Interview with Kurakova

TAHbKA

Cats and garlic lover
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19,437
Marina Chernysheva-Melinik's interview with Ekaterina Kurakova for match.tv

MCM: Your family probably had to scarify a lot since you switched to Poland. Was it worth it?
EK: Definitely. I am so happy my parents understood and supported me 4 years ago. Poland gave me a chance to skate on the top level, be on the same ice with the top level and be exposed to the different figure skating schools. It's an experience that will help me as a coach and in life. Of course I miss my family a lot. Every year it's harder to endure. When you first get exposed to that new world it's so interesting and you are in awe of everything, especially when young. I moved continents at the age of 15 and first I was euphoric. But the time goes and you get homesick. It's a sacrifice for a bigger goal, though I do want to find home.

MCM: Last year your life changed. Do I understand right moving to Italy and leaving Canada was because of the раndemic?
EK: Right. I had a great team in Canada and great relationship with my coaches. But the quarantine in Canada was strict and as a foreigner I couldn't enter the country since the spring of 2020. The whole last season I was waiting and hoping to go back but because of the соrona restrictions I had to practice in Poland with the ice dancers. Of course I was helped a lot by the coach Sylvia Nowak, but she is a dancing coach and could only advice me in the steps, but not the jumps. The jumps are the main element in my sport. In the end I was able to participate 6 competitions: the Polish nationals, the worlds and some inner Polish competitions. It was obvious in order to progress I had to change something. These are the rules of the game. Life proved the decision to change the coaching team was correct. Canada is still closed down and you can only enter if you have a citizenship or a presidentship.

MCM: Why Lorenzo Magri's academy?
EK: First because it's in Europe and the раndemic restriction allow me to travel to the competitions. Second I've known Lorenzo for a while - we saw each other in the competitions and several times I participated the training camps with him and realized he is a great professional. Now I work with him and 2 great Russian coaches - Angelina Turenko and Alissa Mikonsaari.

MCM: Tell me about your programmes
EK: My first part of the season SP I was depicting and exotic animal in the zoo. Everyone is looking at me, while am in the cage and can't break free. By the time am done with the jumps am free and I run on a long road. The whole world is open and I finally can be whatever I want to be. The programme was called `Me is me'. The idea is that I am what I am
The Europeans I presented a new programme. We changed it because the song `Steppe' is ambiguous. It's like a 50/50 lottery: either you love it or you don't get it. Taking a risk at the Olympics was not something we wanted, hence the coach, choreograph and I decided to take the `Sentimental valts' by Tchaikovski. It's a classical piece and think the programme is full of light. It our hard times we lack the lightness, happiness, some lovely moments. The second reason is that I was not completely feeling the `Steppe' as much as we worked on it. The `Sentimental Valts' is something I was thinking about for a while - I love the music and I feel it.

MCM: What can you say about your skates this season?
EK: After what happened am thrilled to be able to compete and go abroad, I appreciate every competition. I especially love the opportunity to skate in front of the crowd - their energy really helps me. The past season it was hard without the crowd's support, but now things are better and every competition I progress. My main goal at the end of September was qualifying to the Olympics and I did it at Nebelhorn trophy. The Europeans gave me a lot of happy emotions. And I beat my personal best, which is great. So all goes according to the plan.

MCM: You've been competing a lot this season. Orser said in 2019 that you had to sit out the post Olympic season and the next you were hungry to compete - you were competing both the juniors and the seniors. Now it's kind of the same?
EK: Agree. This season I had 3 international challenges, 2 GP events, the Olympic qualified, the Polish nationals and the Europeans. Some competitions were close to each other with just days between. And then there are Olympics and the Worlds ahead of me. I was willing to go to the University games, but they were cancelled. So yes, a god comparison. Speaking of which -that packed season was the best in my career - when I finally got to compete. I hope this season will bring a lot of joy as well.

MCM: Your emotions when you learned you qualified to the Olympics?
EK: First the feeling of freedom. Every day after the Worlds I would wake up with the thought I have the last chance - the only chance and there will be no other. It's not the Worlds that you can wait for a year. The Olympics only happen once in 4 years and you don't know what will happen to you in such a long time. Especially as a single lady skater. Every athlete dreams of going to the Olympics. I knew even one practice is a step towards a bigger goal. It was hard to handle the pressing : I lost sleep, I had nightmares. Hence when I learned I qualified I was free from all these thoughts. And a couple of days later the happiness landed.

