Eteri Tutberidze: Once you step off the podium you’re nobody

Posted on 2019-04-03 • 3 comments


Partly translation of an interview with Eteri Tutberidze for Russian TV.

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About skating career

– It didn’t work out, although I worked with Eduard Pliner, one of the best coaches. I had injuries, I was growing up, losing coordination, I was offered to switch to ice dance. It offended and humiliated me. I took ice dance as the only opportunity to do what I love, but not as something that I really wanted to do.

I had to love what I do, but still I was jealous of single skaters. I understood that with my height of 176 cm it was very difficult. I always wanted to be small, medium – it is much more convenient.

About Zhulin’s phrase “Now the girls are flat like a boys, make difficult jumps. We need such girls, which are nice to look at.”

– What to do if half of adult skaters don’t have a feminine body? Don’t watch? Does it mean they can’t get high PCS, because they don’t have an adult body in Zhulin’s understanding? I disagree with that.

About talks about holding back the growing up process

– I read that we hold back someone’s growing up process. And sometimes, jokingly, I say: give me this remedy that holds growth back, maybe I will use it. This season Alina (Zagitova) has changed, grew up, turned into a small woman. Probably, this complicated our way, because we wanted to prove that we are not accidental champions.

The loads restrain the formation of the body, but what is there will still come out. It seems to me that all figure skaters are slightly shorter than they probably would have been if they had not been involved in sports. When we let them go on vacation, we never know who will return to us. When there’re less loads, the body directs its energy to growth.

About Rodnina’s words “Why did we allow little girls to compete at Russian Nationals? To thrill seniors? Is it interesting for me to look at these girls at 17. Will they still do quads? Probably it’ll sound rude, but coaches have a very perishable product. Remember, five years ago, the whole country went crazy about Lipnitskaya. And we sat and thought: the jump is low, the figure is thin, she obviously doesn’t eat anything, the growth will start and what will happen? The girl then threw away the skates and didn’t want to look at them. Who will answer for this?”

– I absolutely disagree with Rodnina. She has so much merit that you can bow to her for the rest of her life, but she is not a coach. Probably it’s wrong to reason this way.

As for Yulia Lipnitskaya, the whole world admired her, and she received her share of love. She put off the skates for some time, because it’s non-stop loads, it’s hard, they are constantly expecting something from you. She passed her way, which she wanted to pass. With the help of her mom, with my help, all together. I think she is happy that she had the opportunity to be on top of success and show the best programs.

Why do we allow little girls who don’t qualify for senior competitions? Wait, in fact, our female skating progressed when we began to allow them: Sotnikova won the Russian Nationals at the age of 12, and then the Olympic Games. Zhenya Medvedeva at the age of 14 became a prize-winner, and it was clear that this girl would also hold a senior podium.

13-year-old Alysa Liu won the US Nationals with a triple axel, and now she’s doing a quadruple lutz, the most difficult jump. Americans allow it because it is progress. But we should hold it back and be afraid to scare the seniors? But they will inevitably face this.

Nothing distracts teenagers at 14-15 years old, they are hungry for results. As soon as they reach something, they immediately start to pity themselves. At 20 years old, I wouldn’t start to learn new elements, because the body is not so flexible. Any learning of new elements connected with some injuries. When you learn the elements in adolescence, everything is easier – psychologically and injuries heal faster, but microtraumas still occur.

About Asian mentality

– For example, Elizabet Tursynbayeva, with whom we restored the quadruple salchow, she didn’t particularly ask questions in training. I say: “Liza, you have to do a jump.” In response: “Ok.” With our athletes it wouldn’t have been like that.

First you need to convince the parent, and yet it’s not a fact that you will convince. Many parents believe that their children are beautiful without it. It’s like a fight: you throw the ball, it comes back to you. You say “You have to do it” and get an answer “Why, let’s not today, I’ll do it tomorrow …”

When we see that it’s necessary to re-skate the program and tell that to the eastern girl, she agrees. With our athlete, there is a chance that he will re-skate in such a way that we will regret having given this task.

About Medvedeva and Lipnitskaya leaving

– Rigidity (of a coach) plays a role when an athlete has already won something and decided that now he can train differently, and he should be treated differently. Like, do not call me by last name if I did something badly, but by name.

The conflict begins, because I believe that, my dear, how you went to the medal, this’s the only way you can go further. If I start to pity you, to reduce the load – today you are tired, you can rest for a week, then you will come and everything will work out for you. No, everything is the same, if earlier there was a complete discoordination in this week, now it will be the same.

Why should you suddenly take this week of complete rest? Why do we need to invite a separate choreographer for you? Why can not you train in a gym with everyone else? Because you have a medal? Once you step off the podium, that’s it, you’re nobody. You have to prove the opposite at the next competitions. Until you prove the opposite, you are nobody again. You had medals in the past, but this will not help you in the future.

About moving back to Russia

– For me, there was a moment when I had to prove to myself that I could make a life there, earn money, train. By the way, financially is very profitable to work in America. They believe that Russian coaches are the best specialists.

But I had a feeling that I didn’t live. I stand on the platform, and the trains passing and passing by, and all of them are not mine. And I waited when I’d start to live. It seemed that everything was fine, but did not start. I realized that I need to return.

I have a huge family, I’m the fifth child. I could not understand whether I lacked it. Although I can’t say that we can’t live without each other. Now, working in Moscow, we almost don’t even see each other. But still I missed my relatives.

I understood that nobody was waiting for me here, but I had to go through all the terrible and disgusting things, trying to make a life from scratch.

I have a lot of friends in America. These are my only friends. With the exception of the guys I work with, this is my team, I have no friends in Russia, but in America I have them and they are real friends. Although at first there I could not understand: everyone is smiling, but in fact everyone doesn’t care about you. I couldn’t get used to it. In Russia, we either smile or do not notice each other at all. I think it’s more honest.

About American skaters

– They value ice because they pay for it. Parents force their children, so it is accepted, to give money for ice, for lessons. Every minute in the price. I had an athlete with whom I didn’t know what to do. She was very tall, I was afraid that I would just break her. She came and I asked her “How are you doing, how is school?” And she answered me “I’m sorry, time, lesson.”

And ours … They are the opposite. They will leave the ice five times, do their laces slowly. While the fisher sleeps the net takes. They don’t appreciate this ice. What goes for free is not appreciated.

About how medals are distributed

– Irina Viner had a phrase that the one who has a cleaner tail wins. She probably means that the way to victory is your tail. Here I agree with her. And how many times I told Alina that medals are distributed somewhere from above.

At the Olympics, we sat and celebrated a little, a Korean walked by and saw two medals on our table – Alina had them. He stopped and said: “How? Did you take two medals? You must understand that the gods from Olympus decided to reward you for something.”

When are you lying?

– Not often.

What do you lack?

– Health of my daughter.

What do you regret?

– (thinks for a long time) I try not to regret.

What can’t you stand in others?

– When they lie in the eyes.

What do you dislike about yourself?

– I can’t forget, therefore, I can’t fully let go.

Sunset or sunrise?

– Sunset.

Dog or cat?

– A dog.

Mountains or sea?

– Sea.

What is money for you?

– Means for life.

What will you say to the God if you meet with Him?

– God, forgive me.


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3 Responses to “Eteri Tutberidze: Once you step off the podium you’re nobody”

  1. jerry says:

    She wrecks girls!

  2. Mike says:

    Thanks! I have great respect for Eteri.

  3. Ellie says:

    Eteri is the best, I look up to her so much! Thank you for the article

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