Ice Network

Pogorilaya claims spot among Russia's young elite

Cup of China gold medalist dishes on sudden success, new aspirations
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Anna Pogorilaya exceeded her own expectations by making the Grand Prix Final. -Getty Images

The 2013 Grand Prix Final will be held this week in Fukuoka, Japan, and in the ladies event, Russia will be represented by four skaters: Julia Lipnitskaia, Anna Pogorilaya, Adelina Sotnikova and Elena Radionova. Some fans are even calling the forthcoming competition as a general rehearsal for the Russian championships.

Lately, it seems like new, young and talented Russian girls appear every year, but if we look back prior to the 2010 Olympic Winter Games, we will see that the situation was just the opposite. These improvements in ladies skating was made possible by young coaches who successfully steered new young stars.

Pogorilaya is one of the representatives of the new generation. This season, she made her senior Grand Prix debut at the 2013 Cup of China and won the gold medal, edging out 2013 European silver medalist Adelina Sotnikova and 2012 world champion Carolina Kostner. At her next Grand Prix event, in Paris, she won the bronze and qualified for her first senior Grand Prix Final.

Icenetwork talked with Pogorilaya about her international debut on the senior stage, her attitude toward skating and the upcoming Grand Prix Final.

Icenetwork: Anna, this season you surprised the skating world by winning gold at your debut senior Grand Prix event in China, bronze in Paris and by reaching the Grand Prix Final. How do you evaluate your recent achievements?

Pogorilaya: Well, all these achievements, including victory at the Cup of China, I take as a little gift of destiny for all my work done (she smiles).

Icenetwork: Was the spot at the Grand Prix Final your initial goal from the very beginning this season?

Pogorilaya: No, it wasn't at all. I didn't have a goal to reach the Final. My main goal was to begin showing myself at the senior stages of the Grand Prix series. However, now I'm getting ready in full swing for the Grand Prix Final.

I was given more ice, and now I train twice as much. Also, at the end of each workout, I can spend more time on my spins. At the last event, in Paris, in the short program, I got Level 3 for some of my spins, so I need to improve them.

Icenetwork: In an interview last month, you estimated quite modestly your chances at the Final, saying that it's incredibly difficult to compete against such rivals as Julia Lipnitskaia and Mao Asada. However, in China you defeated a three-time Russian champion, Adelina Sotnikova. You still do not believe you are capable of beating more famous rivals?

Pogorilaya: I just don't want to give myself airs (she smiles). Actually, Adelina skated her free skate not quite well and it allowed me to get ahead of her.

Icenetwork: As I understand, according to your reaction in the kiss and cry, you're pretty tough on yourself when performances don't turn out as well as you wish. Is this a trait of your sporting character?

Pogorilaya: Yes, you are right. It's hard for me to look happy if I don't make everything planned well. That's why I understand Julia very well (Pogorilaya is referring to Lipnitkaia's reaction after her free skate at the Rostelecom Cup).

In France, I was very upset after the short program because I could gain more points and be at the level of American Ashley Wagner. But because of my mistakes, as well as due to the fact that Adelina Sotnikova also performed her program not so well, I was on the same level [with Sotnikova].

I was very upset because Adelina and I had not a big difference in points, and after free skating, I certainly hoped to get higher result.

Icenetwork: In your opinion, what is the main cause of your rapid improvement over the past two years?

Pogorilaya: I think the main cause is that in the last two years, I have technically strong and stable skating.

Icenetwork: Recently, Inna Goncharenko, a coach of Elena Radionova, said that in the coming years, ladies figure skating will be mostly Russian. What do you think about this, and how would you explain the growth of Russian ladies in recent years?

Pogorilaya: I agree with the statement of Inna Goncharenko because now we really have a lot of strong girls. I think the growth of ladies skating is related to the appearance of new and talented young coaches who have brought new "little stars."

Icenetwork: The Russian championships is coming and, for obvious reasons, it will be one of the "hottest" events. Recently, you said that you try not to think about it yet. Do you really manage to not think about it, given its qualifying nature? And what helps you to be distracted from those thoughts and focus on current events?

Pogorilaya: Well, it somehow turns out [that I don't] think about it (she smiles). Of course, I will fight there. Russian nationals mean everything to me! I look forward to take a worthy place, so I can participate at major international tournaments.

Icenetwork: As far as I know, you have significantly increased the workload on your trainings these days.

Pogorilaya: I get more confidence and stability from additional trainings. Competitions show that the more you work, the less likely you make mistakes. This relates for jumping elements, as well as for all the other aspects of skating.

Icenetwork: Many say ladies skating is shaky. However, this Grand Prix series showed that ladies were no less stable than others. What would you say to those who underestimate your figure skating discipline?

Pogorilaya: I would say that, for example, Mao Asada consistently takes first or second place. There is also Yu-Na Kim. Apparently, such people do not know them (she smiles).