Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Sotnikova

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TAHbKA

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Adelina Sotnikova for ria.ru
EV: 3 years ago, when we were talking about your possible comeback you said `I understand, I already have an Olympic gold medal which no one can take it away from me. On the other hand I understand that I want to remain on the same level, I want to be on the top. For that I just need to work hard'. What happened in your had that made you rethink so many things? Did the Olympic gold medal change you so much?
AS: Guess that medal has it's positive and negative sides. The positive is becoming famous, popular not only among the skating fans and starting communicating with so many people, you feel a different person, you get to know more people. The negative side is that it sucks you in. You start thinking differently. It's all so interesting, it's a different life, a different exposure, different interests.
You can go there, you can do that, anything you want. At some point you understand it's all too much and you need to limit that activity in order to do something else, but it's a dead end: if you are healthy and have enough time and energy for the practices and something else, why not go to the places you are invited?
And if the health is not so good - why just sit home? So you would be forgotten? The athlete's time is quite limited. Especially in figure skating, which is not hockey or football. We are not that popular.

EV: I did not expect to hear that from you. Figure skating is considered so popular in Russia.
AS: It was an illusion after Sochi, when indeed the whole country were watching. I was commenting the competition in Korea, waking up at 4am. And yet many who I talked to didn't even know the Olympics were going on, despite our Olympians being all over the news. I realized than people care much more about the things that happen home.

EV: Who can you related to more: Zagitova who won the Olympics or Medvedeva who losg?
AS: Medvedeva, I think. First of all Medvedeva was competing in Korea the same age I was when competed in Sochi. Alina is just 15, while 15 and 18 is so mentally different. Evgenia is a workaholic. She knows what sport is and what work is. She was so unlucky with that injury which happened at the worst possible moment. In my point of view the coach should be able to calculate exactly when the athlete should peak and when let go a bit. We skated participated an exhibition with Medvedeva recently and she said she was off ice for a week. Yet it didn't stop her from going out there on the ice and doing all those jumps so easily. Without a warm up or a light. I, on the other hand. if missed a week on the ice for some reason would be scared to jump. What if I take off wrongly, fall and put my arm? Those girls seem not even consider those options.

EV: Your previous coach Elena Buyanova once told me that before the Olympics you never had even a minor injury - your body was so well prepared and all the muscles well developed.
AS: True.

EV: And then when you let go a little bit the injuries came.
AS: Quite true as well. I missed the Worlds after the Olympics. Then I was participating the endless shows I was invited into and then I had a month off. We went to Paris and Turkey with my family. I never had such a great vacation in my life. I enjoyed the rest, the food, the not doing anything and not thinking of anything so much. It was a full relax.
Getting back to work was not easy. It was hard to lose weight. By the beginning of the season I was back in shape, I lost weight and all was fine. And then that injury - a partial tear of a ligament on my right foot.
At that moment things were wrong mentally as well. No matter how many times I was told I have to put the Olympic gold medal behind me it was still in my head. You have that gold medal, the world spins around you, you are invited everywhere. And on the other hand if something goes wrong it's the worst. Because you can't even speak out. You are an Olympic champion and don't have a right for a mistake. You start feeling it's all the people think about around you.
But the Olympic champions are not robots. They have a soul, they have a body that keeps changing. It's a different feeling on the ice every time. Everything hurts, you lose weight, you gain weight and it might not even be related to what you eat. And the worst thing is that you can never tell how long it'll go, what you'll have to face tomorrow.

EV: How harsh was your diet at that moment?
AS: Very harsh. But my diet consisted, at the very least, of real food. I never took any pills or smoothies, though I know these methods exist to prevent puberty. Our puberty is slowed down anyway - from all the hard work and the 7 hours a day practices. If you are not eating at the same time - how will your body hold?

EV: I know Buyanova still thinks the point when you started thinking of switching coaches was when she took Maria Sotskova. I'll quote `I think she expected me to dump everyone and make her skate'.
AS: I didn't mind at all that Elena Germanovna took Maria Sotskova. I understood something prevents me from training - dancing with the stars, the shows, the injuries... The coach needs an athlete to work full time with. As for make me skate... It was exactly what I wanted deep down.

EV: Why didn't you tell that Buyanova?
AS: Guess I was afraid she'll decline. On the other hand I was 18, then 19, 20. A grown up girl. Elena Germanovna was pushing me for so long and am endlessly grateful to her. She is not the healthiest person, there are some problems, the family, the guys who just started getting results: Maria and Sasha Samarin, who she helps so much as well. The thing is that I love Elena Germanovna so much. We spent so many years together. Guess deep down I was also afraid I would demand so much time and will cause new problems to my coach.

