Eteri Tutberidze: “It’s like in a war, give it all and take it all”
Big interview with Eteri Tutberidze.
source: Channel One, text version sport24.ru dd. 22d December 2021
Channel One announced interview with Eteri Tutberidze a month ago – it was supposed to be shown during the Grand Prix Finals. But, as you know, the competitions were canceled. As a result, the interview appeared today. It began with the introduction of the legendary coach’s new pet.
What a cutie? What’s the name?
Eteri Tutberidze: Michelle.
Eteri Tutberidze: I don’t know how big she will grow. While she’s small.
Where did you get it?
Eteri Tutberidze: Sasha Trusova gave it to me. She got such a dog, I jocked with her: “Give me this dog. Why do you need it. You already have 5 or 6″. One day she came with a carrier, put it on the ice and said: “Here is a dog for you.” At first I thought that she gave me hers to play, and then it turned out that it is for me. And I realized that you can’t joke with Sasha.
And how does it feel?
Eteri Tutberidze: I adore her.
Is it easier with dogs than with people?
Eteri Tutberidze: You can’t harm a dog with your love. You can love and this will not harm it. And with an athlete, you need to be more careful.
Therefore, there are legends about you that you are …
Eteri Tutberidze: What?
Eteri Tutberidze: I’m harsh.
Eteri Tutberidze: Strict. I prefer to tell my athletes the truth, because they will hear flattery from others. The truth they will hear only from me.
You can say that the difficult path that you have gone …
Eteri Tutberidze: I don’t think someone has an easier path.
Success came because your parents believed in you.
Eteri Tutberidze: The first thing that angered me, why I wanted to realize myself, was probably laid when I was 4 years old. Our relatives from Georgia came, they were sitting at the table in the kitchen and someone asked my dad: “So, how many children do you have?” He sits and says, “One son.” And I hit him on the shoulder from behind: “Dad, there are five of us.” He was like: “Move away. One son”. Then I asked: “Dad, why?” He says: “The son will carry on the family name, and you are girls. It doesn’t count.” I always wanted to prove that it counts.
In one of your interviews you said: “It’s a pity that dad didn’t see this Sochi triumph.”
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes Yes. He came with me to the skating rink and gave each of them valuable instructions in Georgian. He believed in me.
Mom saw Sochi, she had the opportunity to enjoy. You can see that, how she shone in an interview that they made about her daughter’s successes.
Eteri Tutberidze: I think she always shone. It’s true.
When she was Talking about you, incredible love was always felt.
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes. She even kept a diary, where she counted the number of medals, and gave it to me at the end of the year. How many that year, how many this year, what level. Mom was very inspired with figure skating.
Mom was strict with you at the age of 5, when she brought you…
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes. She knew that I should not stand for a second. I was afraid to stop. I couldn’t stop. I was doing some exercise or movement and thought what to do next so as not to stop.
So that mom does not scold?
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes.
And at the same time you love her madly.
Eteri Tutberidze: Certainly. She did it for me, not for herself.
Do you now understand what you did wrong when you skated yourself?
Eteri Tutberidze: Certainly. Somewhere warm-up or exercise, but instead of running where we were told, we use to hide in the bushes. We used to wait for these required 15 minutes and returned. If my mother knew this, she would scold.
You shine. You are a kind person. When I read about some kind of harshness, cruelty, I have a feeling that you have specially created such an image.
Eteri Tutberidze: First, it’s easier that way. As for strictness and rigidity, it is present in training. Sometimes it makes me extremely sad when I understand that an athlete could have done a given workout much better, or he cannot pull himself together. You have to anger somewhere, force to turn on.
If I do not force, this athlete will not have a medal, the joy that she stood on the pedestal and, God blesses, the anthem in her honor. It won’t be. This means that I will have to invest my strength and energy. Okay, well, another athlete won’t love me.
Has it ever happened with you that you are telling the truth, but the person is offended?
Eteri Tutberidze: Get offended and leave. There are a lot of such examples.
