Elena Radionova: „Maybe I'll be a
singer or an actress when I grow up“
Elena Radionova (13) has dominated the
Junior Grand Prix.
Q: You said your dad took you to figure
skating. Usually it's the mother...
Elena: My mother was even against it.
She said, it is too cold. But I had very weak legs, especially the
right leg, and my dad said he'll let me skate to strengthen my legs.
And so one thing followed the next, I started to do well and they
decided to leave me (in figure skating).
Q: Do you have other athletes in your
Elena:No, my dad tried out ice hockey,
football, swimming, everything a little bit when he was little. My
mother completed the music school and played the piano.
Q: Do you have brothers or sisters?
Elena: No, I am the only child in our
Q: You were very young when you started
skating. What are your first memories?
Elena: I don't remember at all how I
started. Some prominent events remained in my memory, when I was
little and skated poorly and also when I skated very well. These
bright moments I remember. I also remember exactly that in my first
competitions I took first place right away. I was maybe five years
Q: When did you realize that figure
skating is the right sport for you?
Elena: Obviously, you need to have a
great desire, but it develops by itself. I just go and work.
Sometimes it is not working and you want to stop, but then I tell
myself, no way, you have been skating for ten years already, you
dedicated half your life already to figure skating and then you
think, girl, work hard, you can do everything. My coach also helps
and supports me.
Q: But it seems everything is going
very well for you.
Elena: Yes, but it can happen, very
rarely, mostly during the summer when everybody is getting into shape
and I might not be at my best.
Q: When did you realize that you want
to be a champion?
Elena: I don't even know. Yes, I like
skating, but there was not a moment that I said, I want (be a
champion). Just one thing happens after the next. And of course it is
nice to be a champion, to win and to have a medal, not everybody gets
Q: Now you won your two JGP events and
the Final and you know the tast of victory.
Elena: To be honest, I haven't really
understood yet that I won. It felt like a normal competition, but
then I thought, wow, that's the Grand Prix Final, but actually all
these are just competitions. Right now I didn't have the feeling like
„wow, that's great“. I feel calmly about it.
Q: This is the first season for you to
compete in major international events. You competed in the Junior
Grand Prix events in France and in Austria and now here. How did you
Elena: It was a different level of
skaters. Not everybody can come here and it is more interesting to
compete. The audience is different, you meet different people, other
skaters. It is really interesting. Inside Russia it feels like you
know everybody, but here it is something new.
Q: Did you talk to the senior level
Elena: Yes, but so far only with our
(Russian) skaters. I got to know the pair skaters, the dancers and
single skaters. As for the foreigners, I don't really speak English.
So how can I talk to them?
Q: To whom of the senior level ladies
you really would like to talk to and why?
Elena: I would like to talk to Mao
Asada. I would like to ask her how Japan is like. I really want to go
to Japan one day, try Sushi. Japan and France are my favourite
countries, I don't know even why.
I love French croissants. I was for the
first time in France at the Junior Grand Prix event, but even more so
I would like to go to Paris. And for some reason I feel drawn to
Japan. It is interesting to see how the people are like. They are so
orderly, contained, really good people.
Q: What do you like most in figure
Elena: I don't even know what. I like
everything basically and I could say a lot. I never wanted to be a
ballerina or a gymnast. I always think that they are suffering a lot.
Figure skating is dancey and interesting and it is something special
on skates. The jumps are interesting. Ballett is also nice but not as
nice. In figure skating it is easier to achieve something, because in
ballett, there are a 100 people and you will stand in row 35 behind
the scenes. To become a prima ballerina is really tough. In figure
skating you have at least chances to skate, to perform in
competitions. The ones that don't jump well can go into ice dance or
pair skating, but where can you go in ballett? I like watching
ballett, it is beautiful, and also rhythmic gymnastics, but I feel so
sorry for them, they suffered so much when they were stretched.
Q: You are still going to school.
Elena: Yes, I'm in the 7 th
class. I am studying externally, meaning I am attending classes and
but not from eight to 12 or 15 like everyone else, but as much as I
have time. I study Russian, algebra, geometry, literature, history,
geography, physics, English, but I don't attend subjects like sport,
work, informatics, I only go to the main classes. There, I study like
the others and write two tests as well, but I am just coming to a
time that is convenient for me. I also study at home with several
tutors that come to my house, for Russian and English.
Q: What are your marks like?
Elena: I get 5s and 4s (5 being the
highest mark in the Russian school system) and I don't have 3s.
Q: What is your favorite subject and
Elena: I like algebra and geometry.
