Published: 10 July
(Translated to English by @FSU member ‘quiqie’ @ Figure Skating Universe)
Denis: At the moment, I’m trying to hide from the world a bit. There was a lot going on in my life before that required media coverage, when the interest went down a bit, I went into hiding. There were many things not related to sport that got in the way. I decided to change my mindset, even changed my lifestyle a bit. I stopped using social networks for a while, and came back only to be polite to people who followed me closely. Today, if you are not present online, everyone thinks something has happened, and my fans became worried. Social networks are communication platform for public figures. I recently came back from Korea where I skated in a show. I was able to announce the upcoming event on my web page, and I am happy that many people from Kazakhstan and other countries came to Korea.
Caravan: Has the show helped you to recharge after the difficult season?
Denis: It was my first time skating after the rehabilitation. I was in a medical centre in India where they can cure even hopeless patients. Prior to that, I was combining training with treatment in Europe and America. This was the first time that I focused only on treatment. I went back on ice only a week before the show. It was a nice feeling. Now the rehabilitation is coming to an end, I feel better in many ways. Last season was an endless race into uncertainty. Sometimes I didn’t even understand what was going on: no proper training, no healing, no competitions. I pushed myself too much.
Caravan: There was no one who could tell you to stop?
Denis: Now I understand that it’s impossible to grasp the immensity. But this experience was useful, it answered a lot of questions about my development as a skater and my future plans. You can’t have a perfect road in sport. If there are no challenges, you don’t learn.
Caravan: The next season will be busy: besides the usual events, there are Asian Games and Universiade in your home country. You were probably already invited to participate…
Denis: We haven’t made a final decision yet. There are really many competitions this season. For example, the 4CC which will be held in Pyeongchang at the future Olympic arena. We don’t know yet at which Grand Prix events I will skate. When everything is settled – I think it will happen by the end of summer – we will have a final plan for the season. In any case, I want to skate in a way that will be beneficial for my country.
Caravan: You had withdrawn very unexpectedly from the 4CC in February…
Denis: It was very disappointing. I was in a great shape, I was ready to defend my title. Unfortunately, problems began a week before the competition. Usually in February, I start gaining the optimal shape for the WC. And here, all of a sudden everything collapsed, several injuries, problems with equipment. I had to start building myself up from scratch. At the WC, for the first time in my life, I felt as if I was skating in the Grand Prix, and the season has just begun.
Caravan: The problems couldn’t have been avoided?
Denis: An athlete is an expert of compensation. When one part of your body is not working properly, you compensate for it with something else. But affects execution of technical elements, disrupts the balance of skating. Even the boots change their shape with time, they conform to the new balance in skating. I had trouble with my hip all season. Then my back started to hurt. It happened over a short period of time, and I didn’t get to skate at 4CC. It became clear three days prior to the event that I won’t be able to skate. For me it was a shock, like a film has ended during the most interesting moment.
Caravan: What about the hysteria surrounding your allegedly intentional collision with the Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu at the WC in Boston, was it a shock for you?
Denis: It was unexpected. We are all professionals, and here (they) were trying to make the sport look like a kindergarten. People were watching and they couldn’t understand what was going on. I didn’t even know how to react. It affected my concentration. At the rink, I was always surrounded by a flock of journalists who were interested not in my skating, but my relationship with Hanyu. Fans somehow found my phone number and spammed me with messages every day, sent e-mails. There were new comments on social networks every second. But I can understand this , everyone has their own point of view of the world. These events are only pebbles on my way. They are secondary and have nothing to do with the sport.
Caravan: Did you get any support in press?
Denis: It’s an interesting phenomenon: everyone was attacking me from the outside, but people within (the community) supported me. The ISU supported me, the figure skating press supported me – they saw the situation from the inside. The fans of the other skater even said that some articles were planted. Many famous skaters offer to do something as a sign of support. But why? For what? I had other things to worry about. I was glad that people who know the ins and outs (of figure skating) were able to understand the irony of the situation.
Caravan: So what happened on the ice?
Denis: Nothing. There was no collision. I can accuse you of looking at me and doing it intentionally, to make me uncomfortable. And I won’t say it to your face, but I will make public and make people believe my words.
Caravan: Why did Hanyu do it?
Denis: I can only guess.
Caravan: Taking into account your injury, are you satisfied with your skating at the WC?
Denis: Of course I’m not. When you have a goal, you don’t think that you can lose. As a seasoned skater with certain ambitions, I wanted to overcome it. On the other hand, when I skated injured before, I used to forget my injuries on the ice, due to adrenaline of competition. Here, I didn’t have a feeling that the moment has come. I constantly felt unwell, I was worried, plus the tension because of this incident… It affected my performance, but I analyzed it and I understood my mistakes. Injuries are typical for an athlete, difficulties are part of our career. You have to learn to overcome them. I skated with injuries all my life, but something went wrong here, and it shouldn’t happen again.
Caravan: In addition to skating, you play musical instruments, photography – it seems you have a lot of hobbies.
Denis: I wouldn’t say that, it’s just that I had a lot of free time, and I didn’t know what to do with my energy. When I was injured, I skated on one leg: I had skate on one foot, and a sneaker on the other. That was how I broke in new skates. I studied music as a child, and I wanted to check if I still was able to transcribe the music. When I understood the principle, I lost interest. The same was with photography. It’s something I become interested in when I get free time. Sport takes most of my time. University is probably the only other thing that’s not just an interest, but a part of my everyday schedule.
Caravan: How long have you left?
Denis: At least a year. It’s good, because I still will be a student during Universiade.
Caravan: You are famous, charismatic and well-spoken; you could become a good politician. Did you ever think about a career in politics?
Denis: At the moment, I see myself only as an athlete. I don’t have any ideas about my future for at least two years. I don’t want to even thing about it. My main and the most ambitious goal is Olympic Games in Korea. And if I want to do something else with my life after 2018, I know I will find myself in something. I don’t have any doubts about that.