Is the road to the national team not open to everyone?

Despite the fact that in 2013 Ilya Semikov won the 15 km race in the classical style at the Russian championship among juniors 19-20 years old and was third in the 20 km skiathlon, as well as the second in the classic “tag” at the Russian championship among youth 21-23 years old (while still a junior), he was not invited to prepare for the junior national team. The following season, he won the same classic 15 km race in the World Championship qualifiers, but he was not included in the team again. He continued to show consistently prize-winning results for several more seasons, until he was included in the youth team, which was then trained by Eduard Mikhailov.

Today, Ilya Semikov has been training for the 5th season in the men’s national team of Russia under the leadership of Oleg Orestovich Perevozchikov showing consistently high results (last season he took second place in the World Cup in Lillehammer in the relay The 15 km cut in Lahti and the 14th by 50 km in Holmenkollen (second among Russian skiers). However, the Russian ski community still knows little about him, because Ilya is modest and, as they say now, little media person. correct this situation.

Ilya, please tell us a little about yourself: where are you from, where and when did you start skiing and why this particular sport (was there a choice)?

I was born in the northern outback – this is the village of Ust-Tsilma in the Komi Republic. Now I don’t remember exactly, but most likely, like many in our republic, I started skiing at the age of 9-10. Choice: what kind of sport was not involved – for Komi skiing is the main sport. In every village or village we have a ski base, so everyone must ski. Ivan Trofimovich Popov became my first coach. He performed at both regional and republican competitions. And the first medal at the Russian championship (in 2011 in Syktyvkar) appeared for me in senior youths of 17-18 years old in a 10 km classic race.

In general, for a long time, the classical style turned out better for me, since since childhood in the village we skated mainly with classics. We didn’t have a retract to prepare a track for a free style, and a classic ski track with heavy snowfalls, which are often in our North, is always easier to prepare. In addition, in childhood and adolescence, I was always small and thin – not at all suitable for a free style in terms of build and strength. Therefore, it was always difficult for me to compete with strong and large guys in skating. And even more so in sprints. Almost never got through qualifying in races. And this continued until about youthful age.

For several years, as a junior, you have shown consistently prize-winning results in all-Russian competitions and championships. However, they did not train in the junior team, nor did they go to the world championships. Why?

It’s hard for me to answer this question. I do not know why. I was invited only a few years later to join the youth team for Eduard Mikhailov. But I had a chance to prepare with him for only six months – then he died tragically in a car accident …

As for my non-participation in the world junior championships – in the first year, when I qualified for the world team – I did not have a passport, and it was not possible to quickly make it. The next year, I was not included in the team again, although I was again in the prizes, I fulfilled all the selection conditions … I think that many skiers know this situation: there is little chance of being in the team for the world junior championship if you did not undergo preparation for the season as part of the junior national team. Probably, it is right to give preference to “compilations”: as practice shows, the guys who did not train in the national team, coming to the world championships, show worse results there. And this is most likely due to the fact that their strength level is weaker. Therefore, I agree with the coaching staff and this decision.

Why, then, after the first hit in the prizes at the Russian championship, you were not offered to start training in the junior team with Alexander Kravchenko?

I do not know. Perhaps because the team selected universal athletes, and I stood out only in classic races? And often there was too much variation in my results: I could win the classical distance and be in the sixth ten in the skating race …

I also noticed a long time ago that I run away for a long time during the season. And many selections for the team for a number of competitions begin in mid-November. But by February I am already in very good condition and results.

Илья Семиков на прошлогоднем сборе с группой О.Перевозчикова в горах Италии.
Ilya Semikov at last year’s training camp with O. Perevozchikov’s group in the mountains of Italy. Natalia Novikova (FLGR)

From the group of the deceased Eduard Mikhailov, a number of athletes began to train with Yuri Borodavko, who replaced him. But for some reason you were not there in that group?

At the end of the season at the Russian championship (Ilya Semikov took 2nd place in the 50 km classic race after Alexander Bessmertnykh – approx. TS), Oleg Orestovich Perevozchikov suggested that I start training in his group, which was then considered the basis of the distance team. And I, of course, immediately agreed. It was really cool!

