“In my opinion raising the age minimum to 17 years is a mistake. As for weight topic, if someone is gaining weight, it means that a person eats a lot of excess, sorry.” skating producer Ari Zakarian
Interview with skating agent and producer Ari Zakarian. About ice show in Japan, ban of Russian skaters and ISU congress.
source: sport-express.ru dd. July 5th 2022 by Dmitri Kuznetsov
“SE” spoke with the famous agent and director of the show, Ari Zakarian, who had just completed a tour in Japan, to understand how sport so popular in Russia, but not in the world, can live without Russian skaters.
Ari, you just finished a tour in Japan. How did everything go?
Ari Zakarian: Everything was great. A friendly company of skaters, they all skated together, walked, had fun, no problems. Not a single ticket remained on sale, although the arenas are quite big. The show was also shown in cinemas all over Japan and it was a success too.
The superstar of the show is, of course, Yuzuru Hanyu. In fact, Fantasy on Ice is a show for him. How the audience greets him, how he communicates with the public – this is a transcendental level, completely different. He is number one. Stephane Lambiel is very cool, I never cease to admire his professionalism. At 37, he continues to do a quadruple toeloop. If he had returned to the sport and got in shape, then at the European Championships he could have won a medal. The programs are new, created for the show, and in the world, there is no equal for him in terms of components. His performances brought to tears – it was so emotional.
I am very happy that Ilia Malinin came here for the first time, he made a crazy jump here more than once – quad axel. This is raising the bar to a new level. He is a very good guy, in my opinion, he is the future. In general, Japan proves that it remains the first in the world in the culture of figure skating. On the organization, TV broadcasts, sponsorship things.
Russia has something to learn?
Ari Zakarian: In Russia, the level is very high, a lot has been done and is being done, people love figure skating. The level of ice shows is not worse. But Japan generally is prepared differently. I calculated that the team that is working on the show is about 200 people.
And does it pay off?
Ari Zakarian: If it did not pay off, then the producers would not do it. Tickets cost from 100-200 dollars. There was no such thing – let’s cut costs, pay less you, skaters, as it is done in some places.
Don’t they miss the Russians?
Ari Zakarian: How to say… In conversations, they said that we would be glad to have current champions from Russia. Yes, the topic is raised, people are sorry. Like well, excuse us, but the situation is what it is.
And who is now the main Russian female figure skater in terms of publicity? Who would be invited? Trusova?
Ari Zakarian: All three girls who were at the Olympics are worthy of attention. And they could definitely be invited. But it’s hard to single out anyone. I can say that before the pandemic and the difficulties with the participation of Russians in foreign events in Japan, Plushenko was always in demand.
About the difficulties. Do you think the Russian Grand Prix announced by our federation is a viable format?
Ari Zakarian: It is difficult to predict. But what is for sure, the leadership of the Russian Federation is strong and competent. Alexander Kogan is a true professional, I treat him with great respect. He moves figure skating forward. Anton Sikharulidze is coming to the forefront, heading the St. Petersburg federation, which I am also very happy about. The Federation has done a lot to popularize and develop figure skating in Russia and in the world. What they do, they do right. It’s a pity that it happened so. Time will tell how it goes. It’s good that the guys will at least have the opportunity to skate.
In early June, you took part in the ISU congress. Did you like it?
Ari Zakarian: I liked the congress because the beach was nearby, the water is warm, the conditions are good.
Ari Zakarian: And I have a lot of questions about the congress itself. Raising the age minimum to 17 years old with shouts of “cheers” and applause – in my opinion, this is a mistake. Raising up to 16 years is ok, I can understand it. But at the age of 17, many graduate from school and face a choice. Wait for two extra years to move to seniors… Well, many would prefer to go into IT, to learn programming. Or other professions. Or for example pair skating. A girl of 15-16 years old with an older partner now does not have the opportunity to compete, a pair is forced to wait. In addition, at the age of 17, many women’s bodies develop. Judging by my observations, this is exactly the moment when physiology takes over. In this case it will be very hard for the partner.
In general, we will see problems. Arguments about reducing injuries do not work for me – I have been in figure skating for a long time, since I was four years old. I have traveled through many competitions and have experience with figure skaters. Mostly the cause of injuries is the wrong warm-up or incompetent coaches. As for the topic of weight that is often discussed now – if someone is gaining weight, it means that a person does not have a food culture, he eats a lot of excess, sorry. Everything is simple, everyday problems, not age-related ones. Finally, there is Liza Tuktamysheva, who is 25 years old – and she does complex elements and stays in the top. And she is not the only one skating in such years.
I also see a serious danger for figure skating in the absence of a post-season tour with the best skaters, as in the 1970s and 1980s. I made a proposal, told the ISU more than once that it was necessary, I hope they will hear my requests. The ISU Skating Awards, which we have never held so normally, should be held so that the world can see what it is. This is important for the evolution and popularization of figure skating. I will try to get through. Our situation is deplorable. Only a couple of countries hold the level of figure skating, one of which is cut off for obvious reasons.
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