They come easy to me. I also like Russian, it is easy for me. I
understand the grammar rules. I can't say that there are favorite
subjects or subject that I hate, I am calm towards everything. When I
have to do it, I just have to do it.
Q: Your already famous hobby is writing
song verses. What do you do with them?
Elena: I have a notebook where I write
them, I write a line, I might cross everything out and start all
over. I like to work on that when I have time.
Q: What are your texts about?
Elena: About nothing, they are so
silly, just about something I might see, I see it and I start to
sing. It's interesting when I look at them again after a month I am
surprised and I think, wow, I wrot this. Maybe I'll be a singer when
I grow up, maybe something will come out of it. I really like music.
Q: Do you play an instrument?
Elena: No. Maybe I would like to try
drums, something with rhythm, but don't have time. I only have time
off on Saturday and Sunday and I want to relax and I also have to do
homework (for school).
Q: So what do you like to do to relax?
Elena: I have a dog that I love. I do
everything for him, what he likes, I dress him. He has a lot of
costumes. It's a yorkshire terrier. I get him all kind of clothes,
for summer and winter, T-shirts and so on.
Q: He is like your living doll.
Elena: Yes, he lets me do everything I
want with him. His name is Martel, but we call him Motchik. My mother
walks him in the morning when I am training, but I walk him in the
evening, I bath him. We share the work with my mother. In the morning
she wants me to sleep a little longer.
Q: What is your usual daily schedule?
Elena: I have ice time from 9.30, I go
and train 1 hour 15, sometimes I am going out on the ice again, when
Tatiana Anatolievna (Tarasova) is there or when we didn't get
something done I might go out on the ice again for half an hour, but
not always. I have a break and I rest for one hour, then I am on the
ice again from 14.15 or 15.15 for another hour and 15 minutes. Then
we have our regular (off ice) training. Monday we have nothing,
Tuesday we have stretching, Wednesday choreography, then again
Q: Where does the school fit in there?
Elena: When I have nothing else, I
straight after the first on ice training to school, until the second
Q: Do you live far away from the rink?
Elena: No. It's two stops on the metro,
but I go by car.
Q: You are skating on the same ice as
Adelina Sotnikova. How is your relationship like?
Elena: I have a good, friendly
relationship with Adelina. We don't spend our time together on the
days off, but we are socializing without any negativity. I like to
train with her. You go out and think, wow, cool, to skate with
Adlina. Not just cool, but you want to skate right away, you feel you
belong to this group, when she is there, I do even more and I even
jump better. When I am with others in a group that are a little
weaker than I am you are relaxing anyway.
Q: What goals do you set yourself for
the rest of the season?
Elena: I'd really would like to win the
Junior World Championships. Maybe it is possible to make the top
three, but I really want to win. And to be on the podium at Russian
Nationals (senior level). These are my most important competitions.
And competing in seniors next year, to try at least. I like to skate
with them. You watch them, they are skating better and faster than
you are, you are drawn to them, you want to be like them or even
better. My skating is still kids' skating, everybody according to his
age, I can't yet skate like them. I need to work more on my skating
skills. I am still small, I need to grow a little and it will look
different. They other girls grew up and they look different on the
ice, so graceful.
Q: What is your character like?
Elena: I never feel any malice towards
others, I never felt envy towards others. Thank God, I don't have
that terrible character trait. I am always composed and it is not
easy to surprise me with something. I think you can achieve
everything when you work hard for it and want it. I am a good natured
person. In some situations I might not want to give in and show a
fighting spirit. I don't think I have a negative trait in my
character. I can argue with someone, get loud, but then in five
minutes we'll make peace and everything is ok.
Q: Where do you see yourself in 5
Elena: All girls are growing in a
different way. I don't want to guess the future. Everybody has a
different organism. Someone gets over it easily, someone has a hard
time or might leave the sport.
Q: Do you have any dream what you'd
like to do after you finished your career?
Elena: I don't really know. Maybe I'll
be a singer or an actress or a coach or choreographer. Maybe I will
skate in a show if everything goes well. It is very hard to say now.
I don't have a specific dream what I'd like to do.
Q: It is obvious that you feel the
music very well.
Elena: Even when I was younger I felt
the music a lot. If it is very lyrical music I might start to cry,
because I feel it so strongly. There is a cartoon, „The little
mammooth“, when I was little and watched it I cried all the the
time and even now I can't watch it (a classical Soviet childrens'
cartoon about a mammooth that is looking for a mother). I feel sorry
for all the animals, the birds that killed, I feel sorry for the
homeless dogs, the puppies. I think sometimes I'd like to build a
home for them.
