Brian Orser: Medvedeva called me at night. She was a little crazy and angry
Interview with Brian Orser at Rostelecom Cup 2018.
You are in Moscow now. Do you keep in touch with Evgenia Medvedeva?
– My assistant Tracy Wilson is in charge of everything there, she is also in charge of the Zhenya’s trainings. I will see Evgenia on Tuesday. She knows what she needs to continue to work on, now she works with a specialist on spins. It’s time to focus on this element. While I was in Moscow, we didn’t contacted. We play it by ear. Sometimes it is necessary, sometimes not. Usually we have a plan for the week, which we adjust according to the sensations. We work on jumps, spins, pay special attention to the triple lutz.
What is the most difficult thing about working with Medvedeva?
– It’s not easy with any new student. There was no particular difficulty with Eugenia: she is an amazing figure skater who loves to skate. She has a cosmic talent, plus she came to me from a very good coach. The next step in her career is to get pleasure from skating. An adult athlete can’t win all the competitions in a row. Young skater – yes. Once Jason Brown could win everything, the same for Yuzuru Hanyu, Yuna Kim collected all the medals in juniors. But you have to be ready to lose sometimes (laughs). But this’s very difficult for athletes to understand.
Next week, at the Grand-Prix in France, Medvedeva needs only a victory in order to get to the Final. Is it an advantage or disadvantage?
– It’s good for confidence to win any competitions. Don’t get me wrong, but … Is she able to win? Yes, she’s able. Has she gotten better compared to her performance in Canada? Yes. While this is all that I’m ready to talk about.
Just after the unsuccessfully performed short program in Canada, she told me that she called you at night. How often do you get such night calls from your students?
– Yes, it happened, and more than once. There is nothing surprising about her night call after failed performance. Zhenya was depressed, but I told her that one day she would remember about this day and realize that she had learned something. Then it was impossible: she was a little crazy, angry and depressed. So I continued: be angry and upset, but you will get a lesson, and tomorrow there will be a new day. As a result, in the free program she skated just great. But this situation has taught me a lot. When I spoke to her day and night, I started to understand her better as a person. However, we still have much to learn about each other.
After failed combination of triple flip and toe loop, Medvedeva took a terrible for herself seventh place, many wondered, was it worth the risk to put it as the last jump?
– But what about the bonus for two jumps in the second half of the program? Look at the best skaters, many try to earn points this way. For her, such a layout wasn’t a risk at all, it just happened.
It is clear that you communicate with Eugenia in English, but have you learned any Russian words from her?
– I know “good morning”, “let’s go”, “this is cool” in Russian. In general, my students have greatly expanded my vocabulary. After all, I have trained skaters from Korea, Spain, Japan, Russia.
Recently, a lot of haters have appeared on the Russian sites about figure skating. Do you feel something like this in Canada?
– Not. Although I understand very well that people have the right to express any opinion, so I ask my skaters not to read anything. When I was growing up, people from anywhere in the world did’t have the opportunity to write you negative things. I imagine how hard is it for athletes now. After all, sometimes the competitions can turn out just a failure, and then what? I really hope my athletes stick to this advice and don’t read anything.
Personally Medvedeva got many haters because of she left Eteri Tutberidze and come to you …
– No, no, I don’t want to talk about it and be in the center of these fights. I came here with Hanyu, and Medvedeva’s competition is only in a week, so let’s do not, okay?
Earlier, you announced that you would go to the Japanese Nationals with Hanyu, and Medvedeva will go to the Russian Championship with one of your assistants. Didn’t you change the decision? After all, the competition in Saransk will be almost the most difficult in the season …
– No, everything will be as announced. Unfortunately, the championships of Japan and Russia are taking place at the same time, therefore, at the beginning of our work, I told Zhenya that if the competitions cross, I will go with Yuzuru, because we have been working together for the seventh season. But there is nothing wrong with that: Tracy Wilson works very closely with Evgenia and will be with her at the national championship. She is a good specialist.
When Yuzuru Hanyu fell at the morning practice on Saturday, was you scared?
– Yes, I immediately realized that things are bad. I remembered what happened to him before the Olympics. I hoped that injury wasn’t so serious. Fortunately, so it turned out. In general, I can say the following about working with Yuzuru and his performance in Moscow: he is doing everything possible. Hanyu won two Olympic Games and two World Championships, but he believes that he still should continue. Amazingly, we have been working together for the seventh season, but now he shows the best skating! Yuzuru has a terrific shape, his jumps and spins are great, the last half of the month he was incredibly happy in training.
It was very exciting for me to go with him to Moscow, because viewers always expect something special from him. He showed it in a short program. And in the free program I had to worry about him pretty much. Hanyu admires Evgeni Plushenko very much. He greatly respects him, so he couldn’t withdraw, he fought with the injury during his skating, trying to perform the program in the best possible way. But this is life, maybe next time everything will be different.
Tatiana Tarasova came to support Hanyu after his performance.
– We talked a bit after the competition, she also had such situations with her students. And with Yuzuru, they have special feelings for each other. Well, I also have a special attitude to her, because when I grew up as a figure skater, she coached the Olympic champions in ice dancing Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin, but respected my skating. And now I coach and I constantly have the opportunity to communicate with her.
I admire Tatiana Anatolievna, she is an incredibly wise person. Sometimes she can say something harsh and emotional, commenting on performances? (Laughs.) Tarasova has the right to have her own opinion, to which people listen, but she loves Yuzuru.
A year ago, you also were at the Grand Prix in Moscow, but then Hanyu lost to American Nathan Chen …
– This season is the most pleasant for us. No need to fight with anything, the head is not full with the Olympic Games. Plus Yuzuru is a different person now, it’s interesting for him to accept challenges, one of which was changes in the rules. Now everything is really very cool, before that there were seasons when our team, due to his perfectionism and his injuries, had a hard time. Now he is just enjoying everything.
You mentioned perfectionism, should you be born with it or is there a chance to cultivate this quality?
– Good question. I think that you need to be born with it. But Javier Fernadez is a vivid example of how to learn this. Hanyu is simply on a different level in this regard, as if he came to us from space.
One of the highlights of this competitions was the attempt of Russian skater Artur Dmitriev to perform a quad axel. Could this be a new era in men’s skating?
– Never say never. Yes, no one does this element yet. Yuzuru wants to do it first. I think he will succeed. At least because this is one of the reasons why he continues to skate.
What can we expect from the four years before Beijing-2022?
– In for four years between Sochi and PyeongChang, men raised the technical bar to an almost unbelievable level: quad lutz, loop … Almost every single skater has a quadruple jump, even at the junior level. This is amazing! As for women, they have already had triple axels and quadruple jumps. Russian girls are already doing quad Lutz! Soon women will also “blow up” the technique. Well, they already do it!
Can it happen that it will be impossible to win the next Olympic Games without these elements?
– With new rules it’s very risky. But now women’s skating, on the one hand, is beautiful and fast, and on the other – incredibly athletic. By the way, I support the changes in the rules and understand why they happened. The most difficult is, of course, the reduction of the men’s free program for 30 seconds. But I think that the changes will appeal to fans and television viewers. After all, how many times they had to see that the skater fell twice, but won, and their favorite skater did perfectly and cleanly, but was left with nothing. For sure they had question what was going on? This is primarily about World championships and Olympic Games. It will no longer happen.
by Ekaterina Bespalova for sport-express