Anjelika Krylova: “I try not to put too much pressure, but it’s impossible to be gentle with our skaters”
Interview with Anjelika Krylova about upcoming Olympics, her pair Vasilisa Kaganovskaia and Valeriy Angelopol and Junior Worlds.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 26th January 2021 by Rustam Imamov
Figure skating has been one of the most toxic sports (in Russia) in recent years. We are already used to the fact that athletes are shamed in the comments, they get nasty things in direct messages and driven to depression. Deleting an account in social media after the competitions and a couple of poorly chosen words in an interview? An ordinary situation. Taking this opportunity, by the way, we want to support Sofia Samodelkina, who was attacked by a group of fans. But only complimentary epithets can play a bad joke on an athlete.
At least, this is the opinion of the coach Anjelika Krylova, in whose group young Vasilisa Kaganovskaia and Valeriy Angelopol train. The pair is rightly called one of the most talented at their age, but the excessive attention of the fans, according to Krylova, can distract the skaters from training. It’s not so easy to realize that your fan groups are created in Internet, where hundreds of people communicate! Anjelika talked about the danger of star disease, as well as about the intrigues of the upcoming 2022 Olympics in Beijing, after the end of the Russian Junior Nationals in Saransk, where Kaganovskaia / Angelopol lost tenth points to the first place.
The Beijing Olympics will start very soon. What emotions do you have waiting for the start of the competition?
Anjelika Krylova: It will be very interesting. I will go to China with my German dance team Katharina Mueller/Tim Dieck, so I’ll see how it goes live.
Have you read about China’s quarantine rules? Are you afraid of excesses?
Anjelika Krylova: I haven’t really read it. I only know that they will do covid tests every day. Of course, the risks are high. Including false positive test. But we have what we have, I can not influence it in any way.
There were also daily tests at the European Championships. Did you worry about the results?
Anjelika Krylova: I was very worried. And now we are afraid. Something can happen every day. The first wish to all athletes at the Olympics is to get there safely and perform, to reach the end. I can’t imagine how to prepare for the Games when you think about coronavirus tests all the time … It’s a huge stress.
There will be crazy competition in ice dance in Beijing – two American pairs show close (and very high) scores, the French set world records again, at the same time Russian duets scored approximately equal numbers. Who is your personal favorite of the Games?
Anjelika Krylova: I won’t do specific forecasts, but for me personally, Sinitsina and Katsalapov were gorgeous at the European Championships. At the same time, I don’t really like their rhythm dance, in particular their costumes. As for me, it was possible to do something more interesting, there was not enough style. But I admire the way they skate. Vika and Nikita are as a single entity on the ice. Stepanova and Bukin came close to them, but for me Sinitsina and Katsalapov are definitely better. Nevertheless, Ivan and Sasha showed great performances. And I don’t want to start a confrontation between them now. The Americans lead two of their duets to high scores and ours should do the same.
We have a different strategy – to provide maximum support to one particular pair in order to lead it to the Olympic gold. What is more correct?
Anjelika Krylova: The results will show everything. Everyone has different tactics, the main thing is that it should bring result.
Do you agree with the opinion that, according to the scores, Sinitsina and Katsalapov were held back at the European Championships so that compared to Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron, they no longer looked so convincing?
Anjelika Krylova: They were strongly held back, and I do not understand why. For me, the scores should have been much higher, on the same level with the French.
Is the tactics of the French – to avoid direct competition with the Russian pair? At first they did not come to the World Championshis, then to the European Championships…
Anjelika Krylova: It’s not like that at all, no one runs away from anyone. They have already won the World and European Championships so many times that skipping one or two events will not change anything for them. Why would they risk and fly to Tallinn? Now it’s pandemic, and it is not known what will happen with the tests. You can be closed for ten days, and you will miss all the preparations for the Olympics. There were no undercover games and special tricks in their decision not to come to the European Championships.
Are American dancers in the race for gold?
Anjelika Krylova: I would say for bronze. They have two very different but strong pairs. Hubbell/Donohue started their path with me, I brought them together. This is a very technical and sexy duet. They have all the important qualities for ice dance. The only thing, in my opinion, Madison is a bit heavy. In America, this is considered the norm, but if she lost a little weight, the pair would be priceless. They wouldn’t even compete with Chock/Bates. Evan can fail something, he makes mistakes. I don’t see consistency in him, because of this, for a long time the pair was not ranked high. They didn’t believe in them. Now he is more confident, and we immediately see the result.
