Nina Mozer: The one who wakes up will win this Olympics
Translation of Tatjana Flade’s interview with Nina Mozer about preparation of her group for the Olympic season and international training camp in Novogorsk.
Nina Mikhailovna, having read the information about the summer international camp in Novogorsk, someone, for certain, would wondered, why should we help our competitors to improve?
– In order to have with whom to compete. A recent example is the Universiade in Alma-Ata, where the pair’s competitions were canceled, because, except for Russia, other countries could not sent their participants. If you look at the situation in pair skating in the world, the number of countries where this discipline develops is growing. This is mostly due to the efforts of the International Skating Union (ISU), which began to organize and held international summer training camps for athletes and coaches from pair skating.
I will not discover America, if I say that pair skating is one of the most difficult discipline in figure skating. Taking into account today’s trends – quad throws, twists, multi-rotational side by side jumps, difficult lifts, pair skating becomes even more difficult, more traumatic. Therefore, it must be understood and studied. For any country that begins to develop this discipline, it is very difficult to do this without having knowledgeable specialists and coaches. That’s why, the International Federation (ISU) took the initiative to hold international camps, starting with novices and juniors, and now there are ideas to go further.
Efficiency from such practical work is visible to everyone. Czechs Duskova – Bidar were at our training camp two years ago. At that time, the athletes had problems with the twist, and worked a lot on it. Australians Alexandrovskaya – Windsor also participated. Both pairs won the Junior World Championships. This time skaters from Italy, Spain, France, Germany, Hungary, Australia and, of course, our pairs gathered in Novogorsk. These athletes already know how to do many elements, but they need to be brought to a level, so the pairs would be competitive and could qualify for the biggest competitions.
It is important that among the camp participants there were Russian young pairs from Perm, Ekaterinburg. From those cities where they always have been raising and giving our team good figure skaters. It’s no secret that for many years the USSR team was based on pairs from Perm, Sverdlovsk. But when it was necessary to improve the skills, there were problems with the choreographers, so skaters moved to Leningrad, Moscow, to fulfil themselves at a different, higher level. In this regard, international ISU camps play a very important role, as all pairs come with their personal coaches. And this gives an opportunity to watch, learn, communicate, exchange opinions, ask questions. I noticed that our young specialists need this very much.
In Russia, the camp for pair skating is held for the third time. Over the years, we have created a system that works like a clock, attracted many specialists: choreographers, theater dancers, psychologists, doctors, so that in 9 days of the training camp we will give the coaches and sportsmen a wide range of knowledge. In June, a similar camp, however, a little bit in a different format, we will be held in America, Denver, 27 pairs have already registered. During this period, my athletes will be at the camp for physical training with Leonid Raitsin, Ksyusha and Fedya will work with choreographer, so Vladislav Zhovnirsky, Robin Sholkovy and I will have a few days. Experienced American coaches will come to Denver, and one of the topics that we plan to discuss is how in modern conditions athlets should approach the competition. This is a very important and fine point.
After all this said, maybe I’ll get another dose of criticism, there will be those who ask: “Why do you need this? It’s your job, your business, you’re crazy sharing your secrets.” But I want to say that the world of figure skating it’s a very small world, and the world of pair skating is even smaller. Coaches and specialists should communicate in order to understand how this discipline develops, in what direction it moves, how to save the interest of an audience, and most importantly of the athletes. If the pair skating is strong in the world, then it will be interesting for everyone – athletes, judges, the viewrs, who comes to the competitions not to count the number of falls, but to enjoy good skating. From the image point of view such contacts, seminars, camps with the participation of Russian specialists play an important role, because they raise the authority of Russian figure skating.
Your new junior pair Elena Pavlova – Daniel Parkman also was at the training camp. Please tell us about other students whom we did not see in Novogorsk.
– After the second year in a row the Junior World Championship was won by foreign couples, it became obvious that we need to take more active actions. We have formed, in my opinion, a fairly strong junior group. Four pairs, three of which have side by side triple flip, lutz, combinations of two triple jumps. In potential these athletes have good jumping elements, which will receive good marks and pairs turned out interesting. You saw Pavlova – Parkman. These are two strong single skaters from St. Petersburg. Mustafina – Mironov – our another new pair. The girl is from Kazan, a partner trained at the “Moskvich”. Kaportseva – Pleshkov. Roma have been training with us for a long time, skated with Albina Sokur. He is from Ekaterinburg. The girl (Kaportseva) was brought to us by a wonderful coach Irina Vasilyevna Lyulyakova, who worked in France and now returned. And, finally, Dasha Danilova – Dima Shulgin – also interesting guys.
In June, athletes will go to the training camp in Sochi, will prepare for the season. Probably, in August we will show some of them at the test skates. This group will work under the guidance of Arina Ushakova, the wife of Vlad Zhovnirsky, who returned to the ice rink after her maternity leave and has a great desire to work. Arina is the chief in this team, she leads the whole process. She has ambitions, knowledge, desire, and I really want everything to work out.
I will not disclose all the secrets, but, perhaps, another coach will appear soon in our team, who will join us with his pairs. At the moment, we are solving this issue.
What about your senior athletes?
