Interviews with Elena Ilinykh about her future plans and current projects


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Elena turned 25 yesterday, so two big interviews with her were published on TeamRussia and Sport-Express websites.
She told about her plans, on-going projects, personal life and etc

Links to original articles:
For TeamRussia:
For Sport-Express:

On her retirement

- Elena, first of all: you said that you have retired and then denied it - what was it? Please tell us what is the truth.

- Everything happened because of a misunderstanding and lack of specificity on my part. No one asked me directly about the retirement, so I did not give a direct answer. I can say that I am madly in love with figure skating, and the wording that I have finished with figure skating just can't be used. Even when I will be 50 years old!

Now I am engaged in various projects, my life has changed a little bit. Unfortunately, I had to finish competing, and it was not my decision. But I’m used to moving forward, not just closing my eyes and crying. Yulia Lipnitskaya and I are engaged in our academy, we are helping children. Dima Solovyov offered to skate together, but at that moment I seemed that I had enough of competitors and starts. I have a great desire to skate, but there are different circumstances, that don't allow me to just to go for it now. If all these issues are resolved, I will continue skating with great pleasure.

For now I can't make any official statements regarding my career. I don't really understand why everyone seems to be interested in it and is discussing it so actively. It didn’t really bother anyone when I wasn't competing for two years. And now suddenly I must say: "Yes, I continue!". Or: "No, I have retired!" And everyone wants to hear one thing or another. But I can't give an answer, it’s a difficult process, I have to go through it, to process everything.

- These problems can be solved before the start of the next season?

- Maybe. I think that most likely - yes, they will be solved.

- And what about Solovyiv?

- Here I can only cry for a long time , why I have never had a partner like him before. I have always admired Dima, although we were rivals throughout our careers. But I really respected their team with Katya Bobrova. When we started doing shows together with Dima, I realized how great it is - to have such an honest, strong partner. Who loves this sport, who can take your hand and say: "Let's skate." And you can not help but think about returning to the competitions.

- But is this topic closed?
- I still have all the roads open for me, there are several paths I can go. It's necessary to solve unfinished business, to decide on my thoughts and feelings.

On her career and Russian ice dance:

- What kind of emotions did you have, when your former partner Nikita Katsalapov won the medal at the 2019 Worlds?
- Honestly? I did not watch it. I didn’t watch that World Championship, as was out of figure skating at that time. I learned about their model from Instagram, and I am very happy for Nikita and Vika Sinitsina, because I believe that they are practically the only Russian ice dance team, who can actually fight for big medals. They now have everything to do it - beauty, skating skills, good programs.

- Why not Stepanova and Bukin?
- I like these guys a lot, especially this season. But I appreciate skating [=gliding] more. No one skates the way Nikita does, and Vika also does an excellent job and looks great. Therefore, I am glad that after such a period of time they managed to achieve these results.

- Are you jealous of Nikita?

- No, there is no jealousy. I won all my medals with Nikita by the time he decided to part our ways. I believe that we performed with dignity, and I am very proud of it. And now I think that Sinitsina and Katsalapov are the strongest team in Russia. I have only a positive attitude towards them.

In all honesty - Don't you think that world champions Papadakis/Cizeron get part of their points based on their reputation?

- You can't just get reputation points. First of all, you need to earn a reputation. And even if someone gets points for reputation, then they have deserved it over the years, with permanently great results. And if they won that honor, then judges probably sometimes help them.

- Russian Ice Dance is really crowded these days. If you want to come back, it won't be easy. The goal is Beijing-2022?

- Of course. I'm ready for the hard work. It won't be the first time, I have already passed this way. And if I decide to take this step, I understand how difficult it will be, but I have all the opportunities to go through it. All you need is hard work, clean head and love for figure skating, and a little bit of good luck. I have all of this. But at the same time, I haven't made any decision about Beijing yet.

- Do Russian couples have chances for the Olympic gold? After all, breakthroughs in ice dancing are quite rare.

