Adian Pitkeev: I like to hear that sound when you dig into the ice with your blade

Adian Pitkeev, 15, won the silver medal at the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Championships 2014 in Sofia, Bulgaria

Q: You moved up from seventh place to the podium. How do you feel about that?

A: I think that is cool. This turned out to be a quite dramatic championship. I don’t think that happens so often and I am basically pleased. Of course, the loop let me down (in the short program). I should have been more focused going into it.

Q: You were upset after the short program, but how did you pull yourself together to skate so well in the free skating?

A: I was really mad at myself first of all. Therefore I had to do all my jumps as they should be done including the loop. I was very happy when I landed it. After that I really was in the zone, but there were just two jumps left.

Q: What did you think during your performance?

A: Nothing really, I just thought that after the loop I have to mark the success (he pumped his fist).

Q: This was your first World Junior Championship. What did you learn from this experience?

A: First of all that you never should give up. That’s it basically.

Q: It was a successful season for you.

A: Well, yes, but I didn’t really win anything. I was second in the (Junior) Final and here. I am pleased with it overall. The most important thing for me is to skate clean. I am not happy with my short program (at Junior Worlds), and I actually don’t like that program (“At Voland’s Ball”) so much. I didn’t have time to change it during the season. It is not that I don’t like that music, I am fine with it, but it is not the same as the free skating (“Art on Ice”) for example. I love to skate to it and I feel totally at ease with it.

Q: Let’s talk a bit about your background. How did you start figure skating?

A: I was watching a video of Alexei Yagudin’s triumphal performance and I said I want to do the same one day. My mother took me to the ice rink half a year later, because I was only three and a half years old when I said that. When I was four years old I was on the ice for the first time. I didn’t really do anything until I was ten years old (laughs).Well, it worked for me, but I wasn’t trying too hard. Only when I was about 12 years old I started to do at least something, and with this season I realized that I really need to do something, and this is the result.

Q: What was the key moment for you when you realized that you can achieve something in the sport?

A: It wasn’t just that I realized that I can achieve something, but that what I can do best will be hard for others to learn. So I know how to do some things and it works and I decided that I can add to this and I believe that it will lead to a result.

Q: You were very young when you watched the video of Yagudin, but do you remember what attracted you to figure skating?

A: I don’t know. Just my mother showed it to me and I wanted to do figure skating. I didn’t want to play hockey or soccer. They wanted to put me into soccer, but I didn’t like anything else, I got hooked on figure skating. When I decided obviously it was just because I wanted it.

Q: What did you like about skating when you started?

A: Actually nothing, I wanted to leave the ice as quickly as possible, go home, play with toys. At that age obviously I didn’t really understand what I was doing.

Q: Why did you continue then?

A: I wasn’t interested in anything else. I wasn’t interested in school. And this (skating) didn’t really interest me either. My dad wanted to put me into soccer when I was seven years old, but my mother said no. I heard this only about half a year ago. My dad wanted me to play soccer, he is a big fan.

Q: Do you have brothers and sisters or other athletes in the family?

A: No. My father practiced karate as far as I know for some time. When he was getting bad grades at school, the teachers said he has to focus on studying and his parents agreed, so he stopped training.

Q: Where did you start skating? In the same club where you are now?

A: No. I started out in a school closer to my home. As Eteri (Tutberidze, coach) told me she asked my former coach if I could join her group. I was shocked when I learned that. I thought that she got interested in me only when I started to train in her group, but it turned out she was interested even before that. This is how I ended up in her group and I don’t regret it. I have been training with her for about four or five years.

Q: You are training in a very strong group now with Julia Lipnitskaia and Sergei Voronov. How do you feel in this group?

A: It is always very motivating when such professionals are skating with you, when there is a person skating with you that you are looking up to like Seriozha (Sergei Voronov). I wasn’t really following skating until I was 15 years old, but I once saw Seriozha and I liked how he was skating. I don’t always understand why he gets low scores, I just like the way he skates.

Q: What do you like best in figure skating?

A: The expected answer would be jumps, but I like just the skating itself. I like it when I am gliding on an edge and I like to hear that sound when you dig into the ice with your blade. I enjoy skating, I also like jumps, especially doing jumps from unusual entries. I experiment in practice with this. Maybe one day I’ll show something. This season I sort of grew up and pay more attention to figure skating. At the beginning of the season Evgeni Plushenko was the authority for me, but then I reconsidered and I understood that jumps should not be rated higher than skating skills and spins. The jumps should not be the most important thing, everything should come together. Maybe the jumps are little bit better or a bit worse, but if you just jump and can’t do anything else, you won’t get any result.

