Ermolina/Flade's interview with Konstantinova


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Olga Ermolina/Tatjana Flade's interview with Stanislava Konstantinova for `You can't just sit back and enjoy what you've already achieved'

Q: Stasia, the Finnish GP was full of adventures. How did it happen that you forgot the passport home?
SK: Am always very responsible about the documents and I remembered putting two documents in my bag - the id and the passport. Hence when mom asked me to check the documents I took out the id after which, as if worried, got to the passport. Took it out to show my mom and... there was an old photo!

Q: And you had...
SK: 20 minutes left till the train! Going back home just one way would be 40 minutes! I was stunned. Crying. I was standing there and understanding I will miss the train and will have to travel tomorrow or in the evening, buy a new ticket, wait on the train station... Thank god mom was planning going to Helsinki to support me. Am so grateful she solved the situation. We went to pick the right passport and then the 3 of us - with my little sister drove to Helsinki from St. Petersburg. Initially we planned for mom and sister to join me in Finland in 1-2 days, but... I'm so grateful to my mom for just leaving everything and taking me. That's the way she is.

Q: Your grandmother lives in Finland?
SK: Yes, she is a Finn. She lives near Helsinki. We visit her quite often.

Q: Well, quite a beginning of a competition you had.
SK: It was a black period: first than, then a lace tore, then the tights. The new LP dress was not yet tried. I put it on Thursday practice for the first time and had to compete in it on Friday. Thank god it suited me, had there been any problems with the dress it would be too much.

Q: Perhaps all these problems put your mind off the competition stress?
SK: I don't think so. On Thursday I was really upset with myself - am not always so all over the place. I thought I was cursed. But I tried to leave it on Thursday and not take it with me to the next days. Just thought I was starting from a new page. Indeed things started working eventually.

Q: There were small mistakes in the SP, but the LP was great. Perhaps because you have been skating `Anna Karenina' for the 2nd season and you like the programme?
SK: I love the programme, the music. I melt in it, live those 4 minutes. But for now I can't skate it with my eyes closed, because we changed it almost completely before the beginning of the season.

Q: What do you mean?
SK: Almost all the elements entrances are different, some other things.

Q: The rules have changed and you needed to integrate them in the programme?
SK: Yes. We first changed some of the elements, than the rest. Some we moved differently in the programme, some turned, added lots of steps and transitions. It was hard at first, but later we found the transitions I was comfortable doing. On some I speed up, on some I breath, but it all looks solid and hard.

Q: Have you started changing the elements after `Finlandia trophy'?
SK: Some changes were done before Bratislava, some before Finlandia trophy and the GP. I was asked `why do you keep changing things', but I keep trying to find the ideal entrances, transitions that would look good. It's never too late to come up with something new if it suits you.

Q: I.e. the programme version we've seen in Helsinki is not a final?
SK: I think we'll keep working. We started working on a lutz during a summer - a routine work on a jump with an entrance. Now we integrated it into the programme - I used to telegraph it, now the entrance is shorter and I can land it. Which makes me happy.

Q: You said during the test skates you were trying to do a lutz from the edge...
SK: I did during the summer, but it didn't really work. Now my lutz is much better than it used to.

Q: If it's not a secret - what were you working on between the GP events?
SK: Mainly the choreography, polishing the programme. After all I have to work on the components, I want my marks to be higher.

Q: What did you learn from the Worlds in Milano? You were so upset after your skate.
SK: I was mentally dead and am so grateful to my family for supporting me. Thanks the fans who didn't turn their backs and kept supporting me at that hard time. I was working. I came to certain conclusions. One of them: I should keep healthy during the season. And I have to work on being confident.

Q: Is there a way to believe in yourself?
SK: Guess I should stop focusing on the failures and focus on the positive things. If previously, say, I had 10 successful attempts and a failure it's the failure I'd remember. Hence I would walk out after the practice not thinking `Well done me, 10 successful attempts' but `That one time I failed, oh dear....'. Now I try to focus on the positive things and not eat myself about the failures, be more focused, keep things under control. As for the practices preparations I try not to be late, look after my stuff, look good during the practice, warm up right, pay more attention to the recovery.

Q: You seem like a reasonable girl, haven't you been doing all that before?
SK: I did, but just because, now I understand what it's for.

Q: Did you come to that conclusion yourself or someone explained you?
SK: I've always had good coaches. I always practice quite well, even if I'm late or forget something. I want to be more serious, more focused and have things under control - if you let yourself lose in life it will happen in the sport. If my life is lacking order there will be no consistency in the sports. In other words - my current goal is to have an order in everything, and get rid of all the small mistakes, silly things, being late- all that. I understand that it will probably be a different me, but I have to grow up and take control.