– Programs for Natasha Zabijako and Sasha Enbert are almost ready. Giuseppe Arena did the free program for them. We had an long-standing arrangement with him. In my opinion, the program turned out unusual, with an interesting plot, in a classical style. The short program is choreographed by Igor Chinyaev, who has been working with the pair not for the first time and knows the athletes.
Zhenya and Volodya (Tarasova-Morozov-ed.) continued their cooperation with Peter Tchernyshev. The new short program was shown to the specialists, including ISU sports director Charlie Cyr, at the training camp in Novogorsk. They liked the program. It turned out a little unexpected, with a change of style. At the end of June, the guys will start to work on the free program.
Ksenia and Fedya will work on new programs in America and Canada. They began the preparation for the Olympic season from the prevention of doctor Jorge Fernandez. Having spent two past seasons with injuries and sores, we realized that it’s the only way out. Although, the situation with winter sports in preparation for the upcoming Olympics can be characterized by the phrase: “No money, but you hold on”, we found opportunities to send the guys to USA.
Of course the upcoming Olympics is very important for Stolbova and Klimov. The guys, actually, stayed in figure skating for the sake of this, although everyone knows what each of them had to go through in the last two years. They are both aimed, they have a clear understanding of why they need it. After the World Championships in Helsinki, we had a detailed frank conversation, we dotted the i’s and crossed the t’s.
In recent months, there have been a lot of different and unnecessary talks around our team. And I’m grateful to everyone who took part in the debate, because this situation brought us together even more. An interesting detail is that four of our group’s athletes recently flew together on vacations. So the situation and relations in the group have become more trusting, because they have nothing to settle.
What are the plans of Tatyana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov?
– In May we were in the Federation, discussed further plans, but, as I think, Maxim hasn’t fully determined with a choice. Tanya is recovering from childbirth, gaining shape. They are preparing to participate in the show. Most likely, after that they will decide what to do next, whether they are going to prepare for the Olympics, where and with whom.
After Sochi, I thought that Maxim would switch to coaching and would work closely with Tarasova-Morozov. At that time athletes had a conflict with their coach Stanislav Morozov, they even wanted to leave Moscow. But Maxim decided to continue his sports career. Then there were injuries. He and Tanya didn’t skate because of it. At that time Robin Sholkovy, Andrey Hecalo, other specialists of the group started to work with Zhenya and Volodya, and this helped them to progress quickly, move from junior to senior level and show good results.
Last season, Maxim tried to work with the junior pair. He was with this pair at the camp in Novogorsk. But the cooperation did not continue. Not so long ago Maxim was offered to head the school in Moscow, but he refused.
The thing is that such position presupposes many routine duties, which are not very interesting for an athlete who has recently skated and performed at a high level himself. To train and to coach it’s is a completely different work. Being a coach is another psychology, a different approach.
The coach needs to be flexible, be able to get along with people, have patience, confidence, these qualities often come with experience. Today the coach can not work alone. Take any, ours or foreign, it’s a whole team: assistants, choreographers, specialists, doctors, and it’s important to fit into the team, to make the collective under your guidance a real team.
For example, I need to see the athlete everyday, in order to understand how the things are going, and based on this to make up his individual training plan. There are small nuances: intervals of rest, intensity, amount of work, and the final result depends on these small nuances, which are different for every athlete. For someone the preparation for competitions goes easier, for someone more difficult. A week before the competition, all begin to work as a machine, a single mechanism. But this is not easy to achieve. A boy and a girl, with different physiology, psychology, skills, abilities, mood. Everything should match at the competitions. Not by chance. The coach must calculate, bring the athletes. This is my task as the coach of the group. But we are doing all this work together with our coaches and specialists, knowing well that there’s no sense to be a champion every day at practice, you need to go to the start and skate your programs at the right time.
You already have the experience in preparing skaters for the Olympic Games. What can be transferred from Sochi to Pyeongchang?
– From the experience gained in Sochi, we can take only twenty percent. There are several reasons for this. Sochi Olympics was a national scale project, and in preparation for it, the athletes of the Olympic team had excellent conditions. Now the situation has changed. A new leadership in the Ministry of Sport came. The funding has been significantly decreased. Our Federation does its utmost to provide figure skaters in preparation for the Games, but it’s not an easy task.
There is one more thing that I have mentioned earlier in the interview. We were given the schedule of the Olympic Games. Practices for figure skaters begin at 7 am, competitions at 10 am. So we will have to get up at 5 am, and taking into account the Olympic team event, the load doubles.
It is clear that such a schedule was made at the request of TV and because of the popularity of the short track in Korea. Short track competitions will begin in the evening, when the skaters have usually started. They will object me that all athletes will be in such conditions. But in my opinion, in figure skating the one who wakes up will win this Olympics.
In addition, skaters from Europe have not tested the Olympic ice yet. Although other countries had such an opportunity, the Four Continents championships last season was held at the Olympic rink. It also won’t be easy in terms of acclimatization. There is not much time before the Olympics, but so far none of the representatives of sports science and medicine has presented us with clear recommendations how to prepare for the competitions. How much earlier it is better to come, whether it is necessary to simulate the situation in advance taking into account the time difference, or such experiments will be harmful and so on.
Of course, I’m not going to give up. We will fight, but considering all the circumstances, it is very difficult. The most unpleasant thing is that in the current situation there are more questions than answers. But I do not lose hope to get them.
by Olga Ermolina and Tatjana Flade for fsrussia.ru