Ermolina/Flade's interview with Kovtun


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Maksim Kovtun: `I realized the feeling of under-accomplishment will eat me alive' an interview by Tatjana Flade & Olga Ermolina for
* Kovtun calls Goncharenko Inna Germanovna and Buyanova Elena Germanovna though the whole interview. Spared that in the translation
Q: Maksim, after the nationals you said you wanted to take time off.
MK: Right, I was quite open about that. I wanted to let go, not think of anything. I participated Ilya Averbukh's show, spent time with my family, did whatever.
At that point I decided I was done. I gained weight and landed only triples in the show. Things went great there. I was doing 2 parts in the `Nutcracker' - the Drosselmeyer and the invited guest Toreador. I had to change fast and get back on the ice. It was a great experience in picking myself up, jumping in the dark because the lights in the show are dimmed. Physically I had to endure 3 shows a day. It was quite a marathon. I can't recall the exact number, but we did about 40 shows in 2 weeks in St. Petersburg. Frankly, I didn't think what will be next but I thought I was done competing.

Q: How did your father a figure skating coach take it?
MK: He said thank god. He was very worried about me, the whole family was. But after the nationals I was in a state when things changed pretty much every day. When I called my father in February and said I was going back he thought it was a joke. He was shaking from my phone calls.

Q: Why have you decided to come back?
MK: I spoke on the phone to Evgeni Pluschenko, we met up and talked. He said Inna Germanovna Goncharenko joined his academy. Before starting working with Zhenya I discussed it with my family, friends. I asked Ilya Averbukh's point of view. He didn't try to talk me out but said if there is a chance why not try again.
I had those thoughts crossing my mind of perhaps going back to TSKA but I was waving it off. And then things began with Zhenya, Goncharenko. Zhenya motivated me during the practices. I couldn't and wouldn't look ungrateful.
Am grateful for Zhenya Pluschenko for offering working with him. If it wasn't for him my life would look differently now.

Q: Yet your relationship with Pluschenko in the past was tense.
MK: Time goes on. Negative emotions go away. You shouldn't dwell in that. Besides, we never spoke face to face with Zhenya before that. When it happened, we met, talked, looked at each other and realized we are cool dudes.
All that happened in the past stayed there. Zhenya said at the very first practice `from this moment you are nobody. You have no titles, not marks. You are just a skater who came from the village Middle of Nowhere, just Maksim. We are starting from the scratch'. He convinced I shouldn't look back and only look forward. It became easier for me. And the will to work came.

Q: Why didn't it work out in Pluschenko's Academy?
MK: Zhenya's academy is great, but the ice is small. It's hard working there for a professional. Zhenya is travelling all the time. And I didn't have time to wait. When I made a decision to keep skating I really wanted to work and I had to start working on the programmes.

Q: How did you explain your departure to Zhenya and Goncharenko?
MK: I was frank. But it's really easier talking business with men. No extra emotions. I spoke to Zhenya. We parted friends. He said I can call him any time and wished me luck.
I then met with Goncharenko. Explained I was going back to TSKA to Buyanova. She said `I understand. It seems a right decision to me'. I was glad she understood me. We parted well with no negative feelings. She even invited me to her summer house for a weekend. Am grateful for everything Goncharenko have done. We became very close while working together.

Q: Was it hard making a call to Buyanova?
MK: I first wrote her and then called and we met. Of course, she was shocked. She did not expect it. We spoke for more than 2 hours even though it seemed like the conversation was very brief. She took her time to think it over. On April 1st I got a message to come to the coaches room with my skates and the ice time would be at 4pm. I understood the new life began.

Q: Coming back is never easy. What for?
MK: Every skater goes through the period when you work just because, without putting your soul into it. At such moment I thought if I retire everything will be great, my life will be superb. Perhaps I had to go through it, because such an understanding comes when learning from your own mistakes. You don't get it till it hits you. I'm such a person. I realized the feeling of underachievement in the sport will eat me alive in the future.

Q: Do you mind there are decent skaters in the team right now?
MK: If there is a competition it will push me. I have to accept things the right way. I have to fight for my spot and not just skate there to check the box.
I have to get the people's trust back. The fans' trust. Recently people were unfriending me in the social networks. Of course there are true fans who I even know by the names. The rest demand a result. If there is a result you are loved. If none - the love expires. But it's the same in every sport.
In the recent months I realized a lot. For example that I shouldn't give promises. I just have to turn my brains on and prove things on the ice. Better later than never. Though I should had probably earlier.

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