, in my usual conditions. Hence I came back. But, as we see, it didn’t help much either.

MB: Perhaps the training in Italy was unusual? Have you tried changing anything in the technique?
MK: I was well taken care of, everyone were trying to help. Of course there is no point changing the technique for the adult skater in the middle of the season. They had a goal to correct some things. I was trying to follow the usual routine we had with Tutberidze. We kept in touch, tried to do things over the video, but really nothing worked. Even the boots became uncomfortable – as if they were not mine. It all bothered. Frankly, still does. And I still can’t deal with all that.

MB: Did it become any better after you came back?
MK: That’s the thing, no. I have only one goal – to keep it together till the end of the season. That feeling of being stuck between two worlds is still there. When I left Italy I was sure I was making a right move.
But then the injury added to that: in my last GP I put my leg wrong. I tried to have an MRI in Finland, but it’s not that easy in Europe, you need a prescription, which is 200E, and don’t let me getting started how much the MRI costs. So I thought I’ll go back to Italy and have it there and will just wait. But then I had to find a doctor there, one was on a vacation, the other was busy… I just needed to know what is wrong with my leg – I was limping, couldn’t step on it.
It all spread over 1.5 weeks, in the end I had my MRI in Moscow, the first day after landing. In one day I managed to do all the errands that were stuck for 2 months. Things are different in Europe, nothing happens fast. I grew up in Moscow and am used toa different paste of life. I need things to be fast and under pressure.
I’m turning off when relaxed. If there is no pressure I can’t collect myself. When things are boiling and moving I step up. I see how everyone around me works, hence I have to work with the same paste and it motivates me.

MB: So after Helsinki you are heading back to Moscow?
MK: Yes, for now. Frankly it’s still not clear. It’s useless making plans, but I understand how hard skating now for me. I don’t understand what for. I guess am burned out. I work but there is no result and then I get even more upset, rinse and repeat. I am too emotional this season, I eat myself from within.

MB: Have you tried speaking to a professional? Every foreign skater I speak to mentions a mental coach.
MK: For now I can’t imagine it. I don’t want someone to get inside my head and dwell into that even more. My solution is to get into the work and forget everything else and it will pass. Just that it doesn’t work now. But I dealt with it before by myself. This year is probably the hardest in my life both mentally and psychologically.

MB: Have you thought about retiring?
MK: I began to when understood the sport is hard and not for good. My health also does not allow me to progress and improve. I can’t learn some new things and there is a feeling am degrading at my age. As if the figure skating stepped forward and I went back, things became harder.
If you recall my first Europeans – I got a 2nd high technical mark. Think back then I was more loaded, more technical, more hungry perhaps. Ironically there were not results. And only 1-2 years ago I got some serious medals. And it’s not as if I was working any harder, guess it’s the effect of accumulated work.
Just that there is nothing to left in me to work with. And I understand it will not get any easier.

MB: The foreign skaters often stress the competitive career is not everything, it’s part of a life and then another life is waiting. Do you agree?
MK: No. Guess that’s how we were taught since the childhood. The sport in Russia is a different story. If you are in the high enough level in the sport, you give it all for your future and then you get the rewards.
MK: A social lift?
MK: I guess. Changing everything, switching a field is tough. I’d had to combine that field with the sport. We are lucky in our sport we have something to go on – become a coach, a choreographer, skate in the shows. If you want to stay in the figure skating there are options.

MB: So it’s not as if you never wanted to see the ice again?
MK: Am having troubles with the sport. When I think of the shows I realize how much I enjoy it. I suffer in the sport today. I get no positive emotions from what am doing. And it’s important. Hence I can’t set myself right and understand what is it for. Like it’s all in vain. There is a journey, but no result.

MB: Did you have a chance to watch some shows in Moscow?
MK: Yes.

