Victoria Sinitsina: In America I learned to stand up for myself. Marina, Diet, Tough-girl.

Tinami Amori

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Victoria Sinitsina: In America I learned to stand up for myself.
Interview with Anatoly Samokhvalov @ mrsport.ria.ru 08-20-2018
https://mrsport.ria.ru/interview/20180820/1140607181.html

(a disclaimer: some words in this interview are used figuratively, for example “bitch” in this context means “a tough girl, who learned to claw and fight to get her way, and to defend herself”. There are also idioms which may not have English equivalent. Nothing is meant to offend.)

Part 1 (part 2 later)

Foreword:
Russian figure skater, Victoria Sinitsina, gives her first long, revealing solo interview to the correspondent, Anatoly Samokhvalov @ RAI News, revealing the psychological dynamics of this dance team (with Nikita Katzalapov). Tears, passion, pain, blood and love, all here in this story of a humble moppet, who grew up to be a predator with a slice of bitchiness.

“Everyone always thought I am a moppet”

Q: Vika, you hardly have any “bitch” in you?
A: Outside appearance is deceiving. Even a sweet angle can hide a devil inside. I am not a bitch, but it does come out of me sometimes, when I am mad or in a bad mood. And that is normal, because bitchiness attracts (grabs) people. It also helps to handle difficulties.

Q: Were you ever disappointed in yourself for not being bitchy enough, thinking “I want to be more like it (bitchy)”?
A: Sure. In my core I am a soft person, for me it is difficult to say a harsh, strong, loud “no!”. Yet it is something that would not be a problem for a bitchy person. I tend to soften a conflict, without saying a direct “no”, or just keep silent.

Q: So when did you finally say your first harsh “no!”?
A: I have to think about it.

Q: … or is this something to happen in the future?
A: No, I’ve have produced already a clear “no!”. But I have to think back to remember how it happened. First of all I changed a lot when paired up with Nikita. When I returned home (to Russia) on a break from America, my parents did not recognize many parts of me. Because while training in Detroit, with Marina Zueva, I began to search inside myself. I dug into my character, and understood that I have to become completely different than how I am now. My parents looked at me and said “Something changed in you”. They been observing me every day for almost 20 years, and now met me again after year’s absence. Naturally they noted every small detail.

But if we look at the big picture, what changed is that I developed a centre (backbone, spine, core). At Marina’s rink I learned to stand up for myself. And I started to ask myself, what do I really need, to learn to be bitchy or simply more confident? I had to think, what suits me better. And what do you think? (a question to Anatoly).

Q: Well, let’s figure it out… Where the parents happy when they got that daughter, with American accent, or did they want to see the old Vika?
A: I used my English only few times in Moscow stores, saying a quick “thank you” instead of “spasibo” at the cash register. It was strictly mechanical.

Q: “Thank you” and “Sorry” are very comfortable because they are short.
A: I think so to. And parents?.... In our family my choices were always respected. I was homeschooled. Because of sports. After each practice, at home I would sit at my desk, take a pen (to start homework) and would fall asleep on top of my notebook. Just zoomed out. My father is an impatient man and it was hard for him to handle my evening procrastinations with homework. Sometimes he would grab the pen out of my hands, and start explaining the assignment, and would (accidently) break the pen on the notebook. But in the end, I passed all my exams on time and parents not once threatened to take away my skating.

First time I came home from Detroit, my parents realized that I have matured, and I realized that they trust me, and approve of my choices. I still ask for their opinion, which often contradicts mine, but in the end I will always do what it my way.

Q: What was the nature of your American stress? Was it like a boiling pot?
A: Not really a pot. I was an 18-year old girl, who looked much younger. Everyone always perceived me as moppet. I was growing up as a proper and a calm child; I switched at least 4 schools. After 5th grade I pretty much stayed on an external programme (studied home, came in only to take tests). When I came to classes (to take tests only, not being seen in class on regular basis) people would look at me and say “Girl, what are doing here?”. (I would say) Attending my 9th grade. Yet I looked like I belong in 6th grade. I step inside, and see my class mates, some guys already have beards. And the girls are fully developed, not like me, some unknown athlete. “Hey are you sure you’re in the right class?” they would ask. And then “Oh, so you’re that Victoria Sinitsina?”.

And so I am 18, and this girl (me) suddenly makes all the changes in life – a partner, a trainer, a location. First 6 months in America I was on the verge of shutting out the outside world. It did not happen, but I strongly drew into myself. To search for “character”. I came (to USA) all alone, without mother, father, to live with strangers, to work with an unknown (to me) coach, with a partner I did not know too well. I knew Nikita, but not very closely.

At that time I made my choices, and came to realize: I have no more choices (this is it). I need to become mature, start to decide for myself, and last but not least, learn to cook and clean. My parents love me, and gave me a life where I only had to worry about two things – to study and to skate. In Detroit I had to learn to live (a real life). I would not call it “survival”, but it was uncomfortable to suddenly be forced into adulthood.

Q: In which ways did you have to “step on your own throat”? (break and change yourself).
A: (Eating too much) food. I had to cut it out.