MCM: Did your sleep get back to normal?
EK: Not instantly. 3 days after the Nebelhorn trophy I would wake up sweating that it was all a dream and I have not yet qualified. I keep the medal in my wardrobe so when I had doubts in the middle of the night I would go and check: the meal is real, so it must be true. I could not comprehend for half a year I was beating myself mentally, it was so hard but in fact it was all about these 4 minutes of the LP. You put half a year of your life on these 4 minutes... I can't comprehend it! Later realizing the dream came true I felt so happy.

MCM: You said the single skaters are resting during the spirals. Can you explain?
EK: The spiral allows to get your breathing back that goes wrong during the jumps. It's a bit hard to breath during the spins as well because of the speed. During the spirals you hold the same position, do not do any sudden moves. You not only rest physically but have a chance to show some emotions, to move your arms.

MCM: What about the steps?
EK: It's tough at the beginning of the season. Especially the ones by Richaud - he choreographs with a lot of usage of the upper body. I bend, sit, get up, go.. it's hard. But then the body learns how to breath. For example before that change of the body position I have to inhale. And I get used to it. I don't know about the other skaters, but I do notice these details. When the programme is polished enough it becomes easier.

MCM: The coach Angelina Turenko said in November you keep working on the quad and the 3A. When will you be able to integrate these elements into the programmes?
EK: Hard to tell now - before the Olympics am very careful with my health. The last season was tough - I spent a lot of time mending my back. The reason for the problems, among others, was the 3A. Every athlete has it's weakest body part which lets down. For me it's the back. For now my goal is to get into the best possible shape by the Olympics.

MCM: You were working on the quad in Natalia Dubinskaya's group. Can you tell more about the process?
EK: Sure. We worked together with Natalia Dubinskaya and Stanislav Kovalev. The lack of fear helped - the coaches even had to slow me down. We tried a lot, first with the harness and in the end it worked. I can't tell that there is a secret or some deciding moment. It's a result of the work and the risk. I would land the quad on 2 feet, then I landed on one feet when working with Goncharenko

MCM: You got to train in Russia, Poland, Canada and now Italy. Can you compare the systems?
EK: Russia and Italy are alike in a lot of way. It's even more comfortable in Italy - in Russia I had 2 long ice practices, here I have 3 short. In the morning practice we work on the new elements, the combinations, the jumps and different entries into the jumps. The 2nd and 3rd are for polishing the programmes. It's a good thing for the joints and you end up spending quite a lot of time on the ice even with the breaks. Comparing Russia and Canada - the main difference is in the coach's attention. The Russian coaches are working with the group, while in Canada there are lessons that last 15-30 minutes but you work alone with the coach and have things you must work on at that given time slot.

MCM: You spent 1.5 years in Orser's group. Can you tell what is his main coaching talent?
EK: He gets really close to the athlete and feels them. I was in awe. I would skate my programme or work on a combination and think `perhaps I should work on the 3lz3loop which is not yet polished?' I come to Brian and he says `let's try the 3lz3loop'! Or, say, I wanted to repeat a part of the programme and Brian would offer to work on that part exactly. There were plenty of such moments that I thought something and Brian would voice it. It's amazing how he would read my thoughts. We had an amazing contact hence it was really hard to part ways.

MCM: You had a daily World championship with Hanyu and Fernandes in front of you. What are your best memories?
EK: Let's start from my first days in the club when I came to Toronto in December 2018. All the best athletes left to the `Autumn classic' and came back a couple of days later. All the amazing skaters were on the ice and I couldn't believe it. I was just looking and thinking `dear god, it's impossible! Does it happen to me?!' Hanuy, Medvedeva, Fernandez... I was seeing what they were doing on the ice and understanding I have to work so hard to get anywhere even near to such art. I saw it was all thanks to their hard work. Hanuy would be flat on the ice tired after skating his LP 3 times. But that's why he is a champion - he has no mercy for himself. Whether it's hard or he is tired - not important. He just goes out and does it in any state he is, giving 1000% in every practice.