MB: Have a thought `I’d rather be skating there and not compete’ cross your mind?
MK: For a whole year, frankly. I thought about retiring after the Olympics. But I was raised to fight if I stayed. The athletes are programmed to work till the end, and you can’t drop things in the middle.
In Italy I had the same story: the 2 GP events didn’t go right, hence I was hesitating with going back to Moscow. It would be signing my defeat. Things didn’t work so I’ll just waltz back? It’s not very sportive. Hence I have that feeling of an unfinished business. A terrible feeling, frankly, living with the understanding you gave up. I can’t.
I never withdrew from a competition after the SP. I skated with a high fever, with an upset stomach, had to pull myself out after a bad SP – not stuff I would wish on anyone. I’d rather risk and fail than not even try. You can’t play it safe, you’ll be sorry later. I knw that.

MB: What would you rather do in the future – coach or choreograph?
MK: Everything related to the shows. I already choreographed the programmes, coached, mentored. But I prefer the shows. Not even the exhibition ones, but the ice theatre. When there is a story that goes through. I loved it, I love playing with the audience, exploring the new characters.
I can’t even say it’s easy and a rest. It’s tough as well. Over the summer I worked in the show and had to skate with a high fever, while on pills, and trough that to keep in shape – i.e. runs, gym.

MB: Have you promised yourself something nice at the end of the season? Something to treat yourself with for suffering all that?
MK: Am not thinking that far ahead. Treat myself for what? I had my rest after the Olympics. I had a vacation, a trip, the shows, then a vacation on the sea. Things were going normal and I had more than enough time to rest and begin the season smoothly. But I am losing my chase after the time.
It was the same in Italy: I was working with all I had, but I was chasing, not being fast enough and sliding back. The whole season I can’t get into the right shape. It’s a dead end: I come to a competition, fail there, it kicks me even lower, I go back to the practices, being mad with myself, begin accelerating, moving on and… lacking time again. I work and don’t feel I improve, instead am kicked back. Just when something started working I came down with an illness and all I worked on was gone.

MB: There are no good results this season, hence no price money. You don’t participate the shows either. So not quite successful financially as well?
MK: Indeed, I didn’t earn anything competing this season. My last earnings are from the summer shows. Am not complaining, but it turned out my decision to stay for another season did not prove itself. Not the results, nor the finances. Am an adult man and can’t avoid thinking about it.

MB: The season is not over yet.
MK: Well, I do understand I kept missing the chances the whole season. The GP events, the Europeans and the worlds will be even harder.

MB: Not all the athletes can even make it to the Worlds, it’s an achievement on it’s own, a great experience, memories. Isn’t it?
MK: A bad experience and bad memories – that is how I’m going to take it. I’m not a tourist. I’m going to Japan for a competition. I work and train – what for? To come there and show a result. And if there isn’t one – did you come for the sightseeing? That’s what my coaches are telling me when things don’t go right `will you go as a tourist’?

MB: The Italian coaches?
MK: No, the Moscow. But they are right.

MB: What usually helps you through such times? Music? Movies? Computer games?
MK: For me it’s ideal to be left alone – then it just goes away. I rarely listen to the music, I can watch a TV show once in while. Sometimes Nika Egadze and I go to a computers club to shoot around. A friend bought me a new playstation from Finland for the new year. My brother and I saved and bought 2. But I hardly ever play. I’m just empty inside.
It’s hard to live with a constant thoughts that you missed out and failed. Take the worlds – I was 4th, lacked just a bit for the medal. Of course no one expected much of me, but it’s painful to remain 4th. It was the same at the Olympics – I was in a good shape, but the team didn’t make it to the LP. Again, we lacked just a little bit.

MB: The foreign skaters often cherish just being the Olympians – only the best ones make it there. Some even have tattoos or jewelry with the Olympic rings.
MK: I’ve been to two Olympics but, as you can see, no tattoos. It’s a difference in the approach. If there was an Olympic medal – perhaps I would get a tattoo as well.
`It’s not about the victory, it’s about participation’ is not my moto. Perhaps only at the beginning when I first switched to representing Georgia – all was interesting and I wanted to get everywhere. But then the results came, the first medals and I understood what am I capable of. And I wanted more. This season really pulled me down.

