Inna Goncharenko: Trusova’s parents should have said honestly “They gave us more dough, that’s why we are leaving.”
Interview with about parents in figure skating and Trusova’s transfer to Plushenko’s Academy.
by Sergei Dadigin for eg.ru dd. 16th June 2020
Inna Germanovna, did parents turn children against you when they didn’t succeed on the ice?
Inna Goncharenko: Of course, more than once. They left to another coach. Recently, one such mother called me: “Now I understand that I was wrong, sorry.” Before, about 20 years ago, parents did not argue with the coaches, tiptoed around. And then everything changed. Some dads and mothers try to lead the coaching process. While the child is growing, parents invest in him. Buy skates, sportswear, costumes for competitions. And do so many years. If nothing turn out, whom a mom will blame? Her favorite daughter? No, a coach. But if success comes to the daughter, pride sometimes blows mothers and dads minds.
Did you have conflicts with such parents?
Inna Goncharenko: There have been cases when skaters missed training at the suggestion of their parents. They left on vacation or earn extra money, and mom and dad covered them. When a young athlete succeeds, he becomes wayward. At this moment, it is especially important for parents and coaches to be allies. Unfortunately, sometimes it’s the other way around.
Do you mean the father of four-time Russian champion Maxim Kovtun?
Inna Goncharenko: No, Maxim’s dad is a coach. He raised his son properly. But there are other dads. They become like agents of their children. Organize shooting on television, participation in commercial projects. I understand: parents invest in the child first, and then they want to compensate for the costs. But if money is paramount, the result always suffers.
Many were surprised that at the height of epidemic, Alexandra Trusova’s parents took her to Egypt on vacation. Outraged fans even demanded to expel her from the national team.
Inna Goncharenko: There, Trusova’s dad decided. A 15-year-old child will not go against the will of her parents. Alena Kostornaia and Anna Shcherbakova did not go abroad, they obediently sat at home. And the father of Sasha Trusova already knew that his daughter would no longer train with Eteri Tutberidze. Parents behave so when when the decision to leave is already made.
Do you believe that Tutberidze paid little attention to Trusova?
Inna Goncharenko: It’s just an excuse. Sasha performs the most difficult quadruple jumps. Did she really master them without coaches help? She was the junior world champion for two years in a row. When she was breaking records in seniors, neither father nor mother said that Tutberidze did not pay attention to their daughter. Well, say honestly “They just gave us more dough, that’s why we are leaving.”
Does a skater think about money, not medals, at 15?
Inna Goncharenko: I repeat. The decision, I believe, was made by the parents. Now people are fixated on money. The mother of one skater asks the coach: “Why did I buy a costume for my daughter, and the other girl got the costume for free?” And asks in front of the child, causing a daughter a sense of resentment. Why do this? Well, go into the coaching room, talk calmly, and they will explain everything to you. If the skater is included in the sports school team, equipment is given to her for free. There are no tricks here.
Did Sasha’s father make a mistake?
Inna Goncharenko: Life will show. The Tutberidze group has created its own training system. There is a lot of competition there. It is always motivating. Plushenko’s Academy doesn’t have that.
In figure skating, were there precedents when an outstanding athlete, such as Evgeni Plushenko, quickly become a cool coach?
Inna Goncharenko: I can’t recall such cases. The problem with transitions is that coaches in our sport are not legally protected. The skater goes to another sports school, but continues his career. And his former mentor is left with nothing. A bouquet of flowers will be given as a goodbye – and that’s all.
Evgenia Medvedeva, leaving Tutberidze, didn’t even give a bouquet.
Inna Goncharenko: It is not right.
Maybe it’s time to sign contracts between skaters and coaches?
Inna Goncharenko: They have been talking about this for a long time, but things are right where they started.
In your practice, have there been times when parents, craving for success for their child, tried to eliminate a competitor?
Inna Goncharenko: I was 11 – 12 years old, I trained in Moscow at the Stadium of Young Pioneers. I go on the ice and realize with with horror that my legs are sprawling. I fell, hit hard and literally crawled to the exit. It turned out that when I was away for a few minutes from the locker room, someone took my skates and sharply drew blades along the stone floor. Since then, I have never left my skates unattended. And I warn students about this.