Interview with Tamara Moskvina. About Kavaguti / Smirnov, growth of Russian women’s figure skating and doping.
At the Russian Nationals Evgenia Medvedeva has set three world records at once, others have also shown impressive results. How such high level of internal competitions can be explained?
– There’s always a high intensity at the National Championships because there goes the selection to the European and World Championships. Athletes understand if they perform badly they won’t get into the national team, this highly motivates. So all the coaches are trying to bring their athletes to these starts in their best shape. Therefore, physical and psychological load at such competitions goes off-scale. You’re competing against our people and this is the most difficult.
Your skaters Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, two-time European champions, this time took only the fifth place …
– Fifth, because while Yuko and Sasha recovered after a serious injury, no one was waiting for them. All this time our rivals were getting ready, increasing their skills, artistry, of course they took the lead. It is a natural process, because everyone wants to be the first. Injury inexorably throws a man back, and knowing what guys had to endure, I’m happy that they just got back on the ice.
However, difficult surgeries, prolonged rehabilitation have no meaning for judges. The main thing is result and the place that athletes took. And here we must admit objectively: at the moment Yuko and Sasha are less competitive than couples who have become prize-winners.
Of course for me as for a coach it’s a little sad that they have frequent injuries. It’s like a car accident. Maybe somewhere there is my fault, omissions of our team. Maybe this is partly because Yuko is very tiny and thin, she weights less than 40 kg. She doesn’t keep such weight with some special diets, she’s such by nature. Even the doctor who operated her after a break of “Achilles”, drew attention to her fragile tendons. Now the speed in figure skating is higher and higher, technique is more complicated which often leads to falls.
It’s known that for skaters you are not only a mentor but also a psychologist, a manager. Certainly, with this pair you have already thought, what they are going to do in the future.
– Yes, I teach them everything to be successful not only in profession but also in life. In order to prevent a tragedy like it happens, when the career is over and the idol of millions ends up at a dead end and loneliness. Yuko and Sasha speak several languages, have a degree, Yuko has three diplomas. Alexander has already coached a pair from Lithuania, Yuko worked with children 4-5 years old kids and she loved it.
For many, it seems obvious that the outstanding master switches to coaching. But such move is full of risk. After all, if you’re a brilliant skater this does not mean that you will become a coach of extra-class. On the contrary, in coaching you will a novice and if something does not work, people may firmly point at this, ignoring your previous merits. For high-level athletes, who yesterday was wallowing in ovations, this is a difficult psychological barrier.
How to explain such a raise of our women’s single skating? At the forthcoming European and World Championships, which will be held in late January and March, medals are confidently tipped for the Russian girls.
– This is the result of extensive work on the development of physical culture in the country. Recently dozens of sport arenas have been built, not only in capitals. And when there’s a good sporting base right next to the house, parents bring their children there, appear gifted students. Coaches also activated, they have from whom to choose and bring up “stars”. In the end, everything came together and appeared the result.
However, in pair skating it’s more complicated. We do not just take girls and boys who differs in height and weight, but also people with different characters. Two personality should be matched, so they have same desires, could go together through stressful situations in sport and life, could sacrifice personal time, preferences. All for the common goal.
Scandals with doping don’t leave Russian sport. Figure skaters also got under suspicion, including the winners of the Sochi Olympics …
– When I was actively skating we haven’t even heard of doping. All that we were supposed to have were vitamins, but I didn’t really understand their favor and gave them to my neighbor-pensioner. The reason that we faced with this scourge I see in increased competition in the world sport. To win, many seek not only to show outstanding performance, but also look for the weaknesses of their opponent, as well as monitor the development of pharmacology. In this regard we missed a lot. How did it happen that Norwegian high-speed skiers are chronic asthmatics? And the famous American gymnasts, tennis players have a”bouquet” of illness that allow to take powerful drugs legally? It can’t be called otherwise than a double standards. Well, ill people can’t run distance of many kilometers, set records and win gold at the Olympics.
The attacks on Russia are excessive, but It is too late to lock the stable – door when the horse is stolen. We should be honest and admit that relied on the off-chance. It did not work. Now we have to analyze everything, to bring science, prepare professionals well versed in these matters. And precisely comply with the rules established at the international level.
Figure skating is one of the most beautiful sports. But lately technique obviously kills artistry …
– There is a constant discussion what is more correctly: to complicate the jumps, spins, or to focus on artistic performance. I think it’s parallel processes, although the complexity has increased significantly. In the 60s I was the champion of the USSR and was the first in the Soviet women’s figure skating who did a double lutz. Today even 6-7 year old children successfully do this jump. Juniors do triple twists and seniors – four turns. Earlier triple throw was a new word in pair skating, today many do it in the program, including the youth. Some even want to do two quads!
Interview by Elena Danilevich