Tamara Moskvina: “Everyone now love the hype, scandals, showdowns. No, I won’t fall for it.”
Interview with Tamara Moskvina. About preparation for the season and motivation of her skaters.
source: sport-express.ru dd. 5th September 2022 by Dmitri Kuznetsov
Over the weekend, I met the oldest figure skater in the world. 81-year-old Tamara Moskvina at the training of her club – in skates, like the last seven decades. She speaks little, but aptly and even caustically. About journalists who come “for a scandal.” About the programs of her students: “Again they will say that it’s from the Stone Age. It would be better if they choregraph to Dimash.” About a specialist from the ballet school of Boris Eifman, whom she called a security guard from journalists because of his orange jacket. I almost believed it.
During my stay on the ice, the coaching staff paid more attention to the Mishina / Galliamov pair – which is understandable, since Aleksandra Boikova skated alone due to Dmitrii Kozlovskii’s “microtrauma”. Half an hour of jump work, half an hour of work on the programs. Moskvina herself motivated the students with an ordinary children’s clapperboard. They demanded more acting work and expression from Galliamov, to hold his back and head, but he was tired by the second minute. However, while there is still a month and a half before the start of the competitive season, you can get tired.
Tamara Nikolaevna, before the interview, I watched a footage from 2017 where you stand on your hands. Can you do it now too?
Tamara Moskvina: When journalists come, I stand on my hands to impress them. Journalists rarely ask about my hands, so I rarely do it either. I won’t do it now, sorry.
Athletes are often asked whether that stay for another Olympic cycle, if there is a bar for age. Is there some kind of border, an event after which you say – that’s enough?
Tamara Moskvina: In life, in nature, everything changes. And in sports too. But I’m interested in working, new people come. I say “work”, although I started my career as a hobby. Later it became professional. In this job, you are always looking. For music, even if you take it from the Stone Age and it is considered old-fashioned. For choreographic plots, elements that would amaze the audience. You are looking for how to stand out at the world level, how to accelerate the growth of athletes, how to contact young people, to establish interaction between partners, with the leaders of the federation, the city. So that work brings pleasure to me and others.
Are you enjoying your job now? Do you working for the legacy?
Tamara Moskvina: For pleasure. There are people who put some restrictions on age, memory. Yes, my age is growing – so it is growing for everyone! And my memory… all the good is saved, the bad is immediately forgotten. That’s all.
You continue to work on the ice, as I saw in training. You carry the skaters into the death spiral with your own hands.
Tamara Moskvina: This is a fitness club for me. There is no time to go to the gym on purpose, so I work out on the ice. You will not always stand on your hands and head either. I need a head to work smart with colleagues. And kindly. Maybe I’m out of date with this. Everyone now love the hype, scandals, showdowns. No, I won’t fall for it. Then, if everyone is doing it, why should I join? I want to stand out.
Is it Petersburg intelligence?
Tamara Moskvina: No no. I just want to stand out not only with my students, but also with my approach. Relationships with them, with the fans.
You have seen many generations of athletes. I often hear “What is the generation now”, “the generation of the Unified State Examination”, “know only how to solve tests, they have become stupid.” Is it really so, are there any differences between the USE generation and the previous ones?
Tamara Moskvina: I can’t agree. We also were a young generation – Belousova / Protopopov, Ovchinnikov, Bobrin. All generations are different. But that the youth has become worse – no, I can’t say. At any time there are worthy youth, there are exceptions. On average, the trends remain the same. Young people want to achieve something, use the achievements of science and technology (shows a smartphone), and we must go hand in hand with them.
So you shouldn’t ban smartphones in schools, yes?
Tamara Moskvina: I read about this initiative, but… When such a rule is introduced, it can and will be discussed. And yes, there are experts for that.
Maurois had an “Open letter to a young man about the science of living”. Do you have any advice for the younger generation on how to become cultured? What to read, watch, listen to, where to go?
Tamara Moskvina: Wow, what a question you asked! We studied all this at school, then at the institute, and even going in for sports, went to theaters, the Philharmonic, enriched ourselves. We talked to people from the world of art. We read a lot of literature, Soviet and foreign. It has been building up over the years.
What was the last thing you read?
Tamara Moskvina: Detective Jo Nesbo. I love detective stories, you can trace some connections, thay make you think. There was also a book about the brother of Emperor Nikolai II, published after his emigration. And about the Italian Renaissance sculptor.
How is the preparation for the new season going?
