“Championship” continues a series of interviews with Chinese fan clubs of our figure skaters. The jump in popularity after the Olympics is colossal, especially for Kamila Valieva. Her Games were divided into before and after because of the news of a positive doping test: an enchanting, exciting performance in the team tournament and nervous, tragic skates in the personal one.
After Beijing, Camila has a huge fan club in China, which regularly supports her at performances and sends hundreds of kilograms of gifts from afar. We got in touch with a fan club representative and talked about why Camila has become so sought after and popular in China, how fans feel about the suspension of Russian athletes now, and what they think about the ongoing doping trial.
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– Our fan association is the largest support group for Camila in China. We maintain Weibo and WeChat accounts. Fans of all ages join us, but most of them are students or those who are already working. First of all, I would like to introduce our team, and not myself personally, to show how big Camila’s support group is.
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What attracted you to Camila?
– Camila conquered me with her gliding, movements, postures and expression of emotions on the ice. I watched all her competitions, and she amazed everyone with her beauty and strength. She broke record after record, and deservedly – all thanks to her talent and hard work.
– Has the number of Camila’s fans increased after the Beijing Olympics?
– To be honest, a lot of people in the fan club did not attach much importance to figure skating until the 2022 Winter Olympics. But since the Olympics were held in Beijing, almost everyone in China became interested in this event, and also saw Camila there.
Still, figure skating is not a sport that gathers a huge audience in China, but thanks to the Olympics, it has become popular, a large fan base has formed. On the Chinese internet, Camila has become known as a “six-sided fighter” (meaning her versatility and lack of flaws).
– Why a Russian figure skater, and not someone from your native country?
– Camila is our favorite skater because she is a genius, number one, the best in women’s singles. We love her for who she is as a person, not just for what a skater she is. Camila’s appearance is considered very popular and attractive in China, she is called very beautiful and sweet.
In addition, some things can be felt through cultural and linguistic barriers – and they touch the heart. Such things as the talent and fragility of a genius, patience and youthful perseverance, absolute beauty… We really hope that all this will be in her for a long time to come. We would like to accompany her in this process.
How did your fan association start? How many fans does Camila have in China now?
– We began to gather an audience in social networks during the Beijing Olympics, and it grew rapidly – people had a strong interest and desire to communicate. For the first time, we were able to contact Camila when she returned from Beijing – we sent a gift through the Russian support group TeamKValieva.vk. The transfer process was captured on video. After the video went viral on social media, everyone was amazed at Camila’s cute reaction when she heard that it was from Chinese fans – pure happiness! So our first time was very memorable. From that moment on, we supported her at ice shows, at exams, sent gifts for her 16th birthday, before the start of the school year … And we will continue to support her in the new season, so follow us on social networks and on skating rinks!
Camila did not have a Chinese social media account, so we follow her on other platforms and then share the information with fans in China. We didn’t have any idea to create an official fan club in China, let alone an international fan account. But after Camila’s interview, you understand that popularity did not become a burden for her, she just had to go through hard times …
These words touched us, so we thought more people should see the work of Chinese fans. We hope to unite with Camila’s fans from other countries in order to collect all the support and send her. And the association of fans from China itself grew very spontaneously – thanks to the love for Camila, her skating. We hope to give her some emotional motivation in her career.
We wanted to give Camila a lot of birthday presents to make her 16th birthday memorable. So we made a group on WeChat and a huge number of fans joined!
Camila’s fan group on Weibo now has more than 315 thousand subscribers, but not everyone has gathered there – there are also a large number of fans in the Chinese version of TikTok. We can say that in China they love Camila very much!
Exhibition dedicated to the Beijing Olympics
– Which of the gifts turned out to be the most significant and memorable?
– First of all, we would like to say that the content and form of gifts is not an end in itself for us. We hope that through various support methods Camila will feel our love. We will inspire her and help her persevere through her path in figure skating.
It seems to me that all our gifts carried a meaning, and Camila liked them, because she really appreciates the love and attention of the fans. We have already sent a lot of gifts and will prepare more in the future.
