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3 Jan, 2022 18:02

Russian figure skating queen Zagitova speaks on potential return

The reigning Olympic figure skating champion spoke about her hiatus and shed light on her relationship with current star Kamila Valieva
Russian figure skating queen Zagitova speaks on potential return

Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova has shared her thoughts on a possible return to competitive action as well as her ties with the hot favorite for the gold medal in Beijing, Kamila Valieva.

Zagitova, 19, announced she would be taking a break from competitive action just over two years ago, having triumphed at the 2019 World Championships and winning gold at the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics.

While not formally declaring that she has retired, Zagitova has since focused on media work on Russian TV alongside her studies, as well as appearing on the ice at a series of exhibition shows. 

Speaking to the Russian-language version of the official Olympics website, Zagitova was asked whether she finds presenting duties as difficult as competing on the ice.

"It’s different," said the skating star. 

"As a journalist, it’s difficult for me to switch on exactly at the moment of work.

"But as an athlete you prepare for the Russian Championships or other competitions for some time, training.

"You go out [to compete], of course, with nerves. But all the same, your body does what you’ve already developed. And when you sit down with a microphone, everything’s unpredictable."

Zagitova admitted that she still gets the itch to compete when watching on from the sidelines, such as at the recent Russian Championships in December.

"To be honest, it’s still hard for me to watch figure skating, because you think: 'I could also perform', and you still experience the same sensations in your soul," said Zagitova. 

"When it takes your breath away, you get a feeling of euphoria, as if you go out on the ice yourself. It’s still hard for me to watch all this." 

But Zagitova was cagey when asked whether she was considering a return to competitive action, suggesting she was too out of shape for the major competitions but not ruling out the idea entirely. 

“No, of course [I still haven't officially retired]. At competitions like the Russian Championships, the World Championships, and others, I don’t compete because I don’t have the physical form, but I’d like to.

"I don't know [if I will return as an athlete or coach]. It was always interesting for me to train, but this requires a lot of nerves. We'll wait and see."

Zagitova was additionally broached on her relationship with Kamila Valieva, the 15-year-old prodigy and current Russian champion tipped to possibly succeed her as Olympic queen next month.

"We somehow became friends," said Zagitova.

"When I come to my morning workouts, she sits opposite me in the dressing room. In the evening I don't always manage to practice, there are some other things to do. [But] Kamila and I are in touch. 

"At the exhibition gala, I helped with the make-up on her face. 

"I'm pleased when people ask me for advice. It is always pleasant when you can convey some of your knowledge and experience, but, of course, not all [of it]."

"I won't give advice when I'm not asked," Zagitova answered, when pushed to name the most important tips she had given out.

"But I think that in sports I can say something 100%. It's just that each athlete is an individual, but whatever advice you give, it won't help [everyone] because people are different, everyone has their own path that needs to be traversed. 

"It was like that with me. You can listen to someone's advice, [and] take something out of it. But still your experience is better than someone else's."