Shelepen finds greatest joy in life on ice

Russian skater buoyed by upbeat attitude

Polina Shelepen will compete at the JGP Final for the third year in a row.
Polina Shelepen will compete at the JGP Final for the third year in a row. (Getty Images)


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By Vladislav Luchianov, special to
(11/01/2011) - This season has begun very well for Russia's Polina Shelepen. She won both of her Junior Grand Prix events, in Latvia and Romania, and has qualified for the JGP Final, which will be held in Quebec City, Quebec, at the Pavillon de la Jeunesse, Dec. 8-11.

Only 16 years old, she is already a two-time Russian junior bronze medalist and the 2011 national junior silver medalist. Her list of achievements in the JGP Series includes five gold medals and a silver medal at the JGP Final last year.

But not only medals attract Shelepen to figure skating. She enjoys spending time at the rink, training and learning new elements. When she was a child, it was hard for her parents to take her away from the rink; sometimes, she left in tears. How did you start skating?

Shelepen: I was taken by my mom to the rink, as I didn't like to go to kindergarten because there everyone had to eat a cream of wheat, which I didn't love and I still don't love. (She laughs.) At what moment did you realize that figure skating had become the most important thing in your life?

Shelepen: I have been in love with the sport since my childhood. I thought about quitting when I learned my triple jumps, which, of course, I didn't learn all at once. But my coach, Eteri Tutberidze, persuaded me to stay with it, and when I learned all my triple jumps, I realized the mistake I almost made. You have the full arsenal of triple jumps. I've heard that some years ago, in training, you executed a quad Salchow. Is this so? What is your opinion on jumping elements in modern ladies skating? Will they become more and more difficult?

Shelepen: Yes, I tried quad Salchow a few years ago, though it turned out under-rotated. As to whether the jumps will become more difficult, I think they will be, but not much, because now the focus is on skating skills. What are your thoughts on this season's Junior Grand Prix Series?

Shelepen: There are many strong competitors in the Junior Grand Prix. At times, it seems to me that it is more difficult to compete at the junior level than at the senior. You are a JGP finalist, after your victories in Latvia and Romania. How would you evaluate your performances in those events?

Shelepen: I can not say that my performances were perfect, but they were quite good. Nevertheless, I still have a lot of work to do, and that's good. There are many very talented ladies skaters in Russia. What are the reasons for such successful development of ladies skating in your country in recent years?

Shelepen: It is true; there is a lot of good competition among ladies in Russia. I don't know precisely what the reason for it is. We have many very good skaters who are former juniors, but some of them don't have enough international experience yet. Who do you consider your main competitors?

Shelepen: For me, there is only one competitor -- that's me! If I overcome myself, then I will have good results. How do you get ready for big events?

Shelepen: I always have a positive attitude. This is the most important thing for me.