Q: What three things would you take to
an isolated island?
Elena: If I could I'd take a magic wand
so I am a magician and can have everything I need! I'd take water,
food that doesn't end and a sleeping bag.
Q: What is your favourite food?
Elena: Noodles with meat sauce, Beef
Stroganoff with buckwheat, and my mother makes a really good
mille-feuille. I can't eat the ones that are sold in shops anymore
after eating my mom's.
Q: Thank you very much and all the best
for the rest of the season!
Interview by Tatiana Flade
Coach Inna Goncharenko: „Lena's
strength are artistry and emotionality“
Q: For how long have you been coaching
Inna: I have been working with her
since she was four, now she is 13. I coached her from the very
Q: When did you notice her talent?
Inna: First of all she stood out
immediately. She picked up everything very fast and remembered it.
She was little and the most diligent in the group. She worked hard,
used her hand, her feet, did everything as told, a little, light,
thin girl, like a dandelion. She is still like this, like a little
Her talent was obvious right away. You
take children in your group, and she stood out. She understood
quickly, she remembered it, it was clear that she has talent. But to
guess right away how far it can go... I don't like to look so far
into the future. We take it day by day and work. When she was eight,
nine years old, it was obvious that she can do what is necessary.
Q: How does the high competitivness
among the Russian girls pushes Lena?
Inna: It really pushes a lot. If the
competition wasn't as tough, we would have skated an easier version
of the program. But so we changed it and made it more difficult. But
this is good for figure skating. The sport is developing, not only in
Russia but everywhere. I think one or two years ago we didn't have
such a high number of girls that could do the difficult jumps. A few
years ago, it was clear, who does a trile Lutz, will be the champion.
But now everybody is jumping everything.
Q: Where do you see Elena's strengths?
Inna: In order to be a leader in
singles skating, you have to stand out in something. I see her
strength in her artistry and emotionality. This sets her apart. Then,
on the background of her delicacy and lightness, she looks like a
little girl, a bird and suddenly she does the difficult jumps.
Q: Where do you see her weakness?
Inna: We will work on the spins. They
are good, the levels are good, but we want them to be even better and
want to make this side stronger. Maybe we'll work on adding more
power and speed to her skating. As she grows we need to pay attention
to this. Then, to try to develop her in different directions and to
take various themes for the programs.
Q: How do you describe her character?
Inna: She is a good-natured person, she
is very smart, she's got a clever mind, but she is sensitive, she might give in to her emotions, you
have to talk to her then she pulls herself together. She is a normal
youth, a girl.
Q: Who chooses her music?
Inna: I choose the music, but it is not
like that I insist on something. We always decide together. I can
make a suggestion, but we decide together. This year, Ilia Averbukh
helped. We have been working for many years with Elena Maslennikova
and she helped us as well and gave advice. Well, and this time Ilia
suggested the music for the free program. I didn't agree right away
and we looked a other choices, but finally we went for the contrast
between the short and long program, in order to show Lena from
different sides. She can the one and the other.
Q: And this is not childrens' music.
Inna: It is not childrens' music,
right, but we have our own story in the free program, about a bird
and the rain. At the beginning the bird is afraid of a thunderstorm,
but then the rain is over and the birds finds life is great and
dreams to fly to a wonderful country where justice and wealth reign,
there is a piece of the soundtrack „Country of the Deaf“ that
basically has the same theme. She has made it her own and the outcome
is what you saw.
Q: The short program „The Fifth
Element“, is completely different, it is a very modern music.
Inna: Yes, there she tries to embody an
alien being. We combined the music a bit, because we couldn't use
only the soundtrack as it is in Opera style and relies on vocals. If
it is just the soundtrack it is a little too dark and we didn't want
that but something more optimistic. We took it from the movie, I
think it is interesting for her age and also for the spectators, the
footwork at the end for example. She understands this music and feels
how she has to skate to it, therefore we took it. Obviously, we tried
it on the floor first and when we saw that she can do it, we used it.
Q: What do you think can Lena achieve
in the sport?
Inna: I think she can achieve the
highest goals in the sport at the World and Olympic level. We won't
make it to the next Olympic Games (as she is too young), and I won't
look to far into the future. But for this she needs to work, to work
and to work.
Q: In your group is also Alexander
Samarin, who was first substitute for the Junior Final.
Inna: I have ten children in my group
and they are all good. Time will tell what works out for them. The
youngst one is born in 2002 and the oldest one is born in 1998. They
are all close in age.