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Adelia Petrosian: “Everything doesn't happen the way I plan anyway”

Adelia Petrosian, 16, is the new Russsian Ladies Champion. She took her first title after coming fifth a year ago. Petrosian, who trains in the school of Eteri Tutberidze, has landed the quad flip, toeloop, loop and triple Axel in competition. She is the first woman to have successfully performed the quad loop (at national events in Russia). Adelia would be old enough to compete at the international senior level.

Adelia, you called winning this championship one of the highlights of the year. How unexpected was this result for you?
A: I guess I didn't expect to come here in such a bad shape because I didn't have a triple Axel in the short program and I wasn't very confident in the free skate. The day before the free program was quite good, I didn't seem to miss a single flip. I expected to do the flip for sure. And when I fell from it, you know, it was like the world collapsed. I thought, that's it.

But you pulled yourself together.
A: I was surprised. I was going for the first toeloop, I thought I'd probably jump. And then I got to the second one, and my legs were shaking. I'm glad I did it.

What did you learn about yourself in this competition?
A: That I can pull myself together in critical situations like this. Basically, at the last Russian Championships, the free skating program was very similar. But I like critical situations in general. When something goes hard, I usually do better. But I wanted it to be always clean and smooth, not these ups and downs.

What does this victory mean to you?
A: Of course, I really wanted to win and I was going for it. I'm very pleased that I was able to win this competition. Hopefully this will help me to move on and work harder.

At the press conference after the short program, you complained that the triple Axel was gone. Can you explain for those who don't know much about figure skating what that expression means: the jump is gone?
A: It's different for everyone, but in my case I start to skate around a lot, I can't get on it. It's purely my problem, my issue. First I go in for a really long time, then I don't go in at all, and then just that jump starts disappearing and I feel like I can't get it.

Was the reason for that related to your physical fitness or mental state?
A: I think it was physical. And a little bit psychological, especially in the last week when I was starting to get nervous. But it was physical. It didn't go the way I thought it would. Now we will work after the New Year. I hope that the victory at the Russian Championships will give me new strength. When I feel well, the jump usually appears.

In your case, is it about specific jumps that come and go?
A: It concerns the quadruple loop and triple Axel. When it's harder for me than usual, those jumps are more difficult.

How do you react to what is written about you in the media? At the beginning of the season there were different statements.
A: At that time, I didn't know yet what kind of shape all the other girls would be in, Sonia Akatieva, who unfortunately is now recovering from an injury. I didn't know how the others would get their jumps together, including the triple Axel in the short program, because it gives a lot (of points). So there was no confidence that everything would work out this way for me. I just turned off all these thoughts. Everything doesn't happen the way I plan anyway.
I do not read anything, do not react to what is written and said. Every man has his own way, his own destiny. If you are given to win, you will win. Inside myself I realize that I need to be in a special shape for the most important start of the season, and I was not in this shape. Hopefully, I will be at other competitions.

This season you have new programs: the short program to Michael Jackson is rhythmic and exciting, the free skating to “February” is lyrical. Did you want such different programs?
A: I wanted a dance program, I asked the coaches, and they chose Michael Jackson. I've wanted lyrical music for three or four years. I realize, of course, that I'm not doing it quite as well as I'd like. I find it easier to perform captivating, sharp, clearer moves when the music is rhythmic. But here (in the free skate) there is a completely new character. To do it right, I need to work on it. I don't always manage to combine the jumps and the choreography that is set to this music. When I just listen to "February", there are too many emotions that do not come out on the ice, because I am calmer and can immerse myself in this music. And on the ice after the missed jump in the free skate I was skating with a feeling: where am I, what am I, did I jump, am I standing, am I not standing? I was in another world for the first part of the program.

But that's for this particular competition, but what about training?
A: Training is different every day anyway. Some days you're too tired and you're like you're carrying a weight. And sometimes it's easy, you manage to finish all the movements. I'd like to have more days like that.

If you like rhythmic music, is the short program music closer to your personality?
A: I guess so.

Why did you want a lyrical program?
A: Because I've never done a lyrical program, and I really like it. I can do a much better program with this music on the floor than on ice. My hands are softer, and somehow I can let myself go more with my body. But on ice, I start to tighten up. I didn't expect such a difference between the floor and the ice.

But, good for you, it's like a challenge. Did you plan from the very beginning, from the moment of building the program, that the free skate would have such a difficult content with three quads?
A: Initially, I really wanted the quadruple flip, because I had it that year and I expected to be able to put it together. The flip was in there right away. The flip and the toeloop. And then, when the form started to build up, we added another quadruple flip or toeloop.

Eteri Georgievna (Tutberidze) and Daniil Markovich (Gleikhengauz) choreographed the program, did they suggest the music?
A: Of course. Daniil Markovich opens the computer with Michael Jackson's music in it, and I see a man in a shiny hat standing there, and suddenly the beat to "Billie Jean" starts. And I'm thinking, "Hoo, hoo, I'm gonna to skate on this!"