Q: What about (when you were) with Ruslan Zhiganchin, it’s not that you ate tons of cake everyday?
A: No, it is something else. In America the food is completely different. I ate the same as I ate in Moscow, but noticed that (in USA) you can gain wait simply by staring up in the air at the Holly Spirit. And my body was going through female changes. Take one tiny bite, and the weight just skyrockets!

Marina constantly had me stand on the weight-scale, I started to fear them (the scale). Before each weighing I ran to the bathroom and removed all could off myself, the pins, the rubber bands, the jewelry, or gosh forbid an extra gram is showing. I cried. But wanted to skate like crazy. I had to keep myself in form, no matter what it takes. Thanks to Marina, I was able to step over myself.
When the practice was over, in the evenings, I would put on heavy pants, 3 heavy sweaters (to sweat out), and 3 times a week I would wrap myself in plastic wrap and would run for an hour. I created for myself a tough dry-out process.

Q: But the plastic wrap maybe dangerous for the heart..
A: Yes (I know) but I did it only once a week, and it very much helped me. (note: earlier she did say 3x a week).

Q: Was Zueva mad?
A: No, I never told her. All she did is gave me a weight limit to keep to – if you keep to this (certain) weight – you can come to practice (if not, then don’t). Marina is that kind of coach, she will not beat around the push with the athlete. It took me a while to get it.

Q: Took you a while to get it?
A: I tried. First one diet, then the other, then third one, then I only ate rice. Then I was twisted on this issue, and started to weight myself 4 times a day. That was not normal for a person. Thanks god, I have a head on my shoulders, and it never turned into a real problem. Soon i started simply to exclude many food products from my diet and eat differently.

Q: So, you can never eat anything ever?
A: First of all, what I learned is that you need to exclude the phrase you just used “you can never eat anything”. Such phrase kills me (figuratively), when I hear it, I get hungrier. If something is forbidden for me forever, I will mentally break (from the thought of it). One should never be made to think of “never”. Marina taught me: “if you want French Fries, just eat one stick; if you want chocolate, just take a small chip”. It’s not that I limited myself in everything, just simply started to eat less frequently and in small portions.

Q: What is Zueva like a state of an extreme anger? I know her only smiling. Even when I made her angry in the past, she would be smiling.
A: (laughing). Perhaps true, that’s how she is “when angry”. In reality, Marina – is a psychologist, I never seen her in a “state of fury”. She can say something, perfectly calmly, and yet the listener will get paralyzed. Marina knows how to trigger the right spot.

“Zhiganchin was a like brother to me, but I hurt him”.
Q: What feelings did you have when travelling to the Worlds 2014 in Saitama?
A: Same as during any competition. Katya/Dima withdrew, so it was just two of our teams (S/Z and I/K). I had only one goal (in the head) – to (skate well enough) keep 3 quotas for Russia for next year.

Q: I was asking about something else. During that championship the info leaked that you and Katzalapov are leaving partners and forming a new pair.
A: What can one do? We athletes must learn how to detach during competitions. You see, before the Worlds, Nikita and I had a conversation, but at the time (during Worlds 2014) we have not made final decision. The idea of forming a new team was our mutual risk. But the idea finalized only after Saitama. That’s when I was able to detach myself from outside rumors and draw into my own thinking sphere. (at the Worlds) all I knew is that Ruslan is now my partner, and I must do my job.

Q: People usually take such joint risk when they fall in love..
A: No, Nikita and I did not fall in love. We just took a risk. We are athletes after all, we’re crazy.

Q: Who informed (about switching) yours and Ruslan’s coaches – Kustarova and Alekseeva?
A: It was me, I came with my mother and told them. I was afraid to come alone. I was still a young girl then. After all, Kustarova and Alekseeva raised me. But I was sure 100% that I need to make this move in my life.

Q: You did not believe in Ruslan?
A: I could not say that. I know Ruslan for a long time and respect him very much. He was like a brother to me. From 9 to 18 years old we skated together. Naturally, my choice hurt is feelings.

Q: Did you not share with Zhiganchin some of your thought for the future?
A: No, what for? Those thoughts are just thoughts, and personal. And not much more. Again, (at the worlds) there was no final decision (in my thoughts about break up). To be honest, at the Worlds I was alone (mentally). All inside myself.

Q: But after the rumors leaked into the press, did you and Ruslan talk?
A: No, he did not even blink (did not let me feel it), and I am very grateful to him, that he did not start any squabbles. He concentrated on skating, just like me, and we did our job.

Q: What were you most afraid of? Strong pressure from the trainers, the Federation, the social circle and fans, or to simply not meet the expectations (after the switch)? “Some little girl” with Mighty Katzalapov, the Olympic Champion and most talented skater…
A: Of course I was worried about the pressure. Many supported our decision. It is true, quite difficult were the first 6 months in USA, first 3 months I did not even check my social media. Only chatted with parents, took walks around Detroit, breathed fresh air, worked and trained. But I knew what I was getting into. I knew I had to work 10 times harder than Nikita to be in this team. So when he worked twice as hard, I had to work 20 times as hard.

