“There is this fire inside of me [and] it really helps me to overcome difficult situations.”
Evgenia Medvedeva has needed that fire these last few months, the Olympic silver medallist at PyeongChang 2018 and two-time world champion in figure skating having faced a bad back injury as well as falling sick in November, during the COVID-19 pandemic, all while making a move from her adopted training home of Toronto back to Russia.
“In this season, I've got a lot of health challenges, and I'm still fighting against them,” she said in English in a recent exclusive interview with Olympic Channel.
“My back is getting so much better and I'm still getting into treatments and I'm healing every day with my own ups and downs. But it's going so much better.”
Medvedeva, now 21, hopes to continue to be able to skate again. She hasn’t competed internationally in nearly 15 months, since winning the silver medal at Rostelecom Cup in Nov. 2019.
Supporting the next generation - from the sidelines
In the meantime, a slew of up-and-coming Russians have made a splash, including three-time national champion and Medvedeva’s training mate under coach Eteri Tutberidze, Anna Shcherbakova, as well as Alena Kostornaia, Alexandra Trusova, and Kamila Valieva, who also trains with Tutberidze.
Medvedeva, herself a junior world champion in 2015, does not want to play the role of trying to predict which upcoming skater’s star will burn brightest.
“Younger [Russian] skaters will make the future history of figure skating and... I'm happy to see that for my country,” she said. “We're doing great.”
She added: “I'm not that person who will discuss about, "who will be in the top?" and "who will not be in the top?" because I don't know. I really don't know. I just see how everybody's working. And all of them are hard workers. And I don't know what will happen with Kamila, or in the future or with Anna. ... But I just wish all the best for them and for sure, good luck.”
“[Anna is] amazing. I mean, I'm proud of her and I’ve known her since she was six years old, so she was like teeny tiny and she's actually [still] a tiny girl. I'm proud of her and it's really amazing,” Medvedeva said of Shcherbakova.
And on Valieva, she said: “I really like her skating, I like her jumps ... And she is like always smiling. ... Well, I like her and I hope that she will do amazing on the Olympics, but first of all, on qualifying for Olympics. So [I’m] really cheering for her because she deserves it. And she's such a hard worker.”
“I'm not that person who will discuss about who will be in the top and who will not be in a top because I don't know. I really don't know. I just see how everybody's working. And all of them are hard workers." - Evgenia Medvedeva to Olympic Channel.
Medvedeva: I have 'lots of goals... private goals', too
For now, Medvedeva is leaving the door open. She needs to get her back 100 percent healthy and fully engage in training again, but it’s an uphill battle as the Olympic season approaches: Quadruple jumps and triple Axels are becoming more and more the norm in ladies’ figure skating.
“My back is still challenging me on triple jumps, so I'm doing my best to stay healthy and maybe who knows?" explained Medvedeva. "Who knows what will happen in the future. But talking from today, I'm not in a health condition to do difficult jumps [like that].”
And about that future?
“The only thing that I can tell you now is that I'm doing my best to stay healthy and to be able to prepare for the competitions... to be in shape." - Evgenia Medvedeva to Olympic Channel on what comes next
“I'm having lots of goals that we would want to reach and some of them really like private goals that I'm keeping only in my mind,” she said. “So in this world that we are living in today, it is really difficult to stay motivated. And, well, I'm just pushing myself [through] that sometimes. ... [I think] lots of people are doing this in this time.”
Evgenia Medvedeva: Not done yet
In 2020, Medvedeva has picked up playing the ukulele – and also added a second French bulldog to her household, Tofu Chan.
But has she thought about walking away from the sport?
“I don't know. I'm 21 and with every year it's getting harder and harder to stay in shape and stay motivated,” she said.
And what keeps her motivated?
“My fans, so this is the only thing that I am competing for,” she said.
“After the Olympics, I was trying to prove to everybody something, but now I'm just looking back and I already proved everything. And I just I love figure skating and I like this feeling. I like to see the happy faces ... how the audience is reacting. And, you know, it's such a pleasure to hear people clapping and screaming for my performances.”