Mikhail Kolyada: „Hoping for others to make
mistakes is stupid“
Mikhail Kolyada (22) won his first Grand Prix
gold medal at Audi Cup of China and most likely has qualified for his
first ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final.
Q: Misha, right after the free skating you were
a little overwhelmed and didn’t really understand what had
happened. Has it now sunk in a little that you won?
A: Somewhat, yes. I don’t really remember
much from what had happened in the free skating.
Q: What were your emotions on the podium?
I had mixed feelings. I realized
that it wasn’t perfect and I knew there is something left to work
on and that this is not the maximum. And at the same time I was
pleased. It is hard to explain in two, three sentences how it was.
Q: Your short program was almost ideal with
a great quad Lutz, only the camel spin was not perfect. You cracked a
100 points for the first time, as the sixth skater in the world. What
does it mean to you?
A: We have worked a lot and achieved this. It
is very nice to see that we are going into the right direction. It is
clear what has to be done further that everything stays at a high
level. Such a skate where I landed everything, I didn’t have in a
while, even not in practice. So it is nice that I was able to pull
myself together even though there are quite a few strong competitors
at the Grand Prix. And I had to skate next to last (in the short).
But I was able to ride the wave, I was flying high. Probably like
Q: How did you prepare yourself mentally?
A: As usual. My state of mind was as usual,
there wasn’t anything new. I just went out as if it was a practice.
Q: Well, that is probably the right thing to
do. You have been in different situations before – you had a poor
short and then a good long, and the other way round. This time you
were in the lead after the short. How did you deal with that?
A: Indeed, I didn’t have yet more than 100
points in the short program before. That happened to me for the first
time. I never won the short program at a Grand Prix. I did once in
the Junior Grand Prix, but never in the senior Grand Prix. Obviously,
it was different for me to grasp, that I am first. It was difficult
to get into the right mindset, not physically, but to ride that wave
again. I didn’t quite do it in the long program.
Q: But you fought for it.
A: More or less I managed. But two popped jumps
– that is inexcusable. I left not a very nice impression.
Q: After doubling the Salchow you nailed the
triple Axel-triple toe, that was good.
A: I got really mad at myself, therefore I went
and I did it.
Q: What happened when you singled the second
A: I don’t know. You could name a thousand
reasons, but I think that it was a fleeting loss of concentration.
Yes, I did the quad (toe). Maybe I relaxed. Then this Axel brought me
to senses again. I thought – how much can you mess up?
Q: But everything else was good and you had
a level four for your spins and footwork.
A: Well, yes. Many athletes forget that except
for the jumps we have spins, footwork and other elements in the
Q: There was positive feedback from the
judges, because you have the complete package.
A: It is nice when judges come up and
congratulate. That means something.
Q: It looks like you are going to make the
Grand Prix Final. How do you feel about that?
A: I really like Japan and the Final will be
there. It will be another competition. Obviously, for me it is
unexpected, but I have to worm my way out of this situation. In order
to prepare as necessary, we need to change the training process a
little bit. I think it will be an interesting competition. If I make
it, then I’ll be in the Final for the first time. I never went to
the Junior Final, I only was a substitute. It will be interesting for
me to see how everyone is skating and I’ll try to keep up with
them. That will be useful.
Q: Did you dream about making the Final?
A: Deep inside I knew that one day this moment
will come. And when, if not now? For me, it is clear. I go there to
skate calmly. As for now, I realize it is very difficult for me to
compete for a medal. There is only the scenario that I skate great
and someone else makes mistakes. But to hope for that is obviously
Q: At the press conference you said that
Stéphane Lambiel helped you to get another vision of your skating.
Please elaborate on that.
A: Usually, when you have been working with
someone for a long time, you get used to it – everything is good,
you go forward. But when you get the opportunity to compare, because
everything in life is learned through comparison, then you start to
look at things from a different angle – as for the skating,
presentation, everything. That is like in school, when the teacher
says something and the children write it down and remember it. And
when they go to university, they are told ‘do you know, you can
prove that two and two is not four, but five’. And the kids say,
‘How come? For ten years we have been told that it is four’ –
and they hear ‘let’s have a look – it is like that and that’.
So the awareness is growing. The possibility comes up to look at some
things from a different perspective. In figure skating it is probably
the same. I have been working for a very long time with my coaches
and I did not have the opportunity to compare. After working with
Stéphane, I noticed a few things for myself that you can do it this
way or that way. And it still looks good. Working with Stéphane gave
me a different feeling of the blade and some different emotions. I
understood that I can skate not only fun programs, but also lyrical
ones. I really enjoyed working with Stéphane and I am very grateful
Q: Right now it seems that in men’s
skating there is no consistency, even not for the very top skaters
like Yuzuru Hanyu. Competition has become a lottery.
A: I can explain why this is happening. Before,
not so long ago, maybe 15 years ago, it was a little easier with the
jumps. You did one quad toe in the short and one or two in the free
and that was enough. And that is not that hard. I think that about 50
percent of the participants of the World Championships (2017) could
have dealt with this kind of program, but before only a few were able
to. Now, as people are including a lot of quads in their programs
plus difficult spins, footwork, transitions, choreography and so on
it is very hard to get it all together. Therefore it is a bit like a
lottery, yes. But that is intriguing. You look at someone and you
know he will skate clean with a triple Axel and five triples and
there is no suspense. But if someone does quads, you watch and you
think will he do it or not? This is the thrill of the competition.
