Ermolina's interview with Kostornaya: "I want to become a neurosurgeon"


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Alena Kostornaya: I want to become a neurosurgeon

Q: Alena, what brought you to fugure skating?
A: My mom brought me (to the ice rink) when I was 4. She said you have to try so that they will teach you to fall and you don't break anything. I started skating at «Umka» with coach Marina Cherkasova. She got me on skates, taught me a lot, I took my first steps on the ice with her. After 3-4 years, my mom asked if I wanted to continue skating. I said: of course. I already liked figure skating by then, even though at first I didn't want to go to the rink at all. My mom would push me on to the ice and close the door. I very much didn't want to go. But then I got into skating, I started liking it. We decided to move further and switched to another coach, Elena Zhgun at «Sambo-70». I skated with her for 5 years, and then after last season, in February, we decided to move to Eteri Tutberidze's group, because her girls show strong results. And I wanted to be on podium as well.

Q: So you switched, and?
A: I knew that Eteri Georgievna is very demanding. When I came for a tryout, I skated a bit, ice time was over, and I was told that I am kind of in. But I had to skate at one more competition for my old school, «Tchaikovskaya's skate», and after that it was done. I skated with Eteri Georgievna for a week, and then she said yes.
In the beginning, when I first started in the new group, for about three months I was just doing jumps. I liked it. Some things I didn't qiute understand back then. I saw the girls skating during practices, doing free program run-throughs, correcting mistakes, if Eteri Georgievna didn't like something, repeating it again. It seemed easy enough. Only in Novogorsk, when I had my programs choreographed, I realised how hard it was to skate it time after time.

Q: Didn't you train like that before?
A: I did train before, but not doing full run-throughs every day, and repeating if something goes wrong. For example, if I missed the jump in the program, I would do it again, and that was it. Here, if I miss a jump, I repeat the whole program.
I do lots of repeats at practices, but after that the competition is a cake walk: you go out and skate without even getting out of breath.

Q: The most memorabe competition for you?
A: Russian Junior championship last year. After that event, we decided to switch. At practices, everything was great, and the short program was good, but half of the free was a disaster. For no reason at all. It was completely unexpected for me. Then, the same happened in Moscow.

Q: What do you think was the reason?
A: I didn't do my 100% at practices. I thought then I was working hard. But when I started with the new group, I realized that what I did before was nothing. Everything was pointless, because I did a jump and stood for five minutes. No real practicing. And the thing is, my coach told me that I needed to work, but I understood it only by the end of last season that she was right, that I shouldn't have stopped after each jump, that I needed to go on, keep working.

Q: Do you like competing, performing?
A: Yes. Very much. I like it. I don't even feel any anxiety, I feel the adrenaline, which helps during competitions. The most important thing is to channel it right so that it doesn't get in the way. I like this feeling when I go out on the ice alone, and everybody is clapping, everybody is looking at me.

Q: This year, you debuted at Junior Grand Prix. What was it like?
A: During the first official practice at my first Grand Prix in Poland, I was nervous, because not everything was going so well. But I was feeling confident going into the short program, and felt even more confident when I landed my first jump combination. That's when I realized that I don't have nothing to worry about.
After the short, I told myself that I did a good job, but tomorrow will be a fresh start, and I needed to have another good skate and not lose my standing.

Q: The first Grand Prix event was a success. At your second, you probably thought it would be easy?
A: That was the problem. I needed to stay calm. Of course, I wanted to finish first at both my Grand Prix events. But it's okay, most importantly, I made it to the Final.

Q: Did your parents do any sports?
A: My father was a track and filed athlete, and my mom used to skate when she was little. Then her family had moved, and there was no opportunity to continue. But my mother is very athletic. She's almost all the time with me. My father is not into figure skating. I have a brother, he's 9. He tried figure skating, but didn't like it. So now he plays football and wrestles. My dad usually spends time with him, takes him to practices.

Q: Did your parents celebrate when you came back from the Grand Prix?
A: No. These are just juniour Grand Prix. It's just a little part of what can be achieved in sports. I was raised in a strict environment, I never whined and never complained that I'm tired, that everything is awful, that I can't, because I know there is no point. If you don't get over yourself, you'll never get any results.

Q: Do you have time for school?
A: Sometimes, in the morning, I go for the first two lessons, but mostly I study with tutors. Actually, I am homeschooled, and when I have a day off from practices, I go to school to take tests.

Q: Favorite subject?
A: Biology and chemistry.

Q: Are you planning to go to the Institute of Physical Culture? You'll need biology for that.
A: Actually, I want to become a neurosurgeon.

Q: Do you have a neurosurgeon in your family?
A: No. It started 4 years ago. My mom was watching a TV show, I started watching with her, and I liked it so much! I decided that I want to be a neurosurgeon too. Why not?

Q: Interesting. But it's in the future, now you must be busy training. How are your relationship with other people in your group?
A: Calm. Everyone is minding their own business, not paying much attention to others. It doesn't matter if there are new people in the group, you have your own job to do. When you are on the ice, you do it, and it doesn't matter if Eteri Georgievna is away at a competition or not. If you are on the ice, you have to work. You need this, not the coaches. The coaches can only help to achieve your dreams.

Q: You sound very mature. What kind of person are you?
A: Difficult. It takes a lot of patience to deal with me, because I don't trust people right away. I need to get to know them better, to understand them. I'm not the one who readily comes over, says hi, and starts talking. I will first observe, and only then I will start talking. Not everyone understands that. Some people think I am arrogant, but I am not.

Q: Tell us something about your programs.
A: The short is tango. I need to skate clean and perform for the audience, get all the movements right so that it looks good. I skated Carmen for two years, so tango is easier.
The free is to the music by William Joseph. It's an interesting story. I meet a person and think it is someone I know, but it's not, so the rest is my memories of our time together.
I like both my programs, but they need to be clean.

Q: What are your goals?
A: I plan to learn a quad. I tried it with a harness, but it needs more work. We decided to put it off for now, because there is not enough time in the season, but we'll try it later.

Q: Thank you, Alena, and good luck.

Spun Silver

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An impressively intelligent, self-aware and cool young person. How great that she already has a plan for after skating. That way of thinking will serve her well. Meanwhile, best of luck to her in skating.


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How old is she, 50? :lol: Boy her mind. Love it. One of the best interviews I've read.
Thank you @quiqie very much. :encore:

Q: Didn't you train like that before?
A: I did train before, but not doing full run-throughs every day, and repeating if something goes wrong. For example, if I missed the jump in the program, I would do it again, and that was it. Here, if I miss a jump, I repeat the whole program.
I do lots of repeats at practices, but after that the competition is a cake walk: you go out and skate without even getting out of breath.
This is very interesting.


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Kostornaia strikes me as a very meticulous person, so I'm not surprised to hear of these career aspirations.

She is probably one of the most musically talented female skaters I have seen from the past 10-15 years, and for a 13-year old, the nuance she demonstrates is quite unbelievable. In terms of musical sophistication, she is easily top three among the world-class senior+junior ladies, the other two would be Carolina and Satoko.


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I really liked this interview. She sounds just as impressive off the ice as on it. Good luck to her...

And nice insight into Eteri's methods... do it perfectly or you do it again...and again, until it is.... certainly sounds simple enough, lol.


#allaboutthevoids #teamtrainwreck
These Russian girls are a hoot. They all come across as very mature and focused and articulate in their interviews. I don’t doubt it’s true, either. I wonder if the show she likes is Grey’s Anatomy :p

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