EV: Then why Pluschenko?
AS: Why else would I go to. I didn't speak to anyone about the switch. Not to my mom, father or the agent. I came to Pluschenko and spoke to him. He took his time to agree. I was not sure about anything myself. So we decided: we'll give it a try and then decide what to do. Previously I didn't skate for a while, was totally out of shape. In my first practice Zheya told me: go on, do 10 shoot the duck. And started doing them himself.
I was speechless: a 33 year old guy with 33 bolts in his back just does those shoot the duck one after the other, I try to do one and can't! Fall! By the end of the week I was doing shoot the duck, jumping over the bench like I did at the age of 13-14. I was so happy and wanted to work more and more.
At the same time I was thinking I had to do something about the switch. It would be a blow for Elena Germanovna. That she will come back soon from the Worlds and will probably have her vacation right after... I was the most afraid Elena Germanovna would learn about me switching to Pluschenko from someone else. Hence I texted her notifying on my switch and asked to come to talk.
Two days later I was seriously injured. It wasn't even on the ice - I was doing a set of jumps above the bench, the bench shook and I fell off. They brought an ice and I was hysterical - the kids around me were frightened. Pluschenko didn't understand what happened - he was on a rink and came running hearing my shout.
We did an xray, a torn ligament, a cast for a month.
Yet I knew: I will not come to Elena Germanovna for a talk in TSKA with the cast. So I came to TSKA rink, took of the cast, gathered the strength and went there as if nothing happened. Guess the rumours about the injury were already spread - once I entered the building all the parents were starting at my legs. I kept walking as if nothing.

EV: Was it very painful
AS: I held it, frankly. I don't know how, but I did. But we had a wonderful talk with Elena Germanovna. Though it's still hard for me to recall. Even in the sorry Sunday I wrote my coach I ask for her forgivness and will always consider her my coach and a special person in my life.

EV: Did it take a long time to recover?
AS: Yes. I was back on the ice in June - I needed to gain some shape till July to participate a show in Japan. The football team doctor Eduard Bezuglov saved me. Thanks to him I was at least able to get my foot into the boot, previously I couldn't.
I came to Japan and saw Mirai Nagasu landing her 3A there. I was so ashamed. I was sitting in the dress room and thinking: I will go on the ice now and show what? I started jumping. Mom who was accompanying me was shocked: `daughter, are you crazy?'. But it didn't cross my mind to go out there and land double jumps.
During those 2 weeks of the shows my leg deteriorated so much. The Japanese doctor would tape my leg all the time, but he was surprised I was even able to skate. I came back to Moscow and told my agent I will not go the next tour. He was trying to convince me - the advertisement in Italy had my picture on it. But I was strict: yes, I will earn more money but for what? To spend it on my health? I was not payed by anyone: the federation, the TSKA, there was no medical insurance.
I did go to Italy though - I was allowed to skate the show without the jumps. Then in Moscow I underwent the checks again and except for the torn ligaments I had a broken bone and needed a surgery. I was recommended to do that in Germany, where I was checked once.
In the end I was mended in Italy, in a hospital in Rome that Bezuglov recommended and it was possible without a surgery. I spent about 2 weeks there in September, had procedures from the early morning till the evening. Shape, physio, swimming, a short break and back again. In December I was slowly back on the ice and gliding. Only now my leg is back to normal.

EV: At the end of the autumn I spoke to Pluschenko and he said he hardly coaches himself those who skate in his academy.
AS: Not true, he coaches me. Though yes, he is away alot.

EV: What makes Pluschenko a good coach?
AS: He is on the ice and shows what to do. He can motivate you and it's something I really need right now. Zhenya is first of all a technical skater, which is what I lack - I can't jump the way I used to - my body had changed. My rotation is too slow. We have to work on all that - I only now started really practicing.

EV: Are you afraid of the crazy content that the ladies skating is aiming to now. Or in a way you are inspired by Carolina Kostner who is still competitive at the age of 30?
AS: It's a bit easier for Kostner - she doesn't have to work too hard to represent Italy. I, on the other, hand, to make it to the team and go to the major events would have to overcome a lot. AT the same time am not really stressing about the 13y.o girls landing the quads. Because 13y.o is not even 15.

EV: Zagitova's victory in Korea gave a legitimization to a thought the most important in the ladies skating is the right birthdate.
AS: It's true under the current rules.

