Yulia Belorukova: “My number-one task for the next season is to win the distance race”

At the Cross-Country Skiing Championship of Russia in Syktyvkar, fans gave the winner of two bronze medals of the 2018 Olympic Games a red-carpet treatment. However, his is not surprising, because Julia Belorukova was born in Sosnogorsk, a small town, the Komi Republic. And although the athlete moved to Ekaterinburg, in her historical homeland she is still a one-of-us. Besides, at the all-Russian competitions Belorukova still represents the national team of Komi.

– How hard was it physically and psychologically to perform after the Olympic Games?

– Not at all difficult,  said the skier in an interview with the ROC Information Service. – Native walls helped. In Syktyvkar the fans are very active, their support gave me extra strength during the race.

– The audience at the ski complex named after Raisa Smetanina was really amazing. Did you feel a surge of people’s love after the  Pyeongchang Games?

– People really became more interested in Cross-Country Skiing. They recognize me  on the streets more often. And you yourself saw, what happened at the stadium after the women’s relay. It was very pleasant to realize that I and other girls from the Komi national team brought so many positive emotions to the fans.

– Which of the races at the national championship was the most successful?

– Probably the relay. (Yulia Belorukova outran four rivals at the final stage, which allowed her team to take third place).

– Did you manage to switch from skiing to something else after the Olympics?

– You do not consider this sort of issues even during the rest. Either you give all of yourself to your job, or you don’t belong in professional sports. After returning from Korea, I only went to Ekaterinburg for a while. I had a little rest and began to prepare for the Championship of Russia.

– Do you know the legendary Raisa Smetanina, after whom ski complex in Syktyvkar was named?

– We met at the All-Russian competitions, named after her, where I took second place. I was 15 years old. We never communicated closely, but Raisa Petrovna often sends greetings and congratulates my first coach on her successes, as she did after the Olympic Games. Of course, it is very pleasant to receive congratulations from such a honored person.

– Can you imagine that some day in Sosnogorsk or somewhere else, the ski center named after Belorukova will appear?

– Who knows what will happen in the future? I haven’t earned that honor yet.

– What do you think about the Olympic Games now?

– Just after the relay memories suddenly came flooding back.  I remembered how it was, when I was the third to cross the finish line in the Sprint, how I stood on the podium… I got so emotional!

– It seems that it was not with you, right?

– That’s it! I can’t believe it! Perhaps, too little time passed.

– How did the Olympic medals change you? You got a motivation to reach the Olympic Gold?

– There has always been a motivation, but now I want to run faster and more stable. Appetite comes wile eating. As for the Olympic Gold, I do not plan too far ahead. I live from season to season.

– Do you have a favorite race?

– I like Sprint.

– Because in distance races you need more endurance?

– You have endurance everywhere. I’m just I little better in Sprint. It is my nature.

– Anna Nechaeva and Denis Spitsov feel more confident in skating style. What about you?

– I’m versatile.

– Thus you are in trend.

– The most popular skiers now are those who are good in everything. Although, perhaps, Sprint is more popular for its unpredictability and audience appeal. A lot of fans come to the Sprint races taking place in the city, as, for example, it was in Dresden. But I prefer the competitions, held in the mountains. The snow is natural and the terrain is interesting there. And in the city the track is quite narrow, no climbs and descents. In such circumstances, you need to lead from the start, otherwise it will be difficult to catch up.

– Did you like the Korean track?

– How do you think? Although at first I was a little scared by the mix of natural and artificial snow. It seemed slow. And then we got used to it, and paid no attention to it.

– I wonder how was the snow in Syktyvkar?

– It was fast. Even though the natural snow cover may be different. I never skied in Khakassia, but friends told me that on the slopes of Vershina Tei the snow is slow.

– Are you staying in Marcus Kramer’s group?

– Certainly! This man showed me the Cross-Country Skiing from a new side. Thanks to Marcus, I realized that the training process with all its complexity and monotony can be very interesting.

– What is Kramer’s methodology based on?

– During the period of heavy loads, the most important thing is proper recovery. Marcus pays a lot of attention to this.

– In his group women train together with men.

– He creates situations in which we are trying to catch up with the guys, and they seem to run away from us. In his opinion, it benefits all athletes.

– The President of the Russian Ski Federation Elena Vyalbe due to known reasons could not constantly be with the team during the Olympic Games. Did you feel her support?

– As Elena Valeryevna didn’t have access to the Olympic village, we several times came to her to visit. She arranged tea parties with cakes and other sweets!

– Aren’t you not allowed to have desserts during the competition?

– Not for us. Sweets help us make up for the energy spent.

– Did Vyalbe influence coaching decisions? For example, how to arrange the athletes on the stages of the relay?

– I don’t think so. Elena Valeryevna trust Marcus Kramer, and Yuri Borodavko fully.

– Borodavko was not there in Korea.

– One can help at a distance. At the Olympic Games there were no Kramer’s or Borodavko’s athletes, there was the Russian national team, no matter how it was called acted. Since, by force of circumstances, Marcus Kramer was the only coach of the ski team at these Games, he did not divide the athletes into his own and others. Everyone received equal attention and support from him.

– What did you feel when Anna Nechayeva was running the last stage of the Olympic relay?

– We were sure that Anka would not miss the third place. She was far ahead of the Finnish athlete. But, of course, nobody congratulated each other in advance. All stood and silently prayed that there would be no accident, such as a fall or a broken stick. In our sport, such things happen often…

– Not far to seek: in the team sprint with your participation, Natalia Nepryaeva had problem with her pole.

– Her pole broke, but we were ninth not for this reason. I was so exhausted by two medal races that I could no longer fight against the strongest skiers. If we were in a  different condition, we would have fought for this medal.

– What would you like to prove to yourself and others next season?

– That Yulia Belorukova is not a focused specialist. I am already considered to be a pure sprinter. I don’t agree with it! Therefore, the number one task for the next season is to win the distance race at the World Cup.