Elena Buyanova: In sport everything is fleeting
Partly translation of Tatjana’s Flade interview with Elena Buyanova (I skipped the part about bulding of the new ice rink). About Maria Sotskova, Elena Radionova, Adian Pitkeev and Adelina Sotnikova.
Year ago you started working with Masha Sotskova. What can you say about last season?
– Masha spent her first season at the senior level, and I’m glad that the athlete consolidated her positions in the main team. When we just started, in the first summer training camp I saw how hard it was for Masha. But she withstood, coped, endured and went forward. All of us, coaches – Maksim Zavozin, Marina Selitskaya, choreographer Irina Tagaeva, the physical training coach tried to help the athlete to overcome a “junior barrier”, because work at the junior and senior levels is different.
Masha is a very hard working person. If she wasn’t, there wouldn’t be any of her results. Before moving to CSKA, Masha trained with the wonderful coach Svetlana Panova, who not only led the athlete to the silver medal at the World Junior Championships and victory at the Grand Prix final, but also inculcated very important qualities. There’s no need to explain a lot to Masha. She goes and does, even adds. All these skills do not arise suddenly. They must be inculcated from childhood.
To get into senior team Masha needed a step up and we knew what exactly she needed to improve. For me it is important that at the end of the season, foreign experts noted that in the Russian team appeared not just another athlete, but interesting athlete, with her own style.
And that’s true. Masha is tall, with beautiful arms, she looks interesting on the ice. But these appearance – height (and Masha continues to grow) creates certain difficulties. It’s twice harder for tall athletes, they have to work more.
Now in your group will train another strong athlete Elena Radionova.
– I would like not to talk much on this topic. Everyone knows examples when strong sportsmen train in the same group. For example, Hanyu and Fernandez.
The appearance of Lena in our group was a surprise. Although, I’ve known this athlete since childhood, she has always trained alongside me. This is our girl. I know her advantages and disadvantages, her problems. I know that Lena has not an easy character. But Masha, with all her intelligence, is also a girl with a backbone and strong character. But that’s how it should be. Other skaters, talking about character, do not reach this level.
Masha was lucky that due to the circumstances, last season we worked a lot together. But the skater herself also gave such an opportunity. This is also a big deal when an athlete is ready to absorb and do everything that coach says. In this respect, Masha is a blessed material. She is not afraid of anything, you can try everything with her.
It is clear that with Lena, we practically don’t have time for thinking, we must immediately start working and learning to understand each other already in the process. The girls already have programs. Peter Tchernyshev did programs for Masha. Shae-Lynn Bourne did a free program for Lena. We kept the short from last season, because it turned out successful and Lena hasn’t skated it much.
After the World Championships, there was a lot of talks about men’s skating, that we are lagging behind. All talanted guys in the national team are accounted for. So the question is, what is going on with Adian Pitkeev?
– During the year, Adian practically did not part with the doctors. It’s hard to endure such a situation for a young guy, and Adian’s situation is not simple. We had to skip the season, although Petya Tchernyshov did wonderful programs for him. But the trauma constantly hampered the training process, and this was stopping us. There were periods of improvement, but as soon as loads increased, the athlete started to have a back pain again. Seems, it has already passed into a chronic stage. And it’s necessary to learn new elements. Rivals went ahead. We talked with Adian on this subject. But he must decide for himself whether he can continue to skate. Pitkeev is a very talented and gifted figure skater. It is unfortunate that injury prevented him from showing his potential. But health is health. I myself have passed through this in sport, so about injuries and illnesses I know firsthand.
Why do you prefer to work with a small number of students?
– I have no need to create large groups. I like to work with students, completely giving myself up to this process. And if I take someone, especially a high-level athlete, then I must be responsible. This does not mean that it is right and how it should be. But I’m like that. I do not know how to work superficially, to train in half power. It’s important for me to see the return, the result, in order to receive satisfaction, to understand that everything is not in vain.
Of course, something will always be lacked, because you can always do even better, achieve more. Probably, that’s why I’m rarely completely satisfied with the performance of my athlete, because I know: whatever the result is, it is only an incentive to move forward. For this reason, I rarely go out to awarding ceremonies of my students. This is their joy, their happiness, the merit of their work. Immediately after the competitions I go home, to stay with my family, to switch. My thoughts are in the future and this competition for me is already in the past. If it did not work out, then we must think why, and work 10 times harder. Good result is not a reason to relax. In sport everything is fleeting.
What feelings did you have after the Adelina Sotnikova’s victory at the Sochi Olympics?
– Olympics are special competition, which completely devastates both a coach and an athlete. There’s only emptiness inside, because you have been going to this success for so long, so much strength, emotion, nerves have been spent. Today I understand some things better than then. At that time, I did not have enough experience. With Adelina, I felt that after winning the Games it’s impossible continue to skate immediately. I thought that it’s necessary to give time to enjoy the victory and success. This is a very important and special moment when the wings grow behind your back, and you are carried away somewhere very far.
