Today Tatiana Tarasova celebrates her 70th anniversary! Translation of an interview with a legendary coach.
I translated parts that seemed most interesting to me.
Has your father ever said that he is proud of you?
– No. And what to be proud of? Our family had an attitude: everyone does what he can. On maximum. It’s just right, so what to be proud of? Only after fifth victorious Olympics, he said to me: “Hi, colleague.”
Mother also did not praised. It was uncommon for us. This does not mean that my sister and I weren’t loved enough. But I got a praise from my mother just once. At our country house. She was sitting in silence and suddenly said: “Tanya, well done. You have built such a counry house where we all feel so good.” Everyone was still alive then. And I remembered it.
It was your father who directed you to a coaching path, wasn’t he? After you got an injury that was incompatible with skating.
– Yes. I was all in sorrow and father shook me out of it. I wanted to dance, learned, tried to join “Berezka” and Moiseyev’s ensemble (Russian folk dance ensembles – ed.). But my hand was like a rag. And my father said, ‘Go to the rink, help your friends. There are no coaches, not a damn thing. Take kids and if you work well, you’ll be happy all your life.” So it turned out.
I do not know how parents let their children go with me. I was 20 years old, same Moiseeva Minenkov were 12-13. I was wearing white socks, white sneakers and short polka dot dress of calico. I do not know where I took such audacity, but even then I was sure that they will be world champions. Even though we were skating only at the outdoor rink, at the closed one we were not allowed yet.
But most importantly, I had a sense of responsibility. I remember training camp at Rostov-on-Don. There were 36 children, including Vova Kovalev (future two-time world champion, silver medalist of the Olympic Games in Innsbruck – ed.), I had to wound around the forest following him, so he wouldn’t gone anywhere. There was bad food. Then I went to the building on the opposite side, the City Party Committee. And easily ran on the red carpet jumping the notch to the main office. “Girl, where are you going?” – “Wherever is necessary”. And since that day we were fed well. Children see it. They can’t ignore your fanaticism, care of them.
You wanted to become an actress, but father forbade, right?
– Not an actress. I wanted to study choreography in GITIS. But the father said to my mother: “Nina, there were no artists in our house and there will never be.” The question was closed. As a result, I studied this science as I went along. My husband Krainev (outstanding pianist and music teacher – ed.) said that I hear the music well. I’ve watched a lot of ballet performances, was admitted to Igor Moiseyev’s rehearsals. I sat on all steps in the Kremlin Palace of Congresses, I’ve watched all a thousand times, as well as in Bolshoi. It was and remains my passion. And most of all I miss choreographing.
I saw the underside of my father’s fame. How he works and devotes himself. And how he suffers. Therefore, from the beginning I knew that this profession is not sugar. But so exciting! In the same Rostov my friend Ira Lyulyakova and I opened a rink – there was neither driver nor ice resurfacing machine. There were only two hoses. So we were cleaning, resurfacing and then skating on this ice. We have been doing it four times per day. We have been spending one hour on one resurfacing. But now we know how to get a cool hands.
But still it was a very happy life. And it’s still. If not the illness and death of my loved ones. This is the most difficult moment. But, probably, it happens in everyone’s life and it was necessary to rub through somehow. I did it. Because I’m alive …
Didn’t all these “On geniuses’ children nature is resting”, “Clearly, dad helped her” caused a temptation to choose a different profession?
– I didn’t feel it. I just went to the place where I was needed and happy from the first day. Moreover father wrote in the newspaper “Pravda” that the skating federation, is apparently got crazy if they entrusted the young girl to work in the USSR national team. It just happened so that I took a pair that got into the national team.
Your dad? About you?
– Yes. That I should be fired.
Did you say him anything at home?
– What could I tell him? It was his opinion! He knows better. And probably he was right. I was a 20-year-old girl who, sorry, didn’t understand a damn thing about ice dance.
I have always been interested in the theme of the great inheritance in the sport. Whether the ability to manage people transfers at the genetic level?
– I think that in many ways – yes. Blood is thicker than water. Misha Zhvanetskiy wrote to his son: “Son, have a conscience and then do whatever you want.” Because conscience does not allow to do anyhow. And the responsibility that I have from a young age it’s from mom and dad. Mom was not weaker than father. She worked a lot with the wives of hockey players, who loved her very much. And how many people she cured from various terrible diseases! Not feeling sorry for herself. Like father and sister Galya. Our whole family is prone to self-sacrifice.
It is not easy. But it is impossible without this. It is impossible not to be responsible for anything. Now even top coaches may be not aware where their athletes have treatment, where they spend time. With me it was impossible. I would have gone mad. No matter where they are, abroad or in the woods, I need to know where they are and with whom. Not for fun, but for the sake of the process which is in my mind. Of course, it was hard. But they understod that I was losing my mind, if I didn’t know. And they felt sorry for me. They felt sorry that I would all covered with allergies. And because of this attitude they were ashamed to work half-heartedly. They still are.
Once you come to the performance with the participation of Alexei Yagudin, and then he said: “For the sake of God, do not come to us frequently. I am unable each time to show every resource I have, to such an extent that in the morning can not get out of bed.”
– They simply have a conscience. And they understand that I know what does it mean to work at 120 percent and at 30 percent. Although in principle they work at Ilia’s show at 100% every day. But when I arrived, Lesha jumped eight triples and generally kept his line from start to finish. I enjoyed it. They know that if it does not, I’ll tell them. And they don’t want to listen it, so it’s better to try hard.