I myself remember very well that the coach didn’t tell me anything bad in adolescence, but everything caused a lump in my throat. It seemed to me that I was not understood, underestimated. This is fine. These are hormones. There should be complete trust, which will lead to the goal.
Sasha Trusova’s transfer. She said quite sincerely: “I need to change the picture.” Right or not, but I felt that we were decoration.
It seems to them that somewhere it could be better.
Eteri Tutberidze: Firstly, it always seems to us that the grass is greener, the sky is bluer and everything is better somewhere else.
Do you deny anyone the right to return?
Eteri Tutberidze: Listen, no. Once Polina Shelepen ran away from the training camp, because I took the cutlets from her at lunch. If she had come back, she would have become the world champion not in 2014, but in 2015. She would have. How else?
If the athlete comes back, it means that he has realized something. I don’t force because I like it. Athletes are different, but, unfortunately, someone needs to be forced. It is energy consuming. I also want to enjoy the process, not force.
Girls who come back to you from other places, where do they start? Are they asking for forgiveness?
Eteri Tutberidze: No, I don’t like it. Why are these forgiveness needed? This is humiliating. We all want to maintain a sense of self-sufficiency. Sometimes we didn’t even ask forgiveness to our parents.
Are you encouraged by the existence of competitors who lure your athletes?
Eteri Tutberidze: Listen, yes there are such things.
For example, there is Plushenko.
Eteri Tutberidze: Is he?
I do not know.
Eteri Tutberidze: Me too.
I am theoretically. I’m talking about the conditional Plushenko, who conditionally invites the conditional athletes to him and they conditionally agree to join his group. Does this fact itself help to be at the forefront of the fight and find internal reserves to progress?
Eteri Tutberidze: No. I have no conditional Plushenko. I understand what this coach has to do with it. Look, if our athletes are good, they will be welcome everywhere. If they are bad, then nobody needs them. We strive to make them strong and desirable.
That is, if they’re desirable, then they are needed?
Eteri Tutberidze: Certainly. It depends on the athlete. Depends on trust and understanding. If it is not there, and the athlete received a call or message, I don’t know how it works there … Honestly, I never, although I wanted to, I haven’t invited anyone. Although sometimes you look at some athlete and realize that you would give him more. But I don’t cross this line. If you have called, you are already obliged. You destroyed there, so you have to show better results with this athlete.
But it’s so convenient to take prepared skaters. Would you invite Liza Tuktamysheva?
Eteri Tutberidze: At one time I wondered why she didn’t jump quadruple jumps. I saw that they are there. I would not invite her to my group. Not because she isn’t interesting for me, but because there is ethics, coaching ethics.
I know some athletes who would like you to call, and who are wondering why this is not happening. Now we have found out why.
Eteri Tutberidze: Even before the appearance of Maxim Kovtun, when he was skating in Yekaterinburg, I came to the competitions and saw this guy training alone. I thought: “If only he came to us.” But we don’t have such a thing … You see, this is Yekaterinburg, so it was necessary to provide an apartment, and things like that.
I look at you and understand that my happiest memories associate with you actually. Because February 2014 in Sochi is, without exaggeration, the happiest month in my life. Every time I return there and think that it was some kind of concentration of emotions.
Eteri Tutberidze: The concentration of emotions, exactly.
Everyone was running after you, as well as after Julia Lipnitskaya. They tried to find out where she trains.
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes Yes. They even installed a camera in the locker room, here somewhere on the ice.
On the one hand, it was incredible. Did it annoy you then?
Eteri Tutberidze: No. At that time, I was very worried that this would completely destroy Julia’s concentration. Which, unfortunately, happened. From a team event to individual competitions, this was a different athlete. She was unfocused. If we return to the six-minute warm-up before the short program, already on the ice I knew that she would not skate. She did not warm up, she skated along the board, ran her finger along the board and looked into the judges’ eyes. This, of course, was surprising. After all, a little girl, 15 years old. Pay tribute, a bow to her mom. Mom led her to this medal. I really hope that when Julia is older, she realizes this and will thank her mother.
