Elizaveta Tuktamysheva lives in figure skating era after era. Another success – bronze in the final of the Russian Grand Prix in an incredibly fierce competition.
What would she say to herself if she went back 10 years to the age of her current rivals?
Here is an open letter from the world and European champion, G-Drive Ambassador to her 16-year-old self.
“I remember myself at the age of 16 – 2013, I just won the Russian Championship, I am preparing for the European Championship. The body begins to change, I try to fight it, but not too successfully.
I was the same as now – easy-going, cheerful. But 10 years ago, probably more frivolous: 16 years old is a wonderful age, I want to play sports and be with friends. This is the time of growing up, when you are still small, but you think: when will I become an adult? Then you felt youthful maximalism – I thought that I was an adult, there is an opinion on everything. Such a teenager with character, but not very heavy – all the same, I was an obedient girl in some matters.
The victory at the Chechen Republic-2013 was very unexpected for me: I got sick and went to the free program with a temperature of 38. I didn’t think about the places. When I skated the free program, I went to the podium to see my friends – to watch the competition further. I didn’t even realize at first that I had won. Complete shock…
The goals were the highest: to go to the European Championship, to the world – and to perform well everywhere. But I didn’t think globally.
In principle, I don’t remember such a moment that I had a long game. I didn’t think I’d be riding in 10 years. I always go with the flow: there are tasks here and now, I stick to the plan that I have built for the season, month, week, day. There was no such task: to ride for a long time. But the thought of finishing then, of course, did not arise.
One of the key moments in my career – after an unsuccessful Olympic season, I broke my leg. There was a very strong reboot, I found a person, a massage therapist, who I needed at that moment. She mentally supported and inspired me. It was this reboot that allowed me to leave a mark on the history of figure skating.
The second point: after the victories, I had two unsuccessful seasons – in 2016 and 2017. I then almost lost faith in myself, because I did not feel that there was uniqueness in me. And then I remembered that I’m still Liza Tuktamysheva and I can’t just give up – I began to learn the triple axel, began to do it stably. And now 2018, when I finally restored it, is the second key moment in my career.
This is not yet despair, but then I understood that if something is not changed now, then I will come to it. And I didn’t want to have serious thoughts about finishing. I always had the feeling that I can still do it, I can do it better, that this is not my limit.
In the first situation, too, there were no thoughts of quitting. Yes, I was worried that I didn’t get to the Olympics in Sochi, but due to my youth and easy attitude to life, I didn’t plunge into these wilds of despair so much. I believe that nothing just happens. I took advantage of such a moment in life to the maximum – I switched, rested.
I never give up my life experience – everything we go through makes us who we are now.
There was never such a thing that I didn’t work somewhere – and the sport punished me. I always approached training very responsibly, almost never missed it: if I felt the strength to go, I always gave my best. It works the other way around for me: there is nothing that I did not work on, so there were bad results. But there were excessive expectations, if I worked very well – I expected that it would definitely benefit. And figure skating is not only about “faster, higher, stronger”, but also about concentration, about psychological readiness to start.
Of course, this is a very difficult sport, you need to keep in good shape. But mental preparation plays a major role. Do you have an athlete inside or not? After all, a lot of talented skaters who cannot compete cleanly have not achieved what they could, being psychologically resistant to stressful situations.
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