Igor Malinovsky’s native landscapes are painted on his rifle – the mountains of Kamchatka, where the most titled junior of Russia comes from. And above them a helicopter MI-8 hovers. Igor will fly this exact helicopter when he finishes aviation training in Omsk. Igor is not ready to call any of his activities a hobby. He is a biathlete who can fly, and a pilot who knows how to ski. Igor Malinovsky told the press-service of the IBU Cup final all about his journey from a Kamchatka village right to the spotlights of the world youth biathlon.
— Igor, you are called the most titled junior of Russia. Aren’t you afraid to become a hostage to this title?
— To be honest, I don’t put too much thought to becoming the most titled junior in Russia. This is just a pleasant aspect of my journey, but not more. I try not to think about it. Such a title is just a nice check mark in my list.
— As a pilot, tell us how to get your head out of the clouds after such a success and remain motivated?
— Sit in the helicopter’s cockpit (laughs). But seriously, I try not to focus on sports and go to college, it helps me not to be off my onion because of success. Teachers will certainly get my head out of the clouds. Being a student and a pilot definitely helps me.
— Is there anything in common between piloting and biathlon?
— Probably the fact that we hold a helm in a helicopter, and a rifle in biathlon, and in both cases we do it with our right hand (laughs). In fact, the profession of a pilot is very responsible and biathlon is a very cold-blooded sport. So I think that in both cases it is necessary to be self-confident and concentrated because otherwise the price of mistakes will be very high.
— You just called aviation a profession, but not biathlon. Do you consider yourself an amateur biathlete?
— I believe that biathlon is my favorite thing to do, and I enjoy spending time and energy training. Biathlete-professional is a very difficult definition. I believe that, for example, Bjoerndalen can be called a professional. He achieved everything. He’s been spending many years in sport, he abdicated absolutely everything in order to achieve maximum heights in this sport. This person is a professional. And I do not consider myself that way.
— How do you think, how much time does it take to go from junior sport to “adult” one?
— This transition is different for each person. For someone a year is enough, someone will need a few seasons. If something doesn’t work out at first, in the second or even third seasons, I don’t see this as an excuse to stop trying. As they say, without rain there is no rainbow. Unsatisfactory results in the beginning should be only an additional motivation to go forward and improve your results.
— Not every athlete made a “stop” at the IBU Cup between junior sport and highest international competitions. Bjoerndalen, Boe — they immediately reached the level of the World Cups. Is this stage necessary?
— It is important to understand that the main thing is to go up along the career ladder. Any movement will be good. And you need to feel all the sides of the coin. For someone this path will be short and fast, for others — long. The longer the journey is, the more experience you get, and the reward will be more valuable.
— Speaking of awards, in one of your interviews you said that if you hadn’t won a silver medal in 11th grade of school, you would have dropped biathlon. Are you still motivated by victories?
— No, this was an episode of adolescence. The 11th class is the divarication that everyone has to go through. I was standing on a crossroad then — will I go to aviation or sports, whether I will continue to do sports or not. In addition, almost no one from my village Milkovo made a career of a professional athlete. And I thought that just like everyone else I would work in a usual structure or in aviation, as I wanted. But I did not manage to completely give myself in this profession. Trainer Zhadgir Makhambetov noticed me. I am very grateful to him for picking me up and teaching me a lot. Thanks to him, I stayed in biathlon.
— How difficult is it to get out of the village and get in the national team?
— Of course, this is difficult. Especially difficult for athletes from the Far East and specifically from Kamchatka Territory. We live on a peninsula, and our training system is very different from the mainland. On the mainland preparation is completely different — more advanced and modern. And, accordingly, the level of athletes in our country is not as high as at the national competitions. When I came to national competitions as a young man I had a fear in my eyes. I felt the difference between biathlon on Kamchatka and in central part of Russia. I started with really low positions in the final protocols. Then I began to approach the podium, becoming the fourth. And then I finally won a silver medal, with which a new biathlon started for me.
— You are competing for the first time in Khanty-Mansiysk. What do you think of the stadium?
— It amazes me that the track is always ready — it is always flat, without bumps and obstacles. The shooting range is also always in perfect condition — rugs, targets, absolutely not slippery. It is difficult to work because of the wind. But this is the concern of athletes. Therefore, all the emotions from Khanty-Mansiysk are only positive.