Anjelika Krylova: I like to treat athletes the way I would like a coach to treat me
Interview with Anjelika Krylova. About work in Russia, test skates and Betina Popova – Sergei Mozgov.
by sport24.ru dd. 16th September, 2019
Preparing for the interview, I noticed that many of my colleagues call you the Olympic champion. Have you noticed this? How do you react?
– Rarely call so. It happens that they are mistaken, but not so often. I’m the Olympic silver medalist. Of course, I would like to have won gold, but I failed. However, I believe that we gave all our strength and talent to show our maximum and do everything we can. But, unfortunately, there is only one gold medal, and we didn’t get it.
Ilia Averbukh once said that if he had won the Olympics, he wouldn’t have achieved all that he has now. Can you say that a silver medal motivates more than a gold medal for further life?
– Standing on a pedestal in Nagano, I was terribly upset with silver. It seemed to me that the world had collapsed. Apparently, we had such a mindset. Only victory. Therefore, the condition was depressive, there was no joy. We thought that we had lost.
Now I realize what an achievement it was to win silver at the Olympics. And I wish the athletes I coach to reach such peaks at least close. This is a huge result.
I won’t say that the silver spurred me somehow. I even forgot about it. It did not matter, we moved to a new stage – coaching. I always wanted to be a coach, so I went this way.
You have achieved a lot as a coach. You had pairs who stood on the podium – French, Canadian. Now you are working with a Russian duet. Recently there were test skates, where Betina Popova and Sergei Mozgov performed. How did experts react at the guys’ programs?
– I’m very pleased with the test skates, although the programs were not skated 100%, because this is the beginning of the season – something is raw, something needs to be changed, something has to be improved. But the overall impression of the performances is good, I’m very pleased. The rhythmic dance was performed cleaner, there were some mistakes in the free dance. I’m also pleased with the criticism from the judges and specialists from our federation.
Does it happens that test skates pass, but there is no criticism, only praise?
– There is always criticism. Even if everything is very good. I listen to it, accept the comments, improve, of course, as I see it. However, I’m very open to criticism, it’s necessary so that progress can be seen and we can move forward.
What do you think about test skates in general? Whom did you like?
– It’s hard to say, because performances are still raw. The skating of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov was very good in terms of image. I don’t agree with the choice of music for this season a little – they have been taking classics for the third year, and that was a little boring. But the level of skating and the class of the guys are amazing.
I liked Tiffany Zahorski and Jonathan Guerreiro- their choice of music and choreo. They are more or less ready for the season. This is a strong pair. Young duets also performed well. Everyone skated well.
The Russian Nationals will be incredibly interesting.
– Yes. And we will fight, because our goal is to get into the Russian team and move forward. I think that we’ve been staying a bit too long in the status of the 3rd, 4th, 5th pair. We would like to be in the top three and perform at a higher level.
In general, is it difficult to coach such an extraordinary pair like Betina and Sergei?
– Yes, it’s hard. (Laughs) Each athlete has an individuality. They are different in pairs, and you need to connect them correctly, direct them to work and feel their mood. A lot of aspects. A coach should be a good psychologist – be soft somewhere, press somewhere.
Betina and Sergei are a working couple. They are distinguished by her emotionality and his extravagancy, although many haven’t seen this yet. They tell me that Seryozha is stiff, he needs to relax. But I gave him freedom, the opportunity to change himself. The short dance is a breakthrough for him.
I didn’t recognize him with a mustache …
– I didn’t recognize him too (laughs) when I saw him in the hall. Sometimes it happens that they just pull a trick. For example, Betina’s haircut last year. Yes, there was talk about change of image. But there was no agreement. And then she comes with a haircut to a 7am training session. At first I thought: “My God, who is this?” I looked closely and saw that it was Betina.
They are used to it, they express themself. But I try to teach them to coordinate this with me. I would be very pleased. (Laughs)
I want to say that the second year of our joint work is already much better. They understand me, I got to know them better. I realized how to behave with them.
Betina is a very interesting girl, bright, individual. There are very few such in ice dance. But it’s hard for me to put everything together. I need to understand which puzzles to put together. I want her to understand this too. Because I see how this could be in potential. The main thing that it might be too late.
I want her to succeed. She and Sergei are real leaders. But in some moments they don’t understand what I want from them.
Many say that America has a different training system. Skaters who go there for the training camp return and say that everything is different. What exactly is different?
– I have said many times in my interviews that there is an individual system in America, and here, in Russia there is a group system of sports schools. And the load on the coach is higher. If you look at 5-6 pairs in a group, then this is 5 times more than looking at one pair, as in America. I have a pair for 45 minutes, it pays me money, I come, coach only them, look only at them, all the attention is on them. Then the next pair. The day is scheduled from 9:00 to 15:00. And it all goes in a row. Then the coaches change.
There are, for example, five coaches in the group. And everything is on schedule, everything is much more organized than in Russia. Of course, it’s much more expensive to train there, because you have to pay money all coaches, big money. I would like us to have such a system, but there is not enough ice to use it.
Here they give you an hour of ice, in America you have six hours, seven, ten, as much as the athlete has paid. Here you can’t just come, take a coach and skate. We have three hours of ice maximum, sometimes less. For the whole group of seven pairs, how can I divide them? 15 minutes per each?
I had such an idea so that each pair had progress, but the load on the coach is very high. You still need to plan. You give one pair to the choreographer, the other to the assistant, and still you have to plan it all. I don’t know how others work here, I tried to organize the way I’m accustomed to, but everything changes all the time. Athletes change all the time, I want everything to settle down and get the opportunity just to work with a pair.
