Interview with Alexei Urmanov about possible changes in the rules, Olympics and Julia lipnitskaya.
After Alina Zagitova won the Olympics, many experts began to talk that such a story of becoming a champion can be repeated. How do you think is it possible to take a 11-12-year-old girl, bring her in 15-16 years old to the peak shape for the Olympics, give her the most difficult program and take “gold” in Beijing.
– Forecasts are a very ungrateful business, especially when they are done for a long time. Not just for the season, but for the whole Olympic cycle. During this time, many different things can happen, as we could see after Sochi-2014. But if you exclude caution, you can assume that the future Olympic champion skated either in Kazan at the Russian championship for juniors, in the elder group, or even at the competitions of younger participants at the Russian junior tournament named after the legendary coach Stanislav Zhuk.
But the potential champion does not have to win now. Four years before the Olympic triumph Zagitova was only 17th at the Russian junior championship.
– Exactly. Returning to the fact that the future champion could competed at the championships for younger age. In Kazan, skated those who are now 13 years old, and in Beijing-2022 they will be 17. Zagitova won Pyeongchang in 15, so the girls who performed in younger age group at Zhuk’s Memorial fit this age perfectly. They are now 11 years old, and it is quite possible that under the existing rules, a 15-year-old promising figure skater could go to the next Olympics. But all these assumptions can face the changes in the rules, that people talk about. In particular, the increase of the minimum age of participants for major international competitions like Olympics, World championships.
What is your position towards such changes?
– Probably, this is logical. It is impossible to talk about the competition of 15-year-old girls with 25-year-olds or 30-year-old skaters. These changes, whether adopted, should be discussed at the ISU Congress. It is clear that such revolutionary changes, if they happen, should be made not on the eve of the Olympics, but, let’s say, at the beginning of the Olympic cycle. But, I think that such changes will not happen, although I repeat: I would be their supporter.
There is an active discussion of the draft of possible changes in the rules, not concerning with the age, but specifically the system of points for the elements. Have you studied these changes? How will they affect the programs of your students?
– You know, I’ll explain the difference between theorists and practitioners. The first can talk about how changes in programs will affect, and the second, like me, are so busy with competitive practice that they simply do not have time. Personally, my group has so many competitions that I have to spend all my time preparing from one competitions to the next ones. As soon as the season is over, there will be time for making programs for the new season, so we will study in detail and analyze what may be taken as changes in the rules.
Can these changes be compared with the revolutionary changes that were 16 years ago, when they abandoned the six-point rating system?
– I would not discuss the issue until it clears up. While we are dealing with certain rumors you heard, I heard. Personally, I heard that they are going to cancel the extra points for jumps in the second part of the program, which were a strong side of our skaters. In addition, I heard that the men’s free program will be reduced from 4.5 minutes to 4 minutes, which can lead to a reduction of jumping element from eight to seven. But I wouldn’t discuss this issue before the rules are officially adopted. I can only express my opinion about the men’s free program. In my opinion, the skaters are quite able to cope with current demands, many perfectly perform all eight jumps. Yes, not always the guys jumping unmistakably, but that’s why the sport is interesting, it gives the action for fans. He gives fans the opportunity to discuss these mistakes, falls, real fight.
But on the other hand, there is some winning formula, which was created in the group of Eteri Tutberidze. Jumps in the second part of the program is now performed not only by Medvedeva and Zagitova, this is the trademark of almost all the students of the group. What prevents the others from using this victory formula?
– Probably, others are not ready to perform the same way. Someone is not ready physically, someone psychologically is not able to build their programs in the same way, to do all the jumps in the second part. As for my vision of the situation, I see the composition of the free program more balanced. When this doesn’t happen, figuratively speaking, according to the scheme: first we make three spins and then seven jumps. For me this does not seem to be a balanced story and because of this such programs do not look artistically, creatively and choreographically right in my understanding. I try to make programs for a certain idea, certain choreographic, artistic idea, so that it would be clear what I wanted to tell.
What do you remember the most from the Olympics?
– I was very happy for Alena Savchenko, who together with Bruno Massot won the Olympic gold medal. These are real athletes, especially Alena, who is an example of an ideal professional. To perform at five Olympics, winning the last of them and finishing the season with a magical victory at the World Championships – it’s worth a lot, believe me. Alas, Carolina Kostner wasn’t able to put the same victorious point, who at the home world championship remained outside the podium. She had all the opportunities to at least be in prizes, but as a maximum, to win at the home arena. And the season was remembered by the performance of Yuzuru Hanyu at the Olympics, who became the first skater to win two individual “golds”.
Tell us about cooperation with Julia Lipnitskaya.
– I am very grateful to fate for bringing me together with Julia. Moreover, this gratitude is mutual: I am grateful to Julia, and she is grateful to me for the period of our joint work. We continue to maintain relations. Our work was complicated, but at the same time it was interesting and instructive. Honestly, I discovered a lot of new things for myself, both in terms of profession and just in life. I think that this was important for Julia too, she was grateful to me and to our coaching staff, in general, for that joint work.
There are very small children in our group, I communicate with their parents, and one day, when the period of our work with Lipnitskaya has passed for several months, one of the parents told me: “Julia became warmer.” I asked again: “What do you mean?” “Well, at first she was like some kind of little wild animal.” And I remembered that at first she really was like a wolf cub. And then, in time, realized that it’s possible not to take everything with hostility, showing your thorns. It turns out that there are people who can praise and hug.
by Djaudat Abdullin for business-gazeta.ru