Translation in my blog with some lovely Irina pictures - http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/24714.html (link to original at the bottom)
Irina Slutskaya, a two-time Olympic medalist, two-time World champion, and a seven-time European champion of figure skating, is preparing to conquer the new and most important task in her life - this Fall, she'll become a mom. Unfortunately, the joy of the 28-year-old Muscovite and her husband Sergei Mikheev is marred by the yellow press gossip. In particular, Irina is alleged to have had an affair with a famous actor Konstantin Khabenski. What's more, the actor is even said to be the father of Slutskaya's baby. Finally, the famous athlete has talked to OK! to dispel the rumors once and for all.
It's all the journalists' cheap fantasies, says Irina. Each of those newspapers is more yellow than the next, really disgusting. I'd like to close the subject once and for all. Our paths with Khabenski never crossed, we hardly even know each other. At most, I saw him in a play. But I go the theatre a lot; I have many friends among actors. Heck, hearing tales about my life is nothing new – they said that billionaire Donald Trump kissed my hand, and that I bought a house on Rublevka for three million… Can you imagine what it must have been like for Kostya Khabenski's wife to read all that?
She, too, is expecting soon…
I don't know. I haven't seen her.
They say you and Konstantin met at "Mosfilm", where Khabenski was shooting "Fate Irony 2", and you were doing the TV show "Stars on Ice".
Do you have any idea how many actors were on "Mosfilm" during the three months we worked on the ice project? What, I can't greet anyone now? Why don't we also say that Makhovetski or Zhenya Stychkin visited the ladies' dressing rooms?! It's absurd, really. I hardly visited anything except the dining room, the dressing room, and the rink. I came there to work, not to run around the pavilions. The shooting schedule was very aggressive. Our first episode took fourteen hours to shoot; the last one was finished at dawn. I am surprised how those people, and I am using the term loosely, got the gall to slander two happy families, trying to destroy their happiness. But it won't work! Everyone can just die of envy – I have found a real gem! My husband cleans, cooks, carries me in his arms, and is always ready to do anything to make me feel good. I love Serezha more than life itself, and I don't need anyone else! There are people who will do anything to get some PR, who use their own personal lives to that effect, saying they sleep with this one today, and that one tomorrow. But this doesn't apply to me or to my friends – that's not how we were brought up. I don't owe anyone any explanations as to who is my child's father, and when it will be born. It astonishes me how after a series of dirty publications, a girl from that yellow newspaper had the audacity to call me – "Irina, could you answer a couple of questions?" If she were next to me, I'd have punched her, really. I am tired of people being rude and irresponsible. Those people barged into my mother's hospital room to take pictures! I called the newspaper later on – "Guys, have you just gone insane over there?" They just say, "That's our job!" Fair warning – next time this happens, I'll take such on-the-jobber's camera and break it over his head. And I will be right. Abdulov was right to have beaten up one of those paparazzi. Good for him! Sooner or later, authorities will just have to step in. They won't be laughing then! You know, at one point I dreamed of being a journalist. In my mind, it was a good profession, attracting smart people. Ten years later, I don't just hate journalists, I am scared of them! A friend of mine has recently left journalism. She told me, "Ira, I can't look a person in the eye and write what he didn't really say. And I don't know any other way to survive in this business". Of course, they are not all like that. There are still about ten percent of smart, interesting journalists who are nice to talk to, who ask original questions, and who always publish only what you say.
After all the brouhaha in May about you and Khabensky, you seemed to disappear for a time. Did you "go into hiding?"
What the heck… I didn't go anywhere. I went on a long-planned trip to Israel to visit my granny. I just relaxed. I turned the phone off, and walked through my favorite places. Recently, I got back from the country – I spent some time with Serezha's relatives on a farm near Ryazan'. I gathered wild strawberries and swam in the Oka River. See, I still have mosquito bites on my face. It's all serenity, clean air, and lots of berries! I am talking about it, and want to go back again. It brings me back to childhood – I often went to the country as a child. Tomorrow, I am going to my favorite aunt to gather beans. She plants it for me every year, and once it's ready, she calls me, "Irisha, it's time! Come and get it!"
