The pride of the NationBy the age of 29 Darya Domracheva has gained all the possible titles in professional sport, and without any doubt deserved to be called the national pride. In her interview to Fashion Collection Magazine the athlete spoke about the victories, defeats, architecture, fashion and more.
Fashion Collection: In school people are often dubbed according to some types like "nerd" or "rebel" and so on. What were you?
Darya Domracheva: I have never been perceived as any specific type. I did well at school combining it with daily trainings. The desire to keep up with everything didn’t give me a chance to relax, and moreover it made me relate consciously to what I was doing. Although to be honest I was cutting school at times, but only when I knew it would not affect my overall academic performance. In general, during the school years I had to absorb everything very quickly to spare a bit of free time for myself, so that I could also have some fun. Now I can describe myself as easy-going and active; just as I was back then.
Fashion Collection: Do you remember your first defeat and your first triumph?
Darya Domracheva: The first defeat was at my first ever start during one of the city competitions where I took the second place. I was six years old back then and I had just started to practice cross-country skiing. There were only two girls racing in the same age category; and that defeat made me work hard afterwards.
My first ever win came later at the same city competitions and it motivated me to keep on going and win at senior competitors.
Fashion Collection: Do you remember your first paycheck?
Darya Domracheva: Yes, it was the prize money – one hundred roubles for the first place - awarded at the children's city competitions. I saved them and brought to my grandmothers in Minsk.
Fashion Collection: What are the lessons the professional sport has taught you? Was there anything hard in particular?
Darya Domracheva: Sport has taught me some discipline and grew the willpower in me; it taught me to never give up and to achieve the goals I set as well as to point out the primary and secondary things; and sacrifice little things to achieve more. Another lesson I learned was patience: at times it was hard, however I kept on learning everything and improving gradually. Difficulties are in a way additional challenges that can motivate.
Fashion Collection: There are millions of people cheering for you, and who do YOU support? Do you follow any other sports? Is there anyone in particular you support?
Darya Domracheva: Most often I watch men's biathlon because I know all of the participants personally, and it is interesting to follow the competition in my sport as well as to notice some nuances for myself. As for supporting anyone in particular then it’s Ole Einar, of course.
I follow other sports whenever possible. I would love it if the things work out well for Vika (Victoria) Azarenka in tennis; and if Sasha (Aliaksandra) Herasimenia can overcome some difficulties. Sometimes I visit the football or ice-hockey games; in other words I’m trying to follow everything although there is not always enough time. Talking about the world stars from other sports I am impressed by Lionel Messi.
Fashion Collection: How do you treat your fans?
Darya Domracheva: I treat my fans with absolute care, I cherish them. Some of them I know personally and I can say that I’m very lucky! Of course to allow time for everyone is mission impossible but nevertheless I managed to organize especially for my fans the most interesting event in the center of Minsk (Gorky Park) – «City biathlon with Darya Domracheva». They were able to put themselves in my shoes as they were racing and shooting at targets like real biathletes. So now besides the biathlon on TV screens they have firsthand experience of what it’s like on the inside. The participants could totally relate to what the professional biathletes feel on the track, and that it is why I think such events are really important as they draw us closer to our fans.
Fashion Collection: Your parents are architects. Have you ever been attracted to this field of work?
Darya Domracheva: I certainly feel that creativity is in my blood. It goes way back to my childhood where I inherited the love for art from my parents. I really value the beautiful, high-quality architecture and it always draws my attention while traveling around the world. Through my travel, I try to feel the history and culture of different countries and to absorb new trends. Having said that, I think three architects are more than enough for my family, and my creativity will manifest itself in other directions.
Fashion Collection: How do you perceive the break after such an active and busy time in your life?
Darya Domracheva: This temporary break is an opportunity for me to recover physically and emotionally. I enjoy my daily trainings and fill up my emotional and physical reserves. I want to highlight though one more time that this break was a necessity for me. Over the years of constant training and crazy races my body came to a total exhaustion and needed a break, perhaps more of emotional natured break rather than physical. The current break is important for me to make sure that I will be able to further express myself in biathlon. And I’m very happy as it gives me a great opportunity to have some time off and take a deep breath.
Fashion Collection: Could you describe your perfect day off?
Darya Domracheva: Nice stroll in a great company and my personal must-have: hot cup of tea or cappuccino with an extra foam served with some yummy desserts.
Fashion Collection: Is it hard for you to realize the responsibility and the hopes that have been put upon you, and if so how hard?
Darya Domracheva: I am trying not to think about it. I set my own goals and reach for them.
Fashion Collection: How do you normally get ready for the race? Do you have any special rituals?
Darya Domracheva: The ability to get yourself ready is formed over the years, it is important not to think about the race that much and stay focused. The most important ritual is to check whether all the necessary equipment is taken from a hotel room. This is important!
Fashion Collection: Do you have any regrets?
Darya Domracheva: My father and my grandparents are no longer with me and this is the biggest regret in my life as they didn’t see my great victories and cannot share my joy and happiness. I regret that they did not live to see me in these days.
Fashion Collection: I presume that to win in sports you need the rigidity of character. How does this feature peep out in everyday life?
