Sergei Davydov: “I’m sure that it’s possible to keep the content developed in childhood. If there is a desire.”
Interview with coach Sergei Davydov. About “running away” skaters, mastering quads at a young age and anorexia.
source: rsport.ria.ru dd.12th April 2022 by Boris Khodorovskii
For a long time it was believed that only skaters of Eteri Tutberidze, Sergei Dudakov and Daniil Gleikhengauz could perform complex jumps at a young age. Now skaters from the CSKA school also can do this. The best of them, Sofia Samodelkina, is already competitive at the highest level. Recently, the Russian Junior Championships has ended, the winner of which was a student of Sergei Davydov, Maria Gordeeva. Lev Lazarev also showed himself well. Davydov brought a new generation to the ice. In an interview with a RIA Novosti, the coach revealed some of the secrets of his work, predicted the development of figure skating for the upcoming years and told what he had taken from Rafael Arutyunyan and Elena Tchaikovskaya.
How do you feel about the fact that you are named the second coach after Eteri Tutberidze, who mastered the technique of teaching the most difficult jumps at a young age?
Sergei Davydov: What’s the difference, second or third? I do my job and try to show the result.
How did you come up with this technique?
Sergei Davydov: First of all, you need to learn how to instill children a thought that success cannot be achieved without quadruple jumps and a triple axel. If a child comes to training with this thought, he will not be afraid of difficult jumps, but will start to learn them. It makes all the work easier. The rest, we can say, done by tries and mistakes. We added some exercises, refused of some.
You perfectly performed the triple axel yourself, but there was no stable quadruple. Can you teach what you have not mastered yourself?
Sergei Davydov: Well, still I jumped a quadruple toeloop! At that time we didn’t work as much as even young skaters are working now. This must be acknowledged. If we had been required at the same level, then the content would have been different and the results.
Your athlete Maria Gordeeva, who will turn 13 only in the summer, became the winner of the Russian Junior Championships among older age. Is it fair that 13-year-olds and 15-year-olds who are noticeably different even in appearance, competed together?
Sergei Davydov: There is no fundamental difference at this age. From 13 to 15 years old girls are fast and light. It’s time to learn quadruple jumps. After 15 years, everything is already much harder.
Boys and girls at this age are generally different. How is this taken into consideration in training?
Sergei Davydov: Of course, boys and girls develop differently, but they train together. We simply direct them individually and dose the loads. Although everyone is doing the same job.
So far you have worked only with young figure skaters. Are you thinking about moving to the next level and working with seniors?
Sergei Davydov: Certainly. Adult skaters, it seems to me (and my own experience tells me), have a more standardized work. Everything else does not change. I think that I grow and mature with my students.
In CSKA, where Elena Buyanova and Svetlana Sokolovskaya work, there is a coaching hierarchy. Who is a general and who is a lieutenant?
Sergei Davydov: There is no hierarchy. If we talk about the transitions of skaters from one coach to another, then this has always been, is and will be. Until the contract system is introduced, none of the coaches is safe from losing an athlete in whom he has invested time, effort and soul.
Are parents the main driving force behind transfers?
Sergei Davydov: When it comes to 13-year-old skaters, of course. It seems to parents that one coach can no longer give anything to their children, and the other will make them champions. When the guys grow up, they make independent decisions. But often these decisions are made too late.
Do you manage to find a dialog with parents, especially with those with whom it is impossible in principle?
Sergei Davydov: There is such a problem, but you always need to look for a solution. We talk to both parents and children. We try to explain them what work needs to be done, how they should behave. This is part of the coach’s job. Some listen, some don’t. Nothing can be done here.
In the 90s, when you started your career, you had to change cities and even countries in order to be able to train and compete. Are there any possibilities for the development of figure skating in the Russian countryside now?
Sergei Davydov: You don’t have to look far for examples. The silver medalist in Veliky Novgorod was Veronika Yametova from Yekaterinburg. The girl has already taken part in the senior Nationals. There are good girls in Perm.
Will they still aspire to Moscow or St. Petersburg to become champions?
Sergei Davydov: I do not know. Can you imagine what it means to change your place of residence? You need to rent an apartment, find a job in a big city. Not every parent will go for it if there is an opportunity to train in their hometown. Although someone will still be attracted by the path of Lipnitskaya and Zagitova, Valieva and Trusova.
