Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Tsurskaya

TAHbKA

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Polina Tsurskaya for ria.ru

She burst into the skating scene: winning the JGPF, the Youth Olympics 2016. The retirement, on the other hand, is quite casual.
PT: I made a decision to retire. I have a vacation starting June 1st after which I'll quit. That's it. Guess I have to mention I've been thinking for a while about retirement.
EV: Wait, we were talking less than a year ago after you switched to Buyanova's group and you didn't give an impression being tired of skating.
PT: Am not tired of skating. Just that the closer I got to my final exams in highschool the more I worked on my studies I realized that it's not that I have a choice to skate or not, but I have to make a decision: to leave all as it is and go study to become a coach, or retire from figure skating and pursue a good education in a different field. Trying to combine is useless, studying remotely is not for me. So taking all into consideration I realized I would have to make a decision.

EV: And it was not for the figure skating favour?
PT: As I said, I considered it all. Am not healthy enough to practice seriously. Besides our sport is changing gears now and one must learn the quads to be competitive. Everyone says so in their interviews. Of course it doesn't mean everyone will learn the quads, but am sure a lot will attempt. I know my body only too well and understand I probably shouldn't take such a risk.

EV: Is it what you said to yourself when making the decision, or you had someone to discuss it with?
PT: Mainly it was my decision. After the nationals I started mentioning home that I should retire, but my parents didn't want to hear any of that. My friends were trying to talk me out as well.

EV: You haven't made it to top 10 at the nationals. Assume the defeat made you think about retirement?
PT: I was upset not about the placement, but failing the skate. I was really ready, the preparations went good, but I was missing the elements all the time. I can't even say the nationals were kind of a turning point. I kept practicing and working after, the coach and I were talking about the next season. But because I aimed to pass my highschool exams ahead of time I had to take 2 weeks off to study.

EV: Don't tell me once you dwelled into the studies you loved it more than practicing.
PT: It's exactly what happened. Every day I spent hours studying alone and with the teachers, I was doing some exams and realized how fast is sucks me in and how much I love it. While you skate you don't really have a chance to study seriously: you are too tired and there is too much in your mind, you just want to rest and relax. In this case even mom was trying to get me away from the studies: my will to catch up with the studies was really scaring her.

EV: Were you feeling you were betraying at that point? So many people put so much into you for so many years and it was all for the result and not so you can go study some maths.
PT: Not maths. The international economics. I made my choice in that. It was hard and a bit scary. Before the exams mom was trying to convince me to go to a week vacation with her. I didn't want to go anywhere and stop studying - we even had a fight. But later when I was done with the last exam we spent a couple of days in Paris, and I haven't even told my coaches. Think at that point they knew what was going on: when Buyanova, Tarasova and I were discussing the future plans I sincerely told them I really want to study. Elena Germanovna was really surprised. It's not something the athletes do - think of the education rather than results. I just didn't think I would be able to combine both.

EV: Were you feeling a lesser person because you were not reading books the kids your age do, don't attend theatres and can not always participate a conversation that is not about the sports?
PT: No. The reason, I think, is because the kids now a days kind of deny the education. Going to school every day and reading books becomes old and there are so many things to do around and you want to try them all.

EV: How do you know that, if you never really went to school?
PT: I did actually. Just a usual school where I did all the exams and homeworks like everybody else. I never really told people that am a professional athlete. I do recall once coming to school and people looking weird at me. Turned out someone saw a piece in the news where I was skating in some competition and it spread all over within minutes. After that I was first asked what my life looks like. Many didn't understand how do you go on when your life is scheduled up to a minute. Well, yeah, travelling the world sounded good. But sacrificing the normal life did not sit well with everyone.
I later switched from the normal school to `Sambo70' but there were opportunities to study for the normal education. When I was in Eteri Tutberidze's group she encouraged us attending to the theatre and ballet. She said the skaters' inner world must be full - you have to read books and develop in every possible way in order to remain interesting on the ice. Of course every athlete is different - take Anna Scherbakova -she does not study in `Sambo 70', but her parents, who graduated from the Moscow State University themselves do make sure she studies well. I know it because we've been friends for a long time and even had vacations together.