Q: And now your level has caught up with Nikitas?
A: I think yes. Although some things are hard for me to pick up from the start, but after 10th try I get them. It does not bother me that Nikita gets it immediately and that I need more tries. I am confident that after 10 tries I will finally get into his rhythm on any element. That’s how I am in life and in sports. Some can take it easy, and stay and pick their nose, while I have to always work and work to skate (well) on these two chunks of metal.

Q: I see. Never mind that social media (critics), they will always badmouth. But back in 2014 have you had any phone calls on your phone with words such as “look little girl, what are you getting yourself into?”.
A: No. I am very glad that many people in the Ministry of Sports and in the Federation ended up supporting us. And it is true, Nikita and I are very grateful. Of course we shocked many. They said to us “Kids, think about it 10 times carefully”. But after we felt they are on our side.

Q: President of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Alexander Gorshkov, said that he tried to convince Katzalapov on many occasions to not break up his current team.
A: Then that’s how it was.

Q: Have you had any personal talks with Ilynikh?
A: No.

Q: Because of your move, we can now talk about the fact that Russian Dance lost its position as “favorites” for a minimum of one Olympic Cycle.
A: Oh don’t blame us! It absolutely did not happen because of us.

Q: I have to agree. Bobrova/Soloviev after all did miss many competitions for various reasons.
A: In out figure skating cycle there are always ups then downs. It was like that always. And in dance it is even more difficult than in other disciplines. It’s rare to keep on top in ours (dance), like for example P/C. I competed with them since youth, and saw how long they remained below 10th place. But at some point they found “theirs”, realized where they need to “hit”, and how to become successful. But don’t discard the Russian Dance, it will always be competitive (in the top tier).

Q: I like your team, as far as beauty on ice, you rank number 3 for me, after two other famous teams.
A: In our sport, they don’t award medals for beauty.

(part 2 later).
 

caseyedwards

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How does she deal with people saying she’s not as talented as katsalapov?!? Does she drop herself in lifts? Does she mess up on almost every twizzle? Her partner is total trash garbage skater of no merit or value and it’s time to be boring again but rise like she was with shiganshin. No one in history destroyed their career more than Sinitsina- as Boring and stiff kneed as she is! At least she doesn’t have all the extreme catastrophic mistakes like katsalapov does.

No one can blame the skaters for being held prisoner to a system that seeks to ignore ijs in dance and just continue doing Russian style regardless of system. If Sinitsina or anyone wanted to do ijs ice dance they’d have to leave Russian and compete for France or America or whatever
 

Bigbird

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Why waste such a large interview on the past? (I've read the entire interview on Google Translate) Wouldn't it have been more useful to discuss the issues of last season and the changes they have made in anticipation of a great new season?

Why not discuss the rationale behind the choice of music for this season? Competitions they plan or hope to enter? Special preparations for test skates?

Nonetheless, thank you for the translation, TA!
 

Tinami Amori

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Part 2 (probably typos, long article. let me know if find any, i'll fix it).

Q: Zhulin very much wanted to go to the last Olympics with 2 teams, including yours. If you would have made it to S. Korea, do you think you had at least a reasonable chance at a medal?
A: In this past season it would be difficult. We are not there to take 2 tops placements, it is clear who was to take top 2, but from 3rd to 10th – all teams were good enough, and approximately on the same level.

A: Let’s fantasize. You skate among those who are from 3rd to 10th. You skate both programmes the best, all elements get the max, level 4. Was the Bronze possible or not and under what circumstances?
Q: Don’t fantasize. In dance it is important to have stability from competition to competition. Ice Dance is not your hockey. The rank steps are important. If you show and prove that you can climb up, then as you call it, they will “place you accordingly”. That’s how our sport works, unfortunately.

“May it all go to Hell?” It did come to mind…

Q: By the way, so when did you finally said your first “no”? And to whom?
A: You’re asking this… but in my thoughts I remember my first adult independant “yes”? I said “yes” to Nikita, and we became a team. It was strictly my own straight decision, and nothing else.

My first “no!” was said in America. But I don’t remember where and why. Maybe on the ice, when i could not do a move, and all wanted to change it, but I said “No, I will learn it”. I have endurance/patience since kindergarten. I used to spoon-feed my fellow kindergarteners when they did not want to eat their lunch.

Q: Did you have any conflicts with Nikita when he got frustrated waiting for you to “get it on the 10th try”?
A: But there was no conflict – just adaptation. During practice we snap at each other, like all people. That’s the thing, and that’s how we were looking for mutual comfort, stepping over ourselves.

Q: Comfort?
A: For the partner. So that at the right moment he would support you.

Q: Were you always that reasonable, or there were times when you wanted it all go to Hell?
A: Honestly? Yes. But each time I brought myself to think that I want to skate and to win. The feeling when they place a medal on your neck is very alluring. I want to stand on a pedestal and sing the Russian hymn with all my heart.

Q: And so you thought that to sing the Russian hymn is only possible if you’re with Katzalapov?
A: Yes, that’s exactly what I was thinking.

