Artur Dmitriev: “Quadruple axel will not help Hanyu to win the Olympics, because it’s half- turn under rotated and could be count as a triple axel with mistakes.”
Interview with two-time Olympic champion Artur Dmitriev. About prospects of Russian pairs at the Olympics, men’s and women’s competitions.
source: rsport.ria.ru dd. 1st February 2022 by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya
At the Beijing Games, Russian figure skaters will be represented by the strongest team in history in the pairs skating. This was stated by two-time Olympic champion Artur Dmitriev. According to him, any of the pairs is able to win if skates clean. The coach also explained what makes Kamila Valieva unique compared to her compatriots, called Yuzuru Hanyu the favorite to win the individual competitions and told why it would be difficult for Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov to perform in a free program to the Lighthouse.
A few days before meeting you, I spoke with a well-known coach. She said that a pair should be a mountain in her understanding, and that this is exactly what she lacks in the current Russian pairs. Do you agree with this point of view?
Artur Dmitriev: Not really, to be honest. Anastasiia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov, if they have not yet become such a mountain, are very close to it. Well, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii also improved a lot – they all have their pros and cons, but these are serious pairs, like Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov, who, just in case, have been skating together for the 11th year. During this time, you can teach even a bear to jump the axel.
Why did you say that?
Artur Dmitriev: Well, 11 years is a huge amount of time for a pair. For example, I’ll tell you that I myself skated with Natasha Mishkutyonok for nine years. And Zhenya and Vova opened the second ten. It’s a lifetime in sports.
Three years ago, we were talking about Tarasova and Morozov, and you said that it was it seemed that they themselves did not understand what they wanted.
Artur Dmitriev: They were given a very big impetus by their stay in America, when they skated with Marina Zueva. She did a great job with them. Not technical, in terms of jumps or throws, but more hidden and very painstaking – in terms of positions, transitions, small lifts, different speeds of skating. And the guys really started to skate differently. But they have lost a technique a little, because such work always takes a lot of time. Now the technique has been improved again, the right accents were made.
At one time, explaining to me what is the difference between the champions of the Games in Salt Lake City Elena Berezhnaya with Anton Sikharulidze and Jamie Sale with David Pelletier, Irina Rodnina drew attention to the fact that the Canadians skate noticeably slower than the Russian pair. Do you think it matters? I ask, because Tarasova and Morozov are now also criticized for the lack of speed.
Artur Dmitriev: Still our sport is not a 100-meter run. It’s not about speed. It is certainly needed, but it is important that it is organically combined with the program. You can skate powerfully, quickly, actively. And you can skate not so actively, but it will be combined with the music, with the program, with the style of skating, and so on. And it seems to me that Tarasova and Morozov, having worked with Zueva, found their style, and an interesting one. Now this feeling has intensified even more. And it’s quite possible to add the speed, I assure you. It’s just not required in the free program. Lighthouse, by the way, is quite complex music. Although, to be honest, I would not take this for the Olympic Games.
Artur Dmitriev: In this music, any mistake immediately destroys the impression. If you skate perfectly clean, everything works. If you make a mistake, it immediately starts working against you.
By the way, with a program to Lighthouse the Olympic champions of Pyeongchang Aliona Savchenko and Bruno Massot lost both the European Championships and the World Championships a year earlier.
Whom you consider the favorites to win at the Games in Beijing? The Russian pairs or the Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong?
Artur Dmitriev: Unfortunately, this year I didn’t see the Chinese pair. Although I know that they really skate cool. When you look at them live, their performance touches your soul, fascinates. But if the Chinese make mistakes, and ours skate clean, any of the three Russian pairs will have a chance to win. If Sui and Han perform both programs perfectly, it will be difficult. Especially in Beijing.
What do the Chinese pair do that other pairs do not, from a purely professional point of view?
Artur Dmitriev: By the elements – nothing. I would even say that ours are a little stronger in the elements. This is especially true for Mishina and Galliamov, who have the most complex combination. Although Tarasova and Morozov, in my opinion, have the best twist in the world. As for the energy of skating, Anastasiia and Aleksander immediately attract attention. Another question is their free program. Personally, I find it controversial.
The Olympic programs choreographed by Tamara Moskvina for both of her pairs (and especially “Time, Forward”) were criticized at the beginning of the season. Were you surprised by the choice of coach?
Artur Dmitriev: No, because I known Tamara Nikolaevna for too long. She is not indifferent to this music. And in fact, she really likes this music. Because this music is really very strong. At one time, Oksana Kazakova and I also thought about taking it for a short program, and I myself asked Moskvina about this. We just didn’t succeed – we didn’t have enough time.
As for the music cut, do you remember the very first pair of Moskvina – Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev?
Artur Dmitriev: They also had a program where Sviridov’s “Snowstorm” was combined with the “Europe” band. That is, this idea has been with Moskvina for a long time. Initially, as far as I remember, even then she wanted to combine “Snowstorm” and “Time, Forward”, but did not dare to do so. Because not so long ago, Rodnina and Zaitsev performed to “Time, Forward”.
Good example. That is why I had doubts about the free program of Tarasova and Morozov. It is very difficult not to recall Savchenko in this program.