EV: The ladies skating in Russia is on the top right now. How often did you think you must be n.1 there?
PT: I never felt useless after losing. Of course you always feel responsible for the results. You understand there are coaches behind you, who have to answer to the federation and the country. There is responsibility towards the parents, who put so much in you, who worry so much. Of course no one says so aloud.

EV: But you keep thinking about it?
PT: Of course. It's also a responsibility to yourself. You work so hard, overcome, give up so many things and what for? To go out there and lose? What is all that for if there is no result? I think that's what life is about in every profession if you take it seriously.

EV: Why your choice for the future profession is for the favour of the international economics and not, say, choreography like Maria Sotskova who got accepted to GITIS last year?
PT: Maria and I are very different in how we treat things and the temperament. Guess that's why we are such a good friends, even though it's unusual for our sports. Being so different draws us closer. Maria is so creative, while I was always good in math. I could hardly make myself read a book in the school. I now read quite a lot, but numbers and equations were always more interesting. I think the international economics is exactly for me. I think the studied will be interesting for me.

EV: I heard you wanted to study in Europe rather than Moscow. Have you changed your mind?
PT: No, I plan trying to continue the studies abroad next year. I was simply late this year: in order to study in Europe I had to do the paper work. I only started thinking of the serious studies recently. Hence I decided to study in Moscow for a year. A year is enough to figure whether it's the right field for me. I would love to have an international diploma rather than a Russian. Besides, it's an opportunity to learn another language.

EV: Will your future life have absolutely nothing with figure skating?
PT: I retire from the competitions, but not from the skating in some shows. Just that am not sure I want to. It's a hard subject for me, because I see that while my parents accepted my decision they are not in peace with it. They really don't understand how can I just give up all that was my life for so many years? It's normal. Many skaters when retiring keep saying they can't imagine their life without the ice, without the skating. I think it's important remembering that figure skating is not my whole life and there might come a moment when you are out there alone and you are not qualified to do a thing except for skating. I don't want that. There was a time when I though skating was the meaning of my life.

EV: Did your whole family move to Moscow together?
PT: No, first it was me and my nanny, who lived with us and raised me since I was a kid and was a very close person. Than my dad moved and about a year later - my mom. She needed time to finish her business in Omsk.

EV: Julia Lipnitskaya's mom told she picked the coach for her daughter and was going to Moscow to work with Tutberidze. You?
PT: I was 11, and I was going to retire because there was a misunderstanding with a coach. It was the first time I said I wanted to study and not skate. But then there was a chain of some fortunate events: the curator of the figure skating of Sibiria/Far East was Alexand Kogan and he offered my mom to send me to Moscow. He offered Tutberidze's group, where Lipnitskaya was skating back then. I was not a big fan of figure skating, but I didn't want to let my parents down. So we went to Moscow. At that point I didn't even know there were competitions besides the European/Worls/Olympics and even less thought I would participate them.

EV: People who were never professional athletes - how come they wanted their child to be a skater so badly?
PT: Frankly, I still don't understand. My mother is still not in peace with all that. However, figure skating changed my family's life. I sometimes think my mother was so calm about my retiring and focusing on the studies because deep down she was sure I will not endure it for a long time and will run to the rink. The experiment failed - am all into the studies and not sorry about it.

EV: Do you consider participating a show?
PT: Am not sure. When I decided to retire there was an option going for a long time show in Europe, but when I asked Tarasova for advice she explained it's not the easiest life: show means a long time commuting, buses, sometimes 2-3 skates a day and it will go on for a couple of months. My back might not take it. As much as I wanted I had to reconsider before signing the contract. When I considered it all I came to realize am not really into the shows. If I miss the ice too badly I'll probably coach - I do a little bit now working with the kids. Suddenly I have a lot of free time.

EV: Do you coach because you like it, or it's a way to earn money?
PT: I started because it was the only way to earn money for me. But I really like it, despite understanding I will never become a professional coach and dedicate my life to that. It was interesting, but hardly more.

