Inna Goncharenko: You can’t change a worldview of an adult athlete

Posted on 2016-07-20 • 11 comments


An interview with Inna Goncharenko. About her skaters, their new programs and preparation for new season.

Inna Germanovna, how many skaters trains in your group?

I.G.: There are three senior skaters, members of the Russian national team: Elena Radionova, Sergei Voronov and Maxim Kovtun. And four young skaters: Alexandra Avstriiskaya, Diana Guseva, Sofia Istomina and Alina Soloviova.

Sergei Voronov and Maxim Kovtun came to you after the end of last season. Was the process of accommodation difficult?

I.G.: Sergei joined our group before Maxim, so he had more time to adapt to the new conditions. For me it was important that an athlete understands that he wants to change what needs to be changed. It’s not a quick process. It’s always difficult, when a person has worked for years in a certain direction, and suddenly he was told that this should be change, this should be learnt, corrected. It’s difficult psychologically, because it raises the question: “How will I learn this?”. But you must learn if you want to continue. And my job as a coach to make a skater came to this himself, make him understand and realize this.

You can’t change a worldview of an adult athlete, but you can give it a bit different direction. This happens in the work of any coach who takes a new student. Coach always brings something of his own. And then it all depends on the athlete. A horse can be brought to the watering, but it’s impossible to make it drinking. I give an athlete what I can give, what I see, what I consider necessary to give. If you’re going to take it, then take it. No, then no. They are adults. They know what they want in life.

Maxim Kovtun

What can you tell about work with Kovtun?

I.G.: It’s a different story. I even haven’t expected that all will go so. Firstly, when Maxim appeared in our group, I treated him with suspicion. Internally worried: whether I’ll understand him, whether I can. But it turned out that for me it’s a very familiar type of personality. It’s comfortable for me to work with Max. There was no training, on which I got angry. Everything is pretty smooth yet. Maybe, because I don’t demand too much of him, because I understand that at this moment it’s unreal. Kovtun entered the season later, because there was a period when he wasn’t skating at all. He went to Ekaterinburg, passed exams in the school of Olympic reserve. After that, it was necessary to have a time to relax. Also to break in new skates. There was a problem. He got a crooked boot. Alexander Kuznetsov helped us to deal with this problem. He came and fixed a boot as much as it was possible to fix, sharpened it. Now Maxim is training on these skates.

Now in parallel with the preparation for the season Kovtun still have to pass the exams in RGUFK (Univercity of physical education). So, this period is quite difficult. But I see that Max is trying to cope. I can see that he wants to work. He realizes that to want – it’s one thing in words, and to do the required amount of work – it’s quite another. It isn’t easy for him, because he used to talk a lot, and then to look for the reason, why didn’t work out.

So, on the one hand, it’s easier to work with adult athletes. You don’t need to explain truisms, like to children, work with parents. You can’t say them – I’ll call you mother, your dad. They are responsible for themselves. On the other hand, it’s difficult with them. They’re adults by age, but understanding of some things doesn’t always correspond to their adulthood.

Everything is different, when you brought up the student from childhood, how we did with Lena Radionova. We are able to understand each other perfectly, to forgive and all like that. We have our established relationships. Naturally, when the question about Sergei and Maxim arised, I asked Lena, because Lena – it’s Lena. She totally didn’t mind. It’s even more interesting, when adult skaters train next to her, the training builds in a completely different way. And the relationships in the group have changed. Guys like men treat Lena as a little lady. Support her, joke to defuse the situation. Recently saw such scene at training: something didn’t work out and Lena was almost crying, but Maxim came to her, began to talk. And she says: “Max, why you don’t let me to cry! I just wanted to. ” I looked through some time and she was already laughing. In general, we have a positive atmosphere at trainings.

Elana Radionova

So, it’s become easier for Lena to train?

I.G.: I would say, more interesting. Guys have sense of humor. The work is in a relaxed atmosphere. But if you really work hard, invest, the work definitely can’t be easier. It’s the question of the relation to it. At the moment, we have a positive mindset, maybe because it’s summer and athletes are more relaxed, however we’d a lot of problems since the beginning of training camp, but not only we have such. But all this has passed. Training camp is over. I have a feeling that it’s passed on a positive note, was interesting. Something work out, something doesn’t, but by and large, guys are set to work. We overcome difficulties, moving on.