- I doubt it very much. A lot of time was lost, there were no results, and doping scandals around Russian sports - all of it affects the attitude. And everything the has accumulated after Sochi is unlikely to have a positive impact. But there is still a long way to go, three years ahead. In our country you can be selected for the Olympics, and still don't understand whether you will participate in it. For example, things changed quite quickly when we were skating with Nikita. We started Olympic season as only second Russian team, but won the bronze in the individual event - tat that was the highest possible result at that time. Maybe our guys will mobilize. We all need to believe, as we did before Sochi. That premise, that energy helped us then.

On her on-going projects and Sergei Polunin:

- You said you sometimes don't have enough time to watch figure skating. What are you doing nowadays?

- First, I am living in the airplanes. Secondly - I am busy with my own projects. Sometimes you need to sit and think about how to make those project work, to talk to people who can help you. Working with children takes 8 hours a day. There is no such thing that I just sit at home having nothing to do. But I still watch the most interesting programs on Youtube, sometimes I just don’t have time to watch live broadcasts. For example, it was a pleasure to watch all our girls at Junior Worlds.

- You are dating the famous ballet dancer, Sergei Polunin. Has your attitude towards choreography and choreo classes changed after you met him?

- He was very surprised that skaters do so much ballet. And we really spend a lot of time near the ballet barres to work on correct poses, beautiful lines. Sergey invited me to a couple of classes with him - and now they have become daily. And I realized that it's really difficult, we don't have it on the same level in figure skating. I try to transfer all of this to the work in our academy. Recently, we had a training camp in Poland and I gave ballet barres exercises every day.

- We learned a lot about ballet when we were preparing for the interview. Did you have the same experience after meeting Sergei?

- I hadn't know a lot about ballet before. Although, of course I went to the ballet to see costumes, lifts and hand movements, when we were working on our "Don Quixote" FD. The same thing happened with "Swan Lake". In general, I really like ballet. And now, when I see all this work from the inside - I even fell in love with it.

- It is believed that figure skating is such a mix of sports and art. What do you think about it now? Is it a sport or an art?

- It is, indeed, a combination of both. On one hand, it is an art, because you need to transfer complex images to the ice. But on the other hand, it is a sport, where there is no room for errors. Still, in ballet, you can underexpose your pose - and easily explain it by saying that it was an intended move. In figure skating you will be immediately punished for it. In art, everything is based on the principle “I like it - I dislike it”. Like with Malevich’s “Black Square” - some people admire, others think that even they can do it too. In figure skating the judges may like whatever they want. But if you don't hold difficult position for required time during the lift - you'll get less points.


- Our readers are asking: what kind of a joint project it will be [with Polunin] - a dance or participation in a television show?
- It will be everything! Everything is possible, there's nothing impossible in our lives. Sergey, as a very creative person, likes to mix everything up. Chaos is a part of our life. And he always thought that there should not be only classical ballet, or only modern dance, or only figure skating - it’s cool to make some kind of a mix. We are working on it now. Maybe something interesting will turn out of this, and I am so interested in it right now! I am present at all Sergey's rehearsals and performances, and for me this is a huge bonus in terms of my personal growth. You see how a person works - and you understand that he did not get his name and reputation for nothing, he earned it.

On her friendship with Julia Lipnitskaya and their Academy

- You recently had a camp in Mexico. Did a lot people come there?

- When I told people that I was going to Mexico, I was told - oh, for holidays, great. And I said - no, for work. The same thing happened with Julia Lipnitskaya. We worked in four different cities in Mexico, and in every city we had from 40 to 80 people , mostly children. There are a lot of good skating rinks there, real arenas. Of course, we were greatly surprised and delighted. Donovan Carilllo, the most famous Mexican figure skater, also came to work with us. I think this quantity will at some point turn into quality.

- How did you get the idea of your academy with Yulia Lipnitskaya?

- Yulia and I have been friends for a long time, she is one of the few friends from figure skating world. At some point, she invited me to do commentary with her, and so we started to work together. And then I had the idea of an academy, as I really wanted to help children. I came to Yulia, she supported me, and one thing let to another.

- You are friends, although you seem very different. You - open, often appear in public, while Julia is more closed.

- I can't call myself a public person. I appear at some events that interest me or where I have to be. Julia is also engaged in what is interesting to her. The opinion that she is a closed person is wrong. I do not think that we are very different. It sometimes comes to ridiculous ... During our last three camps I noticed that I was starting a sentence and Yulia was finishing it. And it didn't happen once or twice, but happens all the time.


