Rafael Arutyunyan: That’s sad that girl knocks beautiful Zagitova out from the national team

Posted on 2020-01-08 • 3 comments


Interview with Rafael Arutyunyan for Russian media at the Grand Prix Finals 2020. Mainly about age eligibility.

by Anatoli Samokhvalov for rsport.ria.ru dd. January 6th, 2019

– Well, do you remember what we talked about in Spain? (Rafael recalled our conversation in Barcelona, at the Grand Prix Final in December 2015).

“The main danger that is the tendency of appearing of such as Medvedeva. Bach! And she appeared. She was a favorite to win at the Grand Prix Final. Last year it was Radionova, the year before last – our star Lipnitskaya. And it scares me.”

– I want to see Kostornaia as an adult. I do not want her to be knocked out by thin, little girls.

But Kostornaia has everything alright with feminine skating.

– So I want everything to be alright and not for one or two seasons. I heard such words: “Zagitova had to finish.” How can one say that? She just started to skate beautifully, it’s nice to look at her. As a viewer and as a coach, I don’t want her to finish. I do not know what needs to be done for this. The only thing I know is that you shouldn’t bring an 11 or 12 year old girl who jumps two or three quadruples and who will remove the beautiful Alina Zagitova. Or should we say that already has removed? Let not the 11-year-old. Why am I sad? Because Zagitova has a completely different presentation of figure skating.

But it’s wrong to limit the competitions artificially.

– The thing is that the one who removed Zagitova will be removed by some other girl. So we will never see a mature skating. Well, get mature girls together…

This is utopia.

– Only the age limit can divide the young and the perfect. But I also want to see the quadruple jumps, it’s just very difficult to keep the weight and height parameters at the age of 16-18, and during this period there is a breakdown when little skaters knock put the others. And others say, “That’s it, I don’t want it anymore.” And if they had given the opportunity to divide them by age, if they had not allowed the young …

But there is a big risk to get rid of the brightness in figure skating. In such a case, we also won’t let Kostornaia to have the rivalry that she has long deserved.

– Ok. I’ll explain it to you differently. You coach me. And you talk to a 11-year-old me, and say that I will perform in seniors from the age of 17. Then I will approach my training in a different way and prepare myself in a different way. And the coach will prepare me differently, knowing that I must be a long-playing athlete. Without rushing. Teaching to eat correctly, train correctly, monitor my body, keep it in shape longer and better. This will be a different approach. And if you tell me that tomorrow we are going to win, and then … This is a different approach. But we are not mature enough to understand this. Someday we will understand this. I am sure. Do you understand my idea?

I understand your position.

– I take an athlete, and, knowing that he will perform in seniors in certain age, I will teach him differently. Everyone asks me: how do you coach Chen on Skype? I don’t coach him on Skype. I taught him how to train. I did not coach him, but I taught him how to train. Feel the difference? I taught him what to do and in what order.

But earlier you said that he is not progressing, despite the victories.

– Now he shows the same things that he’s been doing for a long time. We are progressing at training, but we don’t show everything yet. In training, Nathan shows even more serious things, but so far they are not for strangers’ eyes. But if I had worked with him not ten days a month or two, but every day, then, of course, the progress would have been completely different.

Would have gotten 350 points after two programs?

– I don’t know how much. I do not track this math, but simply do my job. We learned this with Nathan – stability in work. And learn new things. And when it will be necessary, we will show it.

Your position regarding the preparation for senior skating is clear. But if you had Alysa Liu, a 14-year-old girl with a quad, would you also coach her differently?

– Actually, she came to me two years ago and I advised her a little …. There is a big difference between victory and second place. There’s an abyss between the sixth place and tenth. Of course, to win you need to train differently. Winning is another planet. I work a lot with girls who come to me at 20! Nobody works with them now, but I coach them. Mariah Bell got two medals this year. She told me: “Raf, if it hadn’t been for you, I would have quitted.” And I taught her to train. But I do as much as I can.

And again about Liu. If she had ben training with you, wouldn’t you have taught her a quadruple lutz?

– Why? I would teach her! How else? You need to do what the Russian girls do. There’s no other way. But understand what I’m talking about! I want this to last a long time. I want one thing – long career. That’s all. I do not want anyone to say this: “She should have left on time.” Who? And what does it mean on time? How old is she, whom do you suggest to leave? Are you joking?

December 2015: “- Soon we will see if they knocked Lipnitskaia out completely. How do you think? Will she come back?
While she changed a coach.

– Have they already knocked Sotnikova out, or will she also return, with Lipnitskaia?

– But do they want to come back?”

December 2019: “I want to say about Alina again. A person has invested so much work, and it turns out that she needs to leave? Why? Why shouldn’t she train further to become like Yuzuru – two-time Olympic champion. Yuzuru goes to the third Olympics and what is the most interesting, he’s progressing.”

Is he?

– Of course! He showed quadruple lutz in training, he jumped loop. And tell me, did the young guys got him? They cannot come close to him.

The level is different.

– You said well – level. So I want the new Russian girls to reach the level of Zagitova.

Wait, but Yuzuru cannot get your Nathan.

– Sorry, but Yuzuru doesn’t let Nathan to relax. And on the contrary. I like the way they compete with each other. In constant intrigue. Look what’s happening on the stands. I also want to see athletes like Tuktamysheva in ladies’ single skating.

And they say that she is old-fashioned.

– Are you joking?! She jumped quadruple toe loop at this age! This worth a lot. This speaks of the coaches’ class.

But ISU requires transitions, difficult patterns…

– ISU can demand anything. These are the people who, in their free time, make rules for us.


– The rules which we follow. Professor of mathematics, a dentist, and a doctor work in ISU. We, coaches, should blame ourselves for this. We are busy working ten hours a day, and we ourselves have given the development of the rules to volunteers. They are volunteers who tell us what movements to do, what arms and legs should be, when to bow and where – to the right or left. We follow these rules, but not the fact that we are doing cool.

Have you seen the juniors girls?

– Everyone.

Have you seen Daria Usacheva, who won the bronze medal at Junior Grand Prix Final?

– Fantastic. And all the kids are just fantastic. And I want to see them all adult and beautiful. This is the only thing I stand for. God blesses, ISU will take the right steps that would exclude the arguments that someone is out of date and needs to finish. What last name do you hear all the time?


– And we say that it’s time for her to quit … I’m generally offended that some girl appears and knocks out the beautiful Zagitova from the national for main competitions. But people are not matured to understand the seriousness of this issue. I think someday they will understand. I am sure. You will see.


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3 Responses to “Rafael Arutyunyan: That’s sad that girl knocks beautiful Zagitova out from the national team”

  1. Dot says:

    It is exciting to see new girls doing exciting jumps. But to be honest, why do you think Hanyu gain so much momentum & support? He was given the time to mature, to learn, to compete with amazing skaters. All the experience reflects in his skating, that’s why he is a next level skater.

  2. A. says:

    This is the first interview with Rafael I’ve ever read, but I agree with him so much. And don’t get me wrong, I love what Kostornaia and other young girls are doing, but I would take artistry and musicality over +1 rotation in a jump anytime. And I would love to see Alena skate when she’s in her 20s.

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