Elena Kustarova: “I just want to help my athletes make their dreams come true”
Interview with ice dance coach Elena Kustarova. About preparation for the Olympic season of her duets Tiffany Zagorski / Jonathan Guerreiro and Anastasia Skoptsova / Kirill Aleshin.
source: rsport.ria.ru dd. 22d July, 2021 by Boris Khodorovski
Due to the coronavirus, many groups have to look for new places for the training camps this summer. Where is your group preparing for the season?
Elena Kustarova: We did not leave Moscow anywhere. We have been working for two months and are continuing to work at our base in Medvedkovo. We made rhythmic dances for both Tiffany and John, and Anastasia and Kirill. In my opinion, it turned out interesting. In any case, they have never skated to such music before. We hope that the audience and the judges will like the dances.
To work on the free dance Zagorski / Guerreiro went to the UK to Christopher Dean, but what about Skoptsova – Aleshin?
Elena Kustarova: We chose the soundtrack to one of the latest movies about Romeo and Juliet. This is a timeless and always winning theme. It will be an interesting experience for our duo. Nobody has ever seen them like that on the ice before.
Was it Dean who come up with the idea for the free dance for Tiffany and John?
Elena Kustarova: Even the music was chosen by Christopher. I hope that cooperation with this brilliant choreographer will be fruitful for the guys.
Dean is a rather sought after and expensive choreographer. Who will pay for his work?
Elena Kustarova: We are very grateful to the Russian Figure Skating Federation, its President Alexander Gorshkov and General Director Alexander Kogan. All expenses for the free dances for both our duets were covered by the FFKKR.
Did you find Dean through Tiffany’s old British connections?
Elena Kustarova: John’s mom, a famous Soviet athlete in the past, Svetlana Lyapina, worked at Tatiana Tarasova’s theater, and she developed very good relations with Jane Torvill and Christopher Dean. She contacted Dean.
Your duets, even without getting into prize-winners at prestigious competitions, have always stood out. Suffice it to recall two brilliant programs for Elena Ilinykh and Ruslan Zhiganshin – “Frida” and “Slumdog Millionaire” …
Elena Kustarova: We always strive to ensure that our duos do not just show twizzles, lifts and steps, but tell a story on the ice that could touch the hearts of the audience.
Don’t you think that Ilinykh left the sport too early, and do you admit the possibility of her return?
Elena Kustarova: It is up to Elena herself to decide. I can say that the Ilinykh is an outstanding figure skater and a very talented person. I am convinced that she will be successful in any business that she decides to do.
Did an Olympic experience in Pyeongchang give Zagorski / Guerreiro an extra boost in their work?
Elena Kustarova: Any athlete who has participated in the Olympics at least once dreams of getting there again. It worth a lot to feel that atmosphere of the Olympic holiday.
In the Russian rating, your duets occupy the third and fourth positions …
Elena Kustarova: Any rating is not eternal. Every day we work to improve the technique, add emotions, and make interesting dances. We will see the results of this work at the competitions.
Do the consultants who appear on the lists of the coaching staff of the Russian national team help you?
Elena Kustarova: We always listen to good advice. True, it is still too early to assess our work in preparation for the season. The work on the free dance for Zagorski / Guerreiro is still in the process. Of course, we will invite reputable experts who will not advise badly. We will take into account all comments. We want everyone to like our duets: fans, judges, journalists.
The stages of the Grand Prix where your duets will perform are known. What Challengers are they going to take part in?
Elena Kustarova: Right now the deadlines for approving individual plans are coming, and while we are thinking about drawing up a competitive schedule.
Over the past years, Tiffany has not changed her image, remaining “red-haired”.
Elena Kustarova: When she first paired with John, her hair was a different color. It took long for the stylists to find an image that would match her temperament. After all, Tiffany in life is just as bright and cheerful. It is hardly worth even trying to change the found image.
Despite his first and last name, Jonathan is mentally a Russian guy. Has Tiffany already become Russian?
Elena Kustarova: She’s already a Muscovite! She has many friends and feels comfortable in the Russian capital. This year she didn’t even go anywhere on vacation, walked around Moscow with friends. Tiffany is already our man.
Your first Olympics was Vancouver 2010, where you brought very young Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev. How has your perception of preparation for the Olympic season changed in 11 years?
Elena Kustarova: Of course, the Olympic season is special. Now I’m looking forward to the Summer Olympics in Tokyo with great interest. I wonder how it will go in the current realities.
When you were an athlete, you had the only chance to make it to the Olympics in Lillehammer. In 1993, at the Russian Nationals you, together with Oleg Ovsyannikov, became silver medalists, losing only to Oksana Grishuk and Evgeni Platov, but at the pre-Olympic championship in St. Petersburg you lost to the duets from the group of Natalia Linichuk and Gennady Karponosov – Angelica Krylova / Vladimir Fedorov and Irina Lobacheva / Ilia Averbukh. Can you say that you are now taking revenge as a coach?
Elena Kustarova: It was so long ago that it seems like it was in a past life. Becoming a coach, I started from scratch. I don’t even remember some of my unrealized dreams. I just want to help my athletes make their dreams come true.
Was it more difficult to train with your mother or work as a coach under her guidance?
Elena Kustarova: There were no particular difficulties either then or now. When I was an active figure skater, we had a coach-athlete relationship, not a mother-daughter relationship. Now the roles in the team are also clearly distributed: Svetlana Lvovna Alekseeva is the head coach, and Olga Ryabinina and I are coaches. And we work together for the result