Fedor Klimov: The number of pairs has increased, but the quality of skating has not.
Fedor Klimov about coaching, international training camps, seminars for skaters and coaches, joining the technical committee of single and pair skating of the ISU as athletes representative.
by Olga Ermolina and Tatjana Flade for fsrussia.ru dd. 29th February 2020
Fedor, what are you doing now?
– I сonsult pairs, participate in various international training camps, and seminars. Joined the ISU Technical Committee for Single and Pair skating as a representative of athletes. Passed an exam for a technical specialist. While in Russia, on a regional level. It’s necessary to “pass” a certain number of competitions to rise to the international level, it will take time.
Is it interesting for you?
– I’m interested in everything I do. I have a lot of work. If we talk about activities in the technical committee, then at the upcoming World Championships in Canada will be my first official meeting as part of the committee. Before that, I participated in a meeting in Oberstdorf in September at the Nebelhorn Trophy. This was my first acquaintance, to get an idea of how it all works, what I need to do. After the Worlds there will be another meeting of the technical committee, before the ISU Congress.
From the side it seems that nothing is being done. But in reality, all members of the technical committee are constantly in touch. Work is underway on the rules, controversial points that occurred at the competitions, relating to other topics. If questions, ideas or any contentious issues arise, then this is discussed at meetings at competitions, even if there are no official meetings. So it was, for example, at the European Championships in Graz. It is clear that the main discussions are held at official meetings. This is a fairly large amount of work.
To what extent is your opinion taken into account? It’s not a secret that there are representatives in the technical committee who have never been doing figure skating at a high level or haven’t skated at all.
– For this, we need representatives of athletes and coaches in technical committees. Especially in pair skating. By and large everyone understands single skating, many skated themselves, and there are not so many specialists in pair skating, if not to say they are none – turns out, only me. And the members of the technical committee really listen to my opinion as an athlete who went through all this and tried it all himself. If you have sound ideas and thoughts, all this is discussed.
There was a period in pair skating when skaters began to learn and master ultra-c elements, but changes in the rules do not encourage this now. Is there a discussion at the meetings of the technical committee on the ways of pair skating development?
– Current rules encourage quality of execution. The problem was that the elements were not executed cleanly but skaters still got big points for them, only for trying and not for the fact that they were done well. I think this is correct. And I support that, although earlier, perhaps, I thought differently, that figure skating would develop. Today we see progress in single skating, when more and more quadruple jumps appear. They are executed cleanly and athletes gain a lot of points. On the other hand, they lose a lot for falls, under rotations, wrong edges. But in the end, the adopted changes will lead to the fact that we will see programs with high-quality and cleanly performed jumps and elements.
It would be great if pair skating moves forward, because, in my opinion, it slowed down a bit. It seems that pairs have stopped trying quadruples (twists, throws) and it should have led to the situation when skaters work on the quality of the elements and improve skating. But this does not happen: everyone is working on quality, and quite a bit on skating.
But there are not so many pairs in the world.
– This is actually a problem. And I want to raise this question. Yes, with the support of ISU, we conduct training seminars, training camps to develop pair skating in countries where it is not very developed. This gives the result. New pairs appear. This year, almost twice as many pairs participated in the European Championships compared to last season. However, the quality of skating, if you do not take the leaders, has not improved. In my opinion, in Graz, the overall level of pair skating was extremely low. The number of pairs has increased, but the quality of skating remains the same. This is what we need to work on.
The second problem, at the next Olympics even fewer pairs will perform, only 19 pairs.
But this won’t reduce the number of warm-ups. Why then is it done?
– The International Olympic Committee decided to reduce the number of athletes participating in the Olympics. It affected not only figure skating. The alternative was to remove four singles or two pairs. The second option was supported.
Turns out that in pair skating there are not many places left for countries that are not leaders in this discipline. Of the 19 participants, three quarters are representatives of leading figure skating countries. And the dream of all athletes is to go to the Olympic Games. But if the skaters understand that there is little chance to go to the Olympics or they are equal to zero, they simply stop skating, and the federations of such countries stop supporting and developing junior and senior pair skating. The Olympic team event also won’t solve this problem, since only 10 countries are selected there.
Turns out, on the one hand, ISU organizes and conducts seminars, training camps, attracts leading specialists, tries to develop pair skating and, indeed, develops it. However, after the Olympics, the number of pairs reduces, because athletes who do not get to the Games do not see prospects. This is a serious problem and it must be somehow solved if we want to keep pair skating.
But this applies to the Olympic Games, and, for example, at the World Championships, the number of pairs participating in the finals increased from 16 to 20.
– But even at the qualifying world championships, not all strong pairs get tickets to the Olympics, and then Worlds and Olympics are different competitions.
The ISU Congress will be held in Thailand in June, and you are probably discussing the proposals at the technical committee.
– The system is as follows: we collect all proposals during the year, we will prepare and agree on the final version at a meeting of the technical committee that will be held during the World Championships, and the ISU Congress must accept or reject our proposals.
Will you go to Congress?
– I will take part in its work. But I would like to add that, probably, few athletes, coaches know what our technical committee is doing. In any case, when I was an athlete myself, I was not very interested in this. Few people know that I am a member of the ISU technical committee and one of my functions is to carry out communication, interaction between skaters, coaches and ISU. So if someone has ideas, suggestions, criticisms, you can always contact me and through me convey your opinion, suggestions to the ISU. We like to talk about some problems among ourselves, but we can discussed it openly and look for solutions.
After finishing your sports career, was the transition to a new activity easy or were there doubts that you finish too early?
– I planned in advance that I’ll finish after the Olympic season. Yes, the ending turned out a little crumpled, but there were no internal torments, although certain difficult moments arose. It’s just that I didn’t immediately decide what I would do next. This became clear throughout the year. That is, I did not start to coach, go to competitions, judge, work in ISU right after completing my career. It took me a while to figure out where and how to start, what to do, and so on. Now I’m trying everything hoping that in the future something will work out.
Related topics: Ksenia Stolbova Fedor Klimov