Laura Lipetsky: Tutberidze is an example of a truly great coach
Interview with Alysa Liu’s coach Laura Lipetsky for Russian media.
by Ekaterina Bespalova for sport-express.ru dd. December 19th, 2019
Congratulations on Alysa’s silver in Turin. Did you expect such success at the beginning of the season?
– No. I wanted her to show the maximum of what she could in skating. Clean skates started to turn out and the results came, excellent. So we are on the right way.
However, many were very surprised that with two triple axels and quad lutzes Liu lost to Valieva in a free program. Do you have an explanation what went wrong?
– Yes, many of her jumps turned out to be underrotated and having returned home, only one thing remains for us – to work hard on the jumps to make them clean.
In one of the materials about your work with Alysa, you slightly mention that you don not have much ice. Is this really so?
– No, we have enough ice, but sometimes there are too many athletes of different levels at the same time. And sometimes it’s hard for her to skate with so many athletes. But usually twice a week Alysa has personal ice.
You have become one of several coaches in the world whose female skaters perform quadruple jumps, so I would like to learn more about your career as an athlete and the start of a coaching career …
– I reached the level of the US Nationals and got into the top ten there, but then injury happened and I had to take a pause in my career. It was very difficult to return, although before that I had all triple jumps, “3-3” combinations and I was very close to learning the triple axel. In the end, I had to go to college, specialization mass communication, but it was enough to work two months to understand that I don’t like it. As a result, after graduation, I began to coach, as it was exactly the activity that I enjoyed. Plus, I had knowledge that I wanted to share.
How old were you when you finished your career, if not a secret?
– I really don’t remember (laughs). Because I kept trying to come back and for some time I even skated for the college team.
Do you have a large group at the rink in Auckland?
– It’s hard to say because I haven’t count how many students I have. But in the USA, everything is organized a little differently compared to Russia. There are about 15 skaters in my group, and most of them go to school somewhere from 8 in the morning until three in the afternoon. Therefore, they have to train for an hour and a half from 6 in the morning, and then after school. As a result, as you see, they do not have much time for training.
But are there skaters of Alysa’s level with quadruples and triple axels?
– I have couple of skaters with all triple jumps, except for the triple axel. There is one girl who is learning the triple axel. Actually that’s all.
Please explain how a coach, who did not perform the quadruple jumps himself, decides to learn them with a very young skater? And what motivated you to work in this direction with Liu?
– I knew that she was ready, plus, as I said, I was close to learning the triple axel. But the fact that you were a good skater with complex elements does not mean that you will become a cool coach and
can teach your skaters do them. When I started working as a coach, I understood: to teach, you need to explain each movement in detail.
The constant complication of jumping content periodically provokes discussions that mature, meaningful skating fades into the background. In your opinion, are quadruple jumps in ladies’ skating a good trend?
– I think yes. Progress is gaining momentum. If men can do them, then why can’t girls? Why stop them?
In Russia, there is a point of view that quadruple jumps at a young age is harmful for health. In this regard, very close attention is focused on the group of Eteri Tutberidze. And what about the situation in the USA? Did they tell you that?
– No, it hasn’t happened yet that someone told me: “No, no, Alysa should not jump them, it is very dangerous for her health.” Eteri, of course, is a terrific coach, whom I respect a lot, because she has so many girls who perform quad jumps! If I had more skaters who could and would like to do them, I would only help them.
I also come across the opinion that quads are killing a truly beautiful female skating. And Tutberidze several times explained why this is not true …
– And I agree with her. Quads do not kill ladies’ skating, but make it more exciting. If some girls can do them, why they shouldn’t? Plus, as soon as quadruples become easier for skaters, they will have the opportunity to develop other aspects of their skating. Think of Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen when they included a large number of quadruple jumps into their programs. Then their skating was not at all as amazing as it is now. The same thing is happening with girls now.
Among the single skaters of the past and those who skate now whom do you like?
– Now, of course, it’s Chen, who manages to combine the highest level of skating and quadruple jumps. Michelle Kwan, who was psychologically very strong and skated very inspiredly and beautifully, performing triple jumps that were difficult for that time. All skaters from the Tutberidze group, which pushes our sport forward and develops it. After all, in her group, not only one girl performs quads, but several!
And among the Russians?
– Zagitova is simply amazing, and also Evgenia (Medvedeva – ed.) and as I said all the girls from Tutberidze’s group.
However, there is one nuance in all this quadruple extravaganza: at the age of 17-18 it will be much more difficult to jump.
– Yes, you really need to learn as early as possible. But when you look at Elizaveta (Tuktamysheva – ed.), who first mastered the triple axel, and then at her age mastered quad toe loop, you think: “Wow, this is really possible!”.
In general, is ladies’ single skating popular in the US right now?
– It is popular, but certainly not like in Russia or Japan. Young people in the USA, in particular, my students, are more focused on getting an education. Plus, sport is expensive, and therefore not all families can afford it.
At least approximately how much does ice training cost?
– For ice, it’s about 12-13 dollars per hour, so calculate how much it will turn out if you skate three hours a day. But this is just ice, without taking into account other activities and coach.
Is Liu from a wealthy family?
– No. Alysa’s family has to sacrifice a lot to pay for her trainings.
Who is the idol or
example of a truly great coach for you?
– Eteri. She prepared a lot of really cool skaters, and not just one bright student. In the USA, Tutberidze is well known. And I really respect Eteri for how she started her career from scratch, coaching almost everyone who comes to her.
She became famous by bringing up Polina Shelepen from a young age and later – Medvedeva, and not just beautifully packed prepared girls and presented them as holiday gifts.
These last words of an interview Lipetsky added not to a dictaphone, telling that in the United States, as well as in Russia, it’s very hard for a young coach with a talented skater.