Stanislava Konstantinova was the least well-known of the Russian ladies competing at the European Championships. She seemed more mature as well, compared to teammates Alina Zagitova and champion Sofia Samodurova. She didn’t make it to the podium in Minsk, finishing fourth, but the 18-year-old delivered the second-highest scoring free skate of the event.
She took time to sit with NBCSports.com/figure-skating at the conclusion of the European Championships to explain how her late-blooming on the ice nonetheless enhances her maturity, and even could contribute to a longer-lasting career.
You were wonderful in your “Anna Karenina” free skate, but 11th in the short program. You also had to make up ground at Grand Prix France. Does that happen often?
No, not at all! I’m really upset with my short program in Minsk. I want to apologize both for my skating and my behavior, as I couldn’t find the words for the media. I’ll have to improve on this also [Editor’s note: Konstantinova declined to make any comments as she left the ice after the short program].
Legendary coach Tatiana Tarasova, who was commenting for Russian television, said that in her opinion you didn’t do to your short program only to skate, but to win. Did you feel the same?
Yes, I agree with this. I understand that I can be on the top, but I need to be more confident in the process. For me, failing in the short program was a real pity. I was not prepared for this. I came to Minsk to win. I’ve shown good results in the past, and I hope I can repeat them soon.
You once said that you were a late bloomer. What impact does it have on your skating career, in a country where wunderkinds seem to be the norm?
I’m not competing to hit the top for a short period of time. I’m competing to express myself and to show myself embracing a whole career, not to show myself as a baby skater or a wunderkind. I’m interested in a career like that of Alexei Yagudin’s. This is one of the advantages I have, being more mature. I understand more how I can express myself, not only showing elements but also displaying my choreography and what I have inside of myself during a performance.
I started to skate late, it’s true. In fact, I didn’t even start skating to become a good athlete. I was in a group of children who skated to be healthy. When [coach Valentina] Chebotareva saw that I had some potential, when I was 9 years old, she started working with me. I was then included into her team.
Sometimes I worry about the fact that I didn’t start skating at a younger age. But that’s also good, in a way, because it allowed me to mature.
I now have the strong intention to keep developing and bettering myself. I don’t think I’m old! But there’s no way my career could be like all the other girls who started to skate so early.
You are skating alongside Mikhail Kolyada in Chebotareva’s team. Both of you missed one of your two programs – you, the short, and he, the free. What does your coach say?
That’s quite a coincidence! I definitely need to change this situation (she laughs). Our coach is soft. She doesn’t say bad things. I’m grateful that she considers us as adults. We respect each other in the team – myself, the other skaters, our coaches. We have a great working atmosphere. Our coaches find the right words for me.
Your free skate was also very mature, and maybe that added to the support you received from the audience?
I’m glad people support me. I want to make them happy through my performance. This is my way to thank them.
Do you think you will be selected for Worlds? [Editor’s note: The Russian Federation has not yet announced their picks for the world championships in March, but will likely do so soon.]
The Russian Federation didn’t ask me for a place to achieve in Minsk. But it was important for me to take a good placement. For sure Russia has excellent skaters, and they can decide to replace me in the team. This doesn’t disturb me. It’s like competition – it’s good for me.
Securing a podium spot might have eased the Russian selection for Worlds, but before anything else it would have been good for me to be on that European podium. Now it belongs to the Russian Federation to take the results and make a decision.
What will be your next outings?
Now I’ll be preparing for the Universiades [Winter World University Games] in early March. My goal will definitely be to skate two clean programs.
Will you take your revenge there?
I don’t think it will be a revenge, as I’m always glad to compete and represent Russia. To go to the Universiades is a big honor for me. It will be a question of honor for me to show a good performance there. If it is a revenge, then it will be a revenge for myself to show good skating.
This European Championship was a failure for me. But it gave me the experience of competing at a higher level than I used to. It’s a way for me to grow.
Do you plan to learn other jumps, like quads?
I already tried quads and triple Axels, but I’m not working on them at the moment. It’s very dangerous, and actually not professional, to learn a quad during the skating season. It’s too risky. You have to think of learning harder elements later after the competitive season is over. I think I will work on triple Axel.
Are you on social media networks? What do you think of it?
It depends on my mood! My sports psychologist advised me not to go on social networks during the competition. I did close myself off during the European Championships, until the free program was over. After that I started answering the questions I had received again.
Do you have other endeavors, besides skating?
Yes, I love drawing. I make paintings of my own costumes. I like to view how I will be dressed. I participate in the making. I hope I can develop in this aspect.
Konstantinova does speak English, but she elected to give her answers in Russian. Her words were translated in English by Irena Zakurdaeva, a media coordinator in Moscow.
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