Since you already have some experience, what is the optimal time? A month, two, a year …
– Year it’s a lot. But everything depends on the athlete, experience, desire, motivation, goal. In our situation with Adelina, injury may have played a negative role. The athlete was injured on the eve of the Grand Prix in Moscow. Before that Adelina did not have any serious sores. And after the Games she relaxed a bit, did not train like before. So the cumulative effect worked – just a little bit of everything and it turned into an injury.
It’s also understandable that after, everything went in a bit wrong direction. The temptation is great. And the whole question is what the athlete will choose himself. In any case, it will be his choice.
I admit that maybe at that time Adelina did not fully determine what she want. But I as a coach tried to support the athlete in everything. Thought that this was a decision of her family, her parents, that they needed it.
How did you react to Adelina’s decision to resume her sports career and train with Evgeni Plushenko?
– The whole last season I almost did not see Adelina. I was finding out from the Internet where she is. It’s a shame that she told about her decision over phone, by sending SMS. Knowing her, I understand that it’s easier for her. But in life you need to be able to overcome yourself.
Adelina is an adult. Good athlete. She skates remarkably, delicately feels the music, very gifted. She became an excellent actress, who will be in demand in any show. She develops, tries herself in different fields of activity. I like it.
As for the resumption of sports career, for now it’s an irrelevant conversation. As far as I know, from the Adelina herself, now she is seriously injured, and I think that she hasn’t started trainings on ice yet. I do not presume to say, but they say that Zhenya’s ice rink is non-standard, and this is bad for athlete of such level. I can not say anything about Zhenya as a coach, because for this it is necessary to raise at least one athlete. It’s early to discuss his school, because school it’s coaches and the results of the students, but here everything is just begins.
Adelina wants to return. But she has wanted it already for three years. Zhenya wants to try. But while it’s all just words. Let’s hope, if they succeed, I will be happy. Peter Tchernyshev, Irina Tagaeva and me we did our work, gave the girl a profession, taught her a lot. Time will tell how Adelina will dispose of this.
Since we are talking about Plushenko, can you explain why after Plushenko and Yagudin there are still no single skaters of this level in our team?
– Perhaps, because we stopped working ahead of schedule. At one time, Kovtun and I were among the first who tried two quads in a short program and theree in the free program. Many of condemned us then. But life showed that this was the right way. Today, all male single skating is moving in this direction, increasing the number of quadruple and multi-turn jumps. The guys are trying to do five quads in the program, and this gives a new push to the development of this discipline.
Yes, we have good athletes. Misha Kolyada is an insanely talented guy. He joined the strong company a little bit late, because he had an injury. But if Kolyada will manage to pass his own way in one year, honor to him and praise. This athlete has everything to place higher.
Samarin, Aliev, other young guys. While they can not compete on an equal with the leaders of world skating, but they have the right direction. By the way, Peter Tchernyshev did the free program for Sasha Samarin, Nikita Mikhailov did the short. I will not disclose all the secrets, I will only say that fans will be surprised.
After the World Championships, the famous coach Elena Tchaikovskaya expressed an opinion that increase quads in men’s skating will change the selection of athletes. In demand will be boys of short stature, with short legs, so with a lower center of gravity.
– And where to get them? If our boys are physically different ifrom Asians, we can’t change genetics. In general, not many boys come to figure skating, and after a year of training even less of them stay, many go to hockey. So we have to work with those we have.
Due to what there are so many strong girls in Russia?
– There are more girls in figure skating from the beginning, the competition is tougher, selection, which forms their character. Our girls have strong character. You can’t argue with that. For example Zhenya Medvedeva. To sustain such a number of competitions, to win all competitions for the second season in a row, after winning at the junior level … Only a professional can estimate what a huge amount of work is behind this, what safety margin has been created. Alina Zagitova is on her way. Very lively, with soft skating. Appearance of such athletes it’s first of all a merit of their coaches. You can argue what you like, what you don’t like. But try to do it yourself! The coaches and their athletes have a result and that’s it!
It is clear that the selection of the Olympic team will be difficult, because we have a lot of strong girls. However, it’s wrong to underestimate the rivals. First of all I’m talking about two Canadians – Kaetlyn Osmond and Gabrielle Daleman. They are different with Zhenya. Medvedeva is light, airy, with artistry peculiar to her. Osmond is a combination of power and women’s skating. She looks adult, with an already formed body. At practices before the competition, looking at her successful jumps I can feel this power, this rise together with her. Daleman also jumps backhand. But sometimes she jumps, sometimes she doesn’t. Both skaters are explosive, bright, strong.
Carolina Kostner is a classics of figure skating. I’m glad that she’s back on the ice. Even when I watch her skating the layouts of her programs, I get a great pleasure. There are other athletes. On the eve of the Olympics, you can’t write off anyone.
Of course, over the past few years our girls have set the trend for women’s skating in the world. And in many ways thanks to this our rivals also improved. Now all the leading skaters have a complex set of elements. So there will be a fight at the Olympics. But, as I said, our athletes have a strong character, and they will not give up so easily.
by Olga Ermolina and Tatjana Flade for fsrussia.ru