the snowball crushes you, then you get the shovel and start digging”
and European bronze medalist Mikhail Kolyada will remember the recent Russian
National Championship for a long time. Just before the competition, the skater
ended up in hospital and there was a big question whether he’d be able to
compete. But Mikhail went to Saransk, took the silver medal, qualified for the European
Championships and drew important conclusions for himself: take care of your
health, but when such a stressful situation arises, then learn to deal with
The Russian version of this interview has been published on the website of the Russian Figure Skating Federation here.
Q: Misha, you already have gold and silver medals from Russian
Nationals. If you compare them, which place does this silver medal have for
A: I don’t know, I
somehow didn’t even think about that. I just knew what I had to do and I did it
and that’s it. Somehow like that.
Q: So tell us what all happened. You were training for Nationals at home
and on Thursday, exactly a week before the Men’s short program at Nationals, you
started to feel unwell…
A: Yes, it already
started slowly. On Thursday on the evening practice I felt something was not
right, I was off, although everything was fine in the morning. And Friday
morning I already went to the hospital.
A: I woke up in the
middle in the night and felt that I am somehow really not well. I got up,
rinsed my nose, put drops in my ear and it didn’t help. I realized that I have
to go to Russian Nationals and I can’t miss a day (of practice). And the news
that I had to stay in hospital just threw me off track. The doctor sent me to
the x-ray, they did the x-ray, she looked at it and said: ‘That’s it, you have
stay here’. I told her: ‘I can’t now, you understand, I cannot not go (to
Nationals).!’ There was a pause and she says: ‘Okay, I will go to see the
sports physician’. In this time I call the doctor that takes care of us and I
say, ‘they want to hospitalize me’ and he answers ‘if they say so, you have
to’. And I think ‘how can that be, I prepared, everything is good, the practice
was good… Apparently, because of these good practices I was able to pull off
these performances. There were some reserves and I was able to use them.
Q: How serious was your illness?
A: It was sinusitis.
They had to do a puncture. That is a very unpleasant procedure. Once the
numbing wore off and on that day when everything came out, everything hurt
terribly. I had come to the hospital by car, they already admitted me, chose my
room and I go to the doctor and ask ‘may I at least go home to get my things?’
She answers: ‘We do the procedure and then we let you go‘. They did it,
injected me with antibiotics, put the catheter on my hand and sent me home. I
went back to eat, took my stuff and returned to the hospital.
Q: How did you go home after that?
A: By car. In the
taxi, again, you never know. I had to isolate myself from people completely,
because my body is weak and I could catch anything. Therefore, I decided it is
better to drive in my car.
Q: Why did they want to keep you in hospital?
A: Because I was not
healed. They let me go on my own risk.
Q: On Monday you were released from hospital.
A: And on Tuesday I
already sat in the plane to Saransk.
Q: How was the flight?
A: The flight was
terrible. We had two flights – to Moscow and then from Moscow to Saransk. And
from Piter (St. Petersburg) to Moscow my nose was bleeding, on the take off and
landing everything hurt terribly, it was like the eyes were popping out of my
head. I didn’t know what position to take anymore. That was because of the
change of air pressure. And to Saransk it was the same. I arrived and I feel –
that’s it, I put cotton in my nose.
Q: But nevertheless you really wanted to compete.
A: Of course! I knew exactly
that even in this condition at the least the short I can skate. There were big
questions about the long. I decided after the short, if I skate the long or not.
We took the decision to skate, with an easier version and that was the right
Q: Did you think there
might have been any negative consequences?
A: You know, as they
say – ‘it is better to try and to regret than to regret not to have tried’.
Q: To compete or not was in the end your decision?
Q: What advice did your coaches give you?
A: They said –
‘everything depends on how you feel. They came to see me in the hospital. They
told me ‚you need to get treatment and not hang down your head.‘
Q: In your first practice it was obvious …
A: Oh, the first
practice was horrible! Probably, when you lie down and don’t do anything and
then you get up and go to work, you feel that way. And there is physical
exercise, you feel that. They put me from horizontal into vertical position and
said ‘skate’. Then on the second and third day it was better and I started to
feel the ice better.
Q: You said, you felt very strange…
A: Yes, my head was
spinning. I was in that condition, somehow sluggish. When they released me from
hospital, I had even trouble talking. That is, I was thinking, before saying
something and I spoke slowly. Apparently that was some kind of reaction on the
Q: But your illness wasn’t sudden, it had been dragging on for a while.
