Two Olympic gold medal winning figure skaters – 2018 ladies’ champion Alina Zagitova and 2002 men’s champion Alexei Yagudin – appeared on the popular Russian late night talk show Vecherniy Urgant (translated from Russian – Evening Urgant). The figure skating champions spoke with the show’s host, Ivan Urgant, about the new season of Channel One’s ice skating show Ice Age, which begins this weekend and is hosted by Zagitova and Yagudin.
The following is the whole interview translated to English, with help from Russian news website sport24:
Urgant: Alina, many events have happened in your life since our last meeting: you turned 18 years old, you graduated from high school, entered a college for journalism, got a driver’s license. Where did you find the time to learn to drive?
Zagitova: Quarantine, because it was long enough. As soon as they said that there would be quarantine, I immediately began to think about what to do with myself to be productive. And it worked. I wanted to drive for a long time.
Urgant: You didn’t drive before because you didn’t have a license?
Zagitova: No, I drove, but with my dad.
Urgant: With dad.
Zagitova: Naturally. I learned to drive in Izhevsk…
Urgant: Did you quarantine in Izhevsk?
Zagitova: Yes, I was there with my parents. The quarantine wasn’t as strict as in Moscow.
Urgant: Everything was closed there, but driving schools were open?
Urgant: Was it hard to pass your license? I’m trying to understand things like exams: you are the best in the world, there is no one better; you are an Olympic champion. At that very moment there is no one better. Number one. Everything. If in my case there is also Malakhov, Galkin. When you go to take an exam…
Yagudin: Ivan, but this is only one day. One day of our life, but tomorrow comes and we need to start from scratch.
Urgant: Alina, were you worried when you went to the exam?
Zagitova: Yes, I took the exams right after my birthday.
Urgant: Behind the wheel after a birthday.
Urgant: You are 18.
Urgant: Well, did you drink a little there?
Urgant: Well done.
Zagitova: I went to bed at ten. I could only think about the exam on my birthday. My knees were shaking, I didn’t understand what to do at all. When I went to the written test, a serious man sat and said to me: “So, whoever does not pass the exam, who gets a written “Failed,” he goes and does whatever he wants.” And I immediately have this… (note – puts both hands on her chest)
Urgant: This man is in the Russian government.
Zagitova: Seriously! I was so scared.
Urgant: But there was no call: “Tomorrow the Olympic champion will come to you, if it is possible…” Wasn’t it?
Zagitova: No, that was not the case.
Urgant: There was no bribe?
Zagitova: No, because it is important for me to do everything myself, so that no one helps. I will be calmer that way.
Urgant: And the result?
Zagitova: And the result, I passed. I had one mistake, then five additional questions and I was like, “Damn, five more additional questions.” There was no need to make any mistakes at all.
Urgant: Is everything easy when driving?
Zagitova: When driving… I took the manual test.
Urgant: A manual transmission?
Zagitova: Yes, a manual transmission. My mother sat me down and said: “You need to do the manual. You never know how life will turn out.”
Yagudin: This is mom!
Urgant: Holy mother! Well done. Of course, an Olympic champion is one thing, but then you never know what. Yes, Alina… This is very wise advice from your mother. Lesha, when did you start driving?
Yagudin: When you did too. In those years.
Urgant: Tell us how you passed. Was it easy for you to pass your driver’s license test? And did you drive without a license before?
Yagudin: I drove without breaking the rules. I was in a situation that I bought a car six months before my 18th birthday. And there was one skater who trained in our group. He got on the subway, came to me, walked on foot, we got into our car, I was driving, and this skater just had a lot of driving experience. By the rules, I could drive. We came to the skating rink, trained and left back in the same way. Thanks to this skater who helped.
Urgant: Whose name are you not saying. Thanks to him!
Yagudin: There was another very funny incident about how I bought a car.
Urgant: Lesha, tell us how you bought the car? What year was it?
Yagudin: 1998. I went to the bank to get the required amount, and they said: “We do not have large bills.” There were small coins of one hundred rubles. In a big travel bag, which we used to tour with to shows, and went to buy a car. They said: “Where is the money?” I told them: “Please, there it is…”
Zagitova: Weren’t you afraid not to pass? And just bought a car?
Yagudin: Was I afraid not to pass?
Urgant: Yes, Alina, ask this question.
Zagitova: Not pass.
Yagudin: No. Were you afraid not to pass?
Zagitova: I was afraid, so I didn’t buy a car in advance.
Yagudin: There is always a second attempt.
Urgant: Lesha, it feels like you think that once you are an Olympic champion, you will pass.