Do you think this has not happened yet?
Eteri Tutberidze: I don’t know. I just want awareness. Like with Zhenya, the realization should come that it is still an Olympic medal, albeit a silver one. So with Julia. I would like her to realize that they had a difficult relationship, but her mother gave her whole life and brought Julia, her daughter, to this medal. She did not take care of herself, she took care of her daughter. You practically give up your own life.
How did your relationship develop during the Sochi Olympics with other colleagues and coaches? How did they perceive you?
Eteri Tutberidze: And what is there to perceive? Look, this is where the effect works really well. Everyone thinks that I am evil, and no one communicates with me. Therefore, I do not need to communicate with anyone.
Eteri Tutberidze: Very.
You have already had two Olympics. It is not only joy that comes to mind, but there was also a drama.
Eteri Tutberidze: If we take Sochi, then especially individual competition darkened my state. If we take the 2018 Olympics, then, of course, firstly, the state of my mother at that time. I didn’t understand at all whether she would wait for me. And Zhenya’s reaction to the medal. All this also darkened.
Place and time, where would you like to be now?
Eteri Tutberidze: Of course, each of us would like to return to the moment where your parents are alive. Say thank you to them. We do not know how to appreciate what we have. We take everything for granted.
You have already come to the state when the pedestal is already yours, first, second and third place. You saw these pedestals and then a question arises for me as a layman, an absolutely banal life question. It is clear that a lot depends on the coach, weren’t there such moments before the competitions when you thought “whom to place higher?”
Eteri Tutberidze: No, I was even once interviewed before the Olympics and asked how I think they should place. I said that it is very important for me that each of these athletes showed her maximum. In order not to regret that “I could have jumped better” or “I lost my concentration a bit, I didn’t have enough strength, I didn’t train well enough,” and then see what this maximum is worth. There was the 2018 Olympics, where there were two medals, first and second places, and I told Sergei Viktorovich (Dudakov) and Daniil Markovich (Gleikhengauz): “Guys, we just need to understand that we have two athletes – first and second place. These seconds, minutes we have to be grateful to them that it happened, and we came to this.” We got the maximum out of what we were going to.
Who is your main competitor now? Are you looking at someone?
Eteri Tutberidze: In general, I do not like to look at anyone, because when I look at someone, I like everyone. Everyone seems to me stronger than us, it upsets me.
Eteri Tutberidze: That’s why I don’t look, no.
Because everyone in the world is looking at you.
Eteri Tutberidze: I don’t look, because everything upsets me at once, everyone seems to me strong. This one is gliding well, this one is something else, this one has made such a spiral.
Do you feel like the most demanded coach?
Eteri Tutberidze: No, no, I perfectly understand that the higher we climb the more demand from us. Because people believe and expect. But I understand how delicate and fragile it all is.
Do you feel people’s envy?
Eteri Tutberidze: It’s okay to envy. I also sometimes looked at a some coaches, and at the Olympics, medals, medals, and I thought, “I wish I could do that too.” I think it’s okay to envy.
Is it important for you to be a recognized master of your job?
Eteri Tutberidze: Well, I did not immediately become recognized, I was unrecognized for some time. I just looked at those who won and thought, “I wish I could do that too.” I was jealous. “I wish my skaters could skate like that too.”
This is not envy, this is the pursuit of a goal.
Eteri Tutberidze: “I wish I would bring several athletes to the competitions at once.”
“I wish my athletes took the whole pedestal.”
Eteri Tutberidze: “I wish they would not just come as participants, but come to fight for medals, that would be great.”
Is envy the engine of success?
Eteri Tutberidze: Probably. I think it was envy, I was jealous.
About Evgenia Medvedeva
Didn’t you feel that sometimes you become closer for your girls than their mothers?