MCM: You were communicating quite a lot to Medvedeva? How did you spend time with her?
EK: Not that much. We would sometimes go to the movies - either the 2 of us or with some others. Evgenia is really nice as a person and I admire Evgenia the athlete. When am asked who is the most hard working person and who sets the example I always think of Medvedeva. She is a strong personality.

MCM: Are you still in touch with Orser and his group?
EK: I message with all my previous coaches and the guys from the club. What was especially nice: Brian congratulated me himself when I qualified to the Olympics. It was one of the most important messages for me at that moment. It means he understands I only left because I had no choice and is willing to keep in touch. You can not imagine how much I want to see him! We only parted on the phone, but there are so many things I want to tell him and to thank him. I don't like discussing all these changes through the internet or by messenger. I want Brian to look me in the eyes and see how grateful I am for all that he had done for me. I hope to see him in China soon.

MCM: What about the education?
EK: Am studying to become a coach in a Polish uni. The studies are mainly remote, I do all the exams. I'm grateful to the lecturers that they understand my schedule this season. After all am getting ready for the Olympics.

MCM: Do you spend a lot of time in Poland and what do you like there?
EK: I come here every couple of months for the competitions. I stayed here for the Christmas and new years'. My parents came to visit me in Poland. I love Torun - the city I represent. It's a small cute European city - the real ancient Europe. I love walking on the local cute streets.

MCM: The Polish language is a lot like Russian. Did you learn it easily?
EK: Certainly easier than English. I think it also helped that I lived in Poland and was among the native speakers. The uni studies are in Polish and am fluent by now.
 

soogar

Well-Known Member
Messages
3,080
I really like her and she is so lucky that the Polish federation has invested so many resources in her coaching. I’m sure she will prove to be a great investment when she becomes a coach. She’s also an example of how important it is to invest in all talent, not just the skaters at the very top. She will have a lot of insight to pass on to her future students.
 

Scott512

Well-Known Member
Messages
812
I really like her and she is so lucky that the Polish federation has invested so many resources in her coaching. I’m sure she will prove to be a great investment when she becomes a coach. She’s also an example of how important it is to invest in all talent, not just the skaters at the very top. She will have a lot of insight to pass on to her future students.
Look at the coaches she had look at the teammates she had in Toronto. She must have learned a lot from the skaters and the coaches maybe that's part of the reason for Ekaterina's Improvement as well as skating internationally for a few years. Poland really has invested a lot in her.
 

millyskate

Well-Known Member
Messages
15,775
Marina Chernysheva-Melinik's interview with Ekaterina Kurakova for match.tv

MCM: Your family probably had to scarify a lot since you switched to Poland. Was it worth it?
EK: Definitely. I am so happy my parents understood and supported me 4 years ago. Poland gave me a chance to skate on the top level, be on the same ice with the top level and be exposed to the different figure skating schools. It's an experience that will help me as a coach and in life. Of course I miss my family a lot. Every year it's harder to endure. When you first get exposed to that new world it's so interesting and you are in awe of everything, especially when young. I moved continents at the age of 15 and first I was euphoric. But the time goes and you get homesick. It's a sacrifice for a bigger goal, though I do want to find home.

MCM: Last year your life changed. Do I understand right moving to Italy and leaving Canada was because of the раndemic?
EK: Right. I had a great team in Canada and great relationship with my coaches. But the quarantine in Canada was strict and as a foreigner I couldn't enter the country since the spring of 2020. The whole last season I was waiting and hoping to go back but because of the соrona restrictions I had to practice in Poland with the ice dancers. Of course I was helped a lot by the coach Sylvia Nowak, but she is a dancing coach and could only advice me in the steps, but not the jumps. The jumps are the main element in my sport. In the end I was able to participate 6 competitions: the Polish nationals, the worlds and some inner Polish competitions. It was obvious in order to progress I had to change something. These are the rules of the game. Life proved the decision to change the coaching team was correct. Canada is still closed down and you can only enter if you have a citizenship or a presidentship.

MCM: Why Lorenzo Magri's academy?
EK: First because it's in Europe and the раndemic restriction allow me to travel to the competitions. Second I've known Lorenzo for a while - we saw each other in the competitions and several times I participated the training camps with him and realized he is a great professional. Now I work with him and 2 great Russian coaches - Angelina Turenko and Alissa Mikonsaari.

