Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Samarin


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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Aleksandr Samarin

EV: Two years ago after a failure at the Europeans in Graz you said you needed that kick because the next two seasons will be the most important. And then everything went wrong: the pandemics, failing to make it to the Olympic team... Have you considered quitting?
AS: I thought about it before the Olympic season. I realize I'll have to retire one day, but am not ready yet. Just began thinking what should I do next. Now am finishing my masters in the sports Academy.

EV: Do you want to become a coach?
AS: It depends on how demanded on the ice will I be. Am always open for the suggestions and I'd love those suggestions to exists. But it's more about the future because am not yet done with the sports. Despite not all that I wanted and planned happening am not giving up. I'm still doing what I love and as long as I have such an opportunity I want to take the most. So in years to come I would not regret missing out.

EV: As an athlete myself it's obvious to me all your achievements are not thanks to some natural talent, but a huge work you've been doing. Sometimes through the pain. What is there to like?
AS: I think practices as a torture is something that goes on till the age of 16, while you are not yet an adult. With the age you understand what you are doing and why. Some retire at that point and go to study, but those who stay understand why are they doing it.

EV: So what's the fun in it?
AS: Everything! I've spent what, 20 years on the ice and you become addicted. You can't go on without these practices, though yes, there are days you get home and want just to lie down and stare at the ceiling and not to be bothered. But then there are the competitions, the adrenaline, the audience, the feeling of a good skate when it happens, the waiting for the marks in the K&C with the coach who feels exactly the same you do. All these emotions you can't get anywhere else. I think in life after the sport it's what the athletes miss the most. No matter what they do.

EV: This season differs from the others with not having the usual goals. What are yours this season?
AS: I have two new rather unusual programmes. The LP is a mystery - the constant playing with the audience which is something am not used to. When I was skating the programme in the Megasport test skate during the step sequence there is a moment I have to stop and play around, while really not doing much. At that moment I felt the audience and felt how it turns me on. The whole programme is about it. Hence I love skating it.

EV: And what about the jumps? In the competition in Megasport it didn't really work for you.
AS: We'll continue doing them. My content is nothing extraordinary and it's competitive now-a-days. I wouldn't want to go too far with the jumps predictions. I do not set a goal to land as many quads as possible, though there were times when Sokolovskaya and I attempted that. Guess at a certain age you realize there is no point chasing the quantity. It's more interesting skating when all is well balanced.

EV: I heard from your coach how you were sincerely happy for your team mate Kondratuik when he won the nationals and made it to Beijing, though you must had been so disappointed with your own result?
AS: I was empty. True. It was tough not make it to the competition you're aiming for your whole life and working for for so many years. We all in a way skate in order to make it to the Olympics. And when at the most important moment your train goes off the rails. For the second time...

EV: Was it harder the first time?
AS: Can't even compare. I don't think I can explain in words what I felt back then. Perhaps one of the reason was that I was a junior and my head was not yet working right. I really felt it was the end of the world. I recovered only thanks to the coach. Last year it was easier. More mature. Though I even stopped practicing for a while.

EV: Couldn't bring yourself to?
AS: I just didn't see a point. I came to the rink to help around with the kids while Sokolovskaya worked with Kondratuk first in the training camp and then at the Europeans. The Channel 1 cup was very far ahead and I had no idea whether I would even participate it. All and all I had a couple of months to switch my mind off, take a look from the side and think.

EV: Did you have something to do to really take off your mind from the professional problems?
AS: The studies became that something, besides right after the Nationals I had my exams. I didn't have a chance like the other students to attend the lectures and I realized I couldn't just let it go and have to try to do my best at the exams. It really took my mind off the negative thoughts. So did the winter shows. I was participating `The Snow white and the 7 dwarfs' shows by Tchernyshev and Zakarian. It was a new experience for me.

EV: You never participated an ice story of that kind before?
AS: It just didn't happen. This time we only worked on the open rinks, we toured the whole Moscow area. Sometimes we would skate twice a day: came, skated, jumped into the bus and in a couple of hours we would be skating in a different town. You could never tell what the conditions would be. Sometimes it would snow throughout the whole show and you had to skate on the snow, sometimes the equipment would get stuck in the traffic jam and we wouldn't have our trolleys, stones and what not.
I recall we came to one city 5 minutes before the show began because of the traffic, the equipment didn't arrive, we were all shocked, hardly had time to dress and had to improvise on the way - instead of the equipment we would do jumps so the audience would not be bored.
I can't tell I want to participate such shows all the time, but at that time it mentally saved me - for 1.5 weeks I dwelled into a different reality and disconnected from everything. I didn't even always know in which city are we skating: at 7 or 8am you would be picked up, at midnight you are home, fall into the bed and in the morning the alarm goes off agian.

EV: Are you watching the `Ice Age' show?
AS: I don't have time for that. If I were offered to participate...

EV: You would?
AS: If it worked well with my practice times - I think I would.

EV: Many competitive skaters take that show as a second fresh product.
AS: I take it slightly differently. First of all it's skating in front of the audience, so you are promised to receive a reaction and the emotions. Second I would be interested trying skating in a pair.

EV: Haven't that thought cross your mind during your skating career?
AS: When we practice we sometimes do some pairs crossovers. But it's just for the general knowledge. Skating in a pair in an `Ice Age' is different. You have to learn to feel the partner, learn the new elements. It would not be something redundant to know. Besides, the competition, getting to know the new people, the media and so on. So for me it sounds like an interesting project.

EV: Am in awe you were not offered to try out in pairs. You are tall, have long arms, quite strong...
AS: I had these thoughts but I realize I should had considered it earlier, not now. Now it's too late. Besides, I had some back problems, which is one of the most important things in the pairs. I'd be useless in pairs with the weak back.

EV: Can you compare the first Russian GP event with the first major competitions of the previous years?
AS: It's not my second or third season, I've been skating for quite many years. I participated the ISU GP quite a lot of years, so it's hard for me to switch my brain to think it's not the Russian cup am skating now.

EV: What is wrong with the Russian cup?
AS: At the age of 15 it was a major competition for me. Then it became just a competition before the main season. Now, so it seems, it's important again since it's the qualifier for the Nationals and the finals in March. But I still have to get used to that thought.

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