Parents influence a pair, some setbacks in competitions, something between parents, something between children. And immediately: we leave or quit. There is a lot of such things, I want it to be calmer.
A little more than a year has passed since you have moved to Russia, has something changed during this time for you?
– The first thing that has changed, I got used to training “in Russian”, because athletes don’t really understand normal calm language and communication here. They are used to being constantly pushed. They must come to the rink motivated if they want results. Yes, there are failures, ups and downs. Then the coach motivates you, but if you come, then work. Here you need a stick, you need to yell, swear. I’m just not used to talking like that, but now I’m slowly getting used to it.
I asked Betina how you train, because I had the right impression about you, that you don’t swear, you are not one of those people.
– I really dislike this. I like to treat athletes the way I would like a coach to treat me. But if this doesn’t work for them, then okay, I can be different. To some extent, I may be soft, but don’t make me lose my temper.
I believe that if an athlete came, yes, it’s hard for him, I know that sometimes he doesn’t want to, sometimes it hurts, then the coach should press somehow. And what am I doing to them? I’m just making a plan. Here, you have a plan for the week, what you skate. No matter how you feel, yes, there are some force majeure, but he knows that he has to come and skate his program in ten minutes. We didn’t have this, we just came and we were told what we skate today. There was no such moral preparation. I plan everything and I think that it helps a lot.
We talk a lot about Betina and Sergei, because after all, they are our pair who train with you. They are quite frank in their interviews, do you control somehow, follow their activity in the media?
– I don’t use social networks very much. I think it’s distracting, sometimes it’s completely unnecessary information that brings you negative. Of course, after some test skates you can read some forums, fans’ reviews, what they like, what they don’t like. But it must be balanced, because sometimes, even if there is something good, it puts you in a state of complete depression. Because some crazy people write some completely incomprehensible things.
And their interviews … What can I say, yes, they are still young, open guys, but I would have filtered their talks a little. Some things could have been said more polite, not in such a frank language. This is their business, we talked a lot about it. Maybe what I say now, will make them a little cautious and next time they will think how they express, will read their interviews and somehow correct them.
Speaking about social networks, do you recommend skaters not to read, not to use them before competitions? For example, Irina Viner takes her athletes phones before the Olympic Games to shield them from all this.
– I would really like to do this. I believe that social networks, especially before competitions, with such hard training that is going on, can mentally confuse you. You will have a completely different mood. But I can’t do this, so I would really like them not to do this.
Speaking about ice dance, I noticed that the girls, seeing the competition in ladies’ single skating and realizing what expects them, switch to ice dance. Despite the fact that just a week ago I heard from one nine-year-old girl: “Well, what’s there? Ice dance is easy.” Just for me ice dance is the most difficult discipline.
– Yes, very difficult discipline. Yesterday a mother of a thirteen years old girl who do singles asked me “Isn’t too late for us to do ice dance?” I say that it’s time, because ice dances are very young now. This is not the same as before. I switched to ice dance in 13 years old and already at 16-17 skated at senior level. I didn’t skate in juniors, we didn’t get to Worlds, and my coach said that it’s better to skate in seniors.
Ice dancing is very difficult for three reasons. Firstly, the technique is different from single skating. Skating skills, sitting on your knees, shoulders. Secondly, the selection of partners who match in body proportions, level, skating and character. And thirdly, this is a “like / dislike” sport, the judges have some criteria now, the technical assessment with the change of the system has become clearer, but the viewer has gotten used to 6.0 and probably still hasn’t got it, don’t understand how it works.
We know that there are elements, we can distinguish twizzles, lifts. But everything that happens inside the program is not clear to every viewer.
– Yes, there are a lot of rules that must be followed, and you need to understand how the dance should develop. There are a lot of elements of the same type now, because everyone chases the fourth level to get more points. Ice dance as such is now gone for me. Now there is a race for the elements that need to be done. Although they recently raised the GOE, before the judges generally could do nothing, now they have been given a wider range.
But still, the scores depend on whether the judges like this or that music.
– This is very important, of course.
But it’s unrealistic to please all judges with your musical choice.
– Yes, it is very difficult.
The season hasn’t yet begun, but you have already stood out.
– We tried. We took the most vivid images.
Both lift and transitions, and in general everything stands out.
– The lift has been criticized completely, now we are changing it. In general, we changed half of the program. And we have competitions next week.
Why this lift can’t be done?
– It’s too long, there is no balance on the back, there are no three seconds on the back, Sergeyi needs to stand on one leg for a difficult position. We moved this lift to another place in the program. In general, the day after the test skates the program was completely different.
Will this awesome lift remain?
– Sure. And even better than originally. There was a difficult moment when we transferred it to the ice. I even had to put pressure on guys: “Either you make this lift, or we change it.” But they had a great desire to do it and they succeeded.
Will Russia be able to return its positions in ice dance?
– I think so. We have 2 strong duets. It’s not clear with the third one. We will fight for this status with Zahorski / Guerreiro, Evdokimova / Bazin. In general, there are a lot of pairs who claim third place in the team.
Russian duets can win. Of course Papadakis / Cizeron are in their own world, but they also need to change something. They are insanely good, magical. But their skating got a little boring. I hope that our duets will move closer to them. But so far no one has even competed with them.
In what case will you say to yourself: “The season went well”?
– A lot of goals, I will not disclose everything. Of course, I worry about my main pairs. I want them to perform well at the national championships. The main thing is that our common work be shown 100%. Or even more.