Scott Moir: “Papadakis and Cizeron skate at such a level that I have nothing to teach them”
Interview with Scott Moir for Russian press. About his work at the I AM Montreal, their coaching team, Papadakis and Cizeron and Russian duos.
source: sports.ru dd. 24th November 2021, by Maia Bagryantseva
Scott Moir: When Tessa Virtue and I finished skating for the first time in 2014, I left the sport – I needed a break. But I was lucky that Tessa and I decided to return soon. And when we started to train in Montreal with a new team, it completely changed the way we perceived figure skating – from our approach to training to the choice of programs. It was great luck to be a part of that environment.
You might think that I am saying this because we won gold at the 2018 Olympics, but it’s not only about winning. I felt good. I was not ready to part with the team and turn this page for myself. I could not quit figure skating, but I understood that I had a family: a bride, parents – so I wanted to live in Ontario. Together with Patrice and Marie-France, we came up with the idea of expanding the academy by opening a campus in London, Canada.
Young coaches do not refuse such offers. I had no doubt.
At this school, you are not only a coach, but also a general manager. Are there a lot of work besides coaching?
Scott Moir: Yes, definitely – and I really like it. It is clear that I love standing on the ice wearing skates, but in the last years of my sports career, I realized how important it is to look wider. Do not concentrate only on the skating rink and skating. You need to treat figure skating as a successful business, create the best conditions for athletes, do your job at such a level that your skaters would be the best. This is a huge, complex work which is not limited to ice.
Therefore, my job is to create a cocoon of conditions around the athletes so that they peak at the right time in the right place. Tell them what they can get in our group, hear their request and suggest something new.
It sounds unusual and a little strange: how is it “not to concentrate on the rink”?
Scott Moir: This is one of the main values, and now I know it from both sides – both as an athlete and as a coach. It may sound unexpected, but your path in sports is not an end in itself. With a sports career, you prepare yourself for life after sports. You should painlessly move to a new stage of life – much more important one than sports. Many of these skaters have not lived even a quarter of their lives, their path ahead is much longer than the one that has been gone.
When I finished, I had such a void inside, I didn’t know what to do. All I could do was skating. Therefore, the main thing for me is not only to make my athletes great skaters, but also to prepare them for life after sports. It is not easy, but we are not working with 12-year-olds, we are all adults. They should be responsible for their lives and at least for their training.
It is clear that we do not forget about figure skating itself. First of all, we are an ice school, but we should look wider. We are lucky: our athletes understand this and are ready for a mature relationship. I help them, advise, share my vast experience. But this is their career and their life, where you cannot stand still. What helped me to win in 2018 will not bring them victory in 2022, and even more so in 2026.
Which side of the board is it harder for Scott Moir to be on?
Scott Moir: These are completely different feelings. Emotionally, nothing beats going on the ice at competitions. But at the Olympics, tension is in the air – and, of course, behind the board you feel it differently. Skaters start feeling goosebumps for a year or a year and a half before the Games, and some of our pairs began to think about Beijing Olympics while standing on the podium in Korea in 2018.
Being a coach is a completely different feeling. Now I am also nervous – but primarily because I want my skaters to show everything they are capable of. For a coach, this is a moment of truth – whether you worked well, did everything right, did the techniques that you came up with worked. At competitions, my main task is to be near, because it is a wild stress. I’m lucky: I am a beginner coach, and I already have such incredible athletes – for example, Anthony and Christina (Carreira / Ponomarenko). I’m so proud of them.
Scott, don’t you give up the hope of working with Tessa Virtue as a coaching team – like Marie-France with Patrice?
Scott Moir: Let’s see. It depends on her. From my side – yes, of course, why not? We have a great relationship. But the coaching staff is much more than two people in the kiss and cry. Lauzon and Dubreuil are unique coaches, but strength is in the team. Romain, other specialists – all create the very atmosphere that makes our academy the best. Everyone brings their own, lends a shoulder, supports – this is the only way to create the right environment for the champions to appear.
Would I like Tessa Virtue to join this team? No doubt. It’s as if you had a chance to get Wayne Gretzky. But Gretzky alone is not a hockey team. Our goal is to bring the Ontario campus to the level of headquarters in Montreal, and we are working on it.
How many pairs do you lead?
Scott Moir: 11. 7 senior pairs, 2 juniors and 2 novise duos. New generation, yes. I am especially pleased that half of them are from my area. That is, I am trying to repay the debt to the place where I grew up, where I skated. When I returned home after a sports career, I found that there are several guys in my home club who are inspired with ice dance. And I thought, “Why not help them?”
This is a very pleasant feeling: a couple of years ago they were newbies, and now they can ask Patrice Lauzon for advice! So we are growing.
Do you take part in trainings of Papadakis and Cizeron?
Scott Moir: No, why would they want that (Laughs). They skate at such a level that I have nothing to teach them. Well, and our rivalry on the ice is still too fresh in the memory. So I’m just their fan, who hold my breath during their performances and clap hard after their performance. They know how to work with the audience in a special way. The arena is spellbound. Charlie White did something similar with Meryl Davis, especially Charlie.
Our come back for the 2018 Olympics, in fact, came down to the question “will we be able to beat Gabriella and Guillaume?” And then we left the sport and realized that fate gave us an invaluable relationship with the main rival. I have not competed for 3.5 years – and my heart belongs entirely to Gabriella and Guillaume. I’m so glad they are skating again, and damn it, I want to see them in Beijing so much.
Would you like them to win the Olympic gold?
Scott Moir: I will say this: I work in the team of Marie-France and Patrice, I do not work directly with Papadakis / Cizeron pair. I am happy to help Hubbell / Donohue duo. It’s obvious to me that these two pairs have incredible glide, culture of movement and a sense of ice.
Maddie and Zach are famous for their skating skills, edges, clean gliding, speed – they are inimitable here. I could never skate like that. Falling asleep, I sometimes thought – why can’t I skate like this? It is difficult to compare duets in our discipline – they are all so different, but Gabriella and Guillaume are a phenomenon. Such appear once in a generation.
Scott, do you follow the Russian duets?
Scott Moir: Oh yes, now it’s my job. I don’t like to comment on programs without seeing them live. It’s not the same on video. To form an opinion about the dance, you have to see it on the ice. Speed, magnetism – YouTube will not show this. Of course, I watched how Victoria and Nikita won the World Championships in Stockholm. But I’m looking forward to seeing them live.
I trained with Russian coaches for 10 years. I appreciate the style of the Russians, what they bring to figure skating, there is such a huge history behind your pairs. So yeah, it’s interesting to see what they show this year.
You won the Olympic Games with full stands. It seems that there won’t be full stands in Beijing. How much does the audience help?
Scott Moir: It’s a strange experience. It definitely won’t get any easier – still this’s the Olympics, the stakes are just as high. There will still be a pedestal where the Olympic medals will be awarded. Unfortunately, athletes are already accustomed to not full arenas, this is also an experience and you also need to learn it. But, in general, this is horror, of course. I hope the organizers will allow at least the Chinese spectators and sports delegations. Otherwise it will be so sad. The audience is very helpful.
Loena Hendrickx: “Of course, age minimum should be raised. It’s very cool when you have a long career like Liza Tuktamysheva. Do you know how inspiring is it?”