EV: Would you want the rules changed? Not being allowed to put all the jumps in the 2nd part of the programme or some other limitations?
AS: The main thing I want to see in figure skating is juniors competing with the juniors and the seniors with the seniors. The juniors skating is a different sport, a different set of mind and different abilities. So all is set to what the kids can do, which is mainly the jumps. I don't think anyone wants to see the robots who can do a 4/3/3/3/3/3... don't know how many. The senior can show the elements and the programme the way the kid would not be able to.

EV: I.e. you are not a big fan of Zagitova?
AS: I didn't say that. Alina showed a great and a memorable programme. She can be compared to Julia Lipnitskaya and the way she skated in Sochi. Just that no one can predict what will happen next. People want you not to disappear after you win the Olympics.

EV: Do you believe Medvedeva and Zagitova will stick around till the next Olympics?
AS: Under the current rules it will be both mentally and physically hard. Alina and Zhenya are pushed now by the younger girls.

EV: When you were competing did you have a feeling there is Medvedeva pushing you? Or you never really competed with her?
AS: I did. Zhenya was participating the 2013 Nationals before the Olympics and her jumping content back in 2014 was impressive. It was obvious she is very expressive, very emotional. At least I knew that there is that Zhenya, who works 24/7 and her skating is error-less.

EV: Frankly, do you want to go back competing.
AS: Yes. I keep asking myself that question all the time. Yes, there are many shows I am being invited to and which I love participating. But every time I watch the competitions I feel like banging my head on a wall. I miss the sport so badly I am willing to give up everything just to go back to my previous shape.

EV: If you could turn back time, would you go back skating in the `Ice age'?
AS: Yes. I had a reason.

EV: Money?
AS: Yes. I was in a tough financial situation because I took a mortgage and bought a flat in a good building. I thought it's the right way to invest the money I earned. To buy cars, things or an expensive vacation was not for me. There were other things I had to pay for except for mortgage. It's not public.

EV: When do you plan going back working full time?
AS: I already had. Just that in order to work full time I have to lose some more weight. I still have some extra and I know that. Then we'll go back to the jumps and I don't meant 3t3t, it's in the past.

EV: Does skating on a small rink make the work harder?
AS: It's a temporary thing. Should Pluschenko see am working hard and willing to be serious we'll find the right sized rink.

EV: If indeed you feel you are ready to go back perhaps there is a point not wasting time making it to the team?
AS: You mean switching countries?

EV: EXactly.
AS: That's the easiest way. It's something anyone can do. Italy or Georgia or some other countries. I had such an offers.

EV: And?
AS: Thanks, but no thanks. I'm an Olympic champion representing Russia and should I come back it will only be competing for Russia. That's my patriotism. Changing the countries so I can participate some competition? I'd better fight for a spot in my team. The most important, and it took me a while to understand, that it's all up to me. Not Pluschenko, not Elena Germanovna, not even the agents or my parents. No one. Just me and my will to come back.
 

misskarne

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Wow. Delightful interview from Adelina. Thanks so much for the translation, @TAHbKA !!!

She comes across as so mature and thoughtful. And oh my god, those injuries. The poor girl got so unlucky. But she's also so honest, too. I love it.
 

nimi

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Interesting & informative interview -- thank you once again, @TAHbKA! :encore:

This bit surprised me. I knew that skating doesn't enjoy, like, ice hockey level of popularity in Russia but I just assumed it's more popular than what Adeline makes it sound here.
The athlete's time is quite limited. Especially in figure skating, which is not hockey or football. We are not that popular.

EV: I did not expect to hear that from you. Figure skating is considered so popular in Russia.
AS: It was an illusion after Sochi, when indeed the whole country were watching. I was commenting the competition in Korea, waking up at 4am. And yet many who I talked to didn't even know the Olympics were going on, despite our Olympians being all over the news. I realized than people care much more about the things that happen home.
Does anybody here have any insights to this popularity issue? I'd be interested in hearing about it!
 

sus2850

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A fascinating read, very open. The issues about having to make money and the constant fighting to lose weight make me feel sorry for her though.
 

Ka3sha

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This bit surprised me. I knew that skating doesn't enjoy, like, ice hockey level of popularity in Russia but I just assumed it's more popular than what Adeline makes it sound here. Does anybody here have any insights to this popularity issue? I'd be interested in hearing about it!
I think that Adelina is more or less right. Figure skating isn't as popular in Russia as it may look. Well, Averbukh's Ice Age or his/Navka'a/Plushenko's skating shows are quite popular, but not figure skating as a sport.
People, in general, still remember only huge stars like Navka, Plushenko, Yagudin. V/T, Adelina and Julia also became stars after Sochi but only for a year or so, after that they were also forgotten. For example, now people mostly remember Lipnitskaya just as a "girl in a red coat" or "that child, who got anorexia" but that's it.

