My cat jumps better Axels than me.
Lol, I really can't help it - another CoR stage, another gorgeous performance by Ilya, and new pictures from Ira Sharova which just have to be posted here.
Figure skater Ilya Yablokov - about a serious injury, recklessness and ice cream
RIA Novosti, 15.12.2022
Three years ago Ilya Yablokov won gold at the European Youth Olympic Festival. Last season he won the Russian Junior Championship, got onto the podium at two stages of the Junior Grand Prix Series and was selected for the final, but it was cancelled. Just three months ago the athlete underwent complex surgery after a meniscus tear, and he is already working on restoring his quadruple rittberger and preparing for the Russian Championships. How the miraculous return from the hospital bed became possible and what made the transformation from a not bad skater to a great one happen - in a big interview with RIA Novosti Sport.
- In Russian men's singles skating, the competition is now stronger than for girls. You can't say who's going to win the Russian Championships and make it into the top three - there are really many contenders. How do you feel in such a competitive environment? Does it make you feel afraid or spur you on?
- This season I have no goal to overtake anyone or to take any particular place. After my injury, I couldn't predict anything. I knew I would be back, but I did not know how long the recovery process would take, whether I would be able to skate with pain and whether my knee would hurt.
I can say that I go to the start without much nervousness. And outside the competitions I am also calm. I do not have those kinds of breakdowns at training. Someone from frustration might start to cry or get angry. In such situations I just remind myself that there are different days. I move forward to the goal, the main thing is that everything works out at some point.
I was a bit afraid of my first start in Moscow - I did not know how my knee would behave. But it went well, so at the Grand Prix in Perm I had the right attitude.
- I think it's time to tell exactly what happened to your knee.
- It happened in August after a good off-season with two training camps. I got a meniscus tear at a practice session in Moscow on a quadruple rittberger. It didn't look like anything bad was going to happen. I never had any knee pain, even as a teenager, when a lot of guys suffer with "Schlatter's disease".
So I landed the rittberger - normal, a little lower than usual - started to stretch out and heard a distinctive crunch. I felt my knee giving in. I tried to get up, the crunch again, and I fell down. I skated up to the coach and told her I couldn't put my foot down, my knee wouldn't straighten up.
We put ice on it, checked it - the knee wasn't swollen. No signs except sharp pain, which went away. What was left was a stiff knee and some soreness. As I now know, this is characteristic of a torn meniscus.
We went for an MRI - meniscus rupture of the third degree, surgery was indicated. We searched for a surgeon for a while, and found one. While we searched, we went for another X-ray, which didn't show that much difference.
- How did the surgery go?
- They gave me an injection in my back, I didn't sleep, I just couldn't feel my legs. The surgeon and I discussed what we were going to do. He turned the monitor to me and showed me everything. There were two variants - to sew up the meniscus and to wait if it would heal. A long recovery of six months, you can't put any weight on the knee. Or the second option was to cut off a piece of the meniscus, have a resection and to be able to go out after two months.
- By all appearances, you chose the second option.
- Yes. As the doctor told me later, the operation was not very easy, but it was a success. For five hours after the operation I could not feel my legs, but on the same day, at night, when I was thirsty, I went to fetch water on my own. I limped slowly, but still I did it by myself. That's how my recovery began.
- What was the prognosis?
- They told me to take crutches. I was silly enough to walk carefully from the 11th floor to the first floor without crutches. I started to work out this way, and then I had full body exercises, physical therapy, and therapeutic procedures. It all passed rather quickly.
- I want to note for the history: in August they cut a part of the torn meniscus away, and at the beginning of November you skated well at the first tournament of the season. It took you less than three months with the serious injury, surgery, recovery and getting in shape. How?
- I just wanted to walk normally and straighten my knee. In three weeks the ligaments atrophied, so it was painful to move around - I wanted to fix it as soon as possible. I realize that I was probably wrong about something, but there was nothing I could do about it. It was my decision to begin recovery as soon as possible.
- What was the first time you stepped on the ice after surgery like?
- It was hard. All the off-season preparations went down the drain, we had to start all over again. There was a decent amount of work done. Viktoria Evgenievna (Butsaeva) set me small goals, to which I went step by step. That is how it all worked out.
I understand that I must now work on my injury so that it will not bother me in the future and will not interfere with not just skating, but just living. Sports is good, but it doesn't end there.
- Now I especially understand what your desire to bring back the quadruple rittberger for the Russian championship is worth. Isn't it scary to go back to it? You were injured on it.
- I've already begun to restore it. I would say I almost did. I was only afraid to try for the first time. And when I got it back, it was business as usual.
- More than one touching story about starting out in figure skating has already been told by athletes. What was the beginning of your career like? Gnawing on the ice, fighting with the skate covers, that kind of thing?