Q: So what did really happen at the rink in Canton that you had to return to Russia?
A: Nothing really happen. I don’t want to talk about it now.

Q: Did Nikita hit you?
A: No, there was no physical altercation.

Q: So why did you leave after all?
A: We felt ourselves that it is hard for us to keep working in USA purely financially. The exchange rate changed, and budgeting became more difficult. We were allocated money for training, but had to use our own funds for living expenses. So we decided to return. Canton is a small vilage, it is a nice place to live and to train. It is quiet and calm. You walk on to a grass field and you see little Bambi with his white butt, and then a rabbit, and then a squirrel frolicking up a tree. The weather is great. It’s the best in Winter. You come out of the house and the all this snow in front the door, beautiful snow up to your waist.. But it all costs money.

Q: Have you arrived at the thought that working with Marina Olegovna (Zueva) is fine and she is very professional, but she is not a magician, and you can work just as effectively in Russia?
A: You can become a champion in Russia of course, however Marina does have certain magic. As well as in Oleg Epstein, Johnny Johnson, and in the choreographer Alena. They all understood that S/K is a clean slate. They helped me especially because I did not know English and was not as famous as Nikita. Marina used to call Nikita at 10 am on weekends and say “Nikita, are you still asleep?”.

Initially we went to Marina because at home we simply did not have anyone to go to, while Marina had Gold and Silver in the last two Olympics. I am happy to have this experience in my career. Just as much as I am happy to work with Zhulin.

Q: A common perception in Russia is that be it Marina or Igor, they work for the benefit of their own American teams, and the Russians, either you or Ilynikh/Zhiganchin, would get a lot less attention.
A: I don’t agree. In Canton surely that was not the case. When Maya and Alex came out to skate, we would look at each other, and compete. Same as we did with Katya and Dima while with Zhulin. Marina has a strict schedule: 2 hours for us, 2 hours for Shibutanis, 2 hours for some other team. If one only wants to train with her for 15 minutes, then that’s his choice.

“Nikita and I, either we skate together, or not at all”

Q: When did you start to feel simpatico towards each other?
A: It’s a feeling you get as soon as you see a person. There was a difficult period. We started to interact more. First year, when riding in the car together, we did not know what to say to each other. And the following year we did not talk, because we understood each other without words.

Q: If, God forbid, one of you will not be able to compete further, will the other quit?
A: I believe so. But God forbid.

Q: I’ll bite my tongue.
A: I think that either we skate together, or not at all.

Q: I remember your (S/K) first exhibition number, and general reaction: “that’s it, she is lagging behind”.
A: (at that time) We were only together for 2 months.

Q: Did you feel others were being dismissive of you?
A: Yes, but pounded into my head that I have a lot of work ahead, and just 2 months is nothing. Tessa and Scott have been together for 20 years. At that time I wanted to show people what improvements I have made in myself, which I was satisfied with. The Federation found that there is improvement, and we need to move forward.

But a year later we had Test Skate in Sochi, and Nikita arrived with a stress fracture, just like Zhennya Medvedeva had. We finished our programmes early, had even a chance to perform them in USA at a closed rink competition, and after Nikitas leg started to hurt badly. He did a scan, and went to practice. He is sitting on a bench putting on a skate, and here comes Marina with an x-ray and says “That’s it, go and put on a protective boot. You are not going on the ice”. He had to wear a special-order boot for two months. I was practicing alone. Right at the test skate in Sochi. So the whole Federation, Tarasova and everyone was looking how I am dancing alone the Swan Lake valse and the LP to Bocelli. Tarasova came over and asked “Do you want to try and skate alone during test skate, for the audience?” and I said “no Tatiana Anatolievna, thank you, but I don’t. I’d rather sit it out in the audience with Nikita”.

Q: Was Tarasova serious?
A: I thought she was. It was Marina’s idea. She used to say “if you learn to skate your programmes alone, it would be much when with the partner”. If a female partner can skate the most difficult sequence well without the partner, then later in competition skating together it will be no sweat.

Q: So then you might do a double Axel as well….
A: My last double Axel I did 13 years ago, and landed on my face. My lips swelled bigger than my cheeks, and I started to fear jumping. I would start to enter a jump, and stop short of take-off. That’s why I left singles. Could not overcome my fears. My very good coach, Lebedeva, saw my struggles and said: Vika, you are tall, long arms, long legs. You are clearly a dancer! Go and try”. She did not kick me out, but did send me for try outs to Lobacheva and Averbuch. I went there, and never returned (to singles).

Irina and Ilya became my first teachers in Ice Dance. But instead of competitions, they only entrusted me with a part in a New Year Ice Show. The biggest challenge of my part was to change costumes in 20 seconds. That’s where I teamed up with Ruslan Zhiganchin. I was the character of “Olya” and he was “Kolya” from a children’s book by the same name. Our parents made us multi-level costumes, on Velcro hooks, which can be easily removed. Our part was, we came out on the ice, Ruslan had to yell “Olyyyyyyyaaa” and I had to yell “Kolyyyyyyaa”. But I liked the idea of Ice Dance. I went back to my singles group a few times, and was telling other girls how cool it is to pair up with a boy, and you can hold hands.