What were the reasons for your transitions from one coach to another and moving from one city to another?
Sergei Davydov: I haven’t had many transitions like this. From native Rostov I went to Samara to Nina Ruchkina after the ice rink was closed. It just was no possibility train. Together with Ruchkina, I moved to Vitebsk and began to represent Belarus. Then I moved to Moscow, trained for a year with Rafael Arutyunyan, and later for many years with Elena Tchaikovskaya. That’s how my story went.
What did you learn from the masters, can you be called a successor to the traditions of Tchaikovskaia?
Sergei Davydov: It makes no sense to copy even great coaches. I took the methodology from some of my coaches, from someone – training exercises, modified something, adjusted something for myself. It is unrealistic to become a coach without using the experience of those with whom you trained. And you need to keep learning. Coming to competitions, I see something interesting on the ice, something in the warm-up on the floor. I try to do the most interesting. If the coach does not develop, his athletes will not progress.
Is there coaching solidarity or do you have to live and work in a “terrarium of like-minded people”?
Sergei Davydov: Solidarity exists in fundamental issues. When our skaters compete, we are also competitors.
When you competed, such large teams did not work with skaters, as they do now. Are they needed?
Sergei Davydov: Of course, 20 years ago there were only a coach and a choreographer. The masters who worked with a large number of athletes also had an assistant. Tchaikovskaya and Kotin coped with me. And Arutyunyan worked himself, even his wife did not always help. Now everything has reached such a level that it is necessary to involve specialists in gliding, physical trainings, and special trainings. Many guys take dance and acrobatics lessons, some go to yoga. They train in a completely different way than before. Accordingly, a large training team is needed.
Do guys who still have to study at school withstand such loads?
Sergei Davydov: Most of them study remotely. Usualy, everyone succeeds. The one who wants, succeeds.
How did you choose your team?
Sergei Davydov: Alexandra Kravtsova, who works in our group, skated with me and, having completed her career, smoothly switched to coaching. Choreographer Victoria Bondarenko has been with us from the very beginning. It makes no sense to change a proven person. The gliding coach has come recently, but this is also my former athlete, Leonid Okin. He was as ice dancer in the group of Alexander Zhulin, which is a big plus for a gliding specialist. It is easier to work with those whom you coached yourself. You know everything about them, they know your system.
Do you need a permanent choreographer in a large group, because it is impossible to create 10 brilliant programs for one season?
Sergei Davydov: Sometimes my choreographer herself admits: “I can’t cope with this program, I need to invite someone.” Ilia Averbukh and Nikita Mikhailov worked with our guys. Bondarenko is engaged in polishing the programs. And it is impossible to determine how brilliant the program is. The figure skater makes it brilliant. It is not enough just to choreograph a program, as the season progresses, you need to improve the winning moments. Perhaps something to remove, perhaps something to add. That’s how everyone works.
Do you set yourself a goal of preparing an Olympic champion?
Sergei Davydov: That’s what we’re working for. Twice I had the opportunity to take part in the Olympics, but the principle of Pierre de Coubertin is not for coach Sergei Davydov. We should strive to prepare a champion.
In conditions when Russian and Belarusian figure skaters can be permanently suspended from international competitions, should we expect mass transfers to other countries?
Sergei Davydov: All transfers are clearly regulated. You need to sit in quarantine for some time, and during this time a lot of things in the world can change. And not only in the world of figure skating. And there have always been transfers. Recently, Anastasia Gubanova has started to skate for Georgia, and Maria Talalaikina is going to represent Italy. That’s life. Everyone chooses his own path. I am convinced that figure skating will develop in Russia regardless of the sanctions. No worse than in other countries.
Experts agree that even with an increase of age minimum for skating in seniors, girls will master quadruple jumps and triple axel at the age of 13-15. How to save complex content by the age of 17-18?
Sergei Davydov: It’s hard. Girls’ bodies change, every year they have to collect mastered content again. You need to keep the weight, monitor your shape.
Keep eating kefir with fiber, and then be treated for anorexia?
Sergei Davydov: Why such a drastic methods? Everything must be done right. Including eating right. Someone can allow a lot, someone has to refrain from delicacies. I don’t see a problem here. Guys are a little different. I am sure that it is possible to keep the content developed in childhood. If there is a desire.
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