We prepare gifts with a completely different mood. Sometimes it’s like an older sister who wants to please the younger with fashionable clothes and accessories, the latest gadgets and toys. At the same time, Camila is such an athlete who inspires a lot of people who create art: they paint pictures, for example. Even though we can’t come to Russia right now, we have come up with and developed a huge number of options for support from fans from China. They will appear on the rinks where Camila will compete in the new season.
To be honest, the kind of support that I described above is very common in China – this is what fans of famous actors, singers, show participants do. But for our Russian friends, this is something new and fresh, so we hope it will inspire Camila and bring some fun to the tournaments.
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– Is it difficult to support Camila from afar?
– I don’t think that there are many difficulties in this, even if we are far away and cannot come to Moscow to see Camila live. But we hope we can send our love to her! Thanks to social networks, we can support Camila from afar, we hope she feels our faith and love.
Previously, the greatest difficulty was the time difference – five hours compared to Moscow. For example, Russian fans were streaming from an ice show, but by our time it was already deep night, almost dawn. When Camila was on Tatiana Navka’s show, many of us stayed up until 3:00 a.m. until updates came in from Camila or other participants in the show.
I would like to say special thanks to Teamkvalieva.vk (Kamila’s official support group in Russia. – Approx. “Championship”)with whom we have been working for several months. They do a lot for the Chinese fans – give gifts and help us share love with K-Bao! Thanks to our Russian friends for all this.
What does the nickname “K-Bao” mean?
– “Bao” can be translated from Chinese as “Baby” (baby), “treasure”. This is a very cute nickname that expresses our attitude towards her. Her diligence, beauty and strength helped her win the love of a huge number of people and make them applaud her. Camila is our best baby!
This nickname originated a few years ago, when Camila was a real sweet child, and now “Bao” has taken on a deeper, more beautiful meaning in the fan community.
“If Camila can’t compete, tournaments don’t make sense”
– Have you ever been to Russia or other countries at Camila’s performances?
– She was the first figure skater we liked, so we have not been to Russia for competitions. In the future, we would definitely like to see Camila skating live!
– If an ice show with Russian figure skaters is organized in China, would you visit it?
– If Camila comes to China to participate in an ice show, of course I will attend it! No matter what city it takes place in, I will definitely come to see it. I think all Chinese fans will have a similar opinion.
– How do you feel about the international ban of Russian athletes?
– We oppose the ban of Russian athletes at competitions, because we believe that sport has no boundaries and should not be related to politics in any way. All athletes give their years of training and hard work. In order for the competition to be fair, all athletes must participate in them, good athletes cannot be held back. In particular, this applies to Camila: she is the best skater on the planet, and if she cannot compete, then it seems to me that tournaments lose their meaning.
Kamila Valieva at the Beijing Olympics
Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
– Did the doping scandal involving Camila affect your attitude towards her? What do you think of this situation?
– We all do not believe in the doping story from the Olympic Games. Chinese fans believe Camila, we can all see her abilities and her superiority. Since the best athlete is held back in this way, we only support her more and have full confidence in her.
Most of the fans from China have turned into fans of Camila thanks to the Olympics. On the Bilibili website, under the video with Camila (which got millions of views), a lot of people wrote in the comments: “See you in Milan!”. On Camila’s 16th birthday, congratulations appeared in the Chinese TikTok account of the Xinhua news agency, as well as in the account of the Russian embassy in China, and people in the comments also left wishes for Camila. Many people wrote: “Let’s K-Bao come to China for ice shows!”. Even despite the fact that Camila does not have social media accounts, ordinary users speak very warmly of her and wish her well.
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– What do you expect from Camila in the new season?
– We already know the music for the short program – this is the soundtrack to the film “Interstellar”. One of my favorite movies! There is greatness and dynamics in this music, I think it will suit Camila perfectly. She has always been very disciplined, kept herself in the best condition, and we are very much looking forward to her performances in the new season. I believe that she will bring us many surprises! The most important thing is that she stays healthy.
For the upcoming season, we sent a lot of gifts: the package in July weighed about 50 kg. In August, we prepared another batch: a parcel of 309 kg was sent by international delivery from Beijing to Moscow. We will cook further and announce it on our page, we hope everyone will like it!