EV: Will you watch the competitions?
PT: The last year I only watched the skaters who I really care about. There are many: Sotskova, Medvedeva, Scherbakova, Kostornaya - mainly those I skated with and friends with. Am so glad for Alina Zagitova for becoming the World champion, but I haven't watched her skates. I never really liked rewatching my skates either. Just to work on some mistakes.
I don't think figure skating was a waste of time. Am so grateful to all who were with me in my short journey. It's a huge experience, the ability to organize your time, your life. If there wasn't for the sports I would probably not become so responsible and organized. I wouldn't learn concentrating on the important things - the sports teaches you focusing on your goals and how to get to your goals. Am sure now it will help me with my plans and goals for the future - the clear understanding what am I aiming for. Every person who was in my life, from the very first coaches in Omsk taught me something. The base, thanks to which I became a skater was done in Omsk, further developed by Eteri Tutberidze and her team - they made me the top skater. Elena Buyanova, who was not afraid to take me and supported during the tough times of my career, even though she could easily say no and not take an athlete with so many problems. Thanks to her I learned so many things and changed my whole attitude. Tatiana Tarasova is not just a great coach, but a person with a huge soul, who I still call at any minute and ask for advice or help. Looking back at my career - I was very lucky. Those people shaped me to a person I am today.

EV: It must be a huge relief you don't have to attend the training camp, break the new boots...
PT: I never had problems with breaking the boots. Once Morisi Kvitelashvili and I switched to a different company for some reason and it was horrible. Tough, heavy, we were unable to jump. After two weeks our feet were a bloody mess and we couldn't even walk. A month after that experiment we switched back to Edea.

EV: What do you do with your dresses?
PT: Keep them home. I have no plans for them now, and doubt I ever will. I'll just keep them as a memory of my crazy youth.
 

jiejie

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Massive respect for this young woman. When she was doing all that winning in juniors, I thought she was going to be a contender for the big Senior prizes, but health issues derailed her and it was not to be. Sounds like she is working with a very clear head about the realities of her situation with competitive skating, and that she'd be risking her health to continue the sort of training needed to get to/stay on top....with no likelihood of success.

Good that she has found another interest and direction, and that she has the fortitude to change directions and go 100% for studies and a different path from the usual skating-to-coaching, despite opposition from some of the adults around her that want her to keep skating competitively. This is some mature decision-making in action, especially from someone who's still only 18 (19?), and I wish her well.
 

Wyliefan

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It seems so utterly backwards to have a mom insisting her kid be a skater when all the kid wants to do is study math. It's like the opposite of every sports movie that's ever been made. (And I don't even like math.)
 

Spun Silver

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It seems so utterly backwards to have a mom insisting her kid be a skater when all the kid wants to do is study math. It's like the opposite of every sports movie that's ever been made. (And I don't even like math.)
But think of all the skate moms out there.... This probably happens much more often than we know.

Polina was such a striking skater who skated big with gorgeous jumps and queenly carriage. I hate it that her back problems prevented her from reaching the top because she seemed destined for it a few years ago. But I'm so glad for her that she is firmly steering in another direction that she's chosen for herself and really enjoys. I wish her everything good.
 

mollymgr

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Great interview. She seems like a very intelligent person. She has really developed a passion for studying international economics. It is hard for someone so dedicated to being an elite athlete to give it all up and pursue something else. But at least she understands what's best for her future and is making the right decision.
 

bardtoob

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It seems so utterly backwards to have a mom insisting her kid be a skater when all the kid wants to do is study math. It's like the opposite of every sports movie that's ever been made. (And I don't even like math.)

Reminds me of that movie Center Stage. Mom wanted Maureen to dance and she had the ability, but she did not like it and quit to go to college.

https://youtu.be/kRvPGHzrUro
 

bardtoob

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I'm glad for Polina. She is choosing both a demanding and potentially lucrative and/or powerful field. Who knows? Maybe she will be the next Elvira Nabiullina.

An analogy I have from my own life is that I learned to play saxophone in elementary school because that was the instrument given to me. Later and after learning to read music and understand the theory, I switched instruments to something I chose ... Polina learned to plan, train, be focused and prepared, improve slowly over time through commitment, and learned to fall and get up ... Great lessons and required when one wants an applied math degree.
 