MB: Yet you already do have a European bronze medal, the victory in the GP event. Doesn’t it mean your career was good after all?
MK: Unfortunately, no. Guess when you are surrounded by the successful people your bar is set very high. I saw 3 Olympic games in `Khrustalny’ I can write a book how did it go. First Lipnitskaya who came back with the team gold, then Alina and Zhenya who came with their complicated medals. The last 2 Olympics I was crying – I was rooting for all the girls but only one could win. I was so hurt for them, my heart was broken. I saw them all growing up in front of me.

MB: So you had to hug and console them?
MK: Well, more like congratulate. It was the right thing. For some perhaps only a gold medal exists. Foe me any medal is important. I know what do you feel when you stand on the podium. You can’t put it into the words. That lucky Europeans I was given a pair of watch. That watch is special for me. I look at it and I understand my work was not for nothing.
 

barbk

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I hope he can someday laugh about the bus saga.

When the highly intense teen athletes I encounter have unresolved injuries, they either express excessive positivity or down-in-the-dumps depression. No middle ground. I'm guessing that some of the somewhat older athletes do the same.
 

TAHbKA

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This. Where is the joy? Is it like this for all of the Russians?
Can't speak for ALL the Russians, but 99% of the Russians I know - yes. They are super depressed and deeply ashamed of what their country is doing, while not being able to speak up. Think there was some statistics about the antidepressants sales in Russia since last February. The numbers are mindblowing.
 

MacMadame

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That’s one of the most depressing skater interviews I’ve ever read.
He seriously needs to get some counseling or it's only going to get worse.

No. It's worse for the ones who still represent the FSFR and are trapped there.
It's worse for the Ukrainian athletes who have no rinks to train on and whose family members are fighting a war/becoming refugees/getting killed.
 

euterpe

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Kvitelashvili will turn 28 in March. That's an age when male skaters have either suffered career-ending or -limiting injury, or who are no longer at the top of their game. The problem for him is that he is Russian-born and lives in Russia. If he's no longer winning medals, and becomes a show skater, he could be drafted and sent to Ukraine.
 

airgelaal

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Kvitelashvili will turn 28 in March. That's an age when male skaters have either suffered career-ending or -limiting injury, or who are no longer at the top of their game. The problem for him is that he is Russian-born and lives in Russia. If he's no longer winning medals, and becomes a show skater, he could be drafted and sent to Ukraine.
As a "Georgian" skater, he can go to live in Georgia. No?
 

karmena

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Moris, do you want a gold medal? You earned a gold medal for this interview. Your answers displays so precisely (and profoundly) a psychological- make up of Russian figure skaters. Good job, Moris.

sobering read. nothing changes- the same old soviet ideology is implanted in athletes minds
 

karmena

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As a "Georgian" skater, he can go to live in Georgia. No?
Does he even know what Georgia is? (of course he knows where Georgia is, but he is born and raised in Moscow, does not he?))
Oh, one day he ma look on the world differently... Lets hope ( and wholeheartedly wish) this to happen!
 
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PRlady

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To be fair, being an expat even with a job and some of the language and enough money and a support system is hard enough, and he had none of those things in Italy. The culture shock on top of all the issues with his skating put him in a downward spiral. But if we picked up Jason, let’s say, another mature skater with a ticking clock, and dropped him in Germany to train without money or a coach he was close to and not a word of German, it might not go so well for him either. (On the other hand Jason has a pretty sunny resilient personality so maybe he would do better.)

Still, some of the awful stuff here comes directly from the Soviet values and style Morisi was used to. Even abused people are more comfortable with the longterm abuse if they have nothing to compare it to.
 

airgelaal

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If I remember correctly, he was busy with the shows all summer. I do not really understand what results he expected with such preparation.
 

caseyedwards

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This. Where is the joy? Is it like this for all of the Russians?
It has bee like this for decades! In America where skating is seen as more of a fun hobby and not really serious sport like football hearing Russians talk about skating like a football player talks about football or baseball has always struck many Americans or westerners as ridiculous as absurd over seriousness. Like it’s only figure skating!

