Ilia Averbukh: “When journalists call me for a comment, I’m always on the side of Eteri Tutberidze. Even without knowing the question.”
Interview with Ilia Averbukh. About ice show, coaching and Eteri Tutberidze.
source: sport24.ru dd. 11th August 2022 by Konstantin Lesik
The team of Ilya Averbukh worked in Sochi for a whole month. Anna Shcherbakova, Evgenia Medvedeva, Mark Kondratiuk, Dmitri Aliev, Alexei Yagudin and other figure skating stars performed at the Iceberg Ice Palace. On the last day of the Champions show, Sport24 correspondent Konstantin Lesik met with the main person of the project. With Averbukh, we summed up the results of the tour, discussed the his coaching career, the conflict between journalists and Eteri Tutberidze, as well as Ilya’s famous beard.
Ilia Averbukh: A month ago, I had certain worries – what will be the attendance? These are not one-time shows, where “sold out” usually happens. When you work every day, it is very important that the audience always come. And this year our tour was successful. About 40 thousand viewers saw the show “Champions” in Sochi – this is approximately the average attendance of a little more than 1200-1500 people a day. Today, we have 3,000 people on the stands – we have a super final show, and I am happy that so many people came. In general, all the last three days – three full houses. In principle, this is how the success or failure of the project is measured – the viewer votes by coming to the box office.
Plus, I see how the guys have improved. And first of all, the active skaters improved a lot – in terms of artistry, presentation, work with the audience. This is also a very useful experience for the guys. Zhenya Tarasova, Volodya Morozov – I think that they have matured well in the show. Of course, these are great champions, but the tour in Sochi gave them a lot.
Anya Shcherbakova is floating above the ice, and I can see how comfortable she is in the team and how pleased she is to be here. She works – in each program she performs several triple jumps, that is, she does not give herself any concessions. Great girl.
Sasha Stepanova and Vanya Bukin are the most beautiful dance pair, especially the second program that we did together, it really shines, and the guys keep an acting pause. All in all, really brilliant.
Mark Kondratiuk always included quadruple jumps in the program same as did Dima Aliyev, who has now joined our show. I want to thank the professionals as well (this is how skaters who retired are usually called. – Sport24), especially since the line-up is really absolutely champion: Zhenya Medvedeva and Lesha Yagudin, Tanya Totmyanina, Roma Kostomarov, Oksana Domnina, Maxim Shabalin. In general, there is a golden galaxy here.
You wrote that over the past month you have flown from Sochi to Moscow and back about 10 times. What did you do in the capital?
Ilia Averbukh: Indeed, I have not been in Sochi a lot, which, of course, is sad, because the conditions here are fantastic … On the other hand, when the show is already on, it’s enough for you to just be here and spend the rest of the time with your family. But my mission is to run ahead and pave the way for further projects. This summer is really busy.
There are a number of other projects that are now about to be launched. Of course, many people ask about the new “Ice Age” – while I can not announce, let’s wait a little more. But there is really a lot of work, a lot of different shows, and the program is scheduled literally until the end of January.
Do you have time to coach, given such a workload?
Ilia Averbukh: When I’m in Moscow, yes, of course, I come to trainings. But I emphasize once again: the head coach of the school is Elena Maslennikova. Igor Eremenko and Sofya Shevchenko also work with us – they are young and talented guys. I fully support them, we have done all the programs, we are ready. At the end of August there will be test skates in Novogorsk – we are getting ready, we really want to show ourselves. These are juniors so far, and I think that with at least three duets we will definitely be able to surprise many – the decent work has been done and the programs, it seems to me, are quite interesting.
Today, 42-year-old Alexei Yagudin performed a triple toeloop so well that you suggested him returning to the sport. Do you have an element which you can do on the ice and teach a lesson to the younger generation?
Ilia Averbukh: Lesha is generally a great skater. I must say that for all 23 shows he has never allowed himself to make a mistake at all, he brought the toeloop to perfection (laughs). But this is really very important, because we understand what heights they are taking now. And Lesha jumped his quads in 2002, so there are no questions for him, he is doing great.
And the maximum I can do is to gain speed and glide on my knee. This is my limit (smiles). Therefore, I stand with a microphone, and Lesha skates. Although, of course, in those days when I was gone, Lesha Yagudin and Lesha Tikhonov were the hosts of the show and coped with it brilliantly. Yagudin is generally an excellent TV presenter with a lot of experience.
Not so long ago, Eteri Tutberidze spoke harshly about the work of some journalists. Have you followed this thread?
Ilia Averbukh: Honestly, there were some calls for a comment on this topic, but I don’t even know what the fuss is about. But if they ask me, I am always on the side of Eteri Georgievna. This is an outstanding coach, a coach with a capital letter, a coach who has the right to express her position unambiguously. In 99% of cases, our opinions coincide with her. I don’t know the essence of this issue at all – I think it’s just the off-season and everyone is trying to make mountains out of molehills. But, even without knowing the question, I am definitely on the side of Eteri Georgievna.
As far as I understood, the claims were that the media pays a lot of attention to her flights to the United States.
Ilia Averbukh: Eteri Georgievna is now in Russia. And she works with a large galaxy of young talented skaters, she gave us a constellation of outstanding girls. Her students are just a treasure, and we realize the full value of Tutberidze’s work only after a while, when we really turn around and understand what kind of diamonds were born in the headquarters of Eteri Georgievna.
Let me talk a little about your look. Do you remember the last time you appeared in public without a beard?
Ilia Averbukh: No, I do not remember. But a very long time ago. At first I had such a goatee, when we still performed, I was around 26-27 years old. It so happened that one of the complaints against our pair was that we are still children, that there is no seriousness in our skating. And my friend says: “Maybe you should grow a beard?” And from that moment I tried it. By the way, I can say that I am one of the first who allowed myself to do this – now everyone skates so brutal with beards (laughs), but then, of course, the skater had a clean-shaven face in fashion, and the beard was revolutionary. But from that moment on, I felt that the results had come, and somehow the beard remained.
Is there a possibility that you will shave it off in the future?
Ilia Averbukh: There is a possibility that it will fall out (laughs).
How do you spend your free time when it appears?
Ilia Averbukh: Now it’s definitely a family. Already on August 14, we will celebrate Leo’s first birthday (the son of Averbukh and Elizaveta Arzamasova. – Sport24) we will celabrate it in Sochi, with Liza and my eldest son Martin.
“I don’t think Valieva’s case will turn into something good. I don’t exclude that there will be some falsification, just to denigrate our athletes.” choreographer of Tutberidze’s group, Alexei Zheleznyakov