Honorary President of the Russian Figure Skating Federation Valentin Piseev about big transfers and Kamila Valieva
Honorary President of the Russian Figure Skating Federation Valentin Piseev about big transfers, Alina Zagitova plans to be a journalist, Kamila Valieva and the increase in the prestige of the Russian Cup.
by Dmitri Kuznetsov for sport-express.ru dd.17th August 2020
The season is getting closer, but there is no clarity with the conditions of the Russian Cup. You were among those who suggested expanding its program in new conditions. Is it real?
Valentin Piseev: I really think that the status of the Russian Cup is increasing, and we need to study what can be done. In order for the arenas to correspond to this new status, perhaps we should have added the sixth stage. I was interested and it turned out that it was not so easy to get into those places that could accept a larger number of people. They are busy, plus there are a lot of restrictions. The rental price is not the worst thing yet.
There’s a version of the calendar over the Internet – Syzran, Moscow, Sochi, Kazan and again Moscow. Does it reflect reality?
Valentin Piseev: Yes of course. There are very big difficulties now to get a permission for any mass event. There are many coordinating authorities, in each region you need to address almost the governor, and to go through several levels of local authorities for this. We have to reinsure. The latest ideas take into account the nuances of this year’s international calendar. So from what is planned, we can say that the federation is doing everything right, distributing the competitions according to the dates, giving everyone the opportunity to participate in the Russian Cup and the Grand Prix.
What to do with the second or third echelon of skaters who usually came to the Russian Cup? The stars will come, there are no more stages, the rest will have to return to the regional championships.
Valentin Piseev: Yes, there is such a problem. Here the regions need to do something, not only look at what the federation is doing, but also follow its example. There are many competitions held locally. Why don’t they do open competitions? There has always been such a practice.
Since you said about open competitions, were there no plans to make the Russian Cup open? Let the Europeans come. Or Asians, if there was a stage in the Far East.
Valentin Piseev: Who will come? Then you need to think about refereeing, how to ensure the representation of judges. We must think first about our own athletes. And let foreigners think about themselves. Then they should show initiative, a desire to come to Russia.
It’s just a shame, the Russian Cup has a unique chance to go down in history, but it seems that this is not being used fully in the media. Well, you could get all the stars together if not for a mini-tour, then at least to hold an open presentation of the Cup.
Valentin Piseev: This reminds me of the situation with lockouts in the NHL, when hockey stars came to us. But understand: what led to such a unique opportunity prevents us from realizing it. It’s a good idea to have a tour. But where to go? There mass events can’t be held, there is a quarantine. And the situation is constantly changing, you can’t plan anything. Now you say something, but tomorrow everything will change. I agree, we need to raise the prestige of the Russian Cup. But when you face the reality, many difficulties arise.
Let’s not talk about theory, but about what is happening. There is a feeling that after being included in the list for senior test skates, the main star of juniors Kamila Valieva will perform with senior skaters at the Russian Cup. Is it a good news?
Valentin Piseev: If there are unique athletes like Valieva – why not? No leveling is needed here. Why hold her back? This is motivation, and it will increase competition among seniors. I support this decision. World junior champions have always been allowed to compete at the senior Russian Nationals. I read: why not allow others then? There are special athletes. The coach sees that they will go far. Why put obstacles?
Usacheva and Khromykh will not be offended?
Valentin Piseev: Why? Valieva is bright. You can’t allow everyone. But I don’t argue, let’s think about it. I do not exclude that someone else will be also allowed. For example, we have many talented boys, and the guys have more problems at the international arena than girls. Maybe some of them will be allowed. But these should be individuals, in whom the coach is confident and supported by the federation. Everyone is talking about Valieva, she obviously stands out. We must admit.
In other words, did Tutberidze’s coaching staff and the federation confer and a decision was made?
Valentin Piseev: Yes, of course, and the coaching council, the executive committee also discussed and decided to add her to the list of participants for senior test skates. Viable ideas should be offered. And the decision is made by the responsible bodies of the federation, specialists, these are not strangers, they see the situation from the inside. Because from the outside you can hear – well, such eccentrics, such strange ideas. Let’s take all of the juniors … It’s not trustworthy.
The Grand Prix series has remained, albeit in an unusual format. Did you like the ISU solution?
