Tamara Moskvina: “If single skaters can do four rotations, jumping at a very low height, what prevents a girl from doing four rotations in a throw, the height of which is inherently greater?”

Posted on 2024-03-07 • No comments yet


Translation of the interview with Tamara Moskvina.

original source: RT dd 6th March by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya

photo Dmitri Golubovich / Championat

Translation of the recent interview with Tamara Moskvina posted on RT.

Q: We have known each other for many years – I don’t remember seeing you irritated or unrestrained in your statements and assessments, even when the athletes’ results left much to be desired. Is this your character or continuous self-improvement?

Tamara Moskvina: It’s more about simple logic. Go online, read the comments from fans – and you’ll understand: for each of them, their figure skater will always be the best in every respect, no matter what place they take. But no matter how the sporting situation unfolds during competitions, there is a concluding phase – the protocols.

For example, if I believe that a different podium placement is correct, then perhaps I should organize my own competition, seat my own judges who would judge my athletes the way I like. But now I reason simply: if the figure skating federation trusts a specific panel of experts to judge competitions and we agree with this decision, then we are thereby giving these people the official right to determine who is the strongest. And we should stop discussing their work.

Q: But there is still the human factor.

Tamara Moskvina: I understand, assessments can be subjective or even erroneous, but that’s why there are nine people on the judging panel and not just one. Plus, there are rules that I follow as a coach, and by which my work is evaluated. But to say that I was judged incorrectly… I’m afraid that would lead us to conclude that the entire system of training, evaluation, and determining the strongest in our sport is simply illegitimate.

Q: You have said before: having become a coach, over many years you had to prove to your husband Igor Borisovich Moskvin your right to stand alongside him in the profession. Is it good to have such an irritant in front of your eyes?

Tamara Moskvina: I didn’t really have to prove anything to anyone. I just did the work that I liked. It included, in particular, a thorough study of what others did before me.

Q: You said that starting to work, for a long time you only saw the backs of the great ones in front of you.

Tamara Moskvina: I said that in a somewhat joking tone, with a caveat: since I was very short, they weren’t quite backs, but the part of the body that is below. But for me, it was still an opportunity to see where these coaches were going, how they worked, why their athletes are the best and why they impress the world.

Q: And whom do you look up to now, whom do you follow? Is there still this beacon in your coaching life?

Tamara Moskvina: There is, of course. It’s just that now these are more selective moments that I notice in some coaches in our country, in other countries, in other sports, or even in areas not related to sports. These are not so much guidelines but rather hooks that catch my attention: wow, that turned out great, can we repeat that, transfer it to our sport, make it more interesting, better?

Q: Not so long ago, Alexei Mishin said, “When you see a program, you immediately understand whether it was made for victory or for the choreographer’s self-expression.”

Tamara Moskvina: I agree.

Q: But great athletes by default should keep in mind a version focused solely on victory. Moreover, as they accumulate titles, it becomes quite scary to try to deviate from proven schemes, to do new things. Doesn’t the field for experimentation narrow in this regard?

Tamara Moskvina: There can be different situations. For someone who can and should win, it is completely normal to create a program for victory. For someone else, whose chances of winning are not so great, it is necessary to come up with a program that looks interesting, worthy, strong.

In any case, everything is built on the bricks you have. Plus, there can be many incidental circumstances: the athlete doesn’t want to, the coach doesn’t know where to go, an injury occurred, or an illness, they couldn’t find good music. There are plenty of options.

Q: In one of our previous interviews, you said, “All the strengths and weaknesses of figure skaters become apparent only in comparison with other pairs.” But a year ago, Aleksandra Boikova and Dmitri Kozlovskii left your group, and Yasmina Kadyrova and Valery Kolesov ended their careers. Anastasia Mishina and Aleksandr Galliamov remained alone. Will you be looking an opportunity for equal sparring for them?

Tamara Moskvina: The question is not quite correct. Unfortunately, Valery did indeed stop training, although for himself, he probably made the right choice – to graduate from college, get another profession. We still have Yasmina, who wants to continue skating. Therefore, Artur Minchuk and I will be looking for a partner for her. But not to create sparring for someone, but to make a strong, interesting, and self-sufficient pair that would attract attention.