- My parents brought me into the sport. First my dad brought me to martial arts - I cried and ran away. There were big guys there, as it seemed to me then, I got scared. My mom took me to an ice rink, everyone was close in age, I liked it.
We were a bunch of little kids there and at first we just skated around the rink. I loved to pull away from the rink, fall down, and listen to the coach yell: "Come on back!" I'd crawl over to the board and it would start all over again. When I learned to stand on skates a little bit, I had a friend. He and I played tag and polished the ice - well, nothing out of the ordinary. It was fun, but at the time I didn't understand why I did it all. I just skated and skated.
- How old were you when you were in the wrestling hall and how old were you when you came to the ice rink?
- There was only a small difference, because I was also brought to wrestling at Moskvich. Now it's called MAFKK school "Legenda". There is an arena, a whole complex. At first I came to wrestling at the age of three, and two weeks later I skated at the rink. There was an enrolment.
- Your dad, obviously, initially saw for you a classic male way - so that the son could fight and stick up for himself, but it turned out a little bit different. There was never any opposition from him to your figure skating career?
- No, never. He was always supportive. So was my mom and my grandma.
- So they ensured attendance at trainings?
- At first, my babysitter took me to the rink, but there were no results at all. She brought me there, left me there, fed me and took me home. When my grandmother took over, things began to change. But it wasn't me who thought for myself, it was my grandmother who thought for me about what I needed. And she often fought with me because I was very lazy and didn't want to do anything.
- Do you remember at what point that changed?
- Completely all the laziness went away about two years ago. A new phase of rethinking happened more recently, after the surgery.
I started to think that I was doing something wrong at the age of 14-15. That's when I wondered if I should end my sports career or not. The tipping point was approaching. There was no progress; I couldn't keep up with the guys. I always couldn't keep up. Before I was with Viktoria Evgenievna, there were times when the guys would jump triple-triples, and I would learn the triple toeloop. For example, Matvey Vetlugin was jumping triple-triple, he was learning the lutz-rittberger and the lutz-toeloop. I stood next to the boards, admired him and said, "Wow, how could he do that?" And that motivated me, although I could barely do double jumps and had just begun to do triple jumps. Step by step, I began to take my training process in stride.
- Didn't you analyse with your coaches or maybe with your parents what caused the laziness? There wasn't enough conscious motivation?
- I didn't really understand what I wanted. I didn't have any goals until recently - until I was 14-15 years old. I was simply scolded, and I did not want to be scolded, and at times I tried to do something about it. And when I started to think about what I wanted and began to analyse why I could not do it, the laziness disappeared.
- Now would you say that you truly enjoy the routine of an athlete? Training, recovery, competition...
- Yes, of course. With all my heart I do. And I don't really follow other athletes, I just watch the guys skating on occasion. That's why I don't name favourites and idols. I like to do something by myself, to work in trainings, to get emotional and physical fatigue. It's all part of the pleasure.
- Can you imagine if that moment of love of figure skating had never happened?
- If that love hadn't happened, I'd probably be done. We often have a monotonous, hard job. If you don't get into it, you'd have to be completely crazy to do it without a desire.
- But athletes are crazy in a way, aren't they? Ordinary people avoid all the things that make up a skater's life. They want comfort, not work, injuries and worries.
- Well, I just had to get out of my comfort zone. At first it was unusual, but then I really liked it. Now it's even strange to have super comfortable days when nothing hurts and everything is smooth. Immediately you think something is wrong.
- It's a common belief about girls that it's easier for them at a young age, and the further away from 15 years, the harder it is physically and psychologically. Can we say from your example that it works the other way around for guys? As you get older, the body gets stronger and better prepared for the workload, there's already enough responsibility and commitment to do well.
- I think so. Girls grow up differently, it's harder for them to adjust to the changes in body and head. But if you wait and adjust, you get the example of Liza Tuktamysheva. Sometimes it's not possible to adjust, because in the background of growing up traumas appear. Some people can't cope and end their careers. I understand them, it's all a difficult turning point.
Boys do get stronger and more resilient by the age of 18. But at the same time, recovery, for example, is slower, I can feel it in myself. Strength is also easier now than it was at 15. In general, the work is harder, but it is much more effective. You just have to approach it with a cool head and be able to force yourself in the most difficult moments. Responsibility and determination - that's what a boy at 18 needs.
- Do problems with excess weight only affect girls, or do guys have them too?
- I've been there. I remember when I gained a lot of weight two years ago. I couldn't lose weight, as the girls often tell me. Eating and gaining weight, not eating and gaining weight. I was on a diet, but I could not lose weight. And then time passed, without much effort I lost nine kilos in three or four months. Everything just evaporated.
- You said that you were behind your peers as a child. At what age did you start doing quadruple jumps?