There is an opinion that places in the dance competition will decide the fate of the team gold at the Olympics. In other events, the advantage of Russia and America is offset by each other, and in ice dance it is not yet clear who will be higher. Do you agree with this?
Anjelika Krylova: It seems to me that we will wait for the Americans to announce their team and only then choose themselves. I’m not an expert in such tactical games, but I would like to wish the Russian Figure Skating Federation to make the right decision. A lot depends on the composition of the team, but the choice is not easy. Russia has good chances for gold, the main thing is not to make a mistake with the choice of skaters. And we expect clean skates from athletes.
The Canadians in Pyeongchang had only one substitution, so that the strongest athletes would skate in three disciplines. It turns out that the second dance pair was left without gold awards. How fair was this decision?
Anjelika Krylova: Weaver / Poje were left without a medal. I know that the guys were very upset, but from the task of the national team point of view, the Canadians did everything right. The team event is the pride of the whole country, and the skaters should not be chosen there according to the logic to thank someone for their work or not to offend. And only for pragmatic reasons for the strongest team.
Canada went from 2018 champions to a team that barely qualified for the Olympics. How did this happen in just four years?
Anjelika Krylova: Change of generations. They don’t have good girls, and of the boys, only Keegan Messing. In dance, Gilles/Poirier, in my opinion, do not claim for top-three. Although the duet has interesting programs. Pairs also can not be compared with ours and the Americans, the Chinese. Perhaps we should wait, and for Milan, Canada will be prepared better. I really like Nicolaj Sorensen / Laurence Fournier-Beaudry – they have a Russian style, powerful skating. What I like most about the Canadians is that they perform for pleasure. They rejoice what they do and delight the audience with their energy.
Foreigners really know how to turn off at the right time and enjoy the process of skating. The Russians are too stiff, they are afraid of mistakes. Do you agree?
Anjelika Krylova: This is because the coaches sometimes pressure them. Another system of training, another philosophy of work.
Are you trying to combine both? As a Russian coach who worked in the USA for a long time.
Anjelika Krylova: I am looking for the middle ground. I won’t put too much pressure, but it’s impossible to be gentle with ours. They do not understand this, and a stick is definitely needed, not only carrot. They even ask to be tougher with them.
After the Junior Nationals, Kaganovskaia and Angelopol will have a tough conversation?
Anjelika Krylova: Sure. It will be.
What emotions do you have more after the Russian junior championships in Saransk – resentment for the lost gold or satisfaction, since the main task – selection for the Junior Worlds has been completed?
Anjelika Krylova: We are very pleased that we qualified for the Junior World Championships. This was the main goal. Of course, I wanted to achieve a better result, the guys tried. But a mistake in the free dance decided the outcome of the gold medal. We will analyze why this happened, and we will work further. I think the guys just didn’t have enough experience.
Have you already understood what was the reason for the mistake that Valery made? Have you analyzed it?
Anjelika Krylova: So far, they can’t even clearly explain to me what happened. And I myself can’t understand. In training there were no problems with this lift at all. Maybe it was excitement or an incorrect entry to the element … Valery did not explain himself, but the it was primarily his fault.
On the other hand, perhaps it is better to make mistakes now than to do it at the Junior World Championships in Sofia?
Anjelika Krylova: In any case, there is nothing wrong with mistakes. For the guys this result is a useful experience. I just want to see from them the analysis of work and progress. So that they look at their mistakes, think about preparation, attitude. So they understood how to interact with each other, and made conclusions. This is a young pair that has already made a huge step forward. Even silver is already a real breakthrough. But, of course, it’s a pity, because we were preparing and waiting for a different result.
Perhaps it was overconfidence that got in the way. For example, the support of the fans could bring them false ideas about their capabilities. And it did not work out to show on the ice everything that they are capable of. I hope that next time they will fully meet my expectations and show decent work.
So, complimentary articles on the Internet could play a cruel joke with a dance pair?
Anjelika Krylova: I don’t read anything on Internet at all and I don’t advise the guys. Maybe this praise on the Internet really got in the way, knocked down the mood. I did warn them: before the competitions, you generally need to isolate yourself from everything. But I can’t take their phones away and constantly control them, this is wrong.