Ice Dance gave me a special feeling, which I shared with other girls. I was 9 years old at the time.

Q: Any skaters you admired (was googoo eyed about).
A: At the “Young Pioneers” rink I used to skate with Irina Slutskaya. I used to go and watch her practices. Then the legendary Igor Rusakov took me into his group, where Ilya Klimkin was at. My first (skating) happiness came when Klimkin taught me his special “Klimkin Cantilever”. On New Year (I was 8 at the time) I wrote Klimkin a special letter, but never sent it, too many spelling mistakes and cross outs, I still have it. And that Cantilever, I can still do, never lost it.

“Little girls with a stare of a Tiger”

Q: What “emotion/look” did the trainers had to try the hardest to get out of you on the ice?
A: Anger.

Q: Why?
A: With the way I look, it’s hard. Marina found a psychologist for me, who said “show me a Tiger!”. I could not do it. I sat every day in front of a mirror and roared. Trying to find that “tiger” in me. This psychologist came to the training camp with me, to Kislovodsk, worked on me a lot, and then i came back different. The “anger” woke up in me. In my eyes and in work.

Q: By that time have you declared your clear “yes!”?
A: I have, but constantly heard from other that same one “you can’t do it”. And at times I also questioned myself “what if I can’t do it?”. I addressed it with the psychologist, and she helped me to set aside those useless doubts. I finally learned that “cat stare” which is also good in real life. Now I have confidence in myself and no inhibitions.

Q: So what is Victoria Sinitsina is capable to accomplish today that is different from when she was that “moppet” who wrote letters with mistakes.
A: To say to anyone what I really think, straight to his face. I was shy before.

Q: Even say “f… off”?
A: as one option..

Q: Ever had to?
A: Yes. Once I came into a store, two men stare at me. I swiftly walk by. When I left the store, they were waiting outside. My house is a block away and through a yard. These two were drunk and looked like street bums. I could feel one is walking behind me. I speed up, so does he. I feel he is right behind me. I turn around, grab the glass bottle with mineral water, swing at him and shower him with profanities. From fear. And he asks, in a raunchy voice “do you have some change?”. I told him to get lost. And did not have to use “f… off” by the way. He left peacefully.

Q: In April of 2016, Zhulin, before he was your coach, described to me your team as following: “I called this occurrence “the life of doves”.. they seem to be in love, but that love is so sweet, it is too much… Love has several stages and sides. The beginning, the movie dates, the time of candy and the roses, the sex, the conflict. But in their case (S/K pairing and progress) these two already met at the movie theatre, with flowers in hands, the show is over, but they are still standing with flowers in hands at the doors of the movie theatre”.
A: I think a lot has changed by now. First year, yes, that’s how we were. Even first two years. I was not a Tigress at 18. Some girls can be like a mature woman, but that’s not my story. I was raised differently. Of course, many resented that I could not produce the same speed on the ice, as Lena Ilynikh could with Nikita. But that was long time ago. Today Sasha (Zhulin) says himself “There is always plenty of emotions between the two of you”.

Q: I was always amazed how Ksenya Stolbova was able to show on the ice very genuine passion with Fedor Klimov, while not romantically involved with him.
A: Not every “Juliette” loves her “Romeo” off stage. But on stage they show love. Plus Ksukha (Stolbova) has that kind of look that can kill anyone on the spot. For her the “look” is not a problem.

“The heck with everything, i have to carry him to the end…”

Q: Last Russian Nationals. Free Skate. Nikita is holding his leg (in pain), you’re looking at him, as if you’re thinking “what’s with you, let’s go..”. It seems like you too, did not believe he was hurting.
A: I believed, because I knew in what condition he came out on the ice. It all started during 5-min warm-up. During a lift he was flipping me, and twisted his foot. I feel Nikita so well and to such extent, that I can understand him simply by taking his hand.

He shook his skate, I am holding his palm, look at him, he can’t put his foot down. “What’s wrong” I ask. He replies “wait, don’t rush”. And then “I can’t step on it”. I could only ask one question “Can you?”. He replied “Yes”. But is body language indicated for me to not bug him. I complied, but told myself, I have one task – the heck with everything, I have to carry him through the programme to the end.

Q: Bravery?
A: Fear. I was afraid and saw his scared eyes. I see he is limping and enduring very harsh pain, but we can’t afford not to skate.
We take the starting position, first notes of Rach’s 2nd concerto came on, I took off with some never felt before energy. We made it with good tempo to the step sequence, it’s where you have to dig into the ice and keep the edges. We have only 3 elements left, and then he stops with one single words “Finished”. We skated up to the judges, and withdrew. Zhulin was in shock, but he had to go to Katya and Dima, they were skating next.