Группа Олега Перевозчикова на майском сборе каталась на лыжах в горах Норвегии.
Oleg Perevozchikov’s group went skiing in the mountains of Norway at the May camp. Natalia Novikova (FLGR)

It should be noted that last season you started quite briskly: even in a non-core sprint for yourself at the first stage of the World Cup in Ruka, you beat 10th in the final races! True, then in the mini-tour races, something did not work out. Then there was the very successful prize-winning relay in Lillehammer. And then you missed quite a few World Cup stages, as well as domestic Russian starts – you returned to the competition only in January at the Russian Cup stage with good results – you became the second twice (in the sprint and the classic 15 km race (second result in net time) …

Unfortunately, in the international Cup calendar there are few classic races with a separate start. Basically, these are some kind of big tours, mini-tours and mass starts. And I had to wait for the opportunity to run at least something at the World Cup stage. Such an opportunity was only at the German stage in Oberstdorf on the tracks of the future World Championship. And although I had a chance to run only a classic sprint there, and I did not perform very well there, I was glad of such an opportunity …

На майском сборе в Норвегии.
At the May training camp in Norway. Natalia Novikova (FLGR)

Well, in principle, you coped with this non-core discipline for yourself quite well – after the 24th result in qualifying you ran in the quarterfinals!

At least I used this chance for the competition to try out the tracks of the upcoming World Championship. Now in the men’s team there is very high competition and there is a tough struggle for every start at the World Cup stages. Only the leaders have the opportunity to choose races: Sasha Bolshunov and Sergei Ustyugov. Everyone else has to fight to compete.

В начале прошлого сезона в Финляндии.
At the beginning of last season in Finland. Natalia Novikova (FLGR)

In those starts where I had a chance to perform – at the stage in Lahti (4th place) and in Holmenkollen (14th place and the second result among Russians) – it turned out quite well! It’s a pity only the season ended ahead of time due to the coronavirus pandemic …

Yes, it was a good race in Lahti. And this was the only classic cut for the entire season …

And also in Izhevsk you had your first control estimate …

Yes, there was a roller ski control training. But it turned out not to be indicative at all, that’s why everyone ran on different roller skis (some wheels had the 3rd number, someone the 4th, respectively, they all rode differently). Swix rollers were brought to us, but they broke with me, like some other guys. Therefore, I had to run on heavy rollers with 4-wheel wheels … There was no running control training at that training camp.

Группа О.Перевозчикова на сборе в Терсколе (август 2020 г.)
O. Perevozchikov’s group gathering in Terskol (August 2020) Natalya Novikova (FLGR)

But at the stadium in Terskol, you won a cross test!

I must say that I am good at running control tests. On flat stadiums I run 3 km on average 8.50, in the mountains – the time is slower, of course. I ran in Terskol on the test in exactly 9 minutes – this is the best result in all the years of my mountain estimates. On last year’s test at Belmeken, I ran a three-note round the stadium at 9.20. But as Sasha Bessmertnykh already told you in an interview, there is a higher stadium and a worse covering of the treadmill.

Прошлогодние тренировки в лыжной трубе в Германии. (Слева - Сергей Ардашев, справа - Илья Семиков).
Last year’s ski tube training in Germany. (Left – Sergey Ardashev, right – Ilya Semikov) Natalia Novikova (FLGR)

Do you think the preparations for the upcoming season this year are very different from previous years?

Well, perhaps only the lack of snow training in the tube and without trips abroad … Yes, and also significantly differs in the lack of clarity about the next camp after Tyumen. We arrive in Tyumen on September 2. I hope that we will take part in the summer championship – everyone has already missed the race. Now the main thing for all of us is that there is a full season, and it starts on time!

Пьедестал прошлогодних сентябрьских всероссийских соревнований лыжников в Тюмени. Илья занял второе место в общем зачете и имел лучший результат в кроссе.
The pedestal of last year’s September All-Russian competition of skiers in Tyumen. Ilya took second place in the overall standings and had the best result in cross-country. Natalia Novikova (FLGR)

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