Right now people are praising Tutberidze and trashing Kolyada on social media/sport sites. I actually feel really bad for him, because right after team event he also became quite "famous", in the worst understanding of this word. Even now , a month after Olympics, I sometimes see some memes or jokes about him on my social media from people who obviously don't know anything about figure skating
 

nimi

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I think that Adelina is more or less right. Figure skating isn't as popular in Russia as it may look. Well, Averbukh's Ice Age or his/Navka'a/Plushenko's skating shows are quite popular, but not figure skating as a sport.
People, in general, still remember only huge stars like Navka, Plushenko, Yagudin. V/T, Adelina and Julia also became stars after Sochi but only for a year or so, after that they were also forgotten. For example, now people mostly remember Lipnitskaya just as a "girl in a red coat" or "that child, who got anorexia" but that's it.
Thanks for your insight! Sounds pretty unfortunate, but it is what it is. (At least we have Japan, right?)

Right now people are praising Tutberidze and trashing Kolyada on social media/sport sites. I actually feel really bad for him, because right after team event he also became quite "famous", in the worst understanding of this word. Even now , a month after Olympics, I sometimes see some memes or jokes about him on my social media from people who obviously don't know anything about figure skating
Ugh :(

Kolyada might not be one of my faves but nobody deserves that.

This made me think of Jeremy... I'm not from US myself but I remember he got a lot of crap around/after Sochi in US-centric social media because of those awful disruptive falls he had in UR 4T (both in team SP and in individual SP, IIRC). But I think pretty soon thereafter, a lot of of those US folks who were not FS fans and who were making "jokes" about him and slagging him for "letting the country down" (or whatever) started to forget about the whole thing. I bet if you'd ask them now who Jeremy Abbott is, most of they couldn't answer without googling him. So, hopefully these Russian "jokers" have short memories, too.
 

rfisher

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Oh, Adelina. She will always have a special place in my heart. In so many ways she had to choose between competition and earning an adult salary. Given what Zagitova has said about helping to contribute to her family financially, I suspect she's going to be in a similar situation. It's so easy for fans to declare skaters should do X, Y or Z, when they don't know the full story.

I wish her the very best regardless of what is possible for her to do.
 

Hindernisse

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Figure skating is definitely more popular in Russia than in any other country in the world except for Japan, however, compared to football our favourite sport is barely popular. BTW Trusova's quads and the Russian sweep at the Junior Worlds were covered by the Russian biggest TV channel in the evening news last night.

I always felt that Adelina was conscious of her choices after Sochi. Her sister is ill and she had an opportunity to help her family big time. One could hardly judge that. And she had tough luck with injuries. I wish her all the very best for the future. I was over the moon when she won in Sochi.
 

SamuraiK

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Great Interview. Russian interviews are truly a window to the skater's mind.

I also had the impression that is the flashy "gala/show" aspect of skating that is waay more popular than the actual sport , like it was in the US during the 90s with all those cheesy pro contests. I guess the general public who gets drawn to skating always prefer the entertainment before the the excitement of competition.
 

Meoima

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I feel much for her. Especially when she said “you don’t have a right for a mistake” and that she feels everyone around would think the same. This is why most singles Olympic champion retired right after they won Olympics, or they didn’t compete as much as before.
 

Spun Silver

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I love Adelina. I hope for the very best for her. She makes me think of a little dialogue I read in a Russian book once: "Does the road wind uphill all the way?" "All the way to the very end." Still, such a big talent -- if Leonova can keep going for years, Adelina sure as heck should be able to. I hope Plushy will keep helping her.
 

SkateFanBerlin

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So she says NOW - juniors should skate with juniors and seniors with seniors. No ones says that when they're 15. She's seeing it from the other side now - the demands on the body - weight maintenance, accumulating injuries. I don't thinik the age will ever change (did I see somewhere seniors beginnng at 16?). The winning federations woujld neer agree to an 18yo cut off. 18 woukdn't guaranty fairness - but it would improve it.
 

soogar

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So she says NOW - juniors should skate with juniors and seniors with seniors. No ones says that when they're 15. She's seeing it from the other side now - the demands on the body - weight maintenance, accumulating injuries. I don't thinik the age will ever change (did I see somewhere seniors beginnng at 16?). The winning federations woujld neer agree to an 18yo cut off. 18 woukdn't guaranty fairness - but it would improve it.
I think gymnastics is now 16 in the Olympic year and I think it has made a big difference. 16 seems to be the last year that a gymnast can escape/delay puberty and it's too tight a window to plan teams (unless you lie about ages). I think that results in older gymnasts. The sport has changed a lot as well. It favors a power athlete as opposed to the "fine" acrobatics that worked so well with younger bodies.
 

