Lausanne, Switzerland

#FigureSkating   #UpAgain   

Russia’s rising star Kamila Valieva reigned supreme in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series this season. Not only did the 15-year-old prodigy win her two events Skate Canada International and Rostelecom Cup in her international senior-level debut season, but she kept pushing the highest score since the Challenger event Finlandia Trophy. The 2020 ISU World Junior Champion now holds the highest score for the Women’s Short Program (87.42 points), the Free Skating (185.29 points) and total score (272.71 points) – all set at Rostelecom Cup.Kamila includes the triple Axel in both programs and three quads – two toes and one Salchow in her Free Skating. She combines that with all triple jumps, excellent spins and high speed to achieve these high scores. However, the records are only secondary for the skater that moved from her hometown Kazan to Moscow a few years ago for better training conditions.

Kamila Valieva RUS WJFSC 2020 Tallinn EST©International Skatin Union 1211002988

Kamila Valieva (RUS) wins the ISU World Junior Figure Skating Champoinships 2020 in Tallinn (EST) © International Skating Union (ISU)

“I can always do better, there is always room for improvement,” she said with a smile. “I did everything I had planned in my program and that was probably the most important task for me. I am very excited about these scores. I will try to skate better, to fulfill the tasks set for me, but the judges will decide about the scores.”

The teenager is not chasing after scores, but after the perfect performance. “My goal is to go out each time so that the people enjoy it (the performance) esthetically, that they truly like it, that there is a complete program and that I am able to bring across the character,” Kamila explained.

“At this competition (Rostelecom Cup) I caught myself thinking that I did not want to smile a lot in the program for some reason,” she continued. “I set the goal to just skate with confidence and I thought I can convey my mood through the program. If I don’t want to smile all the time, I am more confident. If I am in a different mood, I will play more with the judges and the spectators.”

Kamila Valieva ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Rostelecom Cup 2021 ©International Skating Union  1236821305

Kamila Valieva (RUS) competing at the 2021 ISU Grand Prix of Fiigure Skating Rostelecom Cup © International Skating Union (ISU)

In the past Valieva sometimes struggled with her nerves in competition, she was stressed and she made mistakes. She felt much calmer at the Grand Prix Sochi. „I am very happy that I was able to go out calmly, I thought about each step, each action that I am taking. This is probably a preparation for the next competitions,” she shared. “I am gaining confidence with each competition.”

Also, her little furry friend, Pomeranian Liova, helped her to relax at Rostelecom Cup. “When he is there (at the competition), I feel almost like at home. I am coming home after practice, and Liova comes to me. I have to brush him, walk him. You relax and leave behind that his is actually a competition,” the Skater noted.

On the ice, Kamila is focused and performs elements of highest difficulty with surprising ease. She does the triple Axel and quads with her arms raised above her head. Off the ice she likes to have fun with fellow Skaters and other friends and she smiles a lot. She used to be very shy, but with her growing confidence, she has opened up a lot.

Kamila Valieva ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Rostelecom Cup 2021 ©International Skating Union  1236863971

Kamila Valieva (RUS) competing at the 2021 ISU Grand Prix of Fiigure Skating Rostelecom Cup © International Skating Union (ISU)

Valieva has grown not only as a person and as a performer, but as well physically. She says that she has grown about five centimetres since last year and is now at 1.60 m. It does not seem to have affected her jumps, but it was still a challenge. “In Novogorsk (during summer training) it was very hard,” she admitted. “It is already difficult to pull yourself together after vacation anyway and by the test skates (in September) I still wasn’t there yet. Now I more or less understand myself, how to jump, where to put my arms, my legs,” she shared with a laugh. The quads come easier to her than the triple Axel. “Apparently because it (the Axel) has a forward entry,” she mused.

Kamila Valieva RUS GP RUS Sochi 2021 ©International Skatin Union 1236875134Kamila Valieva (RUS) wins gold at the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Rosteleocom Cup 2021 © International Skating Union (ISU)

At Rostelecom Cup, Valieva scored higher than the winner in the Men’s event, her friend from her training group, Morisi Kvitelashvili (GEO), with whom she even performs in his exhibition number. She had 272.71 points while he had 266.33 points. Nevertheless, unlike her teammate Alexandra Trusova, Kamila is not interested in competing with the men. “I did not think about that. Anyway, there should be such a strength in men’s skating. In women’s skating more emotions are required, more expression of the programs. It is probably more interesting for me to skate in the women’s than in the men’s. I like my category,” she said.   

Kamila might be only 15 years old, but she knows what she wants and what she needs to do to achieve it. She feels that the most influential person in her life is – herself. “If I set myself up right, then no one can throw me off or change my mindset in any way. So I think it's just me,” she shared.

The Skate Canada Champion feels inspired by her coach, Eteri Tutberidze. “She always finds in your performance exactly these moments that you need to improve and sometimes she says things that I never heard yet in the four years of our work. She might share a new thought about the program and you are listening and you realize, yes, this was lacking.”

Kamila Valieva ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating Rostelecom Cup 2021 ©International Skating Union  1236852209

 Kamila Valieva (RUS) taking a picture with ice skater Maiia Khromykh (RUS), her coach Eteri Tutberidze (RUS) and former ice dancer and single skater Daniil Gleikhengauz at the 2021 ISU Grand Prix of Fiigure Skating Rostelecom Cup © International Skating Union (ISU)

With Valieva setting record scores and dominating her Grand Prix events, obviously everyone has started to talk about the Olympic Games and she has become a top contender, no doubt. Will she repeat what her compatriot Alina Zagitova did in 2018 – coming out as the fresh newcomer in her first senior year with spectacular performances and take the gold at age 15? However, Kamila does not like to think too much ahead and to put herself under this pressure. She wants to take it step by step and continue to work hard. “Just work, work a lot, the more the better,” she pointed out. “If you truly work, you’ll show in the competition what you’ve done.”

Valieva’s Short Program this season to “In Memoriam” by Kirill Richter has a symbolic libretto. While Kamila dedicates this program to her grandmother who has passed away, it has its own story. “In this program, I am running after a butterfly, I am following it throughout the whole program. I am imaging this as a dream that you are striving for, that is calling you. In the end, I catch the butterfly and my dream comes true.” Maybe it comes true on the Olympic stage in February 2022.