Smile, what’s the use of crying: Ekaterina Kurakova looks ahead after a season of struggles

Smile, what’s the use of crying: Ekaterina Kurakova looks ahead after a season of struggles

Ekaterina Kurakova had just made her Junior World Championships debut, where she finished seventh, a matter of days before the cancellation of the 2020 World Championships in Montreal. “Frankly speaking, it was a bolt from the blue. I was actively preparing for the World Figure Skating Championships in Toronto, then nobody imagined that the COVID-19 pandemic [would be] so serious. I was very much upset.”

From Canada, Kurakova had the choice of returning to Poland or going to Russia – where she was born and her family lives – and upon realising about the closure of rinks everywhere, she chose Russia.

“Fortunately, my parents moved to a country house until the lockdown ended. Thus, I spent my time in nature. The pause in ice skating lasted two and a half months and although ice rinks were closed, the training never stopped. Brian Orser organized training online on Zoom. It helped me to keep my body in a good shape.”

© Ekaterina Kurakova | Instagram

Favourite program by another skater/team?

Frankly speaking, my favorite program of another skater is Anna Karenina performed by Evgenia Medvedeva.

Kurakova was born in Moscow, Russia and began skating at the age of 4 after being introduced to it by her mother. She competed internationally for Russia until 2017 when she decided to represent Poland and in 2018, moved to Toronto to train at the Toronto Cricket Club under Brian Orser.

Skaters have to be formally released from their country and receive clearance from the ISU to compete internationally and whilst waiting for that, Kurakova won both senior and junior Polish national titles in the 2018-19 season and was officially allowed to start competing for Poland in July 2019.

The 2019-20 season marked her first, and only, full junior season with some senior appearances too. Ekaterina’s first competition was at Minto Summer Skate in Ontario, as a senior, but it wasn’t as smooth sailing as one might have hoped. A technical issue arose with her short program music so with some quick thinking, she decided to use her free skate music Le Corsaire in its place.

“The situation required an instant response from me. I had to adapt to that problem. At that time it was necessary to concentrate not only on the jumps but also to maintain control over the duration of the program, to make sure it lasts 02:50 exactly. Actually, that music was prepared for the free program thus, the music had to be stopped when I got into the final pose. So I had to calculate the timing while skating. In fact, it was my first competition with Brian Orser. I felt the burden of responsibility to skate well! That feeling spurred me to concentrate well on completing my jumps, regardless of the problem with the music.”

She went on to win the competition by 25 points.

© Ekaterina Kurakova | Instagram

In September, Kurakova competed at both of her Junior Grand Prix events. The first was in Riga, Latvia, where she placed fifth, and the second was in Gdańsk, Poland, where she finished seventh.

Looking back, Ekaterina recalls, “the Grand Prix in Gdańsk was very emotionally difficult, mostly because of the responsibility for the country I represent. I really wanted to give joy to people who believe in me. This is the only time when I burst into tears after the free program. It happened just because I gave all of myself. I simply wanted to give a ray of happiness to every person.”

Afterwards, she made her Challenger Series debut at Warsaw Cup, which she won by 12 points over Bradie Tennell. Following this success, she earned another senior title at Mentor Torun Cup, placed tenth at Europeans, and won the junior national title in Poland before heading to Junior Worlds.

A fact people won’t know about you?

Nobody knows that I dream of having a second dog: a French Bulldog.

© Ekaterina Kurakova | Instagram

Ekaterina describes the 2020-21 season as “very difficult,” explaining, “Every month I hoped and waited for the borders to open. I wanted to fly back to Canada, to enjoy my training at the Cricket Club with my coach, Brian Orser. Unfortunately, this did not happen. Thus, it became the self-working season.”

She spent the majority of the season without a coach to guide her on a daily basis and, as of right now, is training with Lorenzo Magri in Italy for the upcoming 2021-22 season. 

Kurakova competed at some domestic competitions before her bigger competitions of the season. The first being Four Nations – a joint national championship where skaters from the Czech Republic, Poland, Slovakia and Hungary compete, which she won by 31 points over Czech figure skater Eliška Březinová. Her next international competition was the 2021 World Championships. After a fall on her opening triple lutz, she, unfortunately, missed out on qualifying for the free skate.

She also disclosed about having “serious problems” with her back and summed up the season as being one of “struggle and pain,” adding, “I fought for not letting the hopelessness get the better of me. Well… it was a great experience actually!”

A song you would love to skate to?

I would like to skate to Sentimental Waltz (Valse Sentimentale) by Tchaikovsky and the Pirates of the Caribbean theme.

© Ekaterina Kurakova | Instagram

Favourite competition memory?

I remember the Warsaw Cup. I had lots of positive emotions about that Competition.

Heading into this season all focus is currently on preparing for Nebelhorn Trophy, where Katya will have the chance to qualify a berth for the Olympics. Before making her Grand Prix debut at Skate America and Rostelecom Cup, she will start the season at Lombardia Trophy in September.

Kurakova describes the process of working on a triple axel as, “going well.” She also revealed that she will be keeping her Charlie Chaplin free program music but with new choreography by Benoît Richaud. As for her short, she wants to keep it a secret for a while longer.

 “In my opinion, it is going to be a breathtaking program. I hope my audience will like it so much.”

© Ekaterina Kurakova | Instagram

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