All season they were positioned as the first junior pair of the country. Probably, for young minds this is not very good?
Anjelika Krylova: The fans rushed a little. It was necessary to wait at least for the Junior Nationals! These are very important competitions, where there is always a tough competition. And our competitors were of the highest level. Khavronina and Chirizano are very experienced and technical guys, a strong pair. And I didn’t see the point in praising Vasilisa and Valeriy so quickly. Compliments must first be justified by results. And what successes did the guys have before Saransk? Victory at one stage of the junior Grand Prix? For me, this is not a reason to talk about something big.
After the Olympic Games there will be a change of generations in ice dance – veterans will leave, young people will come in their place, which means that we will see new faces in juniors. Is this a chance for your athletes to establish themselves in junior elite status and move on?
Anjelika Krylova: Our dance pair skates so well only the first season. And I only see two pairs with such progress. Ours and Ovsyankina / Samokhin. Everything is ahead.
Why are we seeing such progress? Is it a new attitude to work, other methods?
Anjelika Krylova: The guys have grown up, but there are still weaknesses. I lacked dedication from them, I constantly demand more. Young people do not understand much, they only feel what they need and how. The main thing is that social media should not put excessive pressure on their brains, does not lure them. And did not distract from the goal we are moving towards, from the words of the coach. But now young people are completely immersed in the Internet, and this can kill a dance pair, so I’m worried. Not only hate kills, but also excessive praise.
So, is the star disease grows?
Anjelika Krylova: Not yet, I try to prevent it. The guys are working hard. Both Valeriy and Vasilisa are working as best they can. Progress is noticeable, but as a coach, of course, I would like to go even faster. And they can! They just need to perceive me better and listen, respond to mistakes.
So, are we waiting for further progress in Sofia?
Anjelika Krylova: We will fight for the highest place. We are going to Bulgaria for gold, I am determined only to win.
Are there competitors among foreigners?
Anjelika Krylova: There is a great American pair, I see serious rivals in them. As for the Canadians, who surpassed us at the first Grand Prix with a deductions… I don’t see a real competitor, but you need to understand that politically Canada and America will be against us. You should not forget about other Russian duets either. The same Khavronina and Chirizano are worthy competitors.
The topic of judging in the ice dancing is almost marginal. Do you expect excesses?
Anjelika Krylova: I don’t want to think about it. The first thing you take the judges with is emotions. If you are stiff, unsure of yourself, then the judges will immediately feel it and seriously lower your scores. In this case, no one will set +5 or +4 for the elements. Maximum +2 or +3. And this affects the final result.
How do you feel about the age-old debate about the existence of a “queue” in ice dance for the highest places on the podium?
Anjelika Krylova: “Queue” really exsisted in those days when I was still skating myself. Now I do not see such a problem. If you are really cool, make cool elements and skate powerful programs cleanly and aesthetically, then there will opportunities to beat even experienced duets. But you need to prove in practice, confirm your high level from competitions to competitions. Stability is the most important thing. When you are unstable and periodically fail the elements, then at first you will still be supported as a person with potential.
But it may be once or twice. On the third time, do not expect high scores. My pair also has every chance of becoming a big duet, but I don’t want them to be over-praised. So far, nothing to praise. They are very beautiful, they have potential, but that does not mean anything. My task is bring them to the ground. It’s great that people talk about them, that they have fans who admire them. I have nothing against it. But for themselves, they must understand that there is still a lot of work to be done.
Starting this season, you started working with your former partner – Oleg Ovsyannikov. Did it give you space for new perspectives and approaches to work?
Anjelika Krylova: My partner is a great support in everything. He’s a close friend of mine and we get along very well off the ice. With him, I feel very calm as a woman. He will always protect me, save me. And in work we are together every day, his thoughts complement mine. There are creative differences, but we understand each other. We’re on the same wave.
Many people compare the Kaganovskaia / Angelopol with you and Oleg. Do you also see some similarity?
Anjelika Krylova: I can’t see it. Quite a different type. They are calmer guys, Vasilisa is smooth, slow. I was more charismatic, with a bright temperament.
“Yuzuru Hanyu will not become an Olympic champion for the third time in a row, but Nathan Chen may also be left without a gold medal.” Alexei Urmanov about upcoming Olympics