It was great! By the way, you did a k-pop number with Zhenia Semenenko at the exhibition gala, which is also new for you in terms of style.
A: We already did that at Eteri Georgievna's show. Originally, only Sonia Akatieva and Zhenia Semenenko were supposed to do it. And I don't remember how I got into that.  I think Eteri Georgievna suggested it, or maybe Zhenia asked: "Do you want to join us?" I said: "Let's do it." And two hours before the show I quickly learned all the moves. The first time, of course, it was terrible. But that's just for me when I watched afterwards. We were skating apart from each other, I was in a hurry. And then it got better. Sonia and I even had the same T-shirts and caps. We were like dolls. For Zhenia Semenenko, k-pop is his theme. He loves this music very much, feels it, and loves anime.

We all want to be something when we're kids. What was your dream?
A: I wanted to be a lot of things. When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a hairdresser, and I wanted to sell vegetables. That's probably the weirdest thing. Then I wanted to be a coach. Now I'm wondering if I should be a choreographer or a coach. More of a choreographer, mounting programs. I don't have any coaching experience, of course. And my mom said to me: "You can't sit in one place and coach with that kind of temperament."

What attracts you to coaching and choreographing?
A: I like to give directions. I don't know if it sounds corny, but I like to give advice and see how a person does it. It feels good. You think, "Well, I did it. Thanks to me, he succeeded." My grandmother is a teacher of Russian language and literature.

Maybe this is where it comes from. How would you characterize yourself in three words? What are you really like? And what would you like yourself to be?

A: Too emotional, too energetic, too fast. I'd like to be more calm, more confident. That's what's missing.

But from the outside, you seem very confident.
A: Really? You have no idea what I think about before the program. I was on the bus, and I was looking at my phone to distract myself, and then I put it away and my legs started shaking. I'm thinking I'm not going to make it, I'm going to crash, I'm going to fail, I can't do anything.

It's a learning curve that comes with experience.
A: I guess. I wish. My coaches and my mom taught me from childhood how to be in public, not to show negative emotions in the competition.

You recently moved to a new rink. How do you like it?
A: Initially, it took a little longer to get from the locker room to the choreography room. Not to mention the off-ice preparation room, which is on the second floor. Now we're all getting oriented pretty quickly, moving quickly. I like that you can lock your little cupboard and the locker room. I like the gray shades everywhere. It's not annoying. Such a decent color, of course, picked by Eteri Georgievna. The stands are big. It was strange at first. Parents sit on the stands, ten people, and you can get lost while you find your mom. But I really like it.

Do you like the publicity, or are you more of a private person and be at home?
A: No, I'm a very active person. I like it loud in the audience. Although I hate loud harsh noises, but when the audience starts applauding, I really like it. That's weird, by the way. I've never thought about it... A firework goes off next to me, and I feel bad. At the exhibition gala, when the glitter was sprinkled on the ice, there was a sharp sound, and I just shuddered, I was scared. But when the audience is close to you, surrounding you in the hall, it's very cool.
I am often recognized in ordinary life, which is surprising to me. I'm on the bus: "Aren't you Adelia Petrosyan?" You think, "Yes, I guess so, Adelia Petrosyan. And everyone wonders how small I am. For the third year people have been asking me on social networks about my height of 140 centimeters. I'm 150.

Fire, water and brimstone are all right with you?
A: How's that?

It means to go through hardship and glory.
A: Apparently, fame has fallen on me so rarely that I don't even remember that expression. Sometimes you get tired, of course, when they ask for autographs. On the one hand, it's uncomfortable to refuse, because it's part of our work, and the attention of the audience is nice. On the other hand, it happens that your legs are cold, your hands are numb, because, let’s say, you fell down and they are frozen because of the water. You are fatigued, and when you don't give an autograph, people get offended, upset, and I apologize when I refuse. But I don't think I’ve got "star disease" (becoming arrogant because of fame) because in normal life I can be critical of myself.

What makes you happy?
A: The first thing that comes to mind is my dog, of course, who wags her tail, follows commands to get a treat, cuddles, sleeps with me. She is a Yorkshire terrier. Almochka. She looks like a mousy little thing. I love her. She's three years old now.

And aside from the dog?
A: Dancing. At this Russian Championships, I danced right before I competed. It took the edge off. I love dancing.

What kind of figure skater do you want to be?
A: In my dreams, of course, a figure skater who, in addition to jumps, glides beautifully on the ice, sits low in her legs. That would be beautiful.

What would you wish for yourself?
A: To be calm when things don't work out.

Interview: Olga Ermolina, Tatjana Flade; Photos: Tatjana Flade

The Russian version of this interview has been published here.