Tamara Moskvina: “Success is the search for your niche, having occupied which, you feel like a happy person”
Interview with Tamara Moskvina who celebrates her 80th birthday.
source: rsport.ria.ru dd. 26th June by Boris Khodorovski
When did you realize that figure skating will become a matter of life?
Tamara Moskvina: I’ve never thought about it. Figure skating just naturally entered my life. Although this is only a part of life and not even the most important part of it.
Does it feel like you haven’t won everything you could have won as an athlete?
Tamara Moskvina: No. In the summer of 1968 Alexei Mishin and I decided for ourselves that we would retire in 1969. My partner was going to write PhD thesis, taking Alexander Gandelsman as his academic adviser. He was not only a professor at the Department of Physiology at the Institute of Physical Education. P.F. Lesgaft, but also the coach of my husband, Igor Moskvin. When I entered the institute, Gandelsman rendered an invaluable service: he called the medical commission of the institute, which did not allow me to take exams due to flat feet. The argument that he brought up was compelling: “How is it, we do not allow the USSR champion to take the exams!”
Did Gandelsman continue to patronize you at the institute?
Tamara Moskvina: He persistently pushed me to scientific work. I even made a promise to write a book. I had to, taking Igor Borisovich Moskvin as a co-author, write two: one devoted to the short program, the second to the free program. They summarized not only our sports, but also pedagogical experience. Gandelsman taught analytical work, the ability to generalize knowledge. It was impossible not to keep the promise I made to him.
Together with his wife Raisa, Alexander Gandelsman won the USSR championships before the war. After the end of his career, he seriously took up medicine, became a Doctor of Sciences. I used a lot of his legacy in my work. Sometimes in the most unexpected way: Alexander Borisovich presented me a pre-war photograph in which he and Raisa performed a lift on the ground, and I transferred it to the ice for a pair of Elena Bechke / Denis Petrov. I had such skaters who became silver medalists of the 1992 Olympics. Imagine, the pre-war idea was used at the end of the century!
What else do you remember about your supervisor?
Tamara Moskvina: He had many students and a large professorial leather portfolio. It always contained a huge amount of papers and a complete mess. It seemed to me then that you need to take only what you need for work. When I began to work at the department of speed skating and figure skating at my home university, I was convinced of the opposite. I didn’t have a solid professorial portfolio, but even in a woman’s purse there was always a huge amount of materials. What if suddenly some student will come who will need them for his term paper.
Is your purse in perfect order now?
Tamara Moskvina: Please! Who knows how the day will turn out. Maybe plans and routes will change. I take everything that may be useful, and even that things which may be useful tomorrow. And I always remember Gandelsman. He was a man of encyclopedic knowledge. When I was working on my Ph.D. thesis under his supervision, sometimes I had to look for an opportunity to interrupt his monologues in order to escape to training.
You achieved your main successes in figure skating skating in a pair with Mishin, but you were also a five-time USSR champion among ladies. What do you remember about remember performing as a single skater?
Tamara Moskvina: I had to compete with girls from Moscow, who were also younger than me. Even having won the national championshipі, I could not always count on performing at the main international competitions of the season – the European and World championships. The leaders of the federation believed that it was necessary to test the more promising ones, saying that in five years they will catch up to the required level. My best result was 14th at the 1964 European Championships. Switching to pair skating was a very correct and timely step. Coach Igor Moskvin was the first in the USSR, and, probably, in the world as well, who put in a pair two strong single skaters with a good technical base for that time.
Is it a shame that the element that you performed first is now known as Biellmann, by the name of the Swiss figure skater?
Tamara Moskvina: I have a photograph from 1967 where I perform this spin. Bielmann was then five years old. But who followed the Soviet figure skater, who was taking places at the European Championships, at best, in the second ten? And Bielman in 1981 became the World and European champion. The German newspaper that published the photo did not even check my name, calling me Tatyana Zhuk. Stanislav’s sister never performed this element. Mom always went to the competition with Denise, and she told me that her coach was aware of the authorship of the element. But a Swiss skater showed it when she won the World and European Championships. I have no offense. Moreover, I myself repeated what I saw at the training of Leningrad gymnasts.
You were one of the first Soviet coaches who learned English at the level necessary for professional communication …
Tamara Moskvina: At school, I first learned German, but then I had to move to another school. There was only English, and since I was an excellent student, I could not allow the grade to be lower than “A”. Nevertheless, I could not communicate with skaters from other countries when I went to international competitions. I understood that I needed to learn the language.
Sally-Anne Stapleford from Britain helped me. In the locker room, she always read a pocket-sized book with the spycraft pictures on the cover. Even then, I was a sociable person and risked approaching Stapleford with my vocabulary minimum. She gave me a book that turned out to be the work of Agatha Christie. It was not easy for me to read it in the original, but more or less I understood the direct speech of the characters. After that, I established a mutually beneficial exchange with my British friend: she brought books to the competition, and I brought Palekh boxes, Pavlovo Posad shawls and records with classical music.
How difficult was it to start a coaching career, combining it with family life?
Tamara Moskvina: Igor Borisovich and I agreed to separate the profession and the family after the conflict between my pair Elena Valova / Oleg Vasiliev and his Larisa Selezneva / Oleg Makarov. We have followed this rule all our life.
Talking with the famous volleyball coach Vyacheslav Platonov, I heard a phrase that I remembered for the rest of my life: “It’s always beloved students who betray.” Have you ever been betrayed?
Tamara Moskvina: And what is meant by betrayal? I definitely don’t consider a betrayal leaving for another coach for new successes. The athlete should not be considered as your property. He is free to choose his own destiny. The coach must take care of his reputation so that athletes rushed to him and not from him. When figure skaters want to train with me, first of all, I am interested in how they resolved issues with their former coaches, whether they thanked them. If someone wants to leave our group, no problem. A bouquet of flowers, a glass of champagne – and many thanks!
During the 2018 European Championships in Moscow, American John Zimmerman called you his teacher in the coaching craft. This phrase can be repeated by many Russian specialists. Who would you call the successor of Tamara Moskvina’s coaching traditions?
Tamara Moskvina: With a few exceptions, all my students are now engaged in coaching. Each in his place. For some, success is victories at the Olympics, some is interested to work with children. Success is the search for your niche, having occupied which, you feel like a happy person.
For your skaters, you were not only a coach, but also a manager.
Tamara Moskvina: I would prefer another word – leader. I not only taught them the elements, did programs, but also brought up the children. Organized them the participation in various commercial competitions, ensured their promotion in the figure skating market. I was even teaching to communicate with the press.
You have many titles and government awards, as well as awards from the International Skating Union and the Russian Figure Skating Federation. Which do you think is the most valuable?
Tamara Moskvina: The title of an honorary citizen of St. Petersburg. It is assigned on the City Day by the deputies of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, who express the will of the townspeople. For me, this is a recognition of the inseparable connection with my hometown.
I was surprised to learn that at 80 you are still driving, although you could use the services of a personal driver.
Tamara Moskvina: What for? I like to drive a car. I prefer an economic foreign car. I’m not chasing prestige.
Do you often get fines for traffic violations?
Tamara Moskvina: This year, not once. Last year, there were two.
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