Q: The current rules in pair skating primarily encourage cleanliness of element execution, so many of your colleagues are not initially focused on maximum difficulty. You, I know, think differently. But why spend time and effort learning ultra-c elements that may never pay off?

Tamara Moskvina: Never say “never.” Firstly, the rules can change, this has happened repeatedly during my coaching life. Secondly, there are certain trends. In men’s skating, athletes for a long time included only one quadruple jump in their programs, then two, and it was considered incredibly dangerous in terms of injuries. Now quads have become the norm not only for men but also for women.

Q: This is understandable. But does it make sense for an established adult pair, like Mishina and Galliamov, to keep in mind the “arms race” perspective?

Tamara Moskvina: Any pair should keep this in mind. And why not? If single skaters can do four rotations, jumping at a very low height, what prevents a girl from doing four rotations in a throw jump, the height of which is inherently greater? Several years ago, Arthur Minchuk and I started to teach this element with Boikova and Kozlovskii, with Mishina and Galliamov, then due to COVID and the Olympics, this process was put on hold, now we will continue. I don’t see anything incredibly difficult about it.

Q: Actually, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov successfully performed two different quadruple throws under your coaching, without having any special qualities.

Tamara Moskvina: Not only them. In 2000, when we were preparing in America for the Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze were learning a quadruple salchow on a “harness.” And at the Goodwill Games in 1998, Oksana Kazakova and Artur Dmitriev executed a quadruple toe loop with a touch. Irina Vorobyeva and Igor Lisovski were training a triple axel throw, and this was back in 1980.

Q: When Kavaguti and Smirnov first won the European Championships in 2010, your colleague Viktor Kudryavtsev said to me in the stands, “What a blessing for Tamara that in her coaching career she finally met an absolutely ideal athlete in terms of discipline.”

Tamara Moskvina: I had many ideal students in terms of discipline. Lena Bechke, Lena Valova, Lena Berezhnaya, Denis Petrov. And among the others, I don’t recall any particularly egregious violators.

Q: What about Oleg Shlyakhov – Berezhnaya’s first partner? I can’t remember, by the way, did you just have a try-out with this pair or did you work with them on a regular basis?

Tamara Moskvina: I worked with this pair for a year or a little more. The Latvian Figure Skating Federation strongly asked me to take them, as local coaches simply couldn’t handle Oleg. And I was warned: the guy can be very aggressive. But I can tell you for sure: the head injury Lena suffered in January 1996 was not the result of this aggression, just an accident.

Q: At one time, you were quite active on internet forums and even said that you find it convenient when people suggest already selected music for new programs, some ideas for costumes. Have fans on the internet changed now?

Tamara Moskvina: I would say the situation has changed. At that time, there was a large Russian-Japanese fan club of Kavaguti and Smirnov. Then Yuko and Sasha stopped performing, stopped coming to shows in Japan, and gradually the fans lost interest in them.

Q: What do you base your choices on now when it comes to choosing music?

Tamara Moskvina: On a whole complex of factors. I analyze which compositions my athletes and competitors have used in the current season, where the opponents might go. I think mainly about how I can steer my pair in a direction that makes them different from everyone else. Including from last year’s selves.

I look for moments of diversity, unexpectedness. The music, on the one hand, should be recognizable, capable of eliciting a response from the audience, but at the same time allowing the athletes to develop. To steer them away from previous programs, but to allow them to attach themselves to a certain image, a plot.

Q: I can’t wait to see Mishina and Galliamov’s number for the show program competition.

Tamara Moskvina: By the way, I guessed the theme even before it was announced that the basis of the performance should be Soviet or Russian music. Logically, when skating in your own country, it is preferable to give preference to national traditions and culture. In this regard, I sometimes don’t quite understand why, when we live in Russia, we should read signs in other languages.

Q: Well, foreign things always attract people more. You must have bought jeans when traveling abroad for competitions, right?

Tamara Moskvina: I did. But it was at that moment that I started to ask myself: if everyone around is wearing jeans, why strive to be like everyone else? As soon as I dressed differently for the first time, I immediately heard: oh, how beautiful it is! From there came the understanding that you always need to stand out, to be different from those you compete with. If you can’t excel technically, if you can’t do a certain jump — then you need to cover it with something else. The same goes for coaching.

Q: In other words, it’s not worth buying a fur coat just to stand at the boards in furs because it’s fashionable?

