Maxim Kovtun: Age allows me to skate for many more years

Posted on 2018-08-24 • No comments yet


Elena Vaitsekhovskaya’s intrview with Maxim Kovtun.

Two and a half years ago I talked with your coach Elena Buyanova, not knowing yet that you will leave her at the end of the season, and she said this phrase: “I know for sure that in a year or two, Max will certainly begin to understand a lot of things, that he refuses to understand now.” It turns out that the coach was right, since you’ve returned back after a year and a half work with Inna Goncharenko in CSKA and a few months with her in the academy of Evgeni Plushenko? What was the reason for pacing back?

– I wouldn’t call this pacing back. When in January Inna Germanovna left the club for the Plushenko academy, I just followed her. I had absolutely no choice at that time. More accurate to say, I wasn’t in a position to choose something. I never treated sports as a business, but at that moment I reasoned very simply: maybe I still have a chance. And if it really exsists, why not to try to catch it? For this, I need people next to me who can give me everything necessary to achieve the result.

Why then you left Buyanova? Just to return then, as they say, hat in hand?

– Shortly before I made the decision to leave, deep down I had an understanding that I needed to talk frankly with Elena Germanovna (Buyanova) about many things. But somewhere I was too proud and stubborn, for some things Elena Germanovna in my understanding should had payed attention, and since she hadn’t, I began to feel that I didn’t interest her at all. Now it’s just time has passed, and all these things have become obvious. In general, it seems to me that I have matured a lot, and Elena Germanovna started to treated me differently. Anyway, I like our relations now and how the work goes.

As far as I know you parted with Goncharenko well, what about Plushenko?

– Zhenya and I discussed everything in a businesslike way. In fact, I’m very grateful to him for supporting me at the moment when I actually decided to finish with the sport and didn’t think that someone would be able to get me back on track. Plushenko understood my mood, my desire to realize myself in ife, to show my maximum, which I, actually, have never showed, despite the fact that some performances were not bad. As for leaving, as I said, it was an absolutely businesslike conversation, a minimum of emotions. There were too many reasons that prompted me to take this step.

What became that click in your head that you realized “I must return!”?

– You found really correct words, it was a click. I clearly realized that I wasn’t in my place, and in such cases it isn’t in my nature to spend too much time on reflection. So after ten minutes I already acted.

Wasn’t you afraid that you would ask to take you back to the group, but the coach would refuse?

– So it happened that Elena Germanovna first agreed and only then I realized that she could have refused, because there was much more reasons to refuse than to agree. I don’t know why, but when I went to the conversation, I had no idea that Buyanov would send me away. Maybe it’s just fate? But I’m glad that it happened so. I think, now our cooperation is even stronger than it was.

What has changed in your relationship?

– I have changed a lot and it played a huge role. I’ve changed my attitude to work. When I first came to Buyanova in 2012, I thought like this: Well, I’ll skate for a while, then I’ll finish with the sport and I’ll be able to get any job, everything will be cool.” Then, when different life circumstances let’s say “sent me back to the ground” a little I began to understand that not everything in life is so simple, that you constantly have to fight for your place under the sun. For example, there were moment in work that could easily disrupt the training. Or I thought, let’s say that Elena Germanovna said something to me in the wrong tone, or I took offense at something else and stopped doing the elements. Now I don’t have such situations. Now I don’t let the training work go to zero just because I have not a good mood. Probably, I just became much more mature. And the coach treats me more like an adult person. The main thing is that there is mutual understanding between us.

Have you already got the feeling that you are moving forward, or while you have to restore the shape you’ve been once?

– I can say for sure that I have never achieved such a shape as I have now.

Is it about higher quality of the jumps, or complexity or something else?

– So far, I don’t want to disclose any technical aspects of our work, but for me it’s very important that there are almost no mistakes in skating. I have learned to deliberately create discomfort and cope with it. I need this to grow, to become stronger, to go to the competitions in any condition and skate as if nothing had happened.

Did you had any thoughts about future programs at the time you returned to Buyanova?

– No, we did both programs from scratch with Peter Tchernyshev. He also offered music for the short program – such an easy American style, jazz. Nat King Cole, “L-O-V-E” and Sing, Sing, Sing. The free program – “Carmen” by Rodion Shchedrin. It turned out interesting. In any case, not a single person who saw it live didn’t stay indifferent.

