“It was my dream to do the quad throw at the Olympics! And at the last moment coach said, “Let’s not do it.” I was in panic, I was so furious.” Yuko Kavaguti about losing the Olympic medal in because of Tamara Moskvina’s mistake

Posted on 2023-07-14 • No comments yet


Yuko Kavaguti about switching citizenship, moving to Russia and 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

photo Global Look Press

source: podcast “Free Program” with Maxim Trankov

Kawaguti competed in pairs skating with Alexander Smirnov. She is a two-time European champion and a two-time bronze medalist at the World Figure Skating Championships.

About renouncing Japanese citizenship in favor of Russian citizenship

Did you give up Japanese citizenship for the opportunity to enjoy what you do (skating)?

Yuko Kavaguti: Silly, yes.


Yuko Kavaguti: Maybe a little thoughtless. My mom always tells me to do what makes my soul uplifted. So when I changed citizenship, my soul was singing. That’s why I did it, not for the Olympics. But when I changed my passport, I felt like my Japanese soul was detached from me. And it hurt.

Dual citizenship is not allowed. Can you regain Japanese citizenship?

Yuko Kavaguti: Yes, it’s possible. If I live in Japan for a long time. But then, goodbye, Russia.

Don’t you want to say “goodbye, Russia”?

Yuko Kavaguti: Not yet, I have work here. I obtained a Russian passport to make my life interesting. Not for the Olympics. And my life in Russia is currently interesting. In Japan, everything is neat, convenient… Too convenient.

Why didn’t you return to Japan after your career ended?

Yuko Kavaguti: In Japan, I’m nobody. Who knows me there? I didn’t compete for Japan. So if I return to Japan, then what? I can’t really be a coach there, and there is no pair skating.

Well, there are world champions there.

Yuko Kavaguti: But they train in Canada. So I don’t see much work for me there.

About her shock experiences in Russia.

Yuko Kavaguti: I can adapt very easily, and I love learning languages. I always dreamed of using multiple languages. Tamara Nikolaevna (Moskvina) had a favorite saying: “Even if you don’t succeed in figure skating, at least now you know Russian.” When I heard that, I didn’t understand her joke, I felt so hurt. But now I take everything with humor.

So you even started understanding Russian humor?

Yuko Kavaguti: Well, yes. But not completely. I still don’t get everything.

What was the most challenging thing when you moved to Russia? Different culture, food, metro.

Yuko Kavaguti: The food was okay, the metro was fine too. What was shocking? The toilets.

The seats aren’t heated?

Yuko Kavaguti: No! Just the toilets and the water. It took me ten years to become friends with the water. With the phone too, it was difficult to call my mom, there were no international phones.

How did your parents react to your move to Russia?

Yuko Kavaguti: They took it quite well. If I’m doing what I love, then they are calm. They trusted Tamara Nikolaevna. My family wasn’t really wealthy, just an average family in Japan. But because of the exchange rate, everything was cheap in Russia. Now, it’s very expensive. But back then, somehow we managed.”

Yuko Kavaguti believes that she lost the medal in Vancouver 2010 because of Tamara Moskvina’s mistake.

Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov were in third place after the short program but made a mistake in the free skate, ultimately finishing fourth.

Why did you decide not to attempt the quadruple throw in the program after practicing it several times during warm-up? Who made that decision?

Yuko Kavaguti: Of course, our boss – Tamara Nikolaevna (Moskvina). And the most surprising thing is that… At the European Championships, she told us in the hotel, “Today, we’ll go with an easier version.” Well, I agreed. If it’s necessary, it’s necessary. And we won then.

At the Olympics, she wanted the same as at the Europeans. And it was after warm-up. I didn’t know anything. We were about to perform, and she said, “Let’s go with a triple.” I didn’t understand anything. Sasha didn’t know what to do. I got so angry – it was my dream to do the quadruple at the Olympics! And suddenly she said, “Let’s not do it.” I was just in panic, furious, so furious that I forgot it was the Olympics. And I went to the free skate like that.

Do you think it was Tamara Nikolaevna’s mistake?

Yuko Kavaguti: Yes. I think she changed her mind at the very last moment. My body just refused to skate.

I remember how you were swearing afterward. I didn’t know that Yuko, that cheerful girl, could scream like that.

Yuko Kavaguti: It’s frustrating that in such an angry state, I went to the free skate. I ended up with a triple throw with a step-out. Plus, there was some other mistake. Overall, it was the worst performance. It’s so frustrating.”


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