At that moment I remembered myself at one of the past Grand Prix events. In the morning I cut my leg open, during lunch it was stitched up, by evening I was already competing. During programme my eyes were in tears, and the boot was full of blood on the inside. But that is usual for skaters. Remember Evegeniya Tarasova at the Worlds in Helsinki. I had to support Nikita that time at Russian Nationals. I left the rink at 2 AM that night, after doping control, while Nikita was at the hospital with the chaperon and the doctor. It was a difficult December, and a difficult year. But this January 1st, we turned the first page of the new calendar and are moving forward.

- FIN --
 

caseyedwards

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“: You can become a champion in Russia of course,”

Wrong! So sad to see this! But they can’t afford to train in America because they are too poor so have to deal with the coach in ice dance because zhulin or Tchaikovskaya or Kustarova is all that Russia will pay for. Very sad. No hope and no future
 

Willin

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@dramagrrl I mean, I didn't think it was awful. It's certainly concerning that she was so worried that she did what she did, but based on the translation I think Marina gave her good advice: you don't need to cut anything you like out of your diet if you eat it in moderation. That caused her to switch from extreme methods to simply eating smaller portions, which given US portion sizes is reasonable. I wondered if that was what she was referring to in the first place about American food: the huge portions and relatively unhealthy menus.

I think the daily weighing thing is much more problematic, but it's so pervasive in sports all throughout the world. As long as a skater (or athlete) can do the skills they need to to the standard they need to their weight should be a non-issue. If their weight or growth starts affecting the skills they should talk to an RD and personal trainer to fix the problem instead of worrying about the scale.
 

dramagrrl

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@dramagrrl I mean, I didn't think it was awful. It's certainly concerning that she was so worried that she did what she did, but based on the translation I think Marina gave her good advice: you don't need to cut anything you like out of your diet if you eat it in moderation. That caused her to switch from extreme methods to simply eating smaller portions, which given US portion sizes is reasonable. I wondered if that was what she was referring to in the first place about American food: the huge portions and relatively unhealthy menus.

I think the daily weighing thing is much more problematic, but it's so pervasive in sports all throughout the world. As long as a skater (or athlete) can do the skills they need to to the standard they need to their weight should be a non-issue. If their weight or growth starts affecting the skills they should talk to an RD and personal trainer to fix the problem instead of worrying about the scale.
The way she describes her fear of food and concern with weight does not sound at all healthy to me. Advice to eat one French fry or a single chocolate chip also does not seem like "moderation" to me. Actual meaning may have been lost in translation, but those comments, combined with the plastic wrap and heavy clothing while running, her extreme fear of Marina's scale, and Marina's rule that she had to be a certain weight in order to continue to practice sounds like fodder for disordered eating. (Why would you forbid someone from skating if you want them to lose weight? That kind of rule would only make sense if the skater's weight was so high they could injure themselves by continuing to train, and it doesn't sound like that was what Marina was concerned about at all.)

Tessa Virtue once made a comment that from her observation of the way the other female dancers at Canton (or maybe it was DSC under both Igor and Marina?) dealt with weight and food, she believed she was one of the very few girls there who did not have a problem with disordered eating. If this is the way Marina deals with her female students when it comes to weight issues and diet, I'm not surprised. (Igor is also notorious for pressuring his female students to be super skinny and Tanith Belbin and others have pretty much come straight out and said so.)
 

starrynight

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@dramagrrl

I think the daily weighing thing is much more problematic, but it's so pervasive in sports all throughout the world. As long as a skater (or athlete) can do the skills they need to to the standard they need to their weight should be a non-issue. If their weight or growth starts affecting the skills they should talk to an RD and personal trainer to fix the problem instead of worrying about the scale.
I suppose weight is more relevant in Ice Dance as there is a lifting component to it that affects the male partner. I'm sure male partners wouldn't want the responsibility of having to be the bad guy of saying something if they were noticing issues lifting.

Do other dance training centres require weigh ins?

But yes I've heard (from my brother who lived there a while) that US food can be a mine field because of all the hidden sugars in basic items that can play havoc with diets.
 

Willin

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@dramagrrl I'm not saying it's perfect, but it's a lot better than other training centers. It also seems like Marina wasn't directly encouraging her behavior beyond the scale - which, as I said, I think should be done away with. Particularly in the case of Canton I'm shocked she doesn't see the benefit of having an RD on staff. I'm sure U of M has plenty to help out. As far as "a single fry," I took that a lot less literally - more along the lines of "everything in moderation" or smaller portions as opposed to a literal single-fry-allowance. That's something most dietitians will tell you: it's okay to eat foods you like occasionally as long as you keep it to small amounts.

What I'm saying isn't that Marina's right per se, just that I think Victoria has learned the right lessons from her struggles with weight: smaller, healthier portions help, but you can still indulge yourself in things you like on occasion without gaining weight.

