World and Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova has said she has a “good attitude” to her haters and has “built a fortress” where only family are allowed, having received a mixed reaction to her switch to TV presenting.
The 18-year-old has put her competitive career on hold to host hit show ‘Ice Age” on Russia’s Channel One, and she has admitted that her early episodes alongside athlete and more experienced presenter Alexei Yagudin have been “very difficult”.
Critics have questioned Zagitova’s skills and suitability for the high-pressure role in the spotlight, which has taught her about the tricky task of interviewing unresponsive guests and asking the right questions during her first steps into broadcasting.
“I have a good attitude towards haters,” she told Match TV. “I used to pay a lot of attention to them.
“I was worried but now I understand that [I would be] nowhere without it. It is an incentive to rise even higher. I have built a fortress – only relatives are allowed there.”
In a year when the sporting schedule has been heavily disrupted by the pandemic, Zagitova is uncertain whether she will return to elite competition.
Instead, she has turned her focus towards becoming better at encouraging the stars of the show to open up to her.
“Since athletes are not very talkative, I am now specially studying to speak well with people,” she revealed. “I have a speech technique tutor. I have already learned a lot of tongue twisters.
“I also ran into the problem of asking the athletes if they were upset. When I participated in competitions and they asked me such questions after I fell down, I was very annoyed. It is obvious.
“Will I return to sports? We’ll see. Now the coronavirus [situation] is very difficult.
“A lot of competitions are canceled; some of them are in question. It is a difficult situation for the whole sport.”
Zagitova admitted last month that she had been battling anxiety and shyness in her early weeks on Ice Age.
The teenage sensation paused her prodigious athletic endeavors last year after winning European, world and Olympic titles during two remarkably successful and demanding seasons.
She said that she remains grateful to her huge fanbase, which includes almost 800,000 Instagram followers.
“Fans come to my skating rink to take pictures…because of the coronavirus, many people are not allowed in.
“They are standing on the street – I feel really sorry for them. I am very pleased when they ask to be photographed.”