Q: You said you skate well in the practices and land everything more than once. Why can't you take it with you to the competitions?
SK: I didn’t trust myself for a long time. I would do everything fine at the practice but then I would think too much at the competition: `this way, that way, put a leg there'... Such thoughts overtake your head. You should keep it simple: I do millions of attempts at the practices, won't all that training just work at the right time?

Q: Will it?
SK: I worked in the GP in Helsinki - I worked well in the practice and came to a competition enjoying the work that was done. I was as if watching from a side. Watching the work I have done. I came to a competition and as if rested, while the body did the work. The lack of confidence - it's because of lack of trust in yourself.

Q: From your personal experience?
SK: Partly. Of course we work a lot with the shrink Gennadii Gorbunov. It helps and I see the results.

Q: Perhaps you should learn to switch off. Which is hard if all your friends are from figure skating. Of course then anything you do will end up being about figure skating.
SK: This season I started spending more time alone. It's not that I sit home and think of figure skating. I try to do other things like the studies, hobbies. I can paint or play a computer game or just sit home and...

Q: Play with a cat?
SK: Yeah, I have a cat now! There are these chewing gums with predictions such as `love is...'. I once got one that said `Love will save you'. Imagine, just a couple of days later I got a cat. And indeed, all went up from there, I started feeling much better. Guess everyone needs time alone. I'm not an exception. Just it turned out that many people I was talking to did not really understand me. It's not that fault - we all change, I probably change and perhaps am not the same as I used to be. I'm not blaming anyone and take it as a given - people come and go.

Q: Its' your first senior season. Are you sorry you haven't switched last year?
SK: A tough question. I guess I am in a way, because the difference between the junior and the senior is huge! First the GP events have a different rink with so many viewers, you are broadcasted on the TV, half a country is following your skating. It's awesome! I only experienced such emotions before in the Russian nationals, which was the biggest competition for me in the last 2 season. Now, the GP..

Q: What is the hardest switching from the juniors to the seniors?
SK: The mentality. In the JGP you aim for the medal because there are so many girls are there and if you make a slightest mistake you will be replaced. I will not speak for the others, but the situation scared me so much. I was shutting off. It bothered me during the competitions. Now, on the senior events it's mentally easier. The expectations are not `Here is Stasia Konstantinova who came to her first GP and she must medal'. It's much less pressure.

Q: Was the 2nd place in Helsinki GP a surprise?
SK: Of course I was so happy. After the SP I didn't expect it to happen. Of course my goal was not be somewhere n the middle of the table. The goal was to skate well. The coach Valentina Chebotareva and I set ourselves to a thought it's my first GP and I should skate well, start the first senior season well, to make a first step. It happened.

Q: And you believed in yourself?
SK: The 2nd place gave me a big kick, that I have to work harder. As the coach says, if you want to be a good girl with a potential - just keep working the way you are. If you want to be more - you have to work harder. I.e. you can't just be satisfied with what you already done, you have to attempt more.

Q: The competition in Russia - does it motivate or put pressure on you?
SK: On one hand it bothers a bit, stresses when something doesn't work or there are problems. But in general it keeps me in shape. Even if you don't divide to seniors and juniors the competition always keeps you updated and doesn't let you go lose.

Q: Now that you are a senior you compete more often together with Kolyada. How do you support each other?
SK: Misha often gives me advice, calms me and says `Stasia, don't worry so much'. I indeed sometimes worry a bit too much. In the practices it sometimes happens that I can't stop - I just keep working and working and thinking `no, no, it's not good enough, I have to do more'. Misha knows how to stop me. I am so grateful for his support. I try to support him as well.

Q: Do you need your coach's attention?
SK: Yes... Ever since I was little the coaches were very strict with me: I was never told I was doing well, quite the opposite - always scorned. And I did so many silly things: I would be late, I would forget stuff. They would always scorn me for that. Even if it was someone else's fault I would be blamed. And, oddly, it taught me to work hard, to try and prove all the time I'm not like that.
I remember working with the older skaters once, I was trying to be like them - me and the girls my age were always aiming for the spot in the older group. Of course it was not even nearly a competition like the one in Tutberidze's group, but still, I got used from a very young age they might shout at me, they might shout at me more than at the others, sometimes I would be blamed instead of someone else, but it gave me a will to work and am grateful. Hence now when being criticized I see both sides of the story.

Q: I.e the critics pushes you.
SK: You could say that. I can be very emotional. I can be calm. Different. I'm glad there are such people like Valentina Chebotareva or Misha Kolyada who understand me and, if needed, will set me right.

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