Darya Domracheva: Actually in order to win you don’t need the rigidity of character as much as you need the strength of character and willpower. As for everyday life I probably can be a bit too straightforward, and sometimes I cannot hold back my emotions.
Fashion Collection: How do you manage to maintain emotional balance?
Darya Domracheva: I think that sports environment helps a lot. The emotional balance yet requires indispensable emotional relief. However in the sport mode not every discharge may bring good results or spare any consequences. What could help in this case?
The best emotional relief for me is taking a walk to grab some fresh air: it seems the world suddenly becomes wider, the new ideas come to mind; there is a sense of clear thinking. Better yet a walk and a heart-to-heart talk with those who are in the same mood and head-space. Switching to a different type of activity can also be an emotional relief, and for me that’s art. Using just a piece of paper and some pencils I like to develop ideas that come into my mind.
Fashion Collection: Do you often get offers to appear in advertising campaigns? Are there any brands you will never collaborate with or campaigns you will never shoot for?
Darya Domracheva: At the moment I am working with several companies, and some of them are my partners for many years. Among them the Belarusian insurance company «Belgosstrakh» (by the way, one of my first major partners), sports equipment companies from Germany, Austria, and Finland («Fischer», «Casco», and «Exel» respectively), the Russian sporting goods retailer «Skimir», and the Austrian bakery supplier «Kornspitz». I am very interested in the cooperation with each of these companies as we have many things in common. We grow and develop together, we learn from each other. I am very pleased when I see that the employees of these companies consider me as a member of their team, a colleague. We are in the same boat.
I am proud that I can be useful to the staff of these companies by sharing my experience of overcoming obstacles, motivating them to achieve more. I am also proud that due to my professional opinion some of them improve the technology of the products, or when I share my tastes and preferences, my attitude towards meals and nutrition, someone adds a new flavor to the recipe of its product. I am proud to be part of this ongoing cooperation. My temporary break (competition-wise) provided a new milestone in the development of our partnership.
I have enough offers at the moment, however not all of them may end in agreement. This happens for a number of reasons: someone just wants to use my name, image and my time without offering anything equivalent in return, others ask for too much without even taking into account the fact that for an athlete it is important to stick to the schedule and focus on training, and some simply don’t share the same values as me. In such cases, despite the attractive conditions I always opt for the sporting goals. I think that I’m quite good at maintaining the balance between cooperation with various companies and my daily trainings.
I am always open to new contacts and partnerships with companies whose values I share. I think soon I will welcome some new partners who understand the importance of our cooperation and whose views appeal to me.
As for the commercial shooting, it all depends on each individual project, but certainly I will never take part in the filming with nudity. It is a taboo for me, and I will not follow the examples of some athletes that appear on the pages of a Playboy magazine, - I don’t think it’s cool. Self-respect is one of the important things for me in any cooperation.
Fashion Collection: How do you cope with failures? Is there a universal recipe for it?
Darya Domracheva: First of all you have to allow yourself to be upset about it, then get angry, and then use these failures as an advantage, meaning that every mistake I perceive as an opportunity to become stronger and better, make some important conclusions, learn some lessons.
Fashion Collection: What countries would you like to visit?
Darya Domracheva: There are many, however one of the first on my list is Australia, but I would certainly enjoy visiting some beautiful places of Belarus as well. On and all I think that our planet is a beautiful place, and it should be protected! Seeing the numerous conflicts happening around the world you tend to think about it more and more…
Fashion Collection: What is happiness for you?
Darya Domracheva: Happiness is a state of mind. When something inspires you, when you feel the taste of life, when the family is well and the loved ones are with you – this is pure happiness.
Fashion Collection: What movies do you like? Do you normally have time for it?
Darya Domracheva: Lately, unless I’m watching a movie in the cinema I just don’t have the patience to watch it to the end. Therefore I prefer to watch movies on the big quality screens at the cinema. I love deep and meaningful movies that make one wonder about something global or the movies that can motivate. However there are times when I would opt for something light like romantic comedies and so on. So as you can guess the mood becomes the prime factor when it comes to choosing a movie.
Fashion Collection: If you were an actress what character would you like to play?
Darya Domracheva: I would go for the main character of «Avatar» – flying among lianas on my very own dinosaur. For sure it would be interesting to play in some action movies or adventure just to feel the drive. Of course there are more graphics than real scenery, but it would have been nice to find yourself in such atmosphere.
Fashion Collection: How would you describe yourself when at home?
Darya Domracheva: Art chaos sounds about right.
Fashion Collection: Do you divide your life and career into stages? At what stage are you now?
Darya Domracheva: Right now I’m at the stage called growing up and reviewing many things.
Fashion Collection: Who would you like to talk with among the great living persons? What the talk would be about?
Darya Domracheva: «If you can solve the problem then do not worry about it. If the problem cannot be solved, it is useless to worry about it». These wise words belong to Dalai Lama. I think this man can give plenty of valuable advices for life ... And it would be great to go to Tibet, to feel the energy of this place.
Fashion Collection: What is your relationship with fashion?