Valentin Piseev: It’s better than nothing. This can only be supported. At least some opportunity for skaters to compete has been saved. This shows that the International Federation understands that athletes need to be supported. Figure skating has lived, lives and will live.
There is Medvedeva’s case. Maybe it is better for her to compete at the Canadian Grand Prix, which will be weaker?
Valentin Piseev: If she considers it necessary to go to the competitions in Canada, let her participate. There is nothing wrong with that. Let her participate and win. Medvedeva is an athlete who will decorate any competition, including the Canadian Grand Prix. And it still will be a plus for Russia, Evgenia is still a Russian figure skater. But you will have to make a decision according to the situation.
Very ambiguous options. After all, even if you win the Grand Prix there, what to do next in Canada?
Valentin Piseev: At least she has that choice. I would say, on the contrary, she is in a more privileged position. Unlike those who skate here, she can consider two options. What to do next in Canada is a question for the coaching staff, why should we think out for them?
Alena Kostornaia’s transition from Eteri Tutberidze to Evgeni Plushenko provoked a discussion about contracts. Ilia Averbukh spoke in their favor, many coaches are unhappy with the transitions. Is it time?
Valentin Piseev: I’m not ready to tell you, this topic needs to be worked out extremely seriously. But I am not a supporter of a situation where an athlete just wanted to go – and left. There are certain deadlines – please make transitions there. Maybe we need to think about changes. Coaches must be protected. Even if you came with a bottle of champagne and flowers, this cannot be an excuse for leaving the coach and the organization that put so much work in you. I think the situation that happened around Kostornaia will force the federation to develop criteria for the future. In general, I support the current rules: there is a deadline, April – May, please be so kind to switch during this time. And if not at this time then sorry.
Let’s compare with foreigners. They also have transitions, but there the athlete pays the money himself, he skates at his own expense and receives money only if he reaches the level of the national team. Athletes are the masters of the situation. In our country, almost everything is at the expense of the state, a lot of things that are parents and athletes don’t pay for. And it turns out that the state, the federation, the school invested in you, and you once decided – goodbye? I don’t like it. This is not right. Sometimes they even won’t bring flowers and say thank you. I am often asked who is the main figure in our sport? I believe that the coach. We can provide a lot of skating rinks, provide financially, but if there is no good coach, nothing will come of it. The coach must be protected and supported.
Including we mean Tutberidze?
Valentin Piseev: Sure. There has to be order.
It is often said, why do so many people leave her?
Valentin Piseev: Well, narrow-minded people say that. She gives the result! And she has high competition in the group. God bless her. Transitions were and will be, we will not stop them. But we can arrange it. So that the coach is not deprived when an athlete leaves him. If you want to leave, leave nicely and on time. You can always find a common language! During training, they become like a family. When everything works out, the coach and the skater are like a mom or dad with a daughter. And suddenly, someone has offered better conditions and everything is forgotten. It is clear that at this age the role of parents is great. Sometimes they are the initiators of transitions.
Better conditions – you mean finances?
Valentin Piseev: Now we have no problems with conditions – both in “Chrustalny”, in Plushenko’s Academy and in other organizations. I am strongly against the situation when the athlete dictates to the coach the conditions of the training process – when and with whom he wants to be on the ice, and with whom he does not. This is a disgrace. Interaction is needed in the creative process – the selection of music, costumes, determination of the amount of loads. But not in organizational matters.
In the case of Kostornaia, it would probably be nice to hear her point of view.
Valentin Piseev: It is difficult to understand here. I don’t know if what was said about Kostornaia is true, whether she made any claims or not. As well as I do not know the nuances of the transitions of other athletes who left this group. I am rather speaking generally about the system.
Alina Zagitova who did not leave the Tutberidze group, entered the journalism department at the RANEPA university. How do you like the choice?
Valentin Piseev: This can only be welcomed. It’s nice that she not only skates beautifully, but she is also smart. To enter such a university is an honor and praise to our sport and such figure skaters. After the end of their careers they try other professions besides coaching. And when they also become journalists, doctors – that’s great.
Does this mean that she is ending her career?
Valentin Piseev: Let’s hope she will be able to combine. Let’s wish her good luck and become not only a famous figure skater, but also an excellent journalist.