- How do you work with children? Is it hard for you? Are you enraged?

It seems you really don't like children , if you choose such wording! No, I am not enraged. I just remember myself as a child - how hard it was for me, for my parents. We started work in the regions, because Yulia is from Yekaterinburg, our coaches are from different parts of Russia, I myself was born in Kazakhstan. And we understand that the best results in figure skating can be achieved only in the capital or in St. Petersburg, there are strong schools there. But it's expensive to bring a child from Angarsk to Moscow, for example.

Therefore, the original goal was to help these children to believe in themselves. That two Olympic champions could come to them and share their experiences with them. That a coach from Moscow can stay to work with them, like we did in Irkutsk for example. There are a lot of talented children there. Many of them just don't have opportunities. And started helping them. It is so nice! You begin to understand that you didn’t skate and got all this experience for nothing. And now we can sometimes give advises to parents that may be it will be worthy to take the risk and bring their child to Moscow.
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You can't just get reputation points. First of all, you need to earn a reputation. And even if someone gets points for reputation, then they have deserved it over the years, with permanently great results. And if they won that honor, then judges probably sometimes help them.

Great logic there!


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Elena is amazing! But I can’t believe she is only 25—she comes across as so mature here. And, it definitely says something about her character that she can still be so complimentary of Nikita and supportive of him and Vika—given their past.

I also can’t believe she is dating Sergei Polunin—the current ‘bad boy’ of ballet. I had no idea, and I’ve looked things up about him recently. He is a brilliant dancer and artist—but for many reasons does not have the best reputation. I hope Elena does not let herself get dragged down by any of his drama.

To me, he looks like he could be trouble. :watch:


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And, it definitely says something about her character that she can still be so complimentary of Nikita and supportive of him and Vika—given their past.
She has said in one of her previous interviews that they have good relationship nowadays:
Looking back at your skating career, are you satisfied with what you’ve accomplished? Are there things that you wanted to do still…? More reasons to smile, or more things you feel you left unfinished?

Mmmmm… [she’s taking the time to think about it]. It’s 50-50, I think.

I think our history with Nikita is… a history, our history – we have our medals and nobody is going to take that from us. And I think two Olympic medals, bronze and gold, is good – even if, for an athlete, it is never enough.

And of course I am happy with this part, and a little bit sad because… I’ve lost the moment maybe.

But I’m not the person who’s like sitting and crying after this… and now I’m really happy for him with a new partner, and I’m really cheering for them. I like this couple so much, I love how they look together, how they’re skating. I still think Nikita is the best partner in the world, and I also like Victoria, she’s working hard, and I love this couple! They have their style and I think they’re one of the top [teams] right now.

I’m gonna cheer for them. Yeah, for the next Olympics I think I’m gonna cheer for them.

Of course, there are some sad moments also, and I can talk forever about this, and how it could have been… but it’s history! We have our medals, we’re happy with this, we have a great relation right now me and Nikita, we had a talk and we realized what we’ve been through. I cannot say we’re like great friends, but we’re always supporting each other with some things. And he knew about our Academy, I called him and told him, and he supported us also, he came for a master class…


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So basically she’s saying she’s not going to go back to competition right now(other projects going on,etc) but she doesn’t completely close the door on the possibility?
So maybe there’s still hope.
Or maybe this is just a way to keep people talking. Oh well.


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So basically she’s saying she’s not going to go back to competition right now(other projects going on,etc) but she doesn’t completely close the door on the possibility?
So maybe there’s still hope.
Or maybe this is just a way to keep people talking. Oh well.
Yes. Sounds like it. I wonder what her ‘issues’ are. I know, none of my business. But I desperately want her to work them out and come back to competitive ice dancing. She and Soloviev would make an amazing couple. Ahh well, one can dream...


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I also can’t believe she is dating Sergei Polunin—the current ‘bad boy’ of ballet.
To me, he looks like he could be trouble. :watch:
I am sure she has learned a lot from dating the "bad boy" and bad man "bad man" of figure skating and can handle life's little dramas. :saint:

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