Tamara Moskvina: Same as for the previous one. The only difference is that last season there were the Olympic Games, we prepared very carefully for them. The psychological burden is greater. We gave the athletes and ourselves a little more rest.
Have you traveled anywhere?
Tamara Moskvina: To the Black Sea, in Sochi. And to Turkey.
What are you preparing for? The level of national competitions was passed by your top pairs several years ago.
Tamara Moskvina: We are getting ready for the competitions. To the stages of the Russian Grand Prix and those competitions that will be available in the current situation.
Do such changes affect motivation?
Tamara Moskvina: Listen, the rains have begun in St. Petersburg. Didn’t it hurt your motivation to come?
I think no.
Tamara Moskvina: Well, for us it’s also “no”. Athletes come to compete, show their programs. When the situation changes, they will return to the international level.
But the rain tends to end. And we don’t even have a weather forecast. Suspension is not a tragedy?
Tamara Moskvina: And you read the book “The Black Swan” by Taleb. Our lives sometimes change so much… You are young, so you don’t remember many situations that we have been in. And unexpected turns were both positive and negative. I’m ready for everything. And through this readiness for everything, I get out so that the business does not suffer. Pessimism is not for me.
I remember how we used to come to Leningrad as children to look at a pair who had come from Czechoslovakia. We sat on the boards of the hockey box and watched with our mouths open how they skated. Who then thought that we would go to competitions? That the satellite will fly? That I will press the button and be able to see my daughter in another city?
Is the current situation the most difficult in your career? In Soviet times, athletes were still traveling.
Tamara Moskvina: But getting an exit visa in the USSR was very difficult.
Nevertheless, you could go somewhere.
Tamara Moskvina: But with such difficulties … Not everyone had time, for example. Queues at the consulate, all this was. So no, you should not compare those times and the present.
Would you like the Tarasova / Morozov pair to continue their careers? Would it be more interesting for you and your pairs?
Tamara Moskvina: And should I care about that? Nothing depends on my answer. If they want to – they will skate, if they don’t want – they won’t. I have competitors here too, within the group. Well, and there will be others.
Everyone asks you about competition in the groups.
Tamara Moskvina: Internal competition is normal. You are not the only employee at Sport-Express. And in our sports club we have two strong pairs. All my life I have had two or more strong pairs, no one has killed anyone. And in Germany, or in the USA, or in other countries, aren’t there any competing companies? The main thing is that the competition is positive. We have it.
But I met the opinions of the fans that Boikova and Kozlovskii were held back last season. And Dmitrii himself criticized judging at the Olympics.
Tamara Moskvina: And who judged at the Olympics? Fans of Tarasova/Morozov? Or Mishina/Galliamov? Maybe the judges appointed by Tutberidze? Moskvina? No, ISU judges. Give me a printout of the investigation, which states and proves that Tutberidze or I subsidized certain judges. It’s nonsense. But figure skating, it’s true, is a sport with a subjective assessment and many of other factors that form the result.
At the Russian Grand Prix three years ago, you emotionally reacted to the performances of Boikova / Kozlovskii, you jumped right up, I remember. And lately you have become noticeably more restrained.
Tamara Moskvina: Previously, Artur Minchuk and I had one pair. Now – two that are really very close in skill. I don’t have a special fondness for either pair. And during the skates, I show self-control, and not an emotional attitude towards the pair. The audience must look at the athletes, and not how Moskvina reacts to their performances.
This season, both of your pairs have Russian-American music. Sasha and Dima have Hit The Road Jack and Anna Karenina, Nastya and Sasha have Elvis Presley and Shostakovich. Accident?
Tamara Moskvina: Yes, so it happened. By the way, the music is not Russian-American, but classics known to the whole world. I chose the music and the idea of the free program for Mishina and Galliamov, and the coaching staff selected the pieces themselves. Regarding the short program, I received friendly advice from my fans: “Take Shostakovich’s waltz.” Boikova and Kozlovskii – they chose the music with Nikolai Moroshkin and Artur Minchuk. I approved this choice.
Boikova and Kozlovskii told about the plans for a quadruple twist and throw. I heard about complicating the jumps. Is it like an extra challenge? After all, a microtrauma has already happened.
Tamara Moskvina: This is not an additional challenge, this is a serious complication of programs. Sasha and Dima are really preparing a quadruple twist and throw. And they complicated the jumping content. While others were celebrating the Olympics, they finalized the salchow + euler + salchow combination, and included a triple loop into the short program. Mishina and Galliamov…
Did they celebrate the Olympics?