Q: But it is not so interesting to watch
people falling all the time.
A: True. However, all the competitions until
New Year are more or less trials. People are trying things – Hanyu
tries the quad Lutz for example, Shoma tries the quad loop. Training
is so different from competing. At home in practice you can do (quad)
Lutz and loop in one program, but when you compete in front of a big
audience, it is completely different.
Q: You do quad Lutz, toe and Salchow. That
is already a lot, but do you think about learning another quad?
A: Five different quads won’t happen for me,
because my loop is quite bad and my flip is from the wrong edge. And
that’s it. I try to do in competition what I can do. I tried
honestly to fix the edge on the flip, but it didn’t work. I do the
flip from the outside edge. When I started skating, nobody really
paid much attention to that – flip is flip, Lutz is Lutz, okay. But
then the new judging system came and they started to look at it. When
I skated in juniors, one year the flip was the required solo jump and
I got the edge call in all national competitions and now all of
Russia knows that I have the wrong edge on the flip. Then I went
abroad and at Junior Worlds Alexander Lakernik said that it is the
wrong edge and now the whole world knows it. So I stopped doing the
flip in competition. In practice I can do it, but it is not a real
Q: You are always quite upset when you pop a
jump and you once said that popping jumps happens in the head – and
you compete the way you work.
A: Right. I did not work enough on the (quad)
Salchow and the Axel in the second half. I admit it is a shortcoming.
I will do more run throughs and I will practice parts of the program
Q: Sometimes when you pop a jump, it seems
like it is a little hard for you to move on. How can you overcome
A: True, it is sometimes like that. The best
way to overcome that is not to pop anything (laughs). Really, when
you go for the jump, you rotate and you fall, it is a different
feeling than when you pop. I can’t really find words to describe
this feeling exactly, but after a fall it is a little easier to get
yourself together and do the other elements than after a pop. Of
course, the minus is that it affects your breathing, but that is
another question. A pop is upsetting, it is inexcusable, I could find
Q: You seem to have a very good relationship
with your coach, Valentina Mikhailovna Chebotareva. Some athletes
argue with their coaches, but from the outside it looks like you
A: This is because we are searching for reasons
(for failure or success) not in one person. We understand that we win
together and we lose together. It is the result of our common work.
Obviously I realize a lot of things now and I know my mistakes, but
your coach is like your mentor who accompanies you in life, who is
always supporting you and knows what to do in a difficult moment to
make it easier for you.
Q: Is Valentina Mikhailovna a strict coach?
A: No, I wouldn’t say so. I don’t remember
her being outraged, ever. When I have the feeling that I need a kick
in the rear, I will go and tell her. I have nothing to hide from my
Q: How did you like
A: I liked Japan better. The
mentality of the Chinese is totally different. And also the ecology,
I guess. When you open the window in the hotel you do not smell fresh
air, but food. That is weird. It is difficult for me to say, because
I did not grow up in the Soviet Union, so I don’t really know, but
I think somehow it was similar. I can’t say that this is something
bad, I can only say it is unusual for someone who never lived under
Q: The season is still quite young, but you
have done already quite a few competitions. How do you feel you are
A: I feel that I am
improving with each competition and I feel like I am gaining slowly
more confidence. I am always a slow starter into the season. I say
honestly that I have prepared better, I am stronger, I have been
doing better run throughs and this whole season starts better. I have
worked more, maybe I thought about a few things and changed my
attitude a bit. With each competition it feels easier to do the long
program. I don’t notice any major changes in myself, but I feel
that we are going in the right direction.
Q: In Moscow you won your first Grand Prix
medal, a bronze. What did it mean to you?
A: It was nice (laughs). Sooner or later this
should happen. I had been waiting for this moment and I hoped for it.
I felt a lot of support from the audience and the coaches and I felt
Q: How do you like to compete in one event
with top stars like Yuzuru Hanyu?
A: To skate with such great athletes gives you
another feeling. When you skate in practice, always with the same
people, year in year out, it is an every day routine. But when you
get into this surrounding, you leave your comfort zone. It is unsual,
it is great and it motivates me a lot.
Q: Some others might be intimidated.
A: No, for me it is the opposite. I want to
overdo it, but I shouldn’t. As always the medium way is the best.
Q: Some skaters this season return to their
old favorite programs. You didn’t.
A: To skate the third year the same program? I
would not have survived that. Every day the same music, the same
motive – I had enough, I couldn’t have taken it anymore.
Q: So who had the idea to use Elvis Presley?
A: I suggested it. I said why not take Presley?
Olga Iurevna Kliushnichenko – our choreographer brought a few days
later a composition of different pieces and we picked what we needed
and decided to mount the program. I think that it suits me very well.
The singer is close to my temperament. I look at him and I understand
how he lived, what he felt. Obviously I am not a badass
rock’n’roller, but I can get the character and it is
understandable for me.
Q: Thank you for the interview and all the
best for the rest of the season.