Valentina Marchei - Positively Persistent
November 23, 2010
By Suzanne Herrmann (Suzie)
Photos © Suzanne Herrmann
Valentina continues to discuss this season and the changes it brings. No doubt Valentina is eager to improve herself and in turn her standing on the world figure skating stage.
Suzie: I asked Adam about the rule changes in spins and he said that you cannot repeat positions in spins in the program, but he said you can do variations like a front, side and back sit…
Valentina: Yeah, twice [each position]. You can do two front positions, two side positions, two back positions, but they don’t have to be the same. So, for example, let’s say I do the combo with the side one—
Suzie: The broken leg?
Valentina: The broken leg, and then you do……no, no…better this. Let’s do the combo like this—
Valentina: Yeah, in the front. Then you do the flying sit with this [pancake], which is still a front position, and this one [another front position]—you can’t because they are three types of spins, all the front type and you’re allowed just to do two front type. Know what I mean?
Valentina: So it means that in the combo you would then have to put in a side or a back [position].
Suzie: Now the back one, would that position be when you put your free foot behind the skating leg—is that considered a back one?
Valentina: Yeah, it’s really difficult for me, but yeah.
Suzie: I spent so much time trying to figure it out [spin levels].
Valentina: It’s pretty difficult, but then we [practice] new positions—you can’t really during the season, but during the summer you can do them. I had to [practice] the sit and stuff but it’s still, it’s—this new judging system lets you enjoy [spinning]. Some people say you can’t enjoy competition with this system anymore because you have to count everything. I do enjoy [spins still]. I do count, but still, if I lose a level, it’s ok. Trying new tricks lets you have fun in practice, you know?
Valentina: This kind of skating is evolving and it’s fun.
Suzie: It’s satisfying!
Valentina: It’s satisfying and it’s fun because if you are not able [to be satisfied and have fun in skating,] you stop. I like it. I don’t like to lose challenges, so I am trying.
Suzie: I’m with you!
Suzie: What did you work on during the summer this year?
Valentina: Oh, we were working on the programs. I put my flip into the long program and I’m trying to put the double axel at the end, you know the double axel is the… (laughs) [If my readers recall from my last interview with Valentina from Summer 2009, the double Axel is not her favorite jump.]
Suzie: Looks good!
Valentina: We were working on the triple/triple and the double axel/triple toe. It’s not ready to be in the program; it’s still in progress. I improved [from last year] because the flip is in the long. I challenged myself with a new style and with new music which is not my type, so we spent a lot of time putting jumps into it and [learning how] to get through the music with the new style; with a softer style.
Suzie: Did Nicolai pick it?
Valentina: Nicolai picked it, yeah.
Suzie: Did he pick it so that you would become softer?
Valentina: No, no, he picked it because he thought it could be good for me. I am even softer when I am comfortable and when I’m confident. When I’m afraid or stressed, it’s not that I get stiff, but you can see the stiffness a little bit more than my softer side. It’s Nicolai who picked it and I was not sure at the beginning, but I [gave Nicolai’s idea] a try and I was excited about it because I have full confidence in him. I know that whatever he says is going to help me, not to disturb me or distract me. I believe in him so I [trusted] him. I knew already that [he chose] good music, but I wanted to be 100% sure; I was 90%. When he started to do the choreography, I said it can have nice and funny and cute things and that’s what I wanted because I want to challenge myself every year, now until Sochi. I want to do something different—I want to be myself in both programs but still with something new.
Suzie: Did you keep your short so you could work more on the long?
Valentina: Well, you know, I don’t want to change both of them because it’s a lot of work—two new programs. We figured out that to work less on one program would be better, so that’s why we kept it—but we kept just a part and I like it a lot. I like to [skate the program a lot]; I do it in shows too.
Suzie: In general, what is the most helpful thing for you in training?
Valentina: To repeat and repeat and repeat. I need to do it [the program] a lot of times. Even if I do it 20 times clean, I’m still not happy and I would do it 21. You know?
