An Olympic Champion and a coach of Olympic Champions Oleg Vasiliev sums up the results of World Championships 2016.
Was the unpleasant performance of Russian pairs a surprise for you?
Oleg: Before World Championships I’d like to believe that everything be ok. But it’s difficult to expect a success without a fair portion of luck. The three and a half months without competitive practices affected Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov. And the absence at the last year’s World Championships doesn’t add authority to our Olympic Champions in the team. Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated well as for themselves, but this pair doesn’t truly establish itself. They showed a quad twist at the Russian National, but didn’t risk to do it at European or World Championships. It seems that the guys stopped at a certain level and do not progress.
The sixth place of two time Olympic Champions Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov become the biggest disappointment.
Oleg: There was an impression that they weren’t even going to fly to Boston. First of all Maxim. Seemed like at the last moment he was begged, forced, persuaded – I don’t know which word is correct in this case. Maxim wasn’t ready to fight for a medal. And skated according to his mood.
Wasn’t it a mistake for Russian figure skating federation to sent three Nina Mozer’s pairs to the main competition of the season?
Oleg: Nothing would have changed if two Mozer’s pairs had gone to Boston and the third for a perspective. Russia would also have got three spots for the next season, but one of the young couples could have got an experience of a major tournament. That did not happen. Those, who familiar with the realities of national figure skating, will understand why.
Why did young girls (the elder of which will turn 18 in April) cope with an enormous psychological burden at Worlds, and those who are older did not?
Oleg: Girls have different situation. There is fierce competition between them from the first to the last competitions of the season. Nobody misses tournaments, nobody has special conditions and nobody has a choice of where and when to participate. Having gone through such season they came to the Worlds 100% prepared for the tough competition. They don’t need to do something that they didn’t do throughout the season.
Oleg: Our leading pairs have special conditions, and the guys are competing by a very strange rules. Maxim Kovtun has been given such credits! But he doesn’t hurry to meet that expectations. Girls have fare competition, they represent different schools – and all fighting with each other and within their group. No special conditions, no privileges, no acclimatization camps before the Worlds in the United States – and it gives results.
21 year old Mikhail Kolyada from St.Petersburg become a discovery at Boston, even for a Russian fans…..
Oleg: This is the first season for Mikhail, when he got to the Grand-prix, European and World Championships. He hasn’t realized yet the responsibility that lies on team leader’s shoulders. He skated in his pleasure. If in the pre-Olympic and Olympic seasons Mikhail continues to perform the same way, it’ll be an excellent result. Potentially, the guy is very good. He has quad, and he might be able to add another rotation to his triple lutz. The guy obviously enjoying every performance, and it gives hope for his further progress.
His coach Valentina Chebotareva constantly repeated that for her it’s first time, when her student perform on such a serious level. Will she be able to keep Mikhail in her group, and to keep herself in this “terrarium of like-minded”, which is a narrow circle of elite figure skating coaches in Russia?
Oleg: Tandem Kolyada – Chebotareva works fine. I hope that no one will try to take away an athlete from his favorite coach. And Chebotareva works in St. Petersburg. Being from St.Petersburg, I can say that you feel calmer at a certain distance from Moscow. If not to bother this duo, you can expect pleasant surprises in the Olympic season.
At one time, you was attracting specialists in dance steps for setting programs for Totmianina and Marinin and you are familiar with the situation in the discipline of figure skating. Do you believe that Igor Shpilband is able to bring Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin on a new level?
Oleg: Shpilband is the specialist of the highest level. He has no equals in work on technical elements. It’s an interesting question whether he will be able to cope with Ilinykh and Zhiganshin. The success of cooperation depends not only on he coach, but also on the willingness of athletes to take his words and ideas. The guys are very talented, but a necessary condition for successful work is the presence of bondes between students and coach. If there is no one hundred percent understanding, no spark, it’s difficult to wait a success. While our dancers flew to America for the first try-outs, they’ve worked with Shpilband for less than a month, and nothing is clear yet. Some conclusions can be made at most three or four months.
Can you call Ashley Wagner and Rafael Arutyunyan, an example of such perfect understanding between the skater and coach?
Oleg: Yes, it’s a good example. As soon as Wagner realized that she need to work on the proposed by Harutyunyan scheme, the results have improved. The athlete should trust a coach not even a 99.9%, but 100%.
Previous interview with Oleg Visiliev