Russia: figure skating is serious sport and serious art
 
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Ananas Astra

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If I remember correctly, he was busy with the shows all summer. I do not really understand what results he expected with such preparation.
To be fair: Most Russian/"former Russian" skaters do shows all summer and sometimes even during the Holiday season. It's also called "earning money".
 

jiejie

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It has bee like this for decades! In America where skating is seen as more of a fun hobby and not really serious sport like football hearing Russians talk about skating like a football player talks about football or baseball has always struck many Americans or westerners as ridiculous as absurd over seriousness. Like it’s only figure skating!

Russia: figure skating is serious sport and serious art

Hmm. It would be very interesting to US national-level competitors who spend long hours in cold ice rinks and spend $50,000+ per year (most of it their own/family money, unsupported by the government), that all that effort was just a "fun hobby." I always defined "fun hobbies" as things like collecting Beer Cans of the World, or similar.

Nearly all athletes everywhere know that eventually, time will catch up with them and the body will give out. (well, Deanna Stellato is challenging this, but you know what I mean). Most skaters in the USA know that there are limited coaching, performance, and commentating opportunities after their competitive careers are over, and unlike football/basketball/baseball players who can earn a lot of money in a relatively short time, and live off investments and tangential opportunities if they are savvy, ex-skaters will need some productive job to support themselves over the long haul.

Fortunately, most US skaters seem to develop other interests besides skating, and pursue their education in support of same. I actually feel sorry for skaters under the Russian model, most of them seem so one-dimensional (although that could be the way the media presents them). It seems that unless you get a GOLD medal, you are labelled a failure and tossed aside on the scrap heap of has-beens.

I hope Morisi can find something else besides skating that inspires him. Because it is pretty obvious to all--and I think himself as well--that he is in the twilight of his competitive skating career. He has pretty much already reached the pinnacle of what he will be able to achieve in competitive skating. That is the fundamental issue; the challenges of having to change training venues, coaching, etc. is unhelpful but the geopolitics situation is not the primary underlying cause of his woes.
 

reut

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Can't speak for ALL the Russians, but 99% of the Russians I know - yes. They are super depressed and deeply ashamed of what their country is doing, while not being able to speak up. Think there was some statistics about the antidepressants sales in Russia since last February. The numbers are mindblowing.
And the number of russians you know is 10? 20? 50? :shuffle: There are enough of researches which show quite different percentage of those "deeply ashamed".

I do feel for Moris, he is a lovely guy and when I talked to him in Sheffield he was really sad and I felt sorry for him. Btw didn't notice him "being depressed and deeply ashamed of what his country is doing" in this interview, mostly depressed about completely different things, like his career not being as bright, life in Italy not being as comfortable as in Moscow and that he wants to work in shows.

And I try to compare to what Ukrainian skaters were saying during these championships, all of them grateful to German/Austrian federations/Montreal Academy. Running from their homes without basic things, days to get to the border, moving from place to place until they could find a base, part of their families still in Ukraine. But, yeah, of course, they didn't get it as tough as poor Moris. :rolleyes:
 

TAHbKA

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And the number of russians you know is 10? 20? 50? :shuffle: There are enough of researches which show quite different percentage of those "deeply ashamed".
Probably around 30, hence I can't speak for all the Russians. Just almost all the Russians I know.
And yeah, let's trust the Russian propaganda and the official numbers. Because duuuh. That's trustworthy
 

airgelaal

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To be fair: Most Russian/"former Russian" skaters do shows all summer and sometimes even during the Holiday season. It's also called "earning money".
But I have no doubt that they know exactly where and with whom they will train.
When he earned money in the show in the summer, everything suited him. If I remember correctly, he earned money in the Navka show. And, of course, he could not have imagined that problems would begin in the fall.
 

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