Valentina: It’s just to repeat because I think when it’s automatic, then everything’s going to be easier and you don’t have to think too much; you just have to concentrate and do in competition exactly what you do in practice. That’s what helps me in practice and that’s the good [part]—to be okay in competition, not to be too stressed and [to feel] normal. Of course you are a little bit nervous, but [you learn] to manage this. Sometimes in competition practice [nerves affect me]. I shake for no reason you know? Sometimes we do [a program or element] just once and you know you have to do it well. You know you are good because your practice is good so you feel like you can do a clean program and it’s all up to you. I feel like that in competition and I think it’s really good because I challenge myself and then I know how to react in competition.
Suzie: If you have a hard time doing a jump one day, are you the type of person who will keep doing it over until you do it right or do you stop and let it go?
Valentina: No, just [work on] technique. Technique or doubles and then I give up maybe for one, two days and then I go back. It doesn’t matter because you never lose jumps; it’s just a mental thing. It means that that day was not your day and that’s it.
Suzie: I asked somebody else this too. When you’re here competing—and like you said you sometimes don’t eat the food that is provided—how do you manage to eat correctly; eating right and eating healthy foods with good nutrition?
Valentina: Well, I bring some stuff from home like tuna, or you can find salad everywhere. I try to keep it simple and eat things like salad or meat (chicken), not too much sauce, juice, sparkling soda or stuff like that; it’s easy. Of course it’s not that they don’t cook healthy. Sometimes I think the meals are too complicated for what they should be for athletes.
Suzie: Mhm. I know as a spectator, the food stinks.
Suzie: In Kingston we’re lucky because there are a lot of places you can go to get food but this is one of the first times I’ve been anywhere where there was this many. Lake Placid had a lot but when Skate America was in Hartford, it was terrible.
Valentina: Yeah. I don’t know. [We’ve been running around so] we didn’t really eat that much this week but it’s ok because you’re in competition and don’t eat that much, so…
Suzie: Do you like to not eat before you compete?
Valentina: Well, no, I eat before I compete. I prefer to eat than to have an empty stomach.
Suzie: Yeah, I decided there’s not very much energy when you don’t eat.
Valentina: Yeah, no-no-no. I always eat. I don’t eat that much [at one time], but I eat a lot of times during the day. That helps me.
Suzie: I’ve noticed you up on the concourse warming up. Do you have a ritual? What types of things do you do when you warm up?
Valentina: Normal things—the normal things I do at home; if I would change [my routine, it] would not be like practice, you know?
Suzie: Do you jog a lot at home? I’ve noticed almost everybody jogs for a significant period of time.
Valentina: Yeah, but not as much when I compete, of course. I also take practice to warm-up on the ice and when you have six minutes you have to make sure you’re warm enough. I don’t run a lot because I don’t get used to and if you don’t get used to that, it’s unhealthy for you. I prefer just to do the same movements I have on the ice and then repeat some rotations.
Suzie: How do you keep yourself focused, especially during—between practice and competition or even the whole weekend? How do you not get inside your head and get yourself nervous?
Valentina: No, because you are here for competing and you know you do not have anything else to do so it’s easy to keep your concentration because you are here for a goal. I don’t really get distracted by anything.
Suzie: You don’t think too much when you’re by yourself?
Valentina: No. Well, if I think too much then I call my mom and just talk… but they never leave me alone and it’s not easy to think too much when you are not alone.
Suzie: Thank you for sharing your time!
Valentina: Thank you to you!
Just this weekend at Rostelecom Cup, the Grand Prix event in Russia, Valentina finished in fifth place with 153.71 points with a fourth place finish in the long program. She constantly aims to improve herself while continuing to maintain the ultimate positive attitude. Valentina is a great ambassador for the sport of figure skating; I think she understands what figure skating is really all about. Best of luck to you, Valentina, as you continue your journey!