Evgenia Tarasova: I’ve been dreaming about pair skating since 11 years old and I’ve never regretted
Interview with Evgenia Tarasova. About choosing Marina Zueva as their coach, training in America, friendship with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and the defeat at the Olympics 2018.
by Marina Tchernysheva-Melnik for matchtv.ru dd. 4th September 2020
When you decided that your pair with Vladimir Morozov need changes, you chose Marina Zueva from all the coaches. Why?
Evgenia Tarasova: Vova and I weighed all the pros and cons and decided that we needed to get what we lacked. We performed the technical elements well, but choreography and transitions were not interesting enough. For all this we went to Marina Olegovna Zueva.
Weren’t you bothered that Zueva hasn’t coach high-level pairs for a long time? For many years she specialized in ice dance.
Evgenia Tarasova: No. Anyway, we initially agreed with Maxim Trankov that he would continue to work on our technique. And he keeps his word: he often flies to us in Florida, worked out the post-quarantine training camp in Novogorsk, now he’s here for the third week. We enjoyed following Marina Olegovna’s skaters in the last Olympic cycles, and often met her great dancers at competitions. Pair skaters have trained in her school before us, so there was no doubt.
Do you remember your first training session with her in Florida?
Evgenia Tarasova: We flew to America and the next day at 8 am we came to the rink. Marina Olegovna showed us the arena and sent us to warm up. She said that the first training session she would only observe. She studied us closely, and the next day the joint work began. Everything was fast, smooth and natural.
There are more dance elements in your programs now – for example, the last lift in the short program of the past season. What else does cooperation with Marina Zueva give you?
Evgenia Tarasova: Marina has vast experience in ice dance, which she brings to our programs. And also the relationship between a man and a woman on the ice, emotions and choreography. Over the past year, many experts have noted that Vova and I have become different. This is exactly why we went to Zueva.
How did you settle at the new place? How do you spend your free time in Florida?
Evgenia Tarasova: Each skater has his own apartment here, the house is located across the street from the ice rink. In general, it is warm and calm, on weekends we often go to the beach. It so happened that there are many Russian immigrants in our town, for example Ilia Tkachenko and his wife. As a result, we came to America, but remained in a familiar atmosphere. Now we are trying not to go anywhere much, except for training, because of coronavirus.
Let’s go back to the past. How did your career in Tatarstan start? At one time, you were one of the most successful single skaters in your region.
Evgenia Tarasova: I started at the Raketa stadium at the age of four, and then I was invited to a sports school. My first coach is Vyacheslav Golovlev. Soon I was noticed by Gennady Sergeevich Tarasov – the man who led the Soviet world champion Alexander Fadeev to his first victories.
10 years ago you started pair skating. Why? After all, then it was much more spacious in single skating than today.
Evgenia Tarasova: I started dreaming about pair skating at the age of 11. The girls from the group and I often tried some easy pair elements, for example, we could skate in a parallel spread eagle holding hands. And once there was a show in Kazan, and I was assigned to a joint number with one boy. He skated in a spread eagle and I did a spiral. I really enjoyed skating in a duet, and at that show I realized: it’s for me! I was not afraid at all. But the coaches did not want me just to go somewhere, so I stayed in the group for singles. Only at the age of 14 I got a chance to come for a try out in the group of Nina Moser. So I ended up in Moscow. I am glad that my mother agreed to let me go alone, she could not leave home and leave with me, so I lived at the Olympic reserve school. I have never regretted becoming a pair skater.
As a single skater, did you meet in competitions with Liza Tuktamysheva and Adelina Sotnikova, who were just gaining momentum then?
Evgenia Tarasova: Just at my first away competitions in Nizhny Novgorod, I met Lizka (smiles). Since then we are friends. I also know Adelina from an early age, probably we also met in Novgorod. From the very first meeting, Liza was remembered as very shiny, emotional. I liked being with her, because she was very cheerful and sociable and I was a little more modest, but together we could do a bit of mischief. Liza is such a positive person since childhood! And she remained the same.
In 2012, almost simultaneously you got a new partner and a new coach. How was this union formed?
Evgenia Tarasova: With my previous partner Yegor Chudin, I had a precarious situation: he was much older, he was thinking of leaving to skate in shows, but I could still continue in juniors. Stas Morozov, who worked in Nina Mikhailovna’s group, asked if I would like to try to pair up with Vova. We skated on the same ice, I saw Vova at work, that his partner was about the same physique. Not everything went well in their pair. In general, it somehow coincided that both pairs had to change something. We talked and parted with our previous partners in a friendly way. Thus began our joint road in sports with Vova.
At that time, several top pairs were concentrated in Nina Moser’s group at once, three of them were preparing for the Sochi Olympics. How it was to work in such an atmosphere?
