Kamila Valieva reveals target for Olympic debut: "Everyone dreams of Beijing 2022"

Figure skating prodigy Kamila Valieva of Russia could be one of the breakout stars of the Olympics in China in 2022. 
By Ed Knowles and Ekaterina Kuznetsova

Kamila Valieva is one of the most promising talents the figure skating community has ever seen.

The Russian is already ISU Junior World Champion and came second at the 2021 senior Russian nationals.

Despite being aged 14, she has married a spellbinding style to breathtaking technical skill.

She is one of the potential stars of the next Winter Olympics, Beijing 2022.

“Everyone dreams of Beijing,” she said to Olympic Channel in an exclusive interview.

“I'm a little bit afraid to talk about it in a [wider] sense!”

Her level-headed nature on the ice seems to be replicated in her attitude to her career.

“I try not to think about [Beijing 2022] because everything depends not on those people, who let's say, 'bet' on me, but just on myself.”

Olympic Channel spoke to Kamila ahead of the team event in Moscow, sharing her excitement at her first senior season in 2021/22, and what it's like to have triple and quadruple rotation jumps in her routine.

"It feels as if you flew into space" - Kamila Valieva on landing quad jumps

The transcript of the interview is below, translated from Russian.

Kamilla Valieva: Olympics in China and early inspiration

Olympic Channel (OC): A lot of athletes and figure skating experts are betting on you when it comes to Beijing 2022, you are in great shape and age-wise you fit perfectly... How does it make you feel to hear such things?

Kamila Valieva (KV): Well, first of all, we do not know what will happen tomorrow and what will happen in a year especially. We don't know at all. And I try not to think about it because everything depends not on those people, who let's say, 'bet' on me, but just on myself.

OC: It is hard to believe that you do not dream of Beijing...

KV: Everyone dreams of Beijing. I'm a little bit afraid to talk about it in a [wider] sense. So, I try to comment less about this.

OC: When you watched the Olympic Games as a kid, do you remember how old you were and who inspired you the most?

KV: The first time I watched, [was] the 2014 Olympics, I watched Yulia Lipnitskaya and I liked her so much. When I was small, I kept saying all the time: 'All I want is to be the Olympic champion, I want to be the Olympic champion.' I was probably four years old back then.

Kamilla Valieva: Inspiration from Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva

OC: Who else inspires you?

KV: I have rewatched Alina Zagitova's free skate program [from PyeongChang 2018] many times, I do not know why but whenever I didn't feel good I watched it and... she skated it with so much drive. It seemed so easy so I thought: 'If it worked for Alina to skate so lightly, then it can work for me too.'

OC: Alina and Evgenia Medvedeva are the skaters who have inspired many. Do you already feel yourself in that role - of inspiring young skaters?

KV: Well, we have a very small group. When you walk past the dressing room, they go: 'Wow, this is Kamila Valieva.' For me, it's still unclear how this is possible because it's usually me going: 'Wow, this is Alina Zagitova.'

When I pass by and hear others say: 'Wow, this is Kamila', such reaction shocks me a little [laughs]. I don't get why it happens.

OC: Evgenia Medvedeva has recently posted a story where she was asked about you, and she said she adores you. What did you think about that?

KV: It was so nice. I didn't really know Zhenya. I mean, I knew her from TV. When you watch and think: 'Wow. This is Evgenia Medvedeva.' And in life, she is such a pleasant person. She is very open to any communication. You can come and ask her something, she would always respond. She is very positive and very open.

Kamilla Valieva: Quad jumping

OC: The internal rivalry in your skating rink - Khrustalnyy is very intense. Does it help or prevent you from skating?

KV: I think it only helps when you see what everyone can jump. You say, ‘Here comes another quad. And another! And then another...' You can't just stay on the sidelines, you try to do more attempts as well, to do a little better. I think competition always helps.

OC You can perform both - a triple axel and a quadruple jump. What is it like to possess such hard elements?

KV: When I fly into the quad jump, it's such a drive for me. For this split second, it feels as if you flew into space and then back, it brings a very strong pleasure.

In triple [rotation] jumps, you just feel like flying, but during quads, it almost feels like you can hang onto them, and you get a great feeling from that.

"It very brings a very strong pleasure" - Kamilla Valieva on quad jumping

Whenever it works out, it seems like you do not even use that much energy when you get it right. I think more energy is being used on thoughts such as: 'Okay, how do I jump?' So much energy goes to that as well as some psychological moments. The jump itself, in the end, feels easier to make.

OC So how can you turn off the brain?

KV: I still do not understand, myself, how to switch it off [laughs]. During certain competitions, it works for me. I calmly go to skate.

During some, I am all shaking and I think: 'How could I do it so calmly before?' So, I am still in the process of understanding how to do this.