I see you like the country. Have you considered your own country home?
I have. I'll start looking for a piece of land once I get the chance. I'll build the house myself. This way it will be exactly as I want it.
Getting back to your personal life… I think all the gossip comes up because your life is too normal. You got married at twenty, which is extremely rare for a professional athlete.
I remember how they all immediately wrote me off. They said, "Slutskaya will deflate, she'll get bogged down in the family tedium. She'll be too busy with pots and pans to skate". Yet Sergei actually helped me with my sport. Once I felt such a great back up, it became psychologically easier for me to train. He never once said, "When will you finally quit your skating?" Quite the opposite, he even encouraged me, "Why are you sitting here getting upset over nothing? Go skate instead!"
Why then doesn't Sergei give interviews, and why are you two almost never in public together?
Serezha is seven years my senior; he's wiser than I in many ways. He saw right away that we didn't need it. At first, I tried to talk him into a photo session together, but by now I've learned to value my privacy as well. I say everything that needs to be said. The journalists just make up everything else. First, they made my husband, who is really a children's fitness trainer, into a big businessman; recently, I read that he is a "mafioso, that's why he never photographs or give interviews". It's funny, really.
August 6th will mark 8 years since you've gotten married. Will you celebrate?
Of course! Especially since last year we didn't get a chance because of my exhibition tour in America. We won't have anything grandiose planned, just a family dinner at some nice restaurant. If I really had a 300 square meter apartment as your colleagues claim, then I could gather everyone at home!
What kind of gifts do you usually give each other?
I like my husband to give me useful things. One time, I asked him for a set of frying pans for New Year – I was too lazy to walk to the store myself. He did – the real ones, with removable handles! If I needed a rolling pin, he'd get me that too. He already gets me rings and earrings without me asking. I, in turn, try to reciprocate. When Serezha recently had a birthday, I got him a spoiler for his car, because I knew he was looking for one. But love isn't about presents. Remember, there was this gum – Love is… ? You unwrapped it, and there you saw this drawing of a girl, and a boy with a broom next to her. And it said – "Love is when…" So, for me, love is when you come home and you say, "Honey, I am so tired, please vacuum and do the dishes". And he, without a word, takes the vacuum cleaner, does the dishes, and takes the laundry out of the washing machine… Just a day before yesterday, when I woke up in the morning my husband tenderly took me by the hand and brought me into the kitchen, and there, there was the omelet with cheese and black bread, just as I like it! "You want anything else?" "Yes… a berry" And he washes a berry for me. What else can a woman want?! Any reasonable woman dreams of this. It's a joy to wake up next to the man you love, to see and hear that man, and when you get tired of him, you neither see nor hear him, he just sits quietly away from you.
Sounds idyllic. Do you have fights?
With my temper – all the time. Were Serezha like me, we'd have gotten into fist fights long ago! But he is always calm and wise, he knows that my bad mood attack will soon end, and it will all be good again. Of course we have fights. But it's not like we ever spend days not talking to one another. At most one hour. We've been through so much, both good and bad. So, both of us would think really long and hard before doing anything leading to a conflict, or, God forbid, a separation. In any case, we're much better off together than alone. After the first two years, the passion in the relationship subsides, but what you get instead is the real, deep love, when you realize that this is them man you feel good with. You want to get into his slippers and wear his T-shirt in the morning. Such a relationship is hard to break. Sergei and I now have that which others can't find for years.
You are always traveling. Do you two get jealous when you're apart for long?