- I was doing quad jumps in training when I was 15, but it was unstable. I could come to a competition, only there to learn how to jump for literally a day and then forget it there. Relatively stable jumping came by the age of 16-17.
I used to take jumps not by technique, but by physics - by strength. I added technique to my jumps when I felt that I had caught the feeling of a jump. You can go too far with the strength - if you land too low, you can fall too hard on the ice.
- How is your relationship with your coach?
- I fully trust my mentor, Viktoria Evgenievna. We went through a lot. Harmony doesn't appear at once, we fought a long time ago. I did not understand her, she did not understand me at some points.
Then I matured and became more open. I began to share my thoughts with her, she shared hers. When I was working, if I couldn't make a jump, she would tell me what I should add, and I would try it, suggesting something myself.
Viktoria Evgenievna understands everything very well: tiredness, injuries, pain. Somewhere we have torn something, pulled something. She understands that we are not robots, but people. I don't abuse this understanding. Now we are preparing for the Russian Championship. Viktoria outlined a plan that we are following.
- Why is it important for her that you share your worries and tell her about your physical condition?
- She is a special person to me, I trust her completely. We think together how and what can be fixed, if necessary.
- Ilya Yablokov outside of sports - what is he like? What do you have time for when you're not training?
- I have time for a lot of things, but not enough energy. Sports takes a lot of it - both mentally and physically. First thing I do after a workout is sleep for an hour and a half or two hours and only then do something else.
I like to watch anime, I like this culture. Video games, to distract myself. I am interested in financial knowledge - stocks, bonds, cryptocurrency. I like to follow it, read, learn something new and try it myself. Probably, after sports this will be my main activity.
I am a music lover, I like everything from classical music to heavy rock. I like to eat good food and try different cuisines. It's nice to go to some nice restaurant with friends.
I don't read books, unfortunately. I find it hard to perceive information in printed form - I'd rather listen to an audiobook or watch a video. And I also think that I just haven't had a book in my hands that would hook me straight away.
- A joke broke on Telegram that Ilya Malinin is Ilya Yablokov with a different flavour. Have you heard it? Do you consider for yourself Malinin's quadruple axel as something to approach?
- Ha ha, haven't heard. I'm considering it. Not that I'm close to it, I've never jumped it before. If Ilya shows that it can be done in principle, then it's worth a try. He's such a revolutionizer in general. Also quad-quad combos, quad-euler-quad.
- Isn't that something you used to do in practice?
- I did a toe-euler-salchow and tried a salchow-rittberger. It's very difficult, it takes a long time to jump.
Ilya is kind of crazy, which is very cool. It gives him the opportunity to move us all to the next level. I remember I met him a long time ago at a European competition. He was having a hard time with the triples back then, which is hard to believe now. He came up to me and said, "Oh, you're Ilya Yablokov? My name is also Ilya." We chatted and laughed. Even then, even in training before the competitions, he did not stop and tried new things all the time. He could not do the triple axel, but he was always jumping it.
- Ilya Malinin has a recklessness that can be considered a plus, it helps him in his technical progress. And what strong qualities do you have?
- People often say to me that I'm reckless, too. I can go and do something unreal at the end of a training session. Probably, in addition to recklessness, there is also the ability to pull myself together when I have no strength anymore. It turns out that it is difficult to praise yourself, I have to think.
I have an unconventional approach to my programs. Some skaters have their own style, and I try to find my own style. Who would like to watch a one-size-fits-all figure skating show without any highlights or great programs? Figure skating is not only a sport, but also a show for people. And judges are people, too.
- You talk very maturely and as an educated person, Ilya.
- It wasn't that long ago that I myself came to that conclusion. I guess my injury changed me for the better.
- Imagine: New Year's Eve, chimes, champagne. You have to write your wish on a piece of paper, and then, according to tradition, you have to burn it and throw it into a glass. What do you wish for?
- Nothing for me, I can achieve everything, if I put some effort and show interest in it. But for myself, I wish my relatives to be healthy and happy. And in general everyone happiness, when now there are a lot of sad people around.
- And I can't help but ask. How did you dare to eat your first sponsored ice cream in the Kiss & Cry? For many fans now you are a pioneer, and the rest just repeat after the legend.
- When I first saw ice cream in the Kiss & Cry, I thought, "Wow, why don't any of the athletes take it? I'll eat it sometime after a good skate." And so it came. Some guys make jokes now, like, don't forget the ice cream. But it doesn't work that way (laughs). You have to want it and earn it.
that was interesting, they say he's crazy but he's going to keep trying and came a long way from 3A, I hit the english translate and they mentioned nc too, he sounds like he has nc style motivation but I don't want to see quints, he'll get hurt, work on danceVery nice interview!
He's awesome, he's charming, he's fun! I love everything about this FS!