Eteri Tutberidze: I had this, probably, no offense for other athletes, with Zhenya (Medvedeva). She needed me so much in such moment, I raised her, taught her how to do make up, dress, behave, how to react to some jokes. At some point, this conflict between fathers and children happened. Therefore, to be honest, I try not to bring it closer.
How did you come to terms with her departure then?
Eteri Tutberidze: Well, not that I had a choice.
You behaved as diplomatically as possible, but you could have said something like “Eteri Tutberidze about Zhenya Medvedeva”.
Eteri Tutberidze: Why? And, frankly, it didn’t hurt me. She had an interview where she said that she begged us to keep the original program, which was choreographed.
But you changed.
Eteri Tutberidze: It is not true. She got off the ice in Bratislava, putting on skate guards, she told me: “I will not skate this program again.” Already from the plane I phoned Daniil Gleikhengauz and said that he should do whatever he want, but make the new program. He said, “Are you out of your mind?” But we did not have enough time train it. Because instead of preparing for the season, Zhenya toured all Japanese shows in the summer. We went to the test skates in a very weak shape, then a game with weight started, because someone told Zhenya, I even know who, that she looks anorexic and she will have low PCS, despite the fact that Zhenya already had 10s. She deliberately stopped controlling weight, then under-rotation started and stress fracture happened. We did our best in these circumstances.
About Alina Zagitova
How do you teach girls to jump, how do you do it? You didn’t jump it yourself, but you know exactly what you need to do to jump now.
Eteri Tutberidze: Here, it seems to me, the laws of biomechanics work. You see it. And then depends on how the athlete is able to do it. Because it’s a split second.
Did you take someone from the first glance?
Eteri Tutberidze: Probably Alina Zagitova. A weak girl came, but very flexible, so beautiful. I took her, then I kicked her out.
Eteri Tutberidze: Because she began to be lazy, and at that time she lived in Moscow with her mother, and I tried to convey to her mother what I told her, teach the process, “Alina does not work,” you have to force her. And her mother did not involve, and I was worried, because they had moved from Izhevsk, rented an apartment here, spend money to live in Moscow, and I decided to kick her out. Then her grandmother came and promised that she would take care of Alina. We had a condition that mother would not live in Moscow, almost would not visit her until the Olympic medal. And mother withstood. And then mother arrived. And Alina immediately became a girl, a mother’s daughter, who no longer wanted to spend 12 hours at the rink, because there is a mother nearby.
And the medal is already there, so the agreement was respected.
Eteri Tutberidze: There was an Olympic one, but no medal from the World Championships. I promised Alina: “till the Olympics.” No offense, grandmother brought her, because she was with her 12 hours a day, spent at the rink, and grandmother sat all of them.
Is it expensive to train with Eteri Tutberidze?
Eteri Tutberidze: On the contrary, it seems to me that we are trying to support all of them financially, we pay for apartments, we try, when some results appear, to give some salaries. We sew costumes, help with skates, equipment. Polina Tsurskaya, who came from Omsk, we solved her question. The same with Julia Lipnitskaya. When at least some results appeared, we began to address her issues as well.
This is changing my attitude completely right now. Because ordinary people usually think that millions are needed if you want to bring your child to such a stellar coach.
Eteri Tutberidze: Well, of course, I buy all my coats on the money that poor Alinochka earns in show and brings to me. I run and buy a new coat. But I wore these coats even before their results.
About her daughter Diana
How to overcome the desire to favor someone more? All the same, there should be favorites, nevertheless, even the Iron Lady Eteri Tutberidze is a human.
Eteri Tutberidze: And I’ll be honest: I have only one favorite – this is my daughter. The rest I give the maximum that I can give of myself, how much they will take and what they will do with it.
Are there times when you close your eyes, turn away at a competitions?
Eteri Tutberidze: Only when Diana and Gleb skate. Because it seems to me that there is this connection, that maybe she will feel me.
Are you forgiving Diana something on the ice?
Eteri Tutberidze: No no. When I came, we swear for every unstretched leg.
How do you solve the question that she is training far away from you?