Q: What don’t you like in the sport?

A: I like everything more or less, there is nothing I don’t really like. Well, maybe the forward cross-overs (I don’t like so much). Sometimes they make us doing cross-overs in circles and this I don’t like, but it happens very rarely. It is tiring.

Q: What are your goals in the sport?

A: I think everybody has the same goal – to become Olympic Champion one day. I don’t like to look too far ahead, I just think you have to do your job and the judges will put you into one place. You are not giving yourself a placement.

Q: How was it for you to watch the Olympic Games in Sochi?

A: I was very surprised, because at the Olympic Games many strong skaters unfortunately did not show a good, clean performance. I respect Denis Ten a lot for being able to pull himself together after the short program. Maybe he didn’t have the most difficult content, but he skated absolutely clean.

Q: He did a quad, though.

A: (smiles) Yes, but others do three or two quads, but they weren’t able to pull it off. For Denis, the jumps and the skating skills and spins are on one level.

Q: I remember seeing Denis for the first time when he competed in his first Junior Worlds in 2007. He did not reach the final, but it was still obvious that he is very talented.

A: Actually often skaters, especially the men, can’t win in juniors, but they become successful later. Alexei Urmanov I think didn’t win Junior Worlds and still became Olympic Champion. And Patrick Chan didn’t win Junior Worlds. I don’t want to say that if you won Junior Worlds this is the end of your career (laughs). I just want to say that winning Junior Worlds is not the most important thing in life. I think this is just one step in your development.

Q: What is your character like?

A: I think you can better judge my character from the outside. I am actually a funny person.

Q: Funny? You seem always so serious!

A: (laughs) I am just shy around strangers. But when I am with my friends, I am opening up. I only trust my very good friends. I trust them in the sense that if I am maybe saying something not right nobody will know about it or if I do something silly they won’t tell anybody.

Q: You are doing something silly?

A: I might scream very loudly. I might do a lot of things actually.

Q: Really? You seem so timid and quiet.

A: I was educated that way. In public, you have to be quiet and talk only when you are addressed. But sometimes I let myself go, but only with friends. When I am with my friends, I am in a good mood. I am actually always in a good mood. When I am with my friends, I relax and I have fun.

Q: Are your parents very strict?

A: My dad is quite strict. My mom is sometimes strict. The parents are always right, or maybe not always. (smiles)

Q: You said you don’t like to go to school, but you are still in school, aren’t you?

A: Yes, I am going to school and I have to pass some exams. I was shocked that just before Junior Worlds my algebra teacher told me that school has to be my main focus in life now and that I should push figure skating aside in order to concentrate on school and attend classes. I manage only to go to one or two classes. I leave the house at 8 in the morning and I come back at 10 at night. I just don’t have time for school.

Q: The three Russian girls that were in the press conference at Junior Worlds said that they are home schooled, but you attend regular school?

A: My parents are for some reason against home schooling. They say it is difficult. I don’t know, I haven’t tried it yet.

Q: What is your favorite subject in school or isn’t there any?

A: When I am studying something, for example algebra, I do it well. But my schedule is so that I can’t attend algebra or geometry and all these subjects that I could learn. I only attend the ones that I don’t like at all. I don’t like physics, it is not interesting for me. I like geography, but I don’t get there often. I get to attend chemistry, which I don’t like. Russian is easy for me. I don’t know the rules at all, but my grammar is correct as far as I know. When I am writing something in social networks I basically don’t make mistakes. I am always writing correctly and I don’t have any problems with that.

Q: If you were sent to an isolated island and could take three things, what would you take?

A: I don’t know! That is a very difficult question. Mhm. I think no matter what I take I wouldn’t get away from it, so it wouldn’t make a difference.

Q: What do you enjoy to do in your spare time?

A: When my friends have time to go out, I always try to go with them. When it doesn’t work, I have to do something for school. Sometimes the second half of the day is free, but my friends don’t have time so I have to sit at home and it bores me to hang around like that. My friends are other skaters from the rink.

Q: Where do you like to go for vacation?

A: Wherever it is nice. I prefer the sea, although I don’t like swimming in the sea. I only swim in the swimming pool. I am choking on saltwater all the time, not because I can’t swim properly, I can swim, but when I learned swimming I did not breathe in the right way and got water in my mouth all the time. Therefore I just can’t swim in saltwater. And also it is usually quite dirty, that turns me off as well. I can’t swim in dirty water.

Q: Thank you for the interview and all the best for the future!

Interview by Tatjana Flade