For Evgenia Medvedeva, it’s all about K-Pop. The two-time figure skating world champion is a devoted fan of the South Korean pop music.
Saying that she goes crazy for the hugely popular boy-band EXO would be an understatement.
The 18-year-old Russian listens to their music all the time, often right before her competitions. Medvedeva even has autographs and letters from the members of Exo.
The two-time Olympic silver medallist sat down with the Olympic Channel and spoke about her passion for EXO and K-pop.
“Nobody knows but after this meeting I was screaming like a fan girl. I felt so shy about it. It was just so amazing and I don’t know what to say. So cool and magical.”
She also shares some insight on her love for anime and explains the reasons for her coaching switch.
Olympic Channel: You are back in Tokyo. What does it feel like to be back in a country that really appreciates your sport – figure skating?
Evgenia Medvedeva: “I always love Japan. Especially to show my performances in Japan because as we know all the people in Japan really love figure skating and it really is a magical feeling when you finish your performance and you see the reactions of your fans.”
OC: They are very appreciative of what you do here. When you come to Tokyo do you have a list of things that you must do in this city?
EM: “First of all, I think you must just walk around. This time, I will visit three cities that I haven’t seen before. It is really interesting because in every city, I can find something new. And second of all, of course, food because Japanese food is my favourite.”
OC: Give us an example of some of your favourite Japanese dishes that you must eat when you are here?
EM: “The thing that I must have here in Japan is rice. White rice with soy sauce. Of course, maccha, green tea and salmon and maybe tuna but not always.”
OC: Another thing that Japan is famous for is anime. And you are a self-professed anime fan. Why do you like anime so much?
EM: “Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe because I don’t like movies a lot. I think in anime or in cartoons we can go beyond fantasy, we can do everything and see everything we want… Now is the third season of Tokyo Ghoul. There’s so much feeling because so much changes.”
OC: What do you like about it?
EM: “I like honestly everything. And I like to see something new. And old anime. So I started to watch Tokyo Ghoul about one year ago. I have waited a long time for the third season. And now I am looking at it like it’s a treasure.”
OC: You managed to bridge the world between anime and reality in your performances. You’ve performed as Sailor Moon before and also as a character from Yuri on Ice. Why do you bring anime into figure skating?
EM: “Honestly it was all so strange because in that season when I performed as Sailor Moon. We just had an idea what we should do for a gala and I just said like a joke – you know, maybe Sailor Moon and why not? And guess what. Finally we did it.”
OC: And how is it to dance the Sailor Moon routine in Tokyo? What was the reception and the reaction like?
EM: “It was a little bit hard because I always worry that I don’t look like the characters in the anime. But every one says I am really similar to Sailor Moon but with dark hair.”
OC: Yuri on Ice is an anime about the figure skating world. How close do you think Yuri on Ice is to the reality of the figure skating world?
EM: “I can’t say it is absolutely similar. Athletes communicate with each other. Sometimes it is true. Sometimes it isn’t true. We all know that it’s anime. It’s not reality. But all the places we see on Yuri On Ice are really similar to what they are. Even the rooms. Even ice rinks. Everything. I was in the Grand Prix final in Barcelona two times. The first time in juniors, the second as a senior. When I watched the series about the Grand Prix final of Yuri on Ice, there were really similar places. Absolutely similar places. Yeah!
OC: What about the emotion and the drama of the skaters? Is it the same what they feel?
EM: “Sometimes yes.”
OC: We are in the off-season now. How important is it for you to do these off-season tours?
EM: “I just hope the fans will be able to see me from another side, from a new side, a stronger side than before. Now I just feel that I am not afraid any more. Of nothing. I am not afraid. I really feel confident and free on the ice. I can enjoy every moment.”
OC: When we do look back at your season, you came back from injury, for some people that is an amazing achievement. How do you feel personally about what you managed to achieve at PyeongChang?