Evgenia Tarasova: I think it was the best option for juniors at that time. Training with Stas, we shared the ice with his main students – Tanya and Maxim (Volosozhar – Trankov). We saw how athletes work who claim for the Olympic victory. Of course, this is a huge motivator: when a result is created in front of your eyes. You see how much work the guys put and you understand that you want it too. It’s one thing when you skate for yourself, and quite another when you have a daily example.
How is it more comfortable to skate – in the shadow of the group leaders or being leaders yourself?
Evgenia Tarasova: Now we just have internal motivation and understand why we get up early every day and go to training. In the junior period, we had a lot to learn in terms of technique and choreography. We watched the relationship between partners: how Maxim gives his hand to Tatiana, how she responds to him with a gesture.
It seems to me that your short program to the music of Rachmaninoff was more successful during the Olympic season. Tell us how and who created it?
Evgenia Tarasova: The music was suggested by Nina Mikhailovna Moser. We immediately agreed, we realized that this music is very strong. The program was choreographed by Peter Tchernyshev.
Christina Aguilera’s song “Candyman” for that season’s free skate drew a lot of criticism. Do I understand correctly that you wanted to play on the contrast of the familiar classics?
Evgenia Tarasova: Yes, even in the pre-Olympic season we had a short program in a playful style. Everyone liked it very much, and we decided to do something similar. But it didn’t work out. For the free program, such a tempo was very difficult to skate.
When the champions in pair skating were determined at the Olympics, Alena Savchenko and her dramatic sports destiny were in the spotlight. And what was going on in your soul?
Evgenia Tarasova: All my close ones supported me – parents, coaches, partner, guys from the team. I remember well the words of Robin Szolkowy, which smoothed our state, that everything has its time, this is only our first Olympics, where we skated well at the team event and became silver medalists. Probably, then the very great desire and pressure did not play into the favour. Nina Mikhailovna said to keep off the phones, don’t read social networks, to limit communication. But still this universal desire, the media has already attributed gold to our pair … In general, it did not work out. Today I am happy about it to some extent. It is not known how it would have gone further. The sports path should be long, with ups and downs, not with immediate success. I think it’s a big advantage that Vova and I had such a lesson: now we know what we’re worth and what it’s like to fall. Of course, I’m not saying that I was glad to lose (laughs). But on the other hand, we understand how to approach the next Olympics and definitely do not want to experience this again.
Your pair was the last to perform. Could this long wait destabilize?
Evgenia Tarasova: In that season, we almost always performed last. Probably then something broke in me while I was waiting. After the warm-up, when I got off the ice, the time when our competotors skated seemed like an eternity. But I think many factors played there and it is not worth highlighting the starting number.
After the Olympic season, Maxim Trankov became your new coach. How did you balance between friendly relations with him and the “student-coach” format?
Evgenia Tarasova: I think I have always listened to him. Max already knows a lot and has experienced in sports, he himself trained with different coaches at one time. We initially had full trust, so we quickly adapted. Maybe we just jock less on the ice. And outside the rink, Maxim and I continue to communicate as equals, like friends.
In addition, he was already the choreographer of both your programs in the 2014/15 season. We were moving from juniors then, and Max had an injury and he could not train. Nina Mikhailovna offered him to try to choreograph the program. Why not? It’s an interesting experience. The programs that Maxim did were beautiful and comfortable, with them we won the first medals at the senior level.
You have a lot of experience. Have you analyzed the causes of mistakes last season?
Evgenia Tarasova: Several reasons, I think. We moved to another country, adapted to the new realities of life, changed our image. It was difficult to put together all the elements and a new style of skating at once. But now, I hope we have overcome it, and everything will be fine.
At the 2013 Russian Nationals, you had a hard fall from the lift. After this incident, did you have any fear of doing similar elements again?
Evgenia Tarasova: Absolutely not. A couple of days later we went on the ice, warmed up, and Stas Morozov said: “Go make that lift!” … There was a pause for a second, I thought. Then we did, and I forgot the fear. Everything has happened, I’ve already fallen so many times. The main thing is to trust your partner.
Do you remember your feelings when you moved from juniors to senior level just at the beginning of a new Olympic cycle, and everything immediately went up? At that time, you had medals at almost every competitions.
Evgenia Tarasova: It was great! We started with third places, we always had something to strive for. And even with the medals of the European Championships, we did not immediately win the medals at Worlds. But the desire to grow has not disappeared anywhere. Even the baggage of awards that Vova and I have already collected is not the limit. We know what we want. But it turned out to be much more difficult to maintain a high level than to reach it.
Over the years of performing at a high level, have you managed to understand what is really the secret of success?
Evgenia Tarasova: We just need to work and get together all the talents that we have developed. Show everything perfectly at the right moment. We have already prepared new programs, you will see them soon at the test skates. It will be interesting!
Related topics: Evgenia Tarasova Vladimir Morozov