Tamara Moskvina: “Alexei Mishin once gave me a T-shirt that said “I’m always 18. The rest is experience.” This is how I live.”
Interview with Tamara Moskvina. About development of pair skating, programs, Olympics and why she is not planning to retire.
source: RT dd. 18th November by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya
After the performance of Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov in Moscow at the Russian Grand Prix, you reacted so emotionally that I cannot help but ask what pleased you so much?
Tamara Moskvina: The fact that the guys performed so well. Their training schedule was disrupted due to various circumstances, so I saw certain shortcomings before the competitions. I know how they can pull themselves together and perform, and I was wondering if Nastya and Sasha would be able to cope with difficulties or those difficulties would show up. They coped.
Do you want to say that in the free program Nastya and Sasha jumped over their heads?
Tamara Moskvina: No, why would I say that? They made a good version of what they were ready for. Although it wasn’t the main reason for my joy. I liked their emotional state and impact on the audience. This is much more valuable than just performing perfectly technically. In the short program, the guys waltzed, like Natasha Rostova at her first ball, conveying the nusic brilliantly, in my opinion. Although some fans, judging by the reviews, still found this program old-school, old-fashioned in the Soviet way. Everything was criticized – from the selection of music to costumes.
And how did you react to it?
Tamara Moskvina: Nohow. What is the main goal of competitions? To win. More precisely, to show the maximum result with the help of a complex of components.
Not so long ago, I talked with Ilia Averbukh about modern programs and, in particular, about Mishina / Galliamov’s Olympic free program. He said that, in his opinion, the time when programs were built on alternating fast and slow pieces of music was gone.
Tamara Moskvina: I will not argue this topic with Ilia, but I myself have always approached the music selection based not on my own preferences, but on the athlete’s character and their abilities. In other words, I don’t take this or that music because it is considered more fashionable, which then no one remembers, because every second skater used it. It is important that music allows skaters to reveal on maximum and, as a result, achieve success in competitions. To make a pair stand out from the others. At the stage where Nastya and Sasha performed, the audience was quite young, if you noticed. And both programs were taken very well.
The chosen images fit the skaters perfectly. If the main goal of the season was to win the Worlds, I would not even ask this question. But the season turned out to be completely domestic. Didn’t want to experiment? Try something completely new for the skaters, for example.
Tamara Moskvina: I will answer this simply: the goal of any sports competition is the result, not the experiment. I watched with pleasure and great interest, for example, how Dasha Pavliuchenko and Denis Khodykin experiment in their programs. I even messaged their choreographer Betina Popova and expressed my admiration. But here you need to understand that victory is always determined by a whole complex of components, and not just one, even if it’s a very outstanding, feature.
Now, no one argues how modern or, on the contrary, outdated were the proframs of Elena Valova and Oleg Vasiliev or Natalia Mishkutenok and Artur Dmitriev. Everyone remembers only that they were champions. I also note that in the rules, in the part that is intended for judges, there is no such criterion as “program”. Therefore, we are now talking about a purely subjective assessment. A successful program is one that is skated without mistakes.
Do I understand correctly that experiments can be dangerous when it comes to top-level pairs?
Tamara Moskvina: No, it’s wrong. But there’s gala for experiments. In competition the task is different. You see, climbing the hill is very difficult. And falling off it is very easy. This is not some truth that I made up for myself. This is how everything works in life. Take the Apple corporation, are they experimenting a lot there? Maybe yes. Only this does not affect sales and the company beats its competitors with results.
When you just started working with Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii as a consultant, helping the main coach of this pair, Artur Minchuk, I remember your phrase regarding the Beijing Olympics: “If 80-year-old grandmother Tamara cannot stand at the boards, there should be a reliable and professional coach next to the pair.” Nevertheless, at the Games in Beijing, you stood at the boards.
Tamara Moskvina: Together with Minchuk. And I can say that I am very pleased that Artur, during our cooperation with him, has become a full-fledged coach, a colleague.
How difficult was the Beijing Games for you? Did you feel your age?
Tamara Moskvina: I didn’t feel it at all. For me it was the 11th Olympics. One, where I performed myself, ten with my athletes. Therefore, I have a lot of experience of how to keep your physical and psychological state in the right framework. There was even a certain emotional upsurge. Surrounded by those coaches with whose students my skaters competed, I definitely did not feel too old.
But, to be honest, you probably counted on a different result?
Tamara Moskvina: When you go to competitions, there is always a fork.