It is true that our father every day sent you to do a morning exercises, even in the dead of winter?
– True. Dad knew that I was capable of. He saw how I run, jump, what how fast my legs were, not like today. Of course, what a child will do it with pleasure for the first time?
– No. We did not used to be crying. Even when they could trounce us, now it’s unacceptable, but for lying is necessary to trounce. No, not father. Mama. And morning exercises it’s become a habit. You run, you’re cold and my father watching from the balcony said: “You need to run faster, and it will be warmer.” No matter which day is it, New Year, Birthday. After that finish trainings on 31 December at 22.30 wasn’t a problem.
What are the most unusual psychological techniques that you have used?
– Zhenya Platov comes to the Olympic Games in Nagano. We are already in public, it’s our turn. And he crosses himself all the time and repeats: “I’m ready, I’m ready.” But being with him for a long time I’ve never seen him crossing himself. So I realized he’s really “ready”. I was standing with his bottle of water and suddenly spilled it into his face! And then announced them. Zhenya suddenly: “Oh, I’ve been stroking this shirt for two hours.” And calmly went to skate. All. Gold.
With Ilia Kulik we texted sometimes. I put a note under his door. About what bothered me and him and what I believed was necessary at that moment. What I wanted to say, but knew he wouldn’t listen. Because the excitement rolls over. And it’s necessary to get through to him somehow.
Was it also necessary to get through to Yagudin in Salt Lake City?
– Of course. Plushenko couldn’t reach us, he fell and was fourth, when Lesha won the short program. Timothy Goebel was second. Lesha had the most difficult program to the maximum of human abilities. He goes on the free program, remains 17-20 steps to the board. Suddenly he turns to me, “How many quads to jump?”
I know that you can’t lower the bar. You can say less, and it won’t be done. And I said, “Goebel did three.” Though I knew well that he didn’t ask me about Goebel. Yagudin thought I did not answer his question, but I did. Because it angered him terribly as I wanted. Like, I’m asking her one things and she tells me about this **** …. He went and did everything.
You’ve worked with American and Japanese skaters. How should you change yourself to adapt to a completely different mentality? Or they should adjust to you, realizing your coaching scale?
– They know whom they ask. Exactly the coaching scale. Sasha Cohen, Shizuka Arakawa, who became an Olympic champion. She left me three months before the Games and I did not mind, because I have been already completely exhausted by work.
I was more advising her than coaching. Leaving me, she wanted to change her Olympic program to “Carmen”. I told her: “Carmen for you it’s like a chocolate teapot.” If you want to win, you need to go back to the old music. She said: “It’s impossible.” But in the end returned to the old music and won the Olympic Games. And then Japanese brought me a gratitude on a silver platter and forced her to do it herself. I even didn’t have any contracts. It’s not about money, they had a right not to do that.
Japanese are unique people. Hard work which is bordering on madness. But because they do absolutely anything you want, you have such a responsibility and such a pressure! Like it was with Alexei Yagudin, who once said to me: “Do with me what you want. I am yours”. And the Japanese are also mine.
It’s different with Americans. They also work very hard. I worked with Sasha Cohen, she’s absolutely outstanding girl. I’m sorry, that because of my health, I could not work and left America. For the first time in my life blood sugar increased, so nervous I was. And why? Because she didn’t listen to me.
Sasha got ill. I told her and her mother that, if we do not miss the competition and give some recovery time, we’ll lose the entire season. She was in fantastic shape doing such run-throughs that she cried with delight. She said that she has never skated like that. But they said they could not miss this competition, because they have a signed contract.
But I didn’t have a contract. I’ve never signed any contracts, because I always wanted to be free. I repeated “We should withdraw.” However, Sasha’s mother Galina said: “We need to do as written in the contract.” Then I said that I’m leaving. And I left. I was not afraid of losing them.
Was you afraid of losing someone?
– Only relatives. Whom I lost. I wasn’t afraid of losing athletes. God spared me, no one left me.
Julia Lipnitskaya has become the people’s favorite in Sochi, why nothing turns out after the Olympics?
– She has become the people’s favorite, because she was small and did everything. And then she began to have normal changes of her body. It’s hard for all girls. She gain weight. And lost a year because after Sochi everyone was a bit relaxed.
She needed at least one coach who would spend with her 24 hours a day. Who would developed, stretched, forced her. A nanny-coach who would form her mind, guided her in work. And Eteri (Tutberidze – ed.) already had Medvedeva. And she translated her attention, just as I translated my attention from Moiseeva – Minenkov to Bestemyanova – Bukin.
Julia is very talented, but what she showed was the maximum of her abilities, well fitted into program by Ilia Averbukh. There was not this fundamental base, which would keep her further.
She gained weight, then lost weight up to an unhealthy degree. And I really want her to be healthy. Then she can come back and do what she likes. She’s good, successful child, but after the Olympics turned out slightly abandoned.
Do you have any unfulfilled dreams, unfulfilled goals?
– To know English language well. I do not know it, as an intelligent man should. At the level of the coaching business – yes, but in general – no. Although, of course, I won’t get lost
What would you like to wish on your anniversary?
– Health. I’ve already have good, loyal friends. I also have two grand-nephews who play hockey. Fedya has being training since three years old and now he’s nine. I want to see another Tarasov playing for CSKA. I want it very much.
by Igor Rabiner sport-express.ru