Amazing, I just came here to update Mark's OP with his new achievements, but someone already did it for me. Even better, then I can spend more time praising his skating. After his successful start at the Nebelhorn Trophy, where he won the third spot for Russia, Mark kind of flew under the radar for a bit. But yesterday he reminded us all that RusNats are his speciality! I just love how he makes every performance his own and you can clearly see the commitment to the choreo even in these high pressure situations. Mark is such a special skater, and I sincerely hope he will go far!
Mark Kondratiuk, Russian Nationals 2022, Short Program:
Mark Kondratiuk, Russian Nationals 2022, Free Skating:
New champion of Russia in figure skating Mark Kondratiuk in an interview with RIA Novosti told what he would say to the protesters against the performance of the rock opera "Jesus Christ - Superstar", which programs in figure skating he considers the pinnacle of mastery, and also shared his opinion on how to try to understand contemporary art.
Andrey Simonenko, RIA Novosti Sport, 27. December 2021
I wanted to start with a question that I wanted to ask for a very long time. Ninety.ninth (99th) is your nickname on Instagram – is this linked with hockey and Wayne Gretzky?
No, it has nothing to do with Gretzky or hockey. It's just that when I started posting my paintings online, I decided I didn't want to do it under my real name. And I came up with such a pseudonym. And then it stayed as a reminder.
Why this one?
Since childhood, I took the nickname MQT99 in all games. Well, then I discarded the letters, there were two nines left.
Didn't you ever think about hockey, after all, boys go to hockey more often than to figure skating, if we talk about sports on skates.
No, I was never attracted to hockey. Once only I was at a hockey match. Well... That's cool. One time it was interesting to go and see how it all worked. But I'm not a fan.
And you have never stood on hockey skates?
Yes I have. When I went to mass skating [public sessions], I did not always bring my skates with me, I had to take hockey skates there. A couple of times, I think it happened.
Kamila Valieva said that she would go on New Year's Eve to skate in Gorky Park or at ВДНХ. And I remember a video like Adelina Sotnikova among the ordinary visitors of such a skating rink jumps a triple toe loop - and all around the Aha of admiration. Have people ever reacted like this?
(Laughs) Somehow yes. In general, I also try to go for a skate every New Year's holidays, also either at ВДНХ or Gorky Park. Either with family or with friends.
Russian Championship with Olympic selection. Did the responsibility weigh on you?
Shortly before the Russian Championship, I probably put pressure on myself. I was thinking about selection, yes. But when I arrived here, they talked to me, and I myself got to this point: I go out not to jump. I don't go out to fight with others, I don't go out to prove something to someone. I go out to skate for fun - and try to bring this pleasure to the audience. When I really realized this, I came out calmly, with a good mood and some ease. Maybe that helped me.
Your coach Svetlana Sokolovskaya said that you caught a buzz in training before the free program, and she even had to "slow you down" so that the charge remained for the evening.
To be honest, I always try to train in such a way that I give my best emotionally on the steps, regardless of whether the jumps are going or not. I'm not doing it on purpose, it's just that I'm starting to get "overwhelmed", let's put it that way. In the free program, I first have a regular track, then a choreographic one. At that workout, I had already started skating the first track at the maximum of emotions, and they tell me - so, stop, the second one does not need to go (laughs).
Does this emotional state appear by itself or do you have to catch it somehow?
Probably comes by itself. But in training, it is still possible to catch it rarely. It's different. I think I'm charged by the audience. I'm not sure about it exactly, but I have such a suspicion, because when I perform in front of an audience, I begin to give my best emotionally.
Many skaters, on the contrary, are constrained by the public. There are even examples where they quit because of it. Excitement overwhelms.
Everyone is different. Well, I also can't say that I'm not worried at all. Sometimes I worry more, sometimes less. But the audience rather charges me.
As a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber, I can't help but talk about your free skate to music from the rock opera Jesus Christ Superstar. The actor, who played the role of Jesus in the Broadway play for many years, said that every evening he passed through a crowd of protesters who told him: "Jesus did not sing," "Jesus did not dance." In your case, such people, if they were, could say "Jesus did not skate." What would you say to them?
It's art. Art can be contradictory. But I believe that art should not be banned, in any form. Moreover, honestly, this is a universally recognized masterpiece.
When you found out that you would be in the role of Christ in the free skate, how did you feel?
It's just an image. And the image can be anything. Last year I skated to the image of a swan. This year is the image of Christ. In a way, as an actor. I do not think that this image is radically different from others. It has its own subtleties, aspects - what emotions to express, what movements should be. But nothing changes globally. And I don't want to go into the religious part.
I have heard the opinion that if a skater in the image enters the jump, then he will come out of it lying on the ice.
I've heard the opposite opinion as well. Of course, when you jump in, you're focused on it, not the image. But we must understand that jumping is only part of the program. It is desirable to perform the rest of the part in the image. If skating is emotionless, it's probably boring. You can do all the jumps, but the program will not be very interesting to watch. And I try to focus on making the viewer interested, so that they see not just a set of jumps, but a whole work.
When you are in the role of a spectator, are you interested in figure skating?
As an artist, probably in ice dancing?
Most of all I like single skating. It's probably just closer to me.
Are there programs that made such an impression on you as a child that influenced the formation of personality?
I can name those programs that are masterpieces for me, including in terms of integrity, composition. These are "The Man in the Iron Mask" by Alexei Yagudin and "Seimei" by Yuzuru Hanyu. They're perfect in everything. There's elements, there's history. You can watch these programs dozens of times and find something new all the time. Some accents, small movements that at first you do not notice, and then they make an impression on you. When I watched the Seimei, I was about 12-13 years old. And I realized it was brilliant. If I ever manage to roll back even half of it, I'll be happy.