Tamara Moskvina: That’s right. Just imagine me with my height in such attire! Although I tried to dress differently, to wear makeup, to create elaborate hairstyles. And then I realized: sometimes it’s enough to wear a bright sweater, and you already stand out from the crowd.

Q: When you take on a project to create another pair, do you at least briefly consider the possibility that you may not have enough strength, time?

Tamara Moskvina: Of course. But you know, life doesn’t end with me. I think not about myself, but about the development of pair skating in our club, in our city, in our country. It’s simply unreasonable to build everything around yourself: who knows, I might get sick or suddenly say, “I’m retiring!”

Q: I don’t even consider such an option knowing you. Besides, I think you have already psychologically outgrown the moment when a person tends to set a final point in their career. Like, one more Olympics — and then I’ll retire for sure.

Tamara Moskvina: I never had those points.

Q: But I remember your intention to retire and focus on raising your granddaughter when Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze stopped skating.

Tamara Moskvina: I wouldn’t call it a serious intention. You see, life is multifaceted, there are many interesting things in it. Coaching is not my only pleasure. There are many other areas where I can realize myself and I enjoy doing it.

Q: Do you ever think, “How tired I am of all this”?

Tamara Moskvina: Definitely not. I live as I was taught.

Q: So that you don’t painfully regret the aimless years?

Tamara Moskvina: No, in accordance with the principle: if you’re tired of something, just switch to something else. Besides, I’m really interested in everything I do. When strong pairs emerge, I want people to admire them. So I start thinking about how to achieve that. But I don’t get so fixated on it that people would say about me: Moskvina is a fanatic, she has nothing besides figure skating in her life. I’ve always considered it important to have a large, strong family. Husband, children, sisters. And I considered it a great achievement in my life that all of this has come together.

Q: Many public figures usually complain: great popularity imposes a lot of restrictions on a person. You can’t go out dressed haphazardly, with unkempt hair.

Tamara Moskvina: Well, yes, sometimes I hide. On the other hand, I spend most of my time at the rink in a tracksuit. Then I jump into the car, put on makeup and that’s it. If I were a Western coach, I would probably have to work differently: from morning to night — lesson, lesson, lesson, lesson… But I have enough energy for everything.

Q: Have you ever suffered from a lack of money?

Tamara Moskvina: I’ve always had a slightly different approach to life. I realized quite early on: I don’t want to and I won’t suffer for any reason, I want to live for my pleasure. So I lower my level of demands. I choose what is more valuable and interesting for me. I have always read a lot, starting from childhood, including Western literature — this gave me the opportunity to learn psychology and life wisdom from the heroes of these books. I try not to allow myself to fall into a nihilistic or pessimistic perception of the people around me, events, and so on.

This helps me a lot to always stay in a good mood and in good spirits. You know, like in a joke: there are people who think that cognac smells of bedbugs, and there are those whose “bedbugs” always smell of cognac. In other words, my glass is always half full, not half empty.

Q: After hip and knee joint surgeries, do you still train on skates?

Tamara Moskvina: Not always. It’s more convenient in skates, of course, but before serious competitions, I prefer not to get in the way of my skaters on the ice. Skates for me are also a kind of trick that allows me to move a lot instead of going to fitness clubs or engaging in some other physical activity. When I’m on the ice, I feel toned, on par with my other colleagues. And then, all over the world, it is accepted that a coach should be on skates.

Q: I’m afraid, on our rinks, it’s not always the case.

Tamara Moskvina: Perhaps. But in the West — yes.

Q: I try to imagine: you’ve had surgery, had your hip or knee joint replaced, and you’re absolutely helpless. Does this depress you?

Tamara Moskvina: Helpless? Only for two or three days. For me, it’s not a problem at all. You look around — people are moving around with walkers, then with crutches, then without… Besides, I trust doctors. They said I needed surgery, so I needed it. They said I could walk, so I got up and walked.

Q: Many figure skaters said at the Spartakyad: we can’t wait for the season to end. Do you have a similar feeling?

Tamara Moskvina: Coaches rarely have that feeling. One competitive season ends, and a new one is already on my mind. Planning, ideas, strategies, searching for music begins. We teach our athletes to have the same attitude. So that their life plans never hit a dead end.


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