Polina Agafonova: “I have made my choice”
It’s no secret that the modern Russian junior skating has many talents. One of them is Polina Agafonova. She is the 2010 Russian Junior National champion and 2010 World Junior bronze medalist. In the beginning of this year she has won the European Youth Olympic Festival. Recently Polina took the bronze at the 2011 Junior Grand Prix stage in Latvia. Her coach is the 1994 Olympic champion Alexei Urmanov, who is also an Honoured Master of Sports of the Russian Federation. Polina’s choreographer is Liudmila Mozhina.
WFS recently talked with Polina about her skating career and her expectations for the upcoming season.
Polina, to my surprise, there isn’t much information about you in the English-speaking internet space but, judging by our readers’ letters, you have many fans in Europe, North America and Asia. Please, tell us about yourself and how you have come to figure skating.
Polina Agafonova: In 2002 I watched the Olympic Games on TV and I liked figure skating very much. When Olympics have ended, I have asked my mom to take me to the mass skating in the “Ice Palace”, near to which we live. Mom took me to a trainer and bought 30 min. of skating, she thought that I will not skate for a long time (Polina smiles). But I asked for another 30 minutes, and then another 30 minutes. And then every day I bothered her with persuasion to sign up me for some skating club. In the end, the parents gave up, opened a city reference book and signed up me into the first skating club that they found there. It was the Olympic Reserve School in which I’m engaged from March 1, 2002 to the present day.
Giving you in figure skating, were your parents initially aimed at big-time sports or everything was much simpler?
P. Agafonova: My parents weren’t going to send me into big sports, even though they are former athletes. I had an asthma and I was often ill, and because of this my family moved from north of our country to St. Petersburg. Parents wanted to send me in a swim, or in athletics but I have made my own choice (she smiles).
What attracts you most of all in figure skating? What induces you every day early in the morning to go on trainings?
P. Agafonova: I had moments when it was very hard and I wanted to give up when it turned out nothing and it seemed that already never will turn out, but nearby always there were people who believed in me and induced me to go forward, sometimes event against my will. Thanks to these people I did not give up and did not give up figure skating, and now I can’t imagine my life without it! Figure skating is my present and my future I hope!
The season before last (2009/2010) was successful enough for you (the gold at the Russian Junior championships and the bronze at the World Junior champs.). The last season (2010/2011) has turned out controversial. In your opinion, what were the main problems of the past season?
P. Agafonova: The success of the season 2009/2010 was a bit unexpected for me and I probably did not cope with the responsibility that fell on me. Being number one in the national team is not easy and maybe I just wasn’t ready for it.
You have begun this season with a bronze medal at the stage of Junior Grand Prix in Latvia, having shown a high level of skating and two new wonderful programs. Tell us about the preparation for this season.
P. Agafonova: I have begun preparation for this season early enough; already in the first of June I have started my trainings after two weeks of rest. So early beginning speaks that I have invited to participate in the ice show in China on June, 16th, and it was necessary to return the sports shape somewhat quicker. After the show I have gone to the USA and Sweden for some weeks of trainings. Thanks to competent work of Alexei Urmanov and my choreographer I was quickly restored after summer vacation that has allowed the coach to sign up me on the first stage of Grand Prix.
Your short program, Malaguena, consists of many complex elements and combinations. The same can be said about step sequences. Besides, the musical theme makes certain demands to the skater. Visually the program looks very beautiful but I think I will not be mistaken, having assumed that it was necessary to work much on its creation on trainings. Is this so?
P. Agafonova: The work on the new short program began in the spring. My choreographer, Liudmila Mozhina, likes to experiment and have long wanted to try me in a Spanish theme. At first not all turned out, there was no sharpness in image, but then she has shown me the Carmen movie with a great flamenco dancer Antonio Gades and after watching I really liked the image of the main character, and I wanted to give it to judges and spectators.
And what attracts you in your free program which is based on the Matrix movie?
P. Agafonova: I never had a program based on some modern music and I wanted to try myself in this image. One my friend has sent me this musical design of the Matrix, and the coach and my choreographer have approved my choice. It has been created in July, so I still have to work on it.
It’s no secret that now there is a very high level of competition in the Russian ladies’ single skating. How do you feel about this in general and about your rivals in particular?
P. Agafonova: Yes, the competition among ladies is very serious in Russia but a good competition has also pluses: it forces to move forward, to learn new elements and to be ready to struggle. Though many of my competitors are my friends and to us it doesn’t prevent to be on friendly terms.
Do you have skaters (from history or modern figure skating), which are role models for you and which additionally inspire you?
P. Agafonova: I am a fan of Brian Joubert and Stephane Lambiel. I like their skating very much! I was honored to skate with them in one ice show and I admire their mastery. Also I really like the skating of Adelina Sotnikova. I think that she has a very strong character and I would like to have the same. We are very good friends with her.
Polina, tell us about your plans for your nearest competition at the Junior Grand Prix in Austria and about plans for this season as a whole.
P. Agafonova: I have the highest goals for the JGP in Austria. I need a victory to be eligible to participate at the Junior Grand Prix Final. After that I will have competitions in Russia – Russian Junior Championships and National Championships. Also, my goal is to be selected for the Junior Worlds. I will try my best at each competition!
Interview by Vladislav Luchianov
Photo: courtesy of Polina Agafonova
Polina Agafonova, JGP Volvo Cup Latvia – Short Program