A lot of people sympathized with Konstantin Menshov last season, when he was held back from going to the Europeans though he had won the bronze medal at the Russian Nationals. Later in the season, Konstantin was sent to World Team Trophy – mostly as a form of compensation – and the figure skating world got to know a very talented skater, with programs to be remembered; unfortunately, the 30-year-old Russian dislocated his right shoulder while attempting a triple Axel during the free and was forced to withdraw from the event. It was definitely a tough pre-season for Konstantin, with recovery procedures and painful injections, but the Russian came back even stronger – and won in Budapest, a month ago, his first big medal, the European bronze.
Reading Konstantin’s answers you’ll discover a kind man, a wonderful person – and, let me tell you, doing this particular interview was indeed a joyful experience: Konstantin sent the answers to my questions one by one, like a little surprise for every day of the week; and as I was gathering the pieces of the puzzle I was once more amazed by his strength to carry on in spite of the difficulties.
by Florentina Tone
Konstantin, a month ago you won your first European medal, your first big medal at a major ISU competition. You must be absolutely thrilled about your performance. Did you see that coming? In other words, which were your goals coming to Budapest?
Of course I’m very happy. Actually, I began to believe that I can get into Top 3 when I finished my free program, because this season in competitions I haven’t skated very well in the short program, but I have managed to win back more than 10 points in the free. When I came to Budapest I knew that if I skated clean I could fight for the podium, but I tried not to think about that. My main task was to skate clean – and in the free program I did that.
One thing is sure: the audience really loves you and your programs; a lot of people were enthusiastic about your routines in Budapest. Although you haven’t been very present in major international competitions – due to a lot of outside factors – you have a lot of fans. How do you explain that? And how does this make you feel?
I don’t know how to explain this. I think I am very kind, I never say no if someone asks for a picture or for an autograph. In sport and in life if somebody needs help I will try to help. But this kindness sometimes prevents me in sport.
On the other hand, when we make new programs we try to make them with a meaning, with sense, and this sense I try to convey to the audience at competitions – and I really hope I have done that. Of course, I am very pleased that people love and support me, Big thanks to them.
The figure skating fans really empathize with your situation in Russia; as many of us know, the Russian federation overlooked you last season, choosing not to send you to the Europeans. How did you cope with the situation? Others would have quit seeing they didn’t get the support they deserved…
Last season, Russian Federation decided to send much younger sportsman Kovtun. I don’t know, that was their decision, they believe he is more stable. It was very difficult to overcome this situation, because last year was very successful for me, I skated well in competitions and I showed that I could fight with strongest skaters. For me it was a shock that I wasn’t the one chosen to go to the Europeans, but my teammates, family members, friends and fans supported me and said not to give up.
You ended up last season with a terrible fall and a dislocated shoulder – and you came back this season to the competitive arena. How was the healing process, the rehabilitation? From outside, you seem to have coped very well with the problem and come back even stronger…
After the incident, I have consulted with many doctors and everyone had their own opinion: some said that I needed operation, another one said without operation, another said I wouldn’t skate normal in the future. We decided to go ahead without surgery, because sportsmen are not normal people. I have made a lot of recovery procedures and very painful injections and it helps. I still have pain when I make some movements, so I have to move my hand carefully and correct my choreography in programs with this nuance. In pre-season I have used the time to recover, not to prepare for competitions.
Your programs this year are wonderful – who is responsible for the musical choices (especially that mixture of songs by René Aubry)?
Every year, me and my choreographer Olga Glinka try to find interesting music for new programs and every year it’s a very big problem. René Aubry is her discovery: she gave me that composition to listen and I liked it very much, I felt that it was mine.
You kept your free program from last season. Why is that?
Due to injury I had no time to make two new programs and, again, it was big problem with searching good music. I like my old free program, I think it was a very successful one, so me and my coach decided to keep it.
What are your plans for the next season? The general opinion in Budapest, especially after you won the bronze medal, was that you should continue skating competitively…
While I can’t say anything now, if my health is ok and I have the power, desire and willingness I will continue to skate. Now I have them. My goal is to jump two quadruple jumps in the short program in competition and make a combination with two quads (4+4) at least in practice.
At the small medals ceremony in Budapest, you said that in the future you would like to coach, that you are already giving advice to kids skating at the arena where you train. Do you stick with that when it comes to your future?
I like to coach, children like me, they are listening to me. And I want to give them my experience. All my life I have skated, that’s all I can do, so this is already my profession.
What do you think it will happen in Sochi in the men’s event? If you were to bet on someone, who would you bet on?
Olympic Games can sometimes be an unpredictable event, anything can happen. If I were to bet, I will bet on Patrick Chan, like most people. But support, of course, goes to our athletes, whoever they were, Pluschenko, Kovtun or Voronov. Good luck to all the athletes.
PHOTO-GALLERY: Konstantin Menshov at the Europeans in Budapest