How the work on new programs is going?

I.G.: It’s ongoing work on short and free programs. Something, of course, will change. Perhaps even radically, because while you haven’t skated it all, you don’t fully understand how well it’s done. Definitely we can say that Lena’s short program will remain the same. We like this program. It turned out “delicious”, Lena appears in it in a new image. It’s evident that she skates this program with great pleasure. The program is already popular among local hockey players. They sometimes come to see our training and always applaud Lena after her skating. It’s important, when the audience react so. Hence, the program cause so much emotions, it’s always a pleasure. 

Both Sergei Voronov’s programs are done. I think that in the future we will only polish them, add some choreography. Nikolai Morozov did the programs. First we had some doubts about the short program. The music has been changed but now I see that we have chosen the right option. Programs suit Sergei.

Maxim has come already with a free program that Peter Tchernyshov did. It’s an interesting program. When I first saw it, noted that it was a small work of art. Maxim skates the program from his soul. He likes the music. It’s evident that Peter noticed exactly what Maxim likes and did a program exactly for him.  The maximum that will be changed in this program are entries to the jumping. But it’s usual, when you start to jump, there is a question of priorities. Sometimes you have to sacrifice some choreography for the sake of stability of the elements. It’s a pity, of course, but we’ll see how to do it in a better way. We’re polishing the program. Work on quite difficult step sequence.

Ilia Averbukh and Elena Maslennikova did a short program for Maxim. The idea of the program belongs to Ilia. We liked it. We worked on a program with a very good mood. Ideas came from everyone, including Maxim. He joined immediately, suggested some of his tried and tested things, Ilia and Elena Stanislavovna worked on style. Very interesting libretto. But it is better to see the program, than to talk about it. The work on it is complete. Now we’re polishing the program.

I would also like to thank Ilia Averbukh for help. When we asked him, he immediately agreed, in spite of the tight busyness. Ilia came to Novogorsk. In the evening he flew from Sochi, worked with Eugene Medvedeva, and then switched to Maxim. Ilia has a stunning creative stock of ideas, and you wonder how he has time for everything. We are very grateful for his help and support.

Generally, coaches offer and find choreographers for their students, but Lena Radionova expressed a desire to work with Shae-Lynn Bourne.

I.G.: Lena was at the show and saw how the Shae-Lynn works, and when she returned, said that she want to do a program with her. Naturally, I support the athlete. Lena is developing. She’s interested in everything. As a coach, I can not but encourage the athlete’s desire to learn something new, to broaden her horizons, learn new elements … I am very glad that Shae-Lynn agreed, found the time. As I said, Lena came back from Canada with a very good work.

the source:

photos by Olga Timohova and from personal archive of Inna Goncharenko



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11 Responses to “Inna Goncharenko: You can’t change a worldview of an adult athlete”

  1. Stolbova Obsessed says:

    Elena and Kovtun are so cute together. Are those wedding bells in the distance? I wish.

  2. Stolbova Obsessed says:

    Elena has those mile-long supermodel legs that every girl wishes she had. But it’s not ideal for skating. I hope she doesn’t get too tall, but you can’t control how tall you grow. As a teenager waiting forever to get past 5’2″, I know what I’m talking about lil. (I try making myself feel better about my shortness by remembering that Ksenia Stolbova is my height and she’s a diva).
    Maybe Elena will be more of a Carolina Kostner – you know, super tall but really good? One can hope.

    • FS Gossips says:

      But Carolina had her ups and downs, 2009-2010 was a disastrous season for her….but she was the only one for Italian skating federation, she could afford such a decrease in results and still be in a team. With the competition in Russian national team it’s almost impossible for Elena.

  3. Stolbova Obsessed says:

    Sounds good! Can’t wait to see what Inna does with the new students. I think she’ll have her hands full with Kovtun!

    • FS Gossips says:

      I hope that all changes will help Kovtun, maybe at least he’ll feel more comfortable with his coaching team, feel more support. Also interesting how Goncharenko will deal with Elena’s growing up problems…..looking at her photos on Instagram it seems she’s grew up even more, such a long legs….how it’ll affect jumps

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