A: That’s just the
point, in Zagreb I already had a running nose. But a running nose is just a
running nose. Then I returned home, it became worse. I’m thinking – ‘well, it
happens, I caught a cold, a draft.’ And then on Thursday suddenly pus came out
and that was it. In August I had a similar situation (sinusitis), but then they
just gave me antibiotics. I took them, I felt better and it was dismissed. I wasn’t
in hospital. And then this situation.
Q: Well, the immune system of athletes at this level is always at the
limits because of the constant physical strain.
A: The immunity is
suffering a lot. The better your physical form, the lower you immunity.
Therefore, Björndalen, the biathlete, has a whole team, a whole bus full of
stuff. I read or I heard that when he arrives somewhere and sees a carpet, he
asks for it to be removed, because he has an allergy and he can’t breathe
normally. Asthmatics … they address this question in a more detailed manner.
What we are not doing. You need to be more careful with your health.
Q: You really wanted to compete at Nationals, because you wanted to
qualify for the team?
A: Of course, this is
the starting point for Europeans and Worlds and I had to go through it. I am actually very happy with how it went: everything that doesn’t kill us makes us
stronger. In people is so much more what they don’t even imagine. I think
indeed I somehow switched my mindset, I didn’t think about Russian Nationals, I
didn’t stress myself out with extra thoughts … That is, I left the hospital and
I didn’t know what would happen. It was just interesting for me to watch myself
like from outside – if I manage, good. If I don’t manage – that means there is
room for improvement. Actually, there always is room for improvement. It was a
kind of I wouldn’t say painful, but useful experience.
I don’t wish to anyone
to go through it. But this allows you to open some reserves within yourself
which gives confidence. Suppose, my situation with my foot: it hurt a lot, but
I remember that it was worse then.
Q: When you broke your ankle in August 2014?
A: Yes. I stayed in
figure skating nevertheless and I am still existing in it now. That means, you
can go through that!
Q: So some of the problems in your other competitions … Many are saying,
Misha does everything in practice but he cannot pull himself together in competition,
he is not ready psychologically and so on. Maybe the main reason was after all
in problems with your physical condition due to the not completely healed
A: Maybe, I didn’t
think about that yet, but maybe. Because it is like a snowball: at first a
little bit, it is still okay, tolerable. Then – it becomes more and more, you
realize that it is hard for you, but you still manage somehow, you forget about
it ‘oh, it’s working, great’. And then, when this snowball crushes you and
you realize that’s it, you can’t get out, then you take the shovel and start
Q: Well done!
A: Thank you. Returning
to the stress situations: I didn’t know what will be, I didn’t know how I will
feel, I didn’t even want to think about that. I knew that it would be hard,
that’s it. So I prepared myself for grueling, hard work. I didn’t set the goal
to get the stars from the sky, I needed to do the minimum program. With the
minimum program I almost coped.
Q: Yes, you did very well, except for that one fall on the Lutz.
A: There, to be
honest, going back to the program – my consciousness was starting to fade away,
I don’t even remember a lot how all that happened. That is, in the footwork I
skated and half of it I now just can’t remember. There is a curtain…
Q: Isn’t that scary?
A: Something similar
happened to me in Boston, at the World Championship … But there it was a bit
different. I was exhausted and emotionally I started to somehow deliver. There,
my consciousness also started to play a little. And I think – ‘how is that
possible?’ But as it turned out, it is possible. I felt something
similar. That is, I realized that I got high from being tired. That probably
sounds paradoxical for normal people?
Q: But after the free, you felt not good.
A: I felt terrible! Who
came to me, said something, I don’t remember that at all. We went to TV, they
did an interview, I don’t even remember what I said, not at all. I was in such
a condition that I couldn’t even focus, my vision was blurry. And then, when
they took me to the anti-doping control, I saw stars, spots …
Q: Well, yes you were really out of breath ..
A: It never has been
as bad, in general. Although the elements were quite easy. During the normal
training process that isn’t a big workload. The set of elements that I did is
not that hard for a figure skater. But considering the circumstances, it was
Q: There are about three weeks in between Russian Nationals and Europeans
and you had time to recover. How are you now?
A: I returned home to
Piter, got healthy, started to train after New Year. I’m preparing … Before I
got sick, I skated my free program with three quads – Salchow and two toes. I
think in Minsk I’ll skate that version. At the beginning of the season I said
that this is my construction kit. That is, I tried this, I tried something else
and I felt what I can do and what I can’t do and I chose a final version. I
like it and I can do it and need to do it!
Q: Thank you very much and all the best for you. See you in Minsk.
Tatjana Flade for figureskating-online.com and fsrussia.ru