Valieva reveals attitude to Olympics
Russian figure skating sensation Kamila Valieva says Olympic success is a career goal for any athlete but should not be “idealized,” as the young star said her “journey” is just beginning.
Valieva was at the center of the biggest scandal to emerge at February’s Winter Games in China, after captivating the with world with her performance in the figure skating team event only to find herself embroiled in a doping row.
After Valieva anchored the Russian team to gold, the pressure of the news of a positive doping sample taken back in December took its toll as the 15-year-old finished fourth in the individual event, despite being the odds-on favorite for the title.
Instead, Valieva watched on as countrywomen Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova claimed gold and silver respectively.
Valieva has since returned to the ice alongside Shcherbakova at an exhibition event in her homeland last month, being forced to miss the World Championships in France due to the suspension imposed on Russia because of the conflict in Ukraine.
The period since Beijing has offered time for reflection for Valieva as she spoke to PeopleTalk about her Olympic experience.
“There is no need to idealize the Olympic Games,” said the star. “For an athlete, this is certainly a career goal, but not the aim of [your] entire life. Sporting life ends sooner or later, so the Games should be treated more calmly.”
Valieva admitted that she had only truly begun to see figure skating as more than a hobby when she came under the tutelage of Eteri Tutberidze.
The renowned Russian coach faced her own scrutiny in the row which erupted when Valieva returned a positive result for banned heart drug trimetazidine based on a test taken when she won the Russian Championships back in December.
Valieva’s team have maintained her innocence, pointing to possible contamination from medicine her grandfather was taking, and noting that she repeatedly returned negative samples before and after the positive one – including at the Beijing Games.
Questions have also been raised as to why the WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm took so long to report the result, returning it only after Valieva had already helped Russia to gold in the team event in Beijing.
The case continues to be investigated by the Russian anti-doping authorities, with WADA expecting the process to be concluded by mid-August.
A decision also needs to be made on whether the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) will remain as gold medal winners in the team event which Valieva competed in.
Meanwhile, Valieva said her “journey is just beginning,” adding: “So much more can and should be done! I think that all the most interesting is ahead.”
When asked about her character, Valieva described herself as something of a typical teenager.
“I can be cocky, obnoxious, stubborn, insecure. But I understand that these are difficulties of growth, and I try to cope with it. In fact, I am a sociable, cheerful, active and, of course, a romantic girl,” said the reigning European and Russian champion.
“On the ice, the coaches see me in lyrical images. They probably work for me. But I really want to be different in programs: a hooligan, funny, daring, bold.”
The figure skating careers of women’s stars can be notoriously short, although Valieva admitted that she had not given much thought to life after professional competition.
“At the moment I don’t want to think about it. Most likely, it will be close to figure skating: ice shows, modern dances.”
When asked about learning from her “mistakes and failures,” Valieva said she “tries to treat them philosophically.”
“It’s great, of course, to win all the time, and every athlete strives for this,” said Valieva, who holds world record points tallies for her short and free skate routines.
“And failures make you stop, think and understand what was not enough for you to win, so that you can then start working on problems.”
A major question hanging over Valieva and her fellow Russian stars is whether they will be able to compete once the ISU season resumes, with the organization announcing on March 1 first that all Russian and Belarusian skaters would be banned from its events until further notice.