In Hanyu and Javier Fernandez's programs it always amazed me that they don't seem to jump...
Yes. It's like they're just skating.
Ideally, this should be pursued. This is the pinnacle of technicality and skill.
What do you think about Yuzuru Hanyu's quadruple axel, which he made a mistake at the Japanese Championships?
This is the development of figure skating. That's the future. Will Yuzuru be able to make it clean? Of course, I want him to do it. But here's how it goes. I can only wish him luck.
Is this performance of the quadruple axel, albeit on two legs, a big step forward to a clean landing?
I don't know what attempts he had in training. If such - then this is a big step forward, but there is still decent work there.
Would you like to give it a try?
I want to. But I think at the end of the season, because it's too traumatic. It's better to be a little patient, and maybe I'll try there.
Of course, I can't get around the topic of contemporary art, which you are fond of. I at some point – much later than you – became interested too. But I still don't know what to say to those people who think it's not art. What would you say to them? And is it possible to somehow push them in the direction of how they can understand this, or should it at some point in life come by itself?
Good question. I think you can push them to look at it. But whether a person will accept it or not is another matter.
For you, the understanding of contemporary art came as an insight?
Rather, yes. At first, I was also very sceptical about this. I realized, of course, that there is Dali, Picasso. I didn't understand them either, but they're great. And everyone else - what is it, why? But somehow I realized abruptly that it was cool. And even when I go to classical art museums now, I'm not so interested, to be honest. I understand perfectly well that these are brilliant works. But somehow it doesn't get through that way.
Was there a moment when you thought the classics were correct and interesting? I mean, maybe it's possible to gain an understanding of contemporary art through the classics?
I think so. If a person was not initially interested in art, then it will most likely be difficult for him to immediately accept the modern. It is better to go from the origins. It's simpler and clearer. And then you can go to contemporary art. I think so.
When the season is in full swing, how much time do you devote to paintings?
Very little now. Honestly, I don't have the time or the energy. There is a desire. When I have a free minute, I try to do something. But now university has been added, with which everything, so to speak, is very difficult. Therefore, art is now on pause.
Are there any plans to make new exhibitions?
I had exhibitions this summer and the previous summer. So if it does, I think it will be next summer. Now the schedule is very busy. Really not up to it.
Was it difficult to organize exhibitions?
The first time was difficult. I did everything myself - I found a platform, negotiated. It was difficult, but interesting, some experience of independence. The second time was easier. I was offered a platform, organized.
Do you communicate closely in the artistic environment?
A couple of years ago I communicated a lot with different artists, constantly went to some exhibitions, fairs, workshops. I had more time (smiling). And now, as I said, there is no time.
Is it more difficult for an artist to break into the tops than for an athlete?
It's hard to say, they are very different worlds. The only thing that can be said is that in sports you make your way through with your work, and in art - with your talent.
Would you ever like to make art your main occupation?
I try to live today. I can't say how it will turn out. So far, so good.
You're not as active on Instagram as you'd expect from an artistic person. So photography is not as appealing as paintings?
I'm just not particularly interested in actively leading it. I post something from the competition or if I went somewhere, just beautiful photos. And a few posts a day is not mine.
But you like to take pictures?
And I can't (laughs).
And there is no camera?
I want to buy a Polaroid with instant printing for the New Year.
Serious photography should be mastered with a "DSLR".
Yes, I don't want to do this professionally. Polaroid has its own charm, that is. You get a photo that you can hang right away.
The European Championship is two weeks away. What will be the most important during this period?
Now a couple of days you need to exhale a little, gain strength and start preparing tightly. I don't think there is any need to change anything in the programs. The only thing I would like to do is quad-triple combos. But they were planned. That needs to be added. And the rest will remain the same.
How often do you think about the Olympic Games? Let's say a day?
Okay, maybe once a week. There were no such thoughts - behold, this is just my incredible dream.
But is it really a dream?
For most of the skaters I talked to on this topic, the Olympic Games were really an unrealistic dream. I've always taken it simpler. It's going to be cool. If it doesn't work, I'll survive.
Now a mini-questionnaire. Can you name three artists, musicians and writers who have made the biggest impression on you?
Let me name books first, not writers, it will be simpler. "1984" George Orwell, "And Then There Were None" Agatha Christie, "Green Mile" Stephen King.
Artists, I will clarify, those who helped to form your style.
Basquiat, Bosch, Malevich. But with music it will be difficult, because I listen to very different things. I'm the ultimate music lover. Let's say what I listened to at the Russian Championships. There is such a musician Stromae. He is quite famous, although it took several years. And I also listened to Vysotsky here.
All the last year before going on the ice I listend to "Fastidious Horses". Starting from the last championship of Russia and before that. Now it's a tradition.
And quite a bit. You've probably also read an interview where your coach told me how she smashed a tape recorder on the ice in anger when she saw your new haircut. Did you have to buy a new tape recorder in the end?
We have two (laughs). One sank into oblivion, yes. More precisely, the tape recorder is with Sasha Samarin in the locker room, as a reminder. The spare is still working. But if it is smashed on the ice because of me, then, of course, I will go buy a new one myself.
Oh, it would be cool to see more Vysotskiy’s music in skating. He is not a lyrical singer for the most part, but maybe more exhibitions like P/Kh did last year… Okudzhava would work better probably. If any of them skates to Okudzhava’s Prayer, I’ll love them forever.
Edit: also, I think it was very nice of Kondratyuk to post ‘earned/deserved’ on Mozalev’s bronze IG post.