Sofia Samodurova: "I happily would do it all over again"
Sofia coaches at the training camp in Kislovodsk
Sofia Samodurova, 19, a few weeks ago announced her retirement from competitive skating. Her career was highlighted by winning the European title in 2019, earning medals at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating and competing at the ISU World Figure Skating Championships in 2019. Sonia now started a coaching career in the school of her long-time coach and mentor Alexei Mishin. She went with a group of young skaters to the training camp in Kislovodsk, where we met.
*Why do we report on Russian skaters/coaches and publish interviews with them in spite of the terrible war (which is even not allowed to be called war in Russia) in Ukraine? We believe that these horrible events are not the fault of the Russian people and we feel that the civil society in Russia should be strengthened and not excluded.*
When did you take your decision to retire?
Sofia: I've been thinking about it since the Russian Championships after my performances. I didn't tell the coaches, I only told my mom. And I had to go to Alexei Nikolaevitch (Mishin) at the end of the season in March. I felt like I had to do something else, there was no sense in skating anymore, I gave everything I could to the sport, I could not have done more. Alexei Nikolaevitch supported me and helped me.
Are there any regrets?
Sofia: The main reason for me to retire is that I did what I could and I was satisfied. If someone asked me whether I would take this path again, I happily would do it all over again.
You seamlessly went into coaching.
Sofia: I wanted to go to my parents, who work in Kazakhstan. But Alexei Nikolaevitch said: wait, give me a couple of days to think about it, and then he came with a decision, an invitation to work with his coaching staff. Otherwise I would have been searched for myself for a long time. I don't think I would have even coached. It would have been hard to do in another country. I'm on my own there.
The next day I came in with a great mood that I got such a chance. It's not every day you can turn things around so quickly. Now I'm working with pleasure. I love the kids, even when they don't listen. I quickly readjusted to my new role and there were no problems. I also perform in shows sometimes. I can go out on the ice, prepare something by myself.
Sofia and her young student Semen Systsov at the training camp in Kislovodsk
How do you feel now at the other side of the boards?
Sofia: My kids have already competed. I was actually more nervous. It was my first try at a competition as a coach and I didn't know yet who prepares in what way. After all, everyone has their own strategy. Someone does certain jumps, someone needs to do some specific moves. I've been learning all that so far. Now I'm aware of everything and I am helping out with the kids, I am helping Tatiana Nikolaevna Mishina. I have Roman Khamzin, Andrei Kotsin, German Lenkov, Agata Petrova, Sofia Ermolova, Dasha Osipova and Semen Systsov in the group. I've been working with them since the end of March.
How do the kids accept you as a coach as you were a fellow skater not long ago?
Sofia: There are still problems with the perception of me as a coach. They have seen me recently on the ice as an athlete in a different role. But I am working. I can be strict. I'm a strict coach and I won't be lenient, as many people are. I try to explain to them that I just want to help them. But they call me Sonia (and not Sofia Viatcheslavovna).
How has your daily schedule changed?
Sofia: It is kind of the same day at Yubleini (ice rink). I get up at the same time, I come to the warm-up, go to the ice. We have warm-up at 10.00 am and ice at 10:45. I am leaving the rink at 4 o'clock. It is a convenient schedule. Wednesdays and Saturdays are half days off.
Sofia and her colleague Alexandra Zvorygina at the training camp in Kislovodsk
You came to the training camp in Kislovodsk for the first time as a coach.
Sofia: I was excited about this training camp. It's my first time in a new role. I was coming here so fired up for work. We go to Kislovodsk because of the mountains and the altitude. It is a plus, especially for training. Right now we're running through the programs. I'm already mounting programs and I’m enjoying it. I did a really nice free program for Agata Petrova. She’ll compete in juniors next season. The plan is to do a short program for Andrei Kotsin and we're looking also for music for Semen. He's moving up to a new category and he will have two programs already.
You’re not only coaching, though.
Sofia: I’m still doing some shows and I'm in my second year at Lesgaft (Sports University). While I'm studying, I'm already getting practical working experience.
The Russian version of this interview has been published on the website of the Figure Skating Federation of Russia (in the material about the training center Kislovodsk).
Русскую версию этого интервью можете прочитать на сайте ФФКР (в общем материалe о базе Кисловодск)
The kids training group with coaches Sofia Samodurova, Vladislav Sezganov and Alexandra Zvorygina in Kislovodsk
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