Yagudin: My mother did not say the phrase “It is not known how life will turn out.” I was sure.
Urgant: Lesha, you noticed that I didn’t ask you how you quarantined. We all saw how you quarantined.
Yagudin: Well, why ask a 40-year-old.
Urgant: Lesha, to be honest, you are blogging. We have prepared a whole segment. The fact is that Alexei did not hide it, he filmed it all on his mobile phone and broadcast it.
A selection of social media posts by Yagudin shown.
Urgant: “Smehopanorama” appeared on television screens.
Yagudin: Alina’s dad is a coach…
Urgant: And you have a dad… You are a dad in the family. Who will tell you: “No.”
Yagudin: Yes, dad is creative. And the approach to self-isolation was the same.
Urgant: Tell me, does it feel like you have no inner “Stop!” Are you planning to make some kind of show out of this?
Yagudin: I have done so many videos in the last two days.
Urgant: How many did you do?
Yagudin: Yesterday afternoon, in my opinion, the water session…
Urgant: Did you still have a water session?
Yagudin: Yes, we are in the pool, in clothes… Either drink coffee, or do all kinds of sports there. You have to start sometime.
Urgant: Lesha, it seems to me that you are clinging to youth.
Yagudin: I cling to life.
Urgant: New season of the Ice Age. Tell us what is so interesting and new there. First, is it hard to be the host with Alexei? Alina, how did you prepare?
Zagitova: I have a special speech tutor.
Urgant: What are they asking you to do?
Zagitova: It’s a very funny thing. I put a plug in my mouth and start talking to it.
Urgant: With a tutor?
Zagitova: With a tutor. And she asks me to talk more wherever there is time. And now I am driving in the car with my mother, I put this plug in my mouth, I go through tongue twisters or go over a speech.
Urgant: She explained what it is for?
Zagitova: For the lips to develop. She says that I have lazy lips, so I train them.
Urgant: Let’s take your tutor’s word for it.
Zagitova: When I drive in a car and there are other cars next to me, they are in a traffic jam. People start to look at me, I turn and see this look. Apparently they think: “Here… the 21st century.”
Yagudin: Don’t be upset. By the way, many have gone through these situations.
Zagitova: You too?
Yagudin: I also went through these traffic jams.
Urgant: Lesha, tell us about your plug.
Yagudin: I will tell you about the only aspect of filming Ice Age that I… Well, I have already got used to this situation, but at first it, of course, winded me up.
Urgant: What is this?
Yagudin: Alina calls me “you.” (note – in the Russian language there is a formal and informal way to say the word “you;” Zagitova addresses Yagudin in the formal way)
Zagitova: Well, I can’t. The man is 40 years old.
Yagudin: This is not normal. I am a child inside.
Urgant: Lesha became an Olympic champion when Alina was not yet on Earth, and I was three years old.
Yagudin: Lesha has not changed since that time. I want to be addressed as “you.”
Khrustalev: You name people who are respected. Alina respects you.
Yagudin: I know, but I’m still embarrassed.
Urgant: Why does it bother you? Lesha, let’s face it, we are no longer boys.
Yagudin: You are now looking at my gray hair.
Urgant: Well… no. And you fix it and everything will be fine.
Yagudin: We have a lot of fun on the set.
Urgant: Alina, can we now switch Lesha to “you?”
Zagitova: I can’t. This is how I was brought up because I live in a muslim family. It is normal to address the older generation as “you.”
Urgant: Lesha is not a muslim. Let him accept Islam. Accept, then it will make sense.
Yagudin: It is difficult for an atheist to take such a step.
Urgant: I have one photo. I think Alina will tell you. What kind of child is this? What a beauty?
Urgant shows photo of Zagitova with Yagudin’s daughter.
Zagitova: This is the daughter of Alexei Konstantinovich.
Yagudin: This is today’s birthday girl.
Urgant: Is she five years old today?
Yagudin: She is five years old today. Anniversary.
Urgant: What’s the name?
Urgant: Alina, give us a chance. Are you with Michel? Or Michel Alekseevna?
Zagitova: No, Michel after all.
Yagudin: Michel is an employee of Channel One. She works on the Ice Age project – she gives flowers. (note – they used the English phrase “flower girl” to describe that she gives flowers)
Zagitova: By the way, there was one situation there. They leave together.
Zagitova: Michel and the boy with her. They give flowers and then go back. The boy wants to take her hand, and she says: “No.” At the end of the program, she is already holding hands with him.
Yagudin: She says: “Write down my phone number.” It’s just that she was brought up like that… With unfamiliar boys, you must first establish communication.