Marina Zueva: Tarasova and Morozov are the last ones who look like a real pair on the ice, in the full sense of the term
Interview with Marina Zueva about Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov.
by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya for russian.rt.com dd. 29th January, 2020
What did the European Championships in Graz give you in terms of observations?
– In general, I like to watch not only competitions, but also training sessions and warm-ups. Everyone has different methods and habits, there is always something to pay attention to, you can make some unexpected observations. For example, I noticed that Nikita Katsalapov and Vika Sinitsina trained brilliantly all days, without a single mistake, which I had not seen before. I think this is part of the strategy. It seems to me that due to such trainings, they came even closer to Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron in the judges’ minds. Got really close to them. And it is probably not surprising that they beat them as soon as the French made a mistake.
Oleg Vasiliev during the competitions said that it doesn’t matter how the skaters skate before the competition. And he gave an example of a training session before a short program, where your pair Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov skated perfectly, and Alexandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovski failed almost all the elements.
– By the way, it was the same before a free program. Nevertheless, if we set a goal to win the Olympics, they should strive not only to perform at a high level, but also to practice. Especially if this practices are open for media, audience and judges. When you constantly make mistakes, not a single judge will give you “ten” for presentation no matter what you do – we have such sport.
You said that you did not consider Tarasova and Morozov’s silver medals to be a failure. You athletes lost to Boikova and Kozlovski fourth competitions in a row. You understand that such a series of defeats hit pair’s reputation, impression, second mark …
– Well, after all, judges cannot give high scores when athletes begin to fail elements. This also applies to points for choreography. I know for sure: if Vova and Zhenya skate well, their result can be very high. That’s all. Of course, the guys’ mistakes upset me, it would be foolish to deny it. But better these troubles happen now, rather than at the moment when nothing can be fixed. The main work has been done, and I hope you see this. The image of the pair has changed. Moreover, I clearly note improvements from competitions to competitions.
The amount of work you have done with Tarasova and Morozov is obvious. And how Nina Moser and Maxim Trankov work with a pair? I ask, because it remains behind the scenes.
– The work is carried out by all specialists, there are results, they are not too visible yet – it is very difficult to put everything together in a short time. But we will. We are doing everything possible for this. I constantly explain to the journalists: my work with the guys is not a revolution, not a desire to destroy everything to the ground and build something new. I just joined the process. Even now, I am never guided only by my opinion, I try to collect as many reviews as possible, especially at competitions. This helps to see and assess the big picture better.
When you started working with Evgenia and Vladimir, didn’t you regret that your cooperation began only now, and not after the Games in Pyeongchang?
– I never thought about it. What for? In this regard, I always live today. I like working with guys, I have something to give them, I have an understanding how to develop them further. I would even say that Tarasova and Morozov are the last of the Mohicans – the last who look like a real pair on the ice, in the full sense of the term.
After the Games in Pyeongchang, it seemed that neither their own coach nor Federation needed them. It seems to me that they still have a very great need to be loved …
– Well, that’s exactly what I’m doing now. We just need time. I am still in the process of selecting specialists for them. We need to work on jumps, and many other things. Of course, I want to see the result faster. I hope that we will approach the World Championships in Montreal in the best conditions and will perform there in a completely different way.
Vladimir Morozov, commenting on the unsuccessful performance, noted that he and Zhenya usually try to come in advance to competitions requiring acclimatization, but this time they could not stay at home after the Russian Nationals, because you needed to return to America quickly.
– It is simply impossible to come to all competitions in advance, since the full acclimatization process takes at least ten days. And even so, athletes sometimes fail elements. You won’t guess here. If Tarasova and Morozov had skated clean in Graz, now everyone would have written that acclimatization does not matter at all, do you agree?
Are you somehow limited in the freedom of decision-making regarding this pair?
– No. There are no contradictions in our coaching staff, we are constantly in touch. Maxim Trankov comes to us in Florida quite often.
A year ago, commenting on his independent work with Tarasova and Morozov, Trankov sadly joked that now everyone saw what a bad coach he was. Since Maxim is still working in your team, does he have strong coaching skills?
– Of course. He sees and very quickly evaluates any situation, feels the athletes, understands what needs to be done. In addition, Maxim has his own career behind, a very long one, so he understands that the result does not come immediately. You need to have patience. If we talk about the technical side, at different times Trankov worked with all the most outstanding coaches in the world, and this is also a tremendous experience. His knowledge of pair skating is truly huge. The main thing is to use all this correctly.
Maxim’s statement that the main advantage of two-time world champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong over everyone else is Lori Nichol works on their program seems rather controversial for me. And also that this choreographer doesn’t work with Russian pairs in principle …
– I do not think that is the reason. To begin with, any successful program is primarily an execution. I have worked with a Chinese pair for four seasons, when they were just starting their junior career. Both athletes are amazingly danceable, especially he. They have excellent dance coordination, they feel the music in a very special way. That is why I did programs for them in a dance style. Alan brought me the rumba himself. Well, tell me, which pair skater will bring dance music to the choreographer? We had the same story with Russian Dance.
But who is Alan…
– We call Han Cong so. In America it was more habitual for him to take a more “American” name. And I repeat again, outstanding choreography is, first of all, an outstanding execution.
Have you ever tried to calculate how many programs per season a top choreographer can do without losing quality?
– I do not think that this amount is somehow limited. I happened to put up to two hundred programs per year when I worked in Canada. This was considered part of my work, which was in no way connected with earnings, because I had a fixed contract.
After the Games in Sochi, Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov trained with you, who were forced to return to Russia for a number of disciplinary reasons …
– I never said that.
Nevertheless, it is no secret to anyone that not all foreigners are able to behave correctly in the American environment. I know that after last year’s Worlds, Rafael Harutyunyan was even forced to part with his Korean student. Had Tarasova and Morozov have to learn how to behavior?
– All athletes behave differently in training. In this regard, I would not particularly highlight Europeans or Russians. And everyone quarrels in training. Therefore, in terms of psychology it is necessary to work with everyone who skates in a group. In my case these are athletes from 11 countries. Everyone has stress from time to time, partnerships do not always work out.
Apparently, in Russia, coaches are more loyal to any kind of training conflicts.
– This does not mean that Russian coaches do not have to work with athletes on psychology. What is really tough in America is a certain Safe Sport code, which lists in detail everything that under no circumstances should athletes and coaches do. And the list is really long.
When will the new choreographing process begin with Tarasova and Morozov?
– In April. We decided to start the next season early. Last year we did programs in July, and it was, of course, a bit late. I love when you can see the finished version of the programs before the start of the season.
Already have ideas for programs?
– Of course. And music.
By the way, how do you explain the fact that ultra-c elements have actually disappeared from pair skating?
– The requirements of the rules, according to which the judges primarily pay attention to the quality of the elements. They want an interesting entry pattern, interesting way out, they want elements be executed clearly and flawlessly. All this brings pluses, which are very difficult to get for the quadruple twist or throw.
But do you already think what the programs Tarasova and Morozov should have to claim for Olympic gold in Beijing in two years?
– Of course. But can I not to talk about our intentions to the whole world yet?