Darya Domracheva: I would call the relationship free-and-easy. I'm not hung up on the latest designs, but what I really value in clothing is that it must spark an interest, possess an appealing approach and quality. Throughout all of the numerous training camps, jeans and a T-shirt is the best fit; however upon the return back home I have a chance to finally unpack my new outfits and dress up. Hopefully there is enough time for it.
Fashion Collection: How often do you wear high heels?
Darya Domracheva: I walk, drive and run without heels of course, but I do love heels for the great physique and posture that appears once you have them on and the feeling of femininity it gives.
Fashion Collection: How often do you wear make-up?
Darya Domracheva: I use nourishing and moisturizing creams on a daily basis. As for make-up I use light foundation, lip gloss and highlight the eyes, - that’s about it.
Fashion Collection: What is your food ration? Do you have any food restrictions? And what products will never appear in your fridge?
Darya Domracheva: My food ration varies. I always choose natural and fresh products. My diet is far from sophisticated, as there is no black caviar and other gourmet stuff. In order to cope with extreme physical activities it is important to eat high-energy, but digestible food. My breakfast is muesli with yogurt or milk, cheese sandwich or some pastry. Between the workouts there should be something consisting of carbohydrates such as pasta, rice that can be supplemented with fish which I love, or chicken and freshly-cooked vegetable salads. I can’t do without desserts so it’s also an important part of my diet.
There will never be any processed meat in my fridge as their composition does not inspire any confidence and the taste is not appetizing. The main rule: everything must be fresh and natural.
Fashion Collection: Are you interested in fashion as an industry? How do you feel about the fact that many athletes trying themselves in fashion design, perfume industry or even engaging into politics?
Darya Domracheva: Fashion industry is fascinating! I believe that everyone has the right to do what he or she finds interesting. The life of an athlete is not limited to sport. I am more than confident that there are a lot of athletes talented in other fields and not just sport. Certainly from the very childhood stages athletes spend a lot of time and energy to achieve sport results, thus often leaving their passion - which could be just as interesting as the sport - for later. There is no other way. Nevertheless, when an opportunity occurs why not to get back to the interests forgotten for the time being? For some it’s the politics, for others design… Everyone to his trade they say. For me it's art for instance.
Fashion Collection: What brands do you prefer? Do you have any favorite designers?
Darya Domracheva: You know I'm not the biggest expert on brands. I like quality clothing with a twist, an unusual cut; therefore it is not so important of what brand it is. Perhaps I have not yet come across a brand that I will be completely satisfied with; in any case there is a mix of brands. If I see an interesting silhouette in the shopping window I will pop in to try it on and if everything fits perfectly I will most likely purchase it. You probably know even better than me that young and often unknown in the world of haute couture designers create clothes that are not inferior to the global clothing brands.
Fashion Collection: What kind of non-sport clothes are there in your wardrobe?
Darya Domracheva: Well you can find a lot of dresses in my wardrobe, but there will be even more of casual clothing. A dress does not always go along with the city vibe, and it’s not something you will change into after the training. However it is my favorite option for a perfect chilled evening.
Wide top, fit-you-to-a-T pants and heels or oxford shoes is a universal combination for busy work day that will make you feel comfortable. I do not like the abundance of crystals and ruffle in clothing. I prefer neat silhouettes accompanied by accessories. For promenades, training camps and things as such I always choose sport clothes of course.
Fashion Collection: For millions of people out there you are a hero and a genius. How do you feel about the praise?
Darya Domracheva: I’m absolutely adequate to compliments and don’t lose my head to any kind of glorification. I understand that some of them are no more than just flattery, and some are truly sincere. When I see that I am admired it makes me very happy that people are able to be happy for others. Some of them get so inspired that they set and achieve the goals that thought to be impossible. It's so wonderful, and motivates me even more. As for heroism ... I believe that anyone can be a hero to one extent or another - for his or her family, children for example; and that kind of heroism is what really matters.
Fashion Collection: How often do you cry? And what are the reasons?
Darya Domracheva: It happens on a rare occasion, but it certainly happens. In some circumstances it is necessary as a way of releasing negative emotions. To be honest I’m all about a keen sense of justice, and if one of my trustworthy friends will treat me wrong or unfair it will make me very upset.
Fashion Collection: What’s your favorite book?
Darya Domracheva: It's hard to point one out ... Probably that would be «The Little Prince» by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. It is an amazing piece of work that will always be there to remind you about important things in life; wonderful, kind, colorful book. After all grown-ups ought to remain a little bit of children they were once and to follow their dreams.
I am glad that now I have more time for reading. I have just started reading a book about the adventures of Allan Quatermain written by H. Rider Haggard.
Fashion Collection: Do you have any flaws you constantly try to «fight»?
Darya Domracheva: I accept my flaws. «Fighting» on the track is more than enough for me.
Text: Victoria Yankovskaya
Photo by Tatsiana Kezha
Photo assistant: Dmitry Budzilovich
Make up by Natalia Burya
Hairstyle by Olga Statkevich
Stylist: Katya German
Assistant stylist: Anastasia Mamaeva
Location: Renaissance Hotel Minsk