Win or lose?
Tamara Moskvina: But why? Fork between those places that athletes can take. They can perform perfectly, but not be the first. The result in our sport is always influenced by factors that do not depend on the quality of the performance. To overcome these factors, you need to be head and shoulders stronger technically. Take the difference in points between the three Olympic medalists and calculate the percentage of error. And you will see that it is so small that the placement could develop both in one direction and in the other. That’s all. So I always keep a fork in mind.
I really liked the idea of Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitrii Kozlovskii’s free program “Anna Karenina”, but, to be honest, there was not enough dance and, perhaps, internal dramaturgy.
Tamara Moskvina: We have already worked on the aesthetic side and continue to do this. The program that you saw at the stage in Sochi was, I would say, primarily technical. And the task of the guys was to concentrate on the technical side. Now, in three places, we have made seemingly minor changes, but thanks to them, the program is slowly turning into a performance, where both a reference to a well-known plot and the relationship of the characters are clearly visible.
I know that both of your pairs are full of intentions to master a quadruple throw and put it into the program. In this regard, the question is: how do you feel about the fairly common opinion that ultra-c in pair skating does not make much sense, since it entails an increased risk of serious injury?
Tamara Moskvina: I can’t tell you yet how quickly these and other athletes will be able to bring this element to the level that it can be put into the program, but, as for the risk, I’ll ask a counter question “Did you ever, in the old days, imagine that that our girls will start jumping quadruple jumps?” Agree, 20 years ago no one would even think about it. Is it traumatic? Of course. But life has brought us to this.
I fully admit, by the way, that at some point the International Skating Union will want to lower the cost of such elements in order to minimize the potential harm that can be caused to the health of athletes. I just don’t like it when people start talking about the danger of quadruple throws based on their own negative experience. Extreme complexity requires a completely different approach, and I think we can’t get away from this – life is now becoming more complicated in all respects. The only question is whether the athlete is ready for this or not. And how well, correctly and safely he is taught.
I think, now it has become much easier in terms of working on unique element than before. There are safety lounges, harness, pants with foam rubber, softening a fall.
At the Grand Prix stage in Kazan, Minchuk was with Yasmina Kadyrova and Valeri Kolesov. Does this mean that you are planning to gradually move away from active coaching?
Tamara Moskvina: We work with a fairly large team, because now there are such times when one person simply cannot do the result alone. But we send one or another specialist to the competitions, taking into account the circumstances. Financial including. In other words, one coach goes to accompany the athletes, the other stays at home and works with others. Minchuk was in Kazan, I will go to Samara for the fifth stage of the Grand Prix with Boikova – Kozlovskii and Kadyrova – Kolesov. We will also have a junior pair perform there, followed by choreographer Nikolai Moroshkin, who will then stay for the senior part of the competitions to help me. Kolya’s mother lives in Samara, so we decided that this was a good reason to visit her. If we were talking about some other city, I would go alone.
A new pair is always extra hours of work, an additional expenditure of energy, nerves. Did you have any doubts before you started working with these skaters?
Tamara Moskvina: We took the girl first, the partner appeared later. And doubts… You know, I reason like this: Artur is 33 years old, I’m 80, if we add up our age and divide it in half, it will turn out a little less than 60. I think it’s the best age for coaching.
Nevertheless, one of your St. Petersburg fans wrote to me that shortly before the Olympic Games you expressed a desire to move away from active work. Looks like you’ve changed your mind.
Tamara Moskvina: I have not notarized my desire to stop coaching yet. When I do this, then it will be possible to talk about it. And even than – not a fact. Our life changes too often to make far-reaching plans. It’s like with outfits, today it may seem to me that I will never wear red shoes and tomorrow I will find a red pair in the store, which I will irresistibly want to buy. Women even at my age are subject to such impulses. It’s not criminal, is it?
Does your attitude towards the profession change with age?
Tamara Moskvina: No. I always say that I am lucky, I have the opportunity to do my hobby for as long as I want. And I get paid for it too. As for age, the coaching profession is quite favorable in this regard. When you work with athletes, you are so deeply immersed in their life that you start to feel at the same age. Alexei Mishin once gave me a T-shirt that said “I’m always 18. The rest is experience.” This is how I live.
Dmitri Aliev: “I didn’t focus on money reward at the Russian Grand Prix, for me it’s a bonus. I’ll use it to resolve housing issues, it’s important and necessary for me now.”