Artur Dmitriev: Well, I don’t remember. Savchenko, of course, is a more skillful performer, more emotional. Not to mention the fact that she went through three Olympics with Robin Szolkowy before winning with Massot. But you understand what’s the matter: “Don Quixote” is also skated by many. Like Liebestraum. Natasha Mishkutyonok and I were strongly criticized before the Albertville Olympics: they say, how could you take this music after the great Belousova and Protopopov? But with this music we became the first at the Olympics Games. To what extent can the program work in favor of Tarasova and Morozov? She, as I said, is good, it suits them. Whether it will work in comparison with the Chinese, I do not know.
I have read recently that at the Olympics the Chinese are going to perform a quadruple twist. Apparently, they decided to use absolutely all their trump cards. Do you think such things are justified?
Artur Dmitriev: I think no.
Artur Dmitriev: Because this pair is haunted by injuries. A quadruple twist takes a lot of psychological energy. I’m afraid if Sui and Han put this element into the program, they simply won’t have enough strength for everything else.
Which is harder to do, a quad twist or a quad throw?
Artur Dmitriev: Physically it’s harder to do a quadruple twist. There is a very sharp and powerful throw, active rotation, catching, stopping the quadruple rotation. The lady must open very precisely so that the man can stop the rotation. Therefore, the quadruple twist takes a lot of strength. But it is technically more difficult to make a quadruple throw. This is not just a single landing, but a landing after four turns.
If you remember, Yuko Kavaguti did not make a very high throw. But at the same time, she was making all the rotations.
As far as I understand, with a big height on the throw, the load on the back immediately increases upon landing.
Artur Dmitriev: Absolutely right. I then helped Moskvina to work on this element with the guys and understood that if Sasha Smirnov starts throwing Yuko too high, she will fall apart. Therefore, we came to the need of good rotation. But these are already nuances.
I have to tell you one more thing. Perhaps, for the first time in the history of Russian pair skating, I see such a strong team. I don’t really remember such situation that all three pairs skate at such a level with such dedication and such confidence. Take any – put it on the first place with a clean skating, and it will be fair. Perhaps, this how pair skating in 2022 is different from everything that was before. We definitely have the strongest team.
After the Games in Pyeongchang, we talked about the two-time Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu and agreed that, most likely, before the Beijing Olympics, he would not jump the quadruple axel so as not to get injured. But he didn’t abandon the idea. Do you understand why?
Artur Dmitriev: I understand him as an athlete and figure skating fan. But this quadruple axel will not help him at all. In my opinion, it would be better to focus on something else.
Why are you so categorical?
Artur Dmitriev: Because Hanyu jumps the quadruple axel without half a turn – with a big under-rotation. In this form, the jump can be assessed as a triple axel, performed with mistakes. My son Artur also have been trying to do the quadruple axel for a long time. Not so long ago, he did it at the US Nationals with a quarter underrotation. But he was not ready to jump it. Artur was preparing for the US Championships in public skating. This is not preparation.
Did your son consult with you before switching to USA? Why did he need this transition?
Artur Dmitriev: Artur wants to compete internationally. But he understands that he is no longer able to skate for Russia and get into the national team.
I remember you once admitted that it was very hard to leave the sport. Does that mean history repeats itself?
Artur Dmitriev: I don’t think our situations can be compared. I competed at the European Championships eight times, five times at the World Championships, and went through three Olympics. Arthur is not exhausted by performances at such a high level yet. Secondly, he wants to understand what he can do. In two years, he almost completely restored his health, learned to work with himself, he is interested in it. Although these two years I have not coached Artur.
When it comes to men’s singles skating at the Beijing Games, do you see an opportunity for a sensation?
Artur Dmitriev: Unlikely. I am unoriginal in my forecasts: I think Hanyu and Nathan Chen will be in the top.
In your opinion, is Hanyu capable of fighting with unmistakable Chen?
Artur Dmitriev: If Hanyu also skates without mistakes, then yes. And if he starts trying to jump the quadruple axel, then no.
So you don’t take into account the fact that over the past three seasons, Hanyu has never beaten Chen? It’s not so easy psychologically to fight for gold in a situation where you loose over and over again.
Artur Dmitriev: You know, that doesn’t mean anything. Let’s not forget that Hanyu is a two-time Olympic champion. All passing competitions have long been of no interest to him. He’s interested only in the Olympic gold. And will Chen be able to skate clean at the Olympics – that’s the question.
Who are you cheering for?
Artur Dmitriev: Probably, after all, for Hanyu. I am more impressed by his style of skating, his approach to work, fanaticism.
What about the girls?
Artur Dmitriev: Of course, Kamila Valieva is now stronger than the rest. She is outstanding, what can I say.
Many pay tribute to Valieva, but at the same time cheer for Alexandra Trusova with her five quadruple jumps.
Artur Dmitriev: I treat all our skaters with respect. But if we consider the verge of sports and art, then Valieva, in my understanding, is closest to it. Her body “sings”. Stretched lines and positions, finished movements, balletic back. Trusova is closer to sports. She has powerful jumps, she is physically very strong, but a little less musical, a little less polished.
In general, for girls a lot depends on physical condition. If they’re in the right condition – they will skate as best they can. And they can skate great, what to say. Psychologically, it should be easier for them: they are small. They have a different perception of life. Another motivation, another perception of everything that happens. We have seen this many times in the examples of Zhenya Medvedeva, Alina Zagitova, Adelina Sotnikova, Yulia Lipnitskaya … It is almost useless to compete with such people.
Tatiana Tarasova: “I don’t think that the story with the Israeli gymnast will repeat itself in figure skating, but if we make mistakes, they will take advantage of it.