Alexei Mishin: The program without quads is like stone soup

Posted on 2017-07-01 • No comments yet


Translation of the interview with Alexei Mishin. Part 3. About men’s skating.

What prevents us today from preparing strong male single skaters such as Yuzuru Hanyu or other leaders of world skating?

– Now we have many girls, only few boys. If we take any group of beginners, then there is a ratio of girls to boys as 8 to 2. It is clear that the competition among girls is much higher, so they are progressing. But if we talk dialectically, then all processes in nature are oscillatory. Tell me, where is the invincible English dance school headed by Towler-Ford now? Where are the Austrian Schwarz and Danzer? Where is the French Calmat? Where is the Czechoslovak Nepela? American Peggy Fleming? So I think we shouldn’t panic, but to understand that such unique creattion of nature as Hanyu, whose magic combination of chromosomes has led to fantastic constitutional and moving capabilities, supplemented by tremendous capacity for work are very rare.

In the history of my existence in Soviet figure skating, we had wonderful pairs, dancers, strong men in the absence of pretty decent women. Probably, now it is somehow compensated, and we must do everything to eliminate the existing today disbalance.

I want to remind the wise words of the head of our federation Alexander Georgievich Gorshkov: “There can not be too many strong girls in the team”. And the World Championships in Helsinki showed that this is actually true. After the end of the championships only one remained “unbeatable”. But at the beginning of the season, many took offense at my words, when, having looked at all of our contenders (and then there was a believing that Russian athletes are invincible and no one can came close to them) I said that “invincible” can only be said about Medvedeva. It turned out to be true.

And here’s what I also want to say. In the period of becoming me as a coach the fundamentals of the method of teaching figure skating were only being formed. At that times coaches were the people who achieved high results in sports – prize-winners of the world championships, European championships. And the athletes, who managed to cross the “Iron Curtain” and become familiar with the advanced state of the world figure skating, became coaches of the team. I remember Zhuk, Pliner, Moskvin, myself, constantly shooting the performances and training of the strongest figure skaters of the world.

Then the method and system of education were formed, Urmanov, Tataurov, Yagudin, Plushenko and my other athletes become the examples of multi-rotational jumps. Today, any athlete can become a coach using the established methodology, even who has not even achieved great results in his career. Moreover, the modern judging system has brought the mathematical component to the forefront. Previously, we tried to make an outstanding program – a masterpiece, unlimited by the number of revolutions, the number of rockers, turns in the sit spin…

How do you think, at the Olympics in Korea will we see the same numbers of quads that we’ve seen at this World Championships?

– Yes we’ll see. Even more quads. The one who will strive to make a quad lutz or flip, two salchows and two toe loops will win. The one who in the current season will create the brightest reputation will win. And, of course, to whom the fate will smile, sports happiness and the correct arrangement of stars in the sky.

After the World Championships people began to say that men’s programs with so many quads are built according to the scheme: run-jump, the artistic component goes away. How to deal with this?

– Over time, everything will fall into place. I have a great example when, before the Olympics in Vancouver, many said that they do not need quads, that they will beat Plushenko with “transitions”. The processes occurring in sports and in other spheres of human activity depend not only on their spontaneous development, they are also manageable. Then, at the 2010 Olympics the International Skating Union (ISU) bent toward the “transitions”. However, after the Olympics, the same Lysacek and Chan rushed to learn quads. I have always strive that my athletes jump technically difficult jumps, with the maximum number of turns.

It is a profound misconception that difficult jumps and beauty are mutually exclusive concepts. When the brilliant figure skaters moved to the shows after finishing the sports career and excluded complicated jumps, it was boring. Yes, the skaters looked elegant, high-class, but as soon as their programs lost difficult jumps, then mustard, vinegar and pepper disappeared. All of this become not impressive. Because difficult jumps are one of the most convincing means of expressing the choreography in skater’s programs. Even the spectators sitting in the stands, very clearly see the number of rotations performed in the air, for which they reward the performers with applause. It would be foolish to say that spins and the steps are not important. They are also components of success. But the program without quadruple jumps is like stone soup. And no matter how much celery and parsley you put, this soup will never taste good.

by Olga Ermolina for


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