Tamara Moskvina: Not just celebrated, but together with the people, the country, various organizations. But Nastya and Sasha also did not sit idle: they have two new programs of a different style, new lift. They are also preparing a quadruple throw. But you know, let’s not talk about what we are preparing. When they appear in the program – then write about it.
How important is it for Mishina and Galliamov to still get gold medals for the Olympic team event?
Tamara Moskvina: Of course it’s important! But we are discussing “Should have, could have”. So far, there is nothing to discuss, since this issue is being resolved by the relevant international organizations.
Another pair in your group is Kadyrova / Kolesov. Why did her pair with Balchenko break up?
Tamara Moskvina: Weight-height ratios. The girl grew up. The young man was older, and his height had not changed.
And in such cases, the partner is simply told: “Thank you, goodbye”?
Tamara Moskvina: Unfortunately yes.
Would you like to take foreign pairs? They probably email you.
Tamara Moskvina: They used to. But now we have enough work with our pairs. I once coached the US champions, the Japanese pair, the Finns came to us. And now our school is not interested.
I also heard about plans to open a dance group in your club.
Tamara Moskvina: There are always plans. To make Olympic champions in pairs, singles, dances, and even in synchronized skating. And in boxing, if possible. When there will be opportunities to open a dance group then we will organize it. But the distance from desire to realization is like to Shanghai.
How can we save pair skating? It seems to me that it is in crisis, especially since Russian and Belarusian pairs are currently deprived of international competitions.
Tamara Moskvina: I know that the ISU held special seminars on pair skating for countries where it is not so developed. Our federation participated in their implementation through the efforts of many Russian coaches. Now there are difficulties in pair skating, because in countries where figure skating in general is not very popular, there are not so many skaters to create a pair with the correct technical and weight-to-height ratios. ISU goes forward, allowing skaters from different countries to unite. There are sites where partners are looking for each other. It’s right. But there is an obvious trend that there are fewer and fewer pairs.
In our country, I think pair skating will continue to develop. We also have a lot of athletes with triple jumps, with a good base from single skating. In such conditions, it is much easier to solve the issues of creating new pairs. We also have a lot of coaches.
And who is the future of our pair skating?
Tamara Moskvina: A lot of coaches, a separate article is needed to list. There are skaters who were pair skaters, then skated and skate in professional shows of Ilia Averbukh, Tatiana Navka, Evgeni Plushenko and want to continue working as coaches. By the way, write: Tamara Moskvina loudly declares that we coach pairs in our club as tandem Moskvina – Minchuk. And I believe in the skill of our young coaching staff and in the prospects for their development. And their retention of the leading positions of our country in the world. Our pair skating, and world skating as well, will develop – I believe in it.
And the world won’t die without us?
Tamara Moskvina: Now pair skating will be only in those countries where figure skating in general is highly developed. USA, Canada, China, even Japan. Another option is to have coaches who are well versed in pair skating. For example, Germany. It all depends on the ISU. Their financial support is needed for those countries where pair skating is less developed, more competitions are needed, popularize moments. It is necessary that they tell about sports in an interesting way, to look for new approaches to television reporting – less formal, more intriguing. On the ISU channel, Ted Barton tells everything, and few people know that he and I developed new rules for pair skating after the introduction of a new scoring system in the early 2000s.
They have Ted Burton, but who do we have? Guberniev? How do you like the option to invite him to figure skating?
Tamara Moskvina: I just don’t watch biathlon, so I can’t give a professional assessment. But I know him very well, we smile at each other when we meet. He says to me: “I love you, Tamara Nikolaevna!” I answer: “I love you too, Dmitry!” This is where it all ends.
How can our fans keep faith in sports and figure skating when there are no international competitions?
Tamara Moskvina: I have crazy fans — in a good way. They go to competitions, write, know statistics better than anyone. I am very grateful to them, because this love is lasting. I try to respond to their messages and will continue to do so. If someone asks for an autograph – of course, I will always give. Maybe the time has come for us to unite, create fan clubs. In Japan, with fans of Kawaguchi and Smirnov, we always organized parties, and this club existed all the time the pair skated.
Trusova and Shcherbakova, it seems to me, have already grown entire fan armies.
Tamara Moskvina: And our students in pair skating also have such groups, as I know. Fans should be appreciated. These are the people who create interest in figure skating. We are trying for them.
Kamila Valieva: “My new free program is dedicated to the Olympic Games in Beijing. I would like to share this, because this story needs to be lived to fully accept it.”