MCM: Tell me about your programmes
EK: My first part of the season SP I was depicting and exotic animal in the zoo. Everyone is looking at me, while am in the cage and can't break free. By the time am done with the jumps am free and I run on a long road. The whole world is open and I finally can be whatever I want to be. The programme was called `Me is me'. The idea is that I am what I am
The Europeans I presented a new programme. We changed it because the song `Steppe' is ambiguous. It's like a 50/50 lottery: either you love it or you don't get it. Taking a risk at the Olympics was not something we wanted, hence the coach, choreograph and I decided to take the `Sentimental valts' by Tchaikovski. It's a classical piece and think the programme is full of light. It our hard times we lack the lightness, happiness, some lovely moments. The second reason is that I was not completely feeling the `Steppe' as much as we worked on it. The `Sentimental Valts' is something I was thinking about for a while - I love the music and I feel it.

MCM: What can you say about your skates this season?
EK: After what happened am thrilled to be able to compete and go abroad, I appreciate every competition. I especially love the opportunity to skate in front of the crowd - their energy really helps me. The past season it was hard without the crowd's support, but now things are better and every competition I progress. My main goal at the end of September was qualifying to the Olympics and I did it at Nebelhorn trophy. The Europeans gave me a lot of happy emotions. And I beat my personal best, which is great. So all goes according to the plan.

MCM: You've been competing a lot this season. Orser said in 2019 that you had to sit out the post Olympic season and the next you were hungry to compete - you were competing both the juniors and the seniors. Now it's kind of the same?
EK: Agree. This season I had 3 international challenges, 2 GP events, the Olympic qualified, the Polish nationals and the Europeans. Some competitions were close to each other with just days between. And then there are Olympics and the Worlds ahead of me. I was willing to go to the University games, but they were cancelled. So yes, a god comparison. Speaking of which -that packed season was the best in my career - when I finally got to compete. I hope this season will bring a lot of joy as well.

MCM: Your emotions when you learned you qualified to the Olympics?
EK: First the feeling of freedom. Every day after the Worlds I would wake up with the thought I have the last chance - the only chance and there will be no other. It's not the Worlds that you can wait for a year. The Olympics only happen once in 4 years and you don't know what will happen to you in such a long time. Especially as a single lady skater. Every athlete dreams of going to the Olympics. I knew even one practice is a step towards a bigger goal. It was hard to handle the pressing : I lost sleep, I had nightmares. Hence when I learned I qualified I was free from all these thoughts. And a couple of days later the happiness landed.

MCM: Did your sleep get back to normal?
EK: Not instantly. 3 days after the Nebelhorn trophy I would wake up sweating that it was all a dream and I have not yet qualified. I keep the medal in my wardrobe so when I had doubts in the middle of the night I would go and check: the meal is real, so it must be true. I could not comprehend for half a year I was beating myself mentally, it was so hard but in fact it was all about these 4 minutes of the LP. You put half a year of your life on these 4 minutes... I can't comprehend it! Later realizing the dream came true I felt so happy.

MCM: You said the single skaters are resting during the spirals. Can you explain?
EK: The spiral allows to get your breathing back that goes wrong during the jumps. It's a bit hard to breath during the spins as well because of the speed. During the spirals you hold the same position, do not do any sudden moves. You not only rest physically but have a chance to show some emotions, to move your arms.

MCM: What about the steps?
EK: It's tough at the beginning of the season. Especially the ones by Richaud - he choreographs with a lot of usage of the upper body. I bend, sit, get up, go.. it's hard. But then the body learns how to breath. For example before that change of the body position I have to inhale. And I get used to it. I don't know about the other skaters, but I do notice these details. When the programme is polished enough it becomes easier.

MCM: The coach Angelina Turenko said in November you keep working on the quad and the 3A. When will you be able to integrate these elements into the programmes?
EK: Hard to tell now - before the Olympics am very careful with my health. The last season was tough - I spent a lot of time mending my back. The reason for the problems, among others, was the 3A. Every athlete has it's weakest body part which lets down. For me it's the back. For now my goal is to get into the best possible shape by the Olympics.