@starrynight I would say it's more a minefield because of the huge portions and lack of healthy options at a lot of restaurants. Way too much fried food, cheese, and red meat. Because of the dressing even deceptively healthy things like salads can be high-sugar and/or high-fat. I thought it was hilarious when she said that you'd gain weight with just a bit of American food - I gained a ton in Michigan because of the lack of readily available, affordable healthy foods and the sheer amount of dairy and red meat on the menu.
 

starrynight

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What is the food available in Russia like? Is it very different? I remember reading Elena Ilinykh saying she experienced the exact same issue as Victoria is describing.
 

hanca

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What is the food available in Russia like? Is it very different? I remember reading Elena Ilinykh saying she experienced the exact same issue as Victoria is describing.
I went to the USA for a ten day holiday and put on a stone! And I wasn’t overeating or choosing rubbish food. I ate what anyone else ate.
 

misskarne

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Marina constantly had me stand on the weight-scale, I started to fear them (the scale). Before each weighing I ran to the bathroom and removed all could off myself, the pins, the rubber bands, the jewelry, or gosh forbid an extra gram is showing. I cried. But wanted to skate like crazy. I had to keep myself in form, no matter what it takes. Thanks to Marina, I was able to step over myself.
When the practice was over, in the evenings, I would put on heavy pants, 3 heavy sweaters (to sweat out), and 3 times a week I would wrap myself in plastic wrap and would run for an hour. I created for myself a tough dry-out process.

Q: But the plastic wrap maybe dangerous for the heart..
A: Yes (I know) but I did it only once a week, and it very much helped me. (note: earlier she did say 3x a week).

Q: Was Zueva mad?
A: No, I never told her. All she did is gave me a weight limit to keep to – if you keep to this (certain) weight – you can come to practice (if not, then don’t). Marina is that kind of coach, she will not beat around the push with the athlete. It took me a while to get it.
This is absolutely heinous. Weighing a student every day and making them afraid of the scale? These idiots clearly have no concept of the term "natural weight fluctuation". Punishing her for not making some number on the scale by not allowing her to skate? Encouraging a state of mind where a skater would think that doing something so incredibly dangerous is a good idea?

What is the food available in Russia like? Is it very different? I remember reading Elena Ilinykh saying she experienced the exact same issue as Victoria is describing.
Only the Australia-USA comparison here, but seriously USA, lay off the fcuking sugar and corn syrup. My god. I almost threw up the first time I had American bread. And Americans destroy their meat.
 

TAHbKA

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What is the food available in Russia like? Is it very different? I remember reading Elena Ilinykh saying she experienced the exact same issue as Victoria is describing.
Yes, it's very different. It's not that the food in Russia is special, it's the food in the USA that is terrible.
 

believed

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All she did is gave me a weight limit to keep to – if you keep to this (certain) weight – you can come to practice (if not, then don’t).
How is anyone here trying to downplay this by saying that it could be worse/not as bad as other places? It’s still bad! This part in particular, but every other bit is just as horrifying.
 

Mad for Skating

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Excellent interview! I have several points to consider here.

1. I'm not pleased at all to hear about the weight situation. In general, I think figure skating is utterly weight-obsessed in general, and it's just not good for the skaters. Usually I don't have a problem with Marina, but in this situation, I don't agree with her methods at all.
However, I do think the mentality about weight is different in Russia. I have some Internet friends from Russia who talk much more freely about their weight than my friends in America. So maybe it is a cultural difference. But still, it's a very bad idea to pressure a young girl that much about her weight, especially someone like Victoria who at the time struggled to stand up for herself.

2. I can relate to the part about always being mistaken for being younger! So annoying!

3. I feel bad that she is always being told she is not as good as Nikita. Maybe at first she had to catch up, like Bruno Massot had to catch up with Aliona Savchenko, but I honestly don't think she's that far behind him anymore.

4. I still am not sure if I believe her when she says Nikita never hit her, she was asked on the spot and her natural answer would be no. I guess we will never know about that incident, and I hope everything is all right.

5. I really like how she balances being a sweet girl and a tough competitor; she reminds me of Evgenia Tarasova that way.

6. "In our sport, they don't award medals for beauty." - I'm afraid I have to send this quote to Team Trainwreck ASAP...

7. As always, I love the Ksenia and Fedor compliments :D

8. Ugh, reading the part about Nationals really hurts. I don't know what else to say...I wish all the people who say she isn't as good as Nikita would read that part and think about it for a while. Victoria Sinitsina for solo ice dance!!!
 

zebraswan

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This is absolutely heinous. Weighing a student every day and making them afraid of the scale? These idiots clearly have no concept of the term "natural weight fluctuation". Punishing her for not making some number on the scale by not allowing her to skate? Encouraging a state of mind where a skater would think that doing something so incredibly dangerous is a good idea?



Only the Australia-USA comparison here, but seriously USA, lay off the fcuking sugar and corn syrup. My god. I almost threw up the first time I had American bread. And Americans destroy their meat.
I don't know anything about Canton, but in most cities of a reasonable size, there are plenty of choices for food that doesn't have corn syrup, empty carbs, hormones, GMOs, etc. You just have to know how to read a label and go to stores that sell natural foods (which includes most large supermarket chains - there's always a section for natural/organic items). I don't eat any of that garbage at all. Of course, Victoria is not a native English speaker, so I can imagine reading labels would have been more difficult in her case. And natural foods are generally more expensive - unfortunately it does get tougher to eat well if you are on a strict budget.