hanca

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I think gymnastics is now 16 in the Olympic year and I think it has made a big difference. 16 seems to be the last year that a gymnast can escape/delay puberty and it's too tight a window to plan teams (unless you lie about ages). I think that results in older gymnasts. The sport has changed a lot as well. It favors a power athlete as opposed to the "fine" acrobatics that worked so well with younger bodies.
That’s not true that 16 is the last year a gymnast can delay puberty to. To go through the puberty, the body needs some amount of fat. If the person stays very, very thin, they can delay puberty even to early 20s. It would be extremely unhealthy but it can be done.
 

Meoima

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That’s not true that 16 is the last year a gymnast can delay puberty to. To go through the puberty, the body needs some amount of fat. If the person stays very, very thin, they can delay puberty even to early 20s. It would be extremely unhealthy but it can be done.
Does this happen to men as well?
 

hanca

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Does this happen to men as well?
I don’t know, I have seen it only with women. Women always put a bit of weight on while going through the puberty as the hormones are changing whereas men don’t have such changes with their bodies, so I guess it works completely different with men.
 

soogar

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That’s not true that 16 is the last year a gymnast can delay puberty to. To go through the puberty, the body needs some amount of fat. If the person stays very, very thin, they can delay puberty even to early 20s. It would be extremely unhealthy but it can be done.
Well judging from the way the gymnasts now look (even the Russian team), it doesn't look as if any of them are delaying puberty by not eating or if they are trying to do that it's not working because the artistic gymnasts are much more muscular now than they were when the age was lower. I don't think they would have enough energy to maintain muscle and strength to do the moves.

I can see that for rhythmic gymnastics though.
 

starrynight

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Does this happen to men as well?
I don't think there would be any advantage in men delaying puberty? They need the strength that it entails.

As for the article, knowing what we know now, I firmly believe Sotknikova made the right choice. I think she was right in pursuing her opportunities because had she forgone them she would have still probably been overtaken by the younger skaters coming forward. Best that she has made her money and left with her legacy and mental health in tact.
 

Tinami Amori

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Does anybody here have any insights to this popularity issue? I'd be interested in hearing about it!
It's in the article. Skating in Korea took place at 4AM Moscow Time, even earlier in Central Russia 1/2/3AM, all during weekdays. NBC made it convenient for USA and bad for Russia and Europe.

AS: You mean switching countries? EV: EXactly.
AS: That's the easiest way. It's something anyone can do. Italy or Georgia or some other countries. I had such an offers.
EV: And?
AS: Thanks, but no thanks. I'm an Olympic champion representing Russia and should I come back it will only be competing for Russia. That's my patriotism. Changing the countries so I can participate some competition? I'd better fight for a spot in my team.
:respec::respec::respec:
 
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Domshabfan

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I think gymnastics is now 16 in the Olympic year and I think it has made a big difference. 16 seems to be the last year that a gymnast can escape/delay puberty and it's too tight a window to plan teams (unless you lie about ages). I think that results in older gymnasts. The sport has changed a lot as well. It favors a power athlete as opposed to the "fine" acrobatics that worked so well with younger bodies.
Gymnastics is a summer sport and figure skating a winter sport. Time of year when olympics are held are also roughly 6 months apart Of Teh Olympic Year, hence there is the difference in age at the end of the year. A gymnast or a skater would turn 16 by the age period/ limit put by the federation. So I don’t see any difference in what both sports are doing.
 

Lovemyvike

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What a great interview! Thanks so much TAHbKA! Adelina has always had a special place in my heart. I would love to see her return to skating in any capacity.
 

Mad for Skating

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Goodness, I did not need to cry yet today!!! This girl has been through so much. No matter what happened in Sochi, I have a major soft spot for her. To leave your longtime coach like that takes a lot of courage. So I do really wish her the best. It's nearly impossible for her to make the team without switching countries, but I do hope she continues skating in shows at least. She seems like such a bubbly, sweet girl on her IG but also very smart and insightful.
 

skatfan

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A great interview. She’s gone through so much in such a short life!

I also smiled about the junior/senior comments, thinking that she was seeing it differently from this point of view.

Did anyone else’s eyes pop at the mention that she’s had offers to compete for Georgia and Italy (!). Georgia would make a bit of sense, but Italy?
 

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