Can you explain the attraction of Carmen for skaters? Sometimes it seems that there is no person in figure skating who haven’t skated Carmen or dreamed about this program.

– Well, I’ll skate it for the first time. I don’t know why skaters like it, I cann’t explain. I haven’t payed attention at this music for a long time. Probably, that’s why it’s never came to my mind that it’s overused.

So it was your personal choice?

– It turned out this way: I worked with Tchernyshev at the rink, it was already a dull night. At some point we stopped near the board and I asked Petya whether he remembers the Plushenko’s program from 2002, and whether it is possible to take it, maybe there are some restrictions on this matter? For some reason, I had a feeling that since the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City no one used this version of “Carmen”. But I couldn’t check this, standing on the ice in the middle of the night.

Petya thought about it and replied that he don’t remember if anyone took this particular music, but said that he is ready to try to make the program. For greater confidence, we decided to call Tarasova right from the ice – she was in America then. Tatiana Anatolievna immediately picked up the phone, I remember even was surprised at such a quick reaction. I began to tell her how much I like this music, that I’m ready to listen it the whole day, but I do not know if I can take it. She replies: “Son, I’ve put the programs to this music for my dancers. Take it and don’t doubt.”

Elena Germanovna, when she found out about our choice, also became interested. Everyone thought that “Carmen” is a good idea. And we started to work … It is interesting that before that we tried a lot of music, but nothing worked out. But “Carmen” worked from the beginning. You know how it happens: you start to skate around the rink, do some movements, and everything fit perfectly. In short, this year I’m more than happy with both programs. I really like the work that we did.

What changes have your programs from a technical point of view?

– The programs in general have become more difficult, but the greatest attention was paid not to complexity, but to the quality of the elements. With the new rules this is important.

You look more in fit now, more than usual.

– I have a right nutrition now. I puttd on fifteen extra kilograms during the time when I didn’t train. And I can honestly admit that getting myself in shape was very difficult.

You had to rebuilt the muscles from the scratch?

– Absolutely. From scratch. And not only the muscles, but all the other qualities.

How did you survive this?

– Partly, I’ve already answered you. I just became different, I rethought a lot of things. There are many things that are now pushing me forward. They are like an endless fuel. I hope they will continue to push me until I finish this whole journey. Of course, I don’t always succeed in everything, it happens that the muscles hurt terribly, but even in these cases I always think that with every failure I still go ahead. And I’m sure that everything should turn out.

Is it principal for you, how will you look at the beginning of autumn when you will appear on the ice again? Or the goal is the selection for the main competitions in December?

– I would like, of course, to look solid from the beginning. I don’t have any Grand Prix this season, and I sort of ended up in such a situation that all autumn competitions are a kind of preparation for the Russian Nationals in December. It’s the main competition of the year for me this season. Prior to this, there will be some internal Russian competitions and some “B” competitions. Perhaps Finlandia Trophy. There are other purposes, but they are not for one season and not for two. This is such a long-playing strategy, for the next four years. I don’t need result at all costs here and right now. Everything has its time.

But there is also a purely practical aspect: Grand Prix is a good opportunity to earn some money. How disappointing is it for you to lose this chance?

– You know, Tatiana Anatolievna likes to repeat this phrase: “You work and money will come.” So I try to follow this rule. Still, I have my own place to live, I have where to train and this is the main thing. My main task now is to achieve my goals. And then everything else will come. As for the Grand Prix, I didn’t count on them actually.

Realized you haven’t worked hard to get them?

– Well, how could I get them? I haven’t skated for a year and a half. It’s not easy to train after such a serious break. Therefore, the very fact that I’m currently skating and skating well is also my achievement.

Do you regret any of the things that have happened in your life in the last four years?

– I regret nothing. I remember how you came to our training session some time ago, and then told me that everything in my life has come together to achieve results. It’s really so: age allows me to skate for many more years, there is a coach with whom we understand each other, there are people who are ready to help professionally and most importantly – came the realizations what and why I do on ice. So it turns out that everything that happened to me before, even mistakes led me to this state. If so, then I have absolutely nothing to regret.

by Elena Vaitsakhovskaya for


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