I can understand the importance of weight for skaters, but there are different approaches one can take that are not as extreme as Marina's. It's too bad that (some) coaches don't educate themselves first or have someone on their staff that can help the athletes make good choices and count calories without veering into highly unhealthy behaviors.
 

Viscaro

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First thing I thought is that wow Russian interviews are raw ! I've rarely read an interview where a skater opens so much.

Second Sinitsina comes across here as a very interesting person you wanna root for.

Third while I appreciate that she did not throw dirt on Zueva (that I like as a choreographer for what she's done with many top teams like the Shibs, V/M, D/W) I find like many other that the part about the weight is concerning. I thought with all the coaching expenses skaters had a least a health referent that would not give them a weight incentive, but a special diet and training exercices ? A health coach of some sort. Doesn't it exists at other training centers ?
 
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jeffisjeff

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And Americans destroy their meat.
Yes, all 325 million of us treat and eat our meat in exactly the same way. :rolleyes:

Honestly, you might consider thinking twice before making claims about the US and Americans. From your posts on this board, it is pretty clear that you don't know as much as you think you do. :lol:
 

SamuraiK

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Yes, a dozen posts on the subject certainly constitutes silence.
Read carefully, from that dozen there are only 2 posters actually complaining about the methods and the rest is either derivative stuff or actually trying to diminish the issue. If this were about let's say Eteri's methods for instance I bet we would already be in page 10.
 

VIETgrlTerifa

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To be fair to misskarne, Americans generally are fed heavily processed food and what we do to our meat for the most part is pretty bad. We don't have the same regulations that they have in the EU regarding how food is sold to their consumers (I'm assuming Australia would be closer to the EU in that regard given misskarne's opinion). That said, if you're one of the lucky people who has the time and resources to seek out alternatives, the food in the U.S. is quite wonderful. I've become a bit spoiled in that regard. I had to eat at a chain restaurant recently, and I was actually looking forward to it because it had been so long, and I bought something I thought was pretty classic (a steak) and gosh it was awful. I think my tastes has changed since I've become much more selective about what I eat. Again, it's because I could afford to and have the time to be selective. Most people can't do that.

Regarding what Vika said about eating the same thing she ate in Russia but gaining weight, I can definitely see that. I really do think the obesity problem in the U.S. really is some what linked to the quality of food in the ingredients themselves that is being sold to people as normal, not just portion size and the rate in which people eat, among other things.
 

barbarafan

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How is anyone here trying to downplay this by saying that it could be worse/not as bad as other places? It’s still bad! This part in particular, but every other bit is just as horrifying.
My mouth is still hanging open so I did not comment.
I had not read anything about Marina and unhealthy training for athletes. On the other hand Katia Gordeava has done seminars/lecture on healthy eating and sports and the danger of starving oneself and how she was always hungry. Wasn't Marina Katia's coach or was it only choreography? Tessa does not speak on any specifics in her career but she campaigning for proper nutrition for athletes.

Has anyone else ever said anything about starving and weigh-ins and threats at Canton?
 

Debbie S

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Has anyone else ever said anything about starving and weigh-ins and threats at Canton?
Tanith has talked publicly about her struggles with disordered eating, but never specifically mentioned anything about Marina. IIRC, around the time of the Igor/Marina split, someone somewhere (may have even been on another board) who I think was a skating parent, said they heard Marina was the one of the two who was obsessed with the girls' weight.
 

believed

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Has anyone else ever said anything about starving and weigh-ins and threats at Canton?
The problem with this is that it’s unlikely that the coaches would say they do this, as well as most skaters who were/are competing/still in their team. For example:

  • this 2010 NYT article is about Tanith finding skating easier after she and Ben moved from Zueva/Shpilband and to Linichuk/Karponosov and was advised to gain muscle but Z/S also say that they encouraged her to eat more because she was so skinny)
  • This 2007 GS article where Tessa denies that they’ve ever pressured her about her weight, but the article mentions that the Canton camp “acquired a reputation for keeping too close a watch on their girls’ weight.” Tessa has talked many times about the general pressures about her body and her weight in figure skating.
 
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Another Russian disparaging America,quelle surprise. Fortunately my comfortable fainting couch is always close at hand.

And Americans destroy their meat.
How vulgar. Not to mention disrespectful to our hardworking cattlemen.

I almost threw up the first time I had American bread.
I almost threw up the first time I had Australian licorice.

-BB
 
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Yehudi

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, around the time of the Igor/Marina split, someone somewhere (may have even been on another board) who I think was a skating parent, said they heard Marina was the one of the two who was obsessed with the girls' weight.
Ruslan Zhiganshin said in an interview that while Kustarova would put someone on a treadmill if they showed up to practice overweight, Igor’s attitude was “it’s your money, your problem” and that the skaters should know what to do to stay in shape.
 

Bigbird

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This interviewer is a genius. It leaves you utterly confused you can't tell whether she's genuine, utterly clueless or a heartless byatch. She and Katsalapov are like two sides of the same coin. I hope they have a better season than last.
 

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