MCM: You were working on the quad in Natalia Dubinskaya's group. Can you tell more about the process?
EK: Sure. We worked together with Natalia Dubinskaya and Stanislav Kovalev. The lack of fear helped - the coaches even had to slow me down. We tried a lot, first with the harness and in the end it worked. I can't tell that there is a secret or some deciding moment. It's a result of the work and the risk. I would land the quad on 2 feet, then I landed on one feet when working with Goncharenko

MCM: You got to train in Russia, Poland, Canada and now Italy. Can you compare the systems?
EK: Russia and Italy are alike in a lot of way. It's even more comfortable in Italy - in Russia I had 2 long ice practices, here I have 3 short. In the morning practice we work on the new elements, the combinations, the jumps and different entries into the jumps. The 2nd and 3rd are for polishing the programmes. It's a good thing for the joints and you end up spending quite a lot of time on the ice even with the breaks. Comparing Russia and Canada - the main difference is in the coach's attention. The Russian coaches are working with the group, while in Canada there are lessons that last 15-30 minutes but you work alone with the coach and have things you must work on at that given time slot.

MCM: You spent 1.5 years in Orser's group. Can you tell what is his main coaching talent?
EK: He gets really close to the athlete and feels them. I was in awe. I would skate my programme or work on a combination and think `perhaps I should work on the 3lz3loop which is not yet polished?' I come to Brian and he says `let's try the 3lz3loop'! Or, say, I wanted to repeat a part of the programme and Brian would offer to work on that part exactly. There were plenty of such moments that I thought something and Brian would voice it. It's amazing how he would read my thoughts. We had an amazing contact hence it was really hard to part ways.

MCM: You had a daily World championship with Hanyu and Fernandes in front of you. What are your best memories?
EK: Let's start from my first days in the club when I came to Toronto in December 2018. All the best athletes left to the `Autumn classic' and came back a couple of days later. All the amazing skaters were on the ice and I couldn't believe it. I was just looking and thinking `dear god, it's impossible! Does it happen to me?!' Hanuy, Medvedeva, Fernandez... I was seeing what they were doing on the ice and understanding I have to work so hard to get anywhere even near to such art. I saw it was all thanks to their hard work. Hanuy would be flat on the ice tired after skating his LP 3 times. But that's why he is a champion - he has no mercy for himself. Whether it's hard or he is tired - not important. He just goes out and does it in any state he is, giving 1000% in every practice.

MCM: You were communicating quite a lot to Medvedeva? How did you spend time with her?
EK: Not that much. We would sometimes go to the movies - either the 2 of us or with some others. Evgenia is really nice as a person and I admire Evgenia the athlete. When am asked who is the most hard working person and who sets the example I always think of Medvedeva. She is a strong personality.

MCM: Are you still in touch with Orser and his group?
EK: I message with all my previous coaches and the guys from the club. What was especially nice: Brian congratulated me himself when I qualified to the Olympics. It was one of the most important messages for me at that moment. It means he understands I only left because I had no choice and is willing to keep in touch. You can not imagine how much I want to see him! We only parted on the phone, but there are so many things I want to tell him and to thank him. I don't like discussing all these changes through the internet or by messenger. I want Brian to look me in the eyes and see how grateful I am for all that he had done for me. I hope to see him in China soon.

MCM: What about the education?
EK: Am studying to become a coach in a Polish uni. The studies are mainly remote, I do all the exams. I'm grateful to the lecturers that they understand my schedule this season. After all am getting ready for the Olympics.

MCM: Do you spend a lot of time in Poland and what do you like there?
EK: I come here every couple of months for the competitions. I stayed here for the Christmas and new years'. My parents came to visit me in Poland. I love Torun - the city I represent. It's a small cute European city - the real ancient Europe. I love walking on the local cute streets.

MCM: The Polish language is a lot like Russian. Did you learn it easily?
EK: Certainly easier than English. I think it also helped that I lived in Poland and was among the native speakers. The uni studies are in Polish and am fluent by now.
I realise you posted this a while ago but it's a great interview. Thanks for the translation.
 

Scott512

Well-Known Member
Messages
812
There is something about Ekaterina that reminds me of Yulia. Maybe it's in the face.
 

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