EM: “I really had so many experiences and so many emotions this season. Good. Bad. It’s really hard to sit on the sofa and just look at the telephone and the internet, see all of them competing and getting those medals, without having the chance to be in there. It is really hard for me because it was my first experience of this and it was an Olympic season and there were so many bad things in my mind but I had so much motivation and so much support from my coach, my family and my best friends. I did not do it alone. Alone I wouldn’t have been able to make it to the Olympics.”
OC: Figure skating is an art and a performance but do you think that after PyeongChang 2018 that the artistic side of figure skating is not as important as it used be?
EM: “I would say it is half and half. It is art and it is sport. I can’t say that something is more important. Everything is important. If you only jump, it’s not enough. If it’s only art, it’s not enough either. We just have to work hard to make it balanced. You have to do everything better than you did last season. You shouldn’t just stay in the same spot. You should go forward.”
OC: We saw some skaters who decided to put more jumps at the end of the programme. When you see those routines, they tend to be a bit boring. But at the same they score higher points. Do you feel like you need to go in that direction? To start focusing in that area so you can compete with the other skaters who are putting more jumps at the back?
EM: “I will talk about the short programme. In my short programme, all my jumps were in the second half too. Yes, it is harder but you should just keep a balance. You have to look at your music. So if your music changes from slow to fast, it’s ok to do all jumps in the second part. But if the music is no good for this kind of programme, like in the first half all spins and step sequences and then only in the second half just jump jump jump. And figure skating is half art and half sport and our performance is art. We have to think about judges and audience not to make it boring.”
Passion for K-pop
OC: One of the highlights for you in PyeongChang apart from the skating was meeting the boyband EXO.
EM: “Nobody knows but after this meeting I was screaming like a fan girl. I felt so shy about it. It was just so amazing and I don’t know what to say. So cool and magical.”
OC: Have you kept in contact?
EM: “We all know that those guys are really busy. But I have a lot of autographs from them and I follow them on social networks.”
OC: Maybe one day they could come and watch you skate?
EM: “I hope so.”
OC: Would you do that?
EM: “I will try but I don’t know if they we will agree or not.”
A new beginning
OC: After 11 years you decided to part ways with your coach, Eteri Tutberidze. Why did you make that choice?
EM: “It was my choice. It was the hardest choice in my life. I just sat on my bed and I just didn’t know what I should do. But I did make this choice and finally I can see some light in my future. And I will try to become better and better. I just want to try to go straight forward. As I said, I don’t want to stagnate.”
OC: You will be moving to Canada to join your new coach Brian Orser. What do you know about Canada? What do you know about Toronto that excites you?
EM: “I don’t know a lot about Toronto, but everybody says to me it is a great city. It is so beautiful. Beautiful nature, beautiful people. I can spend some cool times there. It is quiet and there are kind people. So I really hope that I will have the chance to focus on my skating.”
OC: What will you miss about living in Russia?
EM: “I never thought this is my home and only this place is my home. My home is where my close people are. If I will change the city, yes, I will miss my city and country. But I know that all my important persons are beside me. And I hope that I will feel like home.”
OC: There were media speculation, that now you were in another city, you might compete for a different country?
EM: “No. Only Russia. You know, this is just people speaking. So strange. I don’t know where they get this information from. I will continue to compete and represent the Russian Federation. I will never change it.”
OC: By the way, am I right in thinking that you have got a new car? Can you tell us a bit about that? Do you feel like a movie star in your new car?
EM: “You know, I am not a driver. My driver is my mum. That’s a little fact about me. I am afraid to drive a car. Maybe in the future I will try to learn how to drive but now I am afraid.”
OC: What car do you drive?
EM: “A BMW.”
OC: Why did you pick that car?
EM: “Because it was a present from the Russian Federation for all medallists.”
Evgenia Medvedeva was this week’s big interview on the Olympic Channel Podcast. Each Wednesday we reach into the mind of someone Olympic. We want you to think like an Olympian.
The interview and questions were shortened to make them easier to read. Olympic Channel reporter Sanjeev Palar conducted the interview.