Beginning her skating career at the age of 3, Karina began training at Chelyabinsk at the Yunost Olympic Reserve School in Russia. Initially she competed in singles until the age of thirteen, and later moved to Moscow where she began training pairs at MegaSport.
“Then, Pavel Slyusarenko noticed me at one of the competitions and offered for me to join a [training] group in Perm. [While training} in his group, I realized what athletic qualities I lacked and started working on it. I changed as a person. Now this is a serious job and I like it!”
Karina and her former partner, Mikhail Domnin, represented Russia for two seasons and placed thrd at the Bavarian Open in 2019. Later in 2021, Safina and her second partner, Sergei Bakhmat, finished sixth at the Russian Junior Championships. Just prior to the 2021-2022 season, she paired up with her current partner Luka Berulava and they continue to train in Perm in the sports complex Sukhareva while now representing the country of Georgia.
Earlier this season, Safina and Berulava placed second at the 2021 JGP Slovakia and third at JGP Austria. The pair also made their senior debut at CS Nebelhorn Trophy, where they again placed third and ultimately qualified for the 2022 Beijing Olympics. The official announcement came from the Georgian Federation just following the European Championships, where they landed in fourth overall.
So far, they’ve already competed in the team event at #Beijing2022, be sure to watch for them in the pairs event later this month!
Q: What is it that you love most about skating?
“[The combination] of perseverance, endurance, and grace.”
Q: What is your ultimate goal with skating?
“My goal is to win the Olympic Games and it is unchanged.”
Q: Who is someone in your life that motivates you?
“This is my sister. She always helps me in difficult moments.
Q: Who was your skating ‘role-model’ when you were younger?
“I have always liked Evgeny Plushenko, inspired by his courage; and of course the incredible Alyona Savchenko.”
Q: What is your favourite element in skating?
“I love all of the elements, but in pairs, I would prefer the Throw element, since you fly high and for a long time and I really like it. This element has been worked out a million times and more will be done!”
Q: What is your favourite type of off-ice training?
“I often run on a treadmill and like to pump my abs.”
Q: Do you have any pre-competition rituals or superstitions?
“I always take my bear mascot with me to competitions. Irina Rodnina gave him to me at the first competitions and he has been with me all the way through my career.”
“I also don't communicate during competitions. I withdraw into myself. I concentrate.”
Q: Do you do any type of visualization or meditation?
“Yes, I meditate and visualize. I don't do it often, just according to my mood.”
Scenario: You’re on the ice at a competition waiting for your music to start, what are you thinking?
“Well, there's no escaping. It remains only to win.”
Q: Did you ever endure some type of adversity in your career?
“Of course, I, like any athlete, have faced difficulties. I trained for a long time with pain in my leg, prepared for competitions, and after a while I found out that I had a stress fracture. I wasn’t on the ice for 2 months, but I recovered quickly.”
“One day I caught a cold, it was hard to breathe, but no one cancelled the training of the programs. I went up to the coach and said that I couldn't breathe, it was hard for me to complete even two elements in the program. To which I was answered, “You can do it now, it will be easier at the competitions.””
“And it worked. I can't recommend anything special, but probably you just have to endure and do it!”
Covid, touched almost my whole family. It was a difficult ordeal, but it all ended well.
Q: What keeps you disciplined on days that you don’t necessarily feel motivated to train?
“My motivation is just to prove to myself that I can…There are no peaks in the world that cannot be conquered"
“I just want to achieve what I've been going for all my life. I have my own motivation, and I take inspiration from outstanding performances and praise from my coach.”
Q: Do you have any advice for young and aspiring skaters?
“You have to understand [and decide] if you really want this.”
Q: What is your favourite memory from skating?
“All the memories where I was able to overcome myself.”
Q: How was skating impacted your life outside of the arena?
“I make decisions about my life myself and I listen to my heart.”
Q: What are you up to now?!
“I train, I train, I train.”
And now she’s in Beijing!
Q: What is something funny or unique that most people don’t know about you?
“I like to have fun and fool around, but in ordinary life I am serious and secretive.”
Q: Do you have any hobbies outside of skating?
“Food! I enjoy cooking and going to interesting places to try aesthetically beautiful dishes.”
Q: If skating didn’t exist, what other sport might you participate in?
“Rhythmic gymnastics, because I like stretching and there are very beautiful elements in this discipline.”
Q: What are your aspirations outside of skating?
“I want to be [successful] and be able to build many animal shelters.”
Q: Are you currently in school?
“I'm graduating from high school this year. After that, I want to get an education in the field of nutrition.”
Q: Where is one place you’ve never been but one day hope to visit?
“Maldives and Mexico”
Q: What is your favourite music to listen to?
“I very rarely listen to music, and my mood chooses my favourite at a [given] moment.”
What does it mean to you to have a #ChampionshipMindset?
“This is when you are confident in your abilities and unnecessary thoughts do not clog your head. You know your task and just go to it.”