It's not jealousy; it's this empty feeling when you're suddenly alone. It's easier for me – I travel, I see loads of interesting things, I meet new people; Sergei, meanwhile, is just at home. Sometimes he can't stand it anymore and calls me, "You're having a good time, and I am just here alone, no one will cook for me, won't get my pillow ready for the night…" He is used to this – before bed, I always fluff out the pillows and shake out the blanket. After such words, I just want to drop everything and fly to him. But we both understand that this is impossible, as I am tied by the contracts.
You left the sport three times – the first time because of the Russian Figure Skating Federation treating you unfairly, then because of the health problems. At those times, you were not training for half a year or more. Were you tempted to have a baby?
I considered it in 2002. I even wanted to quit elite sport, but that wasn't God's will. There were still two "golden" European championships, the second world title, and an Olympic medal ahead of me. When I look at those recordings, I cry… At that moment, I haven't yet achieved everything I could in figure skating. Besides, I was seriously ill four years ago, and would have been unlikely to have carried the baby to term. Can you imagine what a tragedy that would be? I think that everything that happens is for the better.
You're now waiting for the little one. Did you outlook on life change as a result?
I think I have become more tolerant of others, calmer and more reasonable. I've also become more demanding of myself. I've heard that toward the end of the pregnancy, many get a crazy idea to fix up their place. A neighbor of mine carried around cement blocks toward the end of her term! I hope nothing like that happens to me. Our three-room apartment is nice and cozy as is. I'll just clean it up, giving away half the stuff. I'll get the dresser with a mirror out of our bedroom, and put the crib there.
You're even looking… softer, may be.
I've been growing out my hair since the Turin Olympics; I've gone my favorite red instead of my natural dark color. I've had a similar hairdo in the spring of 2003, but it wasn't for long. The American show organizers didn't like me as a redhead with bright red highlights, so I was forced to go to the salon. As a result, I ended up an awful yellow. It was bizarre. By morning, half the hair just came out, and I was bowling. I even had a costume specially picked out – black with orange parts. It harmonized with the hair perfectly! I was afraid to go out until my hairdresser could do something to make it halfway decent.
I am most amazed by how fit you are. Honestly, I was ready to see a cute "dumpling".
That same media reported "from conversations with my friends" that I had awful morning sickness, and was so huge by the third month I couldn't fit into any clothing. I had pity for that "poor woman" as I was reading it myself! I am full of energy, and I feel great. My whole day goes according to schedule down to each minute – filming, interviews, and some projects I won't yet talk about. You'll see when the time comes. I like hosting various events, and I think I am good at it. I was recently a host at Zhenya Plushenko's show, as well as a co-host at the first award Ceremony of channel One, which by the way called me the discovery of the season! We're starting to shoot season two of "Stars on Ice" in late August. I'll even put on the skates for that. Today, I just had a shopping day. Decided to spoil myself and bought a new dress.
Beside that, you were also in the movie alongside Ivan Urgant and Emilia Spivak.
A childish whim, really. I am only in the frame for six seconds. But it was fun. Especially since the first day of the shooting was on my birthday. Movies interest me. I would like to get the appropriate education, but I don't have any time now.
Did you ever dream of coaching?
No. I look at Zhanna Fedorovna [Gromova] – she should get her own monument! She spends all her life on the ice; I've seen her raise so many! She makes figure skating professionals out of silly little kids. Of course, not everybody has the will to deal with underwater currents of the elite sport; many prefer to quit the ice for school. But what Zhanna Federovna does is unique, and is certainly too much for me. She'll have champions still! She now has one boy with a great potential, as well as some good girls.
Do you plan to come back to ice as a competing athlete?
For now, I've taken a time out. As they say, if only one has health and will! As someone who has quit and restarted figure skating three times, I know it won't be hard for me to get back into shape. Three to four months of intensive training and a good general fitness program, and I'm in shape. Just a month ago, I still had all the elements the ladies presented at the last World championships. If I feel that I am stronger than everyone else, than I am sure to come back and win again, no matter how old I am!
We thank the restaurant Parisienne, and Alexei Bendeliani personally
July 19, 2007, #29 (38)