Picture by 2018 Getty Images

Evgenia Medvedeva interview, Part II: It’s a ‘difficult time’ for all athletes

In the second part of our interview, the PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist from Russia talks about mental health, what she’s inspired by, her new dog, and more.  
By Ekaterina Kuznetsova & Nick McCarvel

“The only thing that I want to [say] is I'm just wishing all the best for all athletes and [everyone] in the whole world.”

A two-time world champion and double Olympic silver medallist in figure skating, Evgenia Medvedeva knows the importance of staying strong.

As injuries and health issues kept her on the sidelines this season, the Russian said mental health is as important as ever – for her and for others.

“I think not only [for] me challenging mental health problems, because it is a really difficult time for all of us now, especially for the professional athletes,” the 21-year-old shared in part two of our exclusive interview. “And it is really difficult to prepare for the competition, which you don't really know if it actually exists in the future.”

“I don't want anybody to feel sorry for me... but yeah, this time is really difficult.” - Evgenia Medvedeva

In part one, Medvedeva had also revealed to Olympic Channel that what keeps her going is her legions of fans around the globe.

Medvedeva hasn’t competed since Nov. 2019, and also told Olympic Channel she has a “fire inside” and is “still fighting” to compete, a year ahead of the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics, even as the Russian skating scene grows more and more competitive in the ladies’ discipline.

With the world championships in March an unlikely next stop for Medvedeva, she’ll look to use the off-season to get back to her peak form and make a run for the Beijing 2022 Games, even in the midst of a Russian team that includes three-time and reigning national champion Anna Shcherbakova, the quad-jumping teen whom Medvedeva now trains with.

Here, in the second part of our interview, she discusses what she finds inspiring, her renewed relationship with coach Eteri Tutberidze, the story behind her new dog, Tofu-Chan, and much more.

Medvedeva is taking part in a Russian team competition 5-7 February, serving as a non-skating captain against Olympic gold medallist and former training partner Alina Zagitova, who is also a non-skating captain.

The Q&A transcript has been edited for length and clarity. Find part one of the interview here.

Olympic Channel (OC): Who or what inspires you lately and why?

Evgenia Medvedeva: You know, I'm always getting inspired by different situations. And I'm always inspired by someone's art. So I like artists, I like singers. I like the people who are doing like some amazing and unusual stuff. I cannot name anybody on the top of my list. But, yeah, I'm listening to lots of music and I'm usually getting inspired by them.

[It's that] feeling when one of the people that you look up to maybe suddenly subscribes to your Instagram and you're like, ‘Wow, this is amazing.’

Relationship-building in figure skating

OC: What has been important to you about building relationships with other international skaters over the years? A lot of them describe your warmth and friendliness.

Medvedeva: It’s really interesting for me to learn more about new people. And it's such a pleasure to hear lots of skaters saying that... So, this makes me so happy. And it wasn't my goal... I just was communicating with them. And I think that I have good relationships with other top international figure skaters... It makes me happy, these friendships. And I really miss them because [there have been] no international competitions, but I hope to see them soon.

OC: Do you think there is ever an age limit for elite skaters? Aljona Savchenko won Olympic gold in pairs at 34 in 2018. What do you feel about this?

Medvedeva: Everything's depends on the health. If you’re healthy, if you’re feeling the power and energy to continue to improve the figure skating, that's amazing.

I mean, I'm so happy for [Aljona]. She is one of the greatest skaters I've ever seen competing in pairs skating.

And Elizaveta [Tuktamysheva], having the power under her, the fire and her health, I'm happy for her. We still like texting each other in Instagram after competitions like, ‘You go girl.’ ‘You are doing amazing, girl.’

Making the switch from Toronto (back) to Russia

OC: What does a typical day look like for you now? You’re back in Russia training.

Medvedeva: The biggest difference is my day now is so much longer. I wake up around 8, 8:30, have breakfast, then hop into the car, go into the rink and warm-up for practice. Then it’s [all day] practice, practice, cool down and it's like 'Oops! It's 7:30 pm!’ So, it's really so much longer. More ice time, more off-ice [training], too. Yeah, that's the only difference: The day is longer.

OC: After spending two years training in Toronto, you are training with Eteri Tutberidze again. How would you describe your relationship now?

Medvedeva: Oh, I don't know even how to explain it... but it’s satisfying. There was lots of tension in the figure skating world between the fans and everything else. It was like a rope... with so much tension.

"But now I feel like the tension went to zero percent, and I'm really happy that everything's fine because, you know, it is difficult to live when you hear from every side like any rumours or not good stuff." - Medvedeva on training again with Tutberidze

So now all of us are doing the best to prepare for competitions and stay in shape.

OC: Do you stay in touch with the team in Toronto?

Medvedeva: Yeah, definitely. I'm still in touch with Brian [Orser] and Tracy [Wilson] and with my off-ice trainer, and with Jason [Brown], and even with Javi [Fernandez] sometimes. All of us are staying in touch, yeah.

[With Brian and Tracy] for example, [it’s] ‘Happy New Year!’ ‘How are you doing?’ ‘How is your family doing?’ So we're not communicating about my figure skating future. It’s [more] about life. I cannot say ‘friends’ about them because it is disrespectful to say about Brian and Tracy. They were my coaches... and I really respect them.

Olympic heroes - and a new dog!

OC: Who are some of the people that you’ve looked up to in skating? Other elite skaters, Olympians?

Medvedeva: After New Year, I had a show in Sochi where there was lots of Russian Olympic champions and Olympic medallists. And I was like, ‘Oh, my God!’ I was looking around at them and [remembering] being three, four, five, six years old, and looking up to them.

And now they’re talking to me and saying that I'm doing amazing and that my programs are like the best programs they ever saw. It was like, ‘Is this true? I don't believe it.’ All of them are really good persons.

OC: You have a new addition to your family... a cute dog named Tofu! Tell us the story behind it. Where did the idea come from?

Medvedeva: I was talking to my mom, like, ‘Would you like to get a new puppy?’ She said maybe in the future, maybe after [our current dog], Jerry, like, you know, not soon. And I was like, but maybe... sooner?

We are living in a big house now. After every day, telling my mom, ‘A new puppy, mom, new puppy!’ Finally, I was just like searching on the Internet for French bulldog puppies in Moscow. It was like, ‘Mom, look, look, this is the puppy!’ ‘I want to get it. I want to get it.’ And then the next day I came to get a puppy and I already knew the name because my dream was to get two French bulldogs and name them Tufu-Chan and Basil. I don’t know why, but Tofu-Chan was my favourite, so I got [him].

OC: OK, so next, you have to get Basil... Thank you Evgenia.