Eteri Tutberidze: I worry, I miss her. They send me a video, I start calling. Or I just circle around places which it seems to me they need to work on. She has a coach, “Mom, I have a coach.”
The most emotional moment of the last season was Anya Shcherbakova’s tears in front of everyone, everyone was watching, she was crying.
Eteri Tutberidze: The preparation was very difficult: the consequences of the coronavirus, there was no strength, it was a little scary for her. Naturally, when she pulled it all, did it so cool … Plus, Sasha skates cleanly, I don’t know if Kamila can skate clean enough to beat Sasha. Kamila skates perfectly, beats Sasha. And Anya comes, who does not have the strength to beat clean Kamila, she needs to perform a miracle. And she does it. These are such emotions, to tears – probably it’s like in a war, give it all and take it all.
So that’s how it works after all.
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes.
Who is your back in terms of colleagues?
Eteri Tutberidze: Sergei Viktorovich Dudakov and Daniil Markovich Gleikhengauz, three of us we are working together.
And how to work with Tutberidze?
Eteri Tutberidze: What does it mean to “work with Tutberidze”? I am greedy, I don’t want to share my knowledge. Because when I retire, I will say: “Oh, I need to give out everything faster, everything that I remember.”
At least honest. I understand what you are saying.
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes. I don’t want to share my knowledge yet.
Everyone is constantly discussing your wardrobe, your coat is already the talk of the town.
Eteri Tutberidze: Look, I had one jacket, it’s so warm and comfortable, with fur. I probably put it on three times, it’s really expensive. And they interview me: “Tell me, are you wearing this coat the same way as Tchaikovskaya was wearing her hat?” – “Well, I only wear it for the third time.” I didn’t wear it again.
I understand that, unfortunately, I can’t often appear in the same coat, otherwise they immediately begin to think that it is some kind of magical.
Gray coat from 2018, where do you have it?
Eteri Tutberidze: In my closet. Yes, it seems, I never wore it afterwards, it is so associated with the Olympics and with my mother. I do not know why.
About Olympics in Beijing
Girls now look at their success, want to be the same, repeat their success, be as popular and in demand?
Eteri Tutberidze: Everyone wants to be popular, in demand, beautiful, happy, rich, but not everyone is ready to give it all when there is no strength and you no longer understand whether you will reach the end. You understand that you have a goal that goes beyond self-love.
You still have some kind of turnover in the team, one way or another, it is clear that your core Dudakov, Danya (Gleikhengauz), they are here. Plus or minus someone leaves, comes or not?
Eteri Tutberidze: Who are you asking about? About Rozanov or what?
Eteri Tutberidze: For example, another one, as you said, “conditional Rozanov.” In fact, I did not want to take him, because he is a snob. He is confident that he will definitely come to a result. It’s impossible. We adopted the guy, we taught him for a long time how to cut music, work on a computer, how to do programs, how to train in general. Taught. And let him go. As he said in an interview, “it got bored with us.” Well, OK. I’m not bored. Well, there is probably some kind of star fever, at some point it starts to seem that they know this very path to success and it’s not a matter of the team, I’ll come to it anyway.
There is a legend about you in life. That you don’t want to communicate with anyone.
Eteri Tutberidze: Oh, listen, there is so many hate around now. I sometimes read … How does a person, after writing this, reasoning, go to sleep? Is he calmly falling asleep? What about conscience? Not ashamed? Sometimes I am horrified by some phrases. But at the same time, I want to say, I opening Instagram and see how many people love me. I read, sometimes they just write God bless me health, there are a lot of people, I don’t even know if I deserve it, so it’s all compensates.
Is this pleasant for you?
Eteri Tutberidze: Probably, more responsibility appears. I seem to feel responsible for all this love. You have to understand: I am a coach. They will love me as long as I show good results. And remember. And then, I’m not saying that I need to be remembered and loved.
It will be great if three medals are ours. Otherwise, of course, there will be an understanding that we underperformed.
Gooal – all three medals?
Eteri Tutberidze: Yes.