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Lovemyvike

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I’m sad to see her retire, as she really stood out from the rest. But she seems very confident and secure in her decisions, which is amazing for someone so young. Wishing her the best in all she pursues!
 

aftershocks

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In this case even mom was trying to get me away from the studies: my will to catch up with the studies was really scaring her.

:eek:

I'm glad Polina resisted pressure from her friends and her parents to pursue what gives her joy in life.

PT: As I said, I considered it all. Am not healthy enough to practice seriously. Besides our sport is changing gears now and one must learn the quads to be competitive. Everyone says so in their interviews. Of course it doesn't mean everyone will learn the quads, but am sure a lot will attempt. I know my body only too well and understand I probably shouldn't take such a risk.

Her reasoning makes complete sense to me.
 

antmanb

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What a great interview - she sounds like she has a better grasp on life than most of the adults around her. The interviewer also asked some totally WTF questions and the responses seemed so much better thought out.
 

aftershocks

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I don't think figure skating was a waste of time. Am so grateful to all who were with me in my short journey... If there wasn't for the sports I would probably not become so responsible and organized... the sports teaches you focusing on your goals and how to get to your goals. Am sure now it will help me with my plans and goals for the future ... Every person who was in my life, from the very first coaches in Omsk taught me something... further developed by Eteri Tutberidze and her team - they made me the top skater. Elena Buyanova, who was not afraid to take me and supported during the tough times of my career, even though she could easily say no and not take an athlete with so many problems. Thanks to her I learned so many things and changed my whole attitude. Tatiana Tarasova is not just a great coach, but a person with a huge soul, who I still call at any minute and ask for advice or help. Looking back at my career - I was very lucky. Those people shaped me to a person I am today.

:respec: Polina has such a wonderful perspective on it all. And that's a nice tribute to her coaches as well.

ETA:
Even though I must also add that I have totally loved watching Polina skate, especially at her best. She has such a lovely quality to her skating, that is sadly missing among many of the young jumping phenoms, and not just in Russia either. :COP:
 
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Tinami Amori

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EV: Don't tell me once you dwelled into the studies you loved it more than practicing.
PT: It's exactly what happened. Every day I spent hours studying alone and with the teachers, I was doing some exams and realized how fast is sucks me in and how much I love it. While you skate you don't really have a chance to study seriously: you are too tired and there is too much in your mind, you just want to rest and relax. In this case even mom was trying to get me away from the studies: my will to catch up with the studies was really scaring her.

PT: I was 11, and I was going to retire because there was a misunderstanding with a coach. It was the first time I said I wanted to study and not skate. But then there was a chain of some fortunate events: the curator of the figure skating of Sibiria/Far East was Alexand Kogan and he offered my mom to send me to Moscow. He offered Tutberidze's group, where Lipnitskaya was skating back then. I was not a big fan of figure skating, but I didn't want to let my parents down. So we went to Moscow. At that point I didn't even know there were competitions besides the European/Worls/Olympics and even less thought I would participate them.
I did not realize that Polina had an issue with her coach in Omsk, and wanted to quit skating as far back as when she was 11, before she came to Moscow. I know she said several times since 2016 that she wants to study and lost interest in skating wanting to quit, and her parents insisted she keeps on skating. That's 6 years of telling your parents you rather study than skate.... and they should have listened....:shuffle:

It's hard for me to believe that parents would push a child to stay in sports, while a child wants to study and do mathematics.... I've never heard of such parents before... :rofl:

Very proud of Polina for standing up to her parents and choosing education, especially International Economics, to further develop her "brain", instead of "muscles"! Wishing her the best.. :respec:

When I was in Eteri Tutberidze's group she encouraged us attending to the theatre and ballet. She said the skaters' inner world must be full - you have to read books and develop in every possible way in order to remain interesting on the ice.
And yet another, of several other Sambo-70 students highlights that Tutberidze encourages learning, self-development and culture ... :smokin:
 

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