Tamara Moskvina: “The more intense the competition in the group, the better for the coach.”
Interview with Tamara Moskvina. About Boikova-Kozlovskii, Mishina-Galliamov and competition in the group.
source: rt.com dd. 25th November 2020
After the Salt Lake City Olympic Games, you intended to end up coaching, but you didn’t. When Yuko Kawaguchi and Alexander Smirnov left the sport, the situation repeated itself, but you stayed again. Is it a kind of adrenaline rush or a desire to have time to prepare a replacement for yourself? And are there times when you say to yourself: “Isn’t it time to stop?”
Tamara Moskvina: You know, I have read a lot of various literature in my life. Russian authors, foreign, including in English. There was even a period when it seemed to me that my interest in reading began to fade away, but for some time now it intensified again, as a lot of interesting professional literature appeared, including in the sciences related to sports.
In coaching, something similar happens: one pair has finished its career, you seem to have read its fate, turned the page – and suddenly you see two people who, in all respects: weight-height, age, emotional, technical, are capable of solving high level tasks in a duo. Achieve victories, surprise the world, attract spectators…
In other words, is the high-quality “material” that allows you to reach a high result quickly enough in the long term perspective – a bait that a professional coach cannot help but took?
Tamara Moskvina: Maybe. For me, this is the main interest of coaching. Especially when there are all conditions to fully realize all the qualities of the athletes. Think for yourself: why should I give up what I like? Our sport is not only elements and programs, but also psychology, music, and choreography, which means communication with very interesting creative people, and not only in our country.
Plus management, diplomacy. You have to think a lot, which means you have to develop yourself too, in order to maintain the ability to make an interesting result when no one seems to expect it. Although, of course, I can hear others joking at me: “Tamara, you should have calmed down, planted flowers at the country house, and you are here again.”
In your group for many years, there have not been two strong couples who would compete with each other, having equal opportunities to achieve big victories. Now it is obvious that Anastasia Mishina – Alexander Galliamov, who have been training with you since the summer, although they do not yet have high results in the international level, are technically in no way inferior to European champions Alexandra Boikova – Dmitri Kozlovskii. Could you compare the current situation with the one that was 20 years ago, when Oksana Kazakova – Artur Dmitriev and Elena Berezhnaya – Anton Sikharulidze trained with you? What is the difference and is there any?
Tamara Moskvina: I would not speak about the difference, in each group, one way or another, a benevolent and constructive competition should be created – in this case, mutual progress goes much faster. The more intense the competition, the better for the coach. The only thing – there cannot be too many high-class athletes. Two pairs is quite a sufficient number to bring both of them to the level of the Olympic Games.
Nevertheless, sometimes there is a feeling that it becomes more difficult to work with athletes every year. The next generations look more and more selfish and capricious, less devoted and attached to the mentor, and it seems to me that the coach should keep all this in mind.
Tamara Moskvina: It always happened in my teams. It seems to me that this happens in any team where a competitive environment arises. Athletes in general tend to be jealous of how much attention the coach pays to them. This is totally normal. As well as the fact that the readiness for competitions may be different, even when you work with them the same way: someone was sick, someone recovered longer than usual, someone took exams …
The coach’s task is to eliminate all these shortcomings as much as possible and bring each pair to the competition in the best possible shape so that the skaters can show their maximum and, accordingly, fight for victory.
This year there was a lot of talk about the need for contracts in figure skating, which would stipulate the duties of both athletes and coaches. Some of your colleagues have even stated that they consider it right first to discuss with the students taking the direct competitors into the group. You took Mishina and Galliamov into the group, when Boikova and Kozlovskii had already become European champions and, probably, had reason to count on a certain exclusivity of your attitude towards them.
Tamara Moskvina: Our entire coaching team works exclusively with these athletes. As for Mishina and Galliamov, let’s be more precise in the wording: it was not I who took them, the athletes came to our club and asked to join my group. Including in order to be able to skate on the same ice with the currently best pair in Europe.
That is, Anastasiia and Alexander themselves were eager for this competition?
Tamara Moskvina: Exactly. Although, in their former group, of the excellent specialists Lyudmila and Nikolai Velikovs they were the first pair. To be honest, I wanted to create higher competition on my ice even earlier, when I invited Oleg Vasiliev to my school, Olympic champion and coach of Olympic champions. Unfortunately, Alisa Efimova – Alexander Korovin, with whom he worked, were unable to achieve the results I wanted, results that would allow them to compete with Boikova and Kozlovskii.
How did Sasha and Dmitri feel about your intentions to create competition in the group?
Tamara Moskvina: The main competitors the guys need to think about are the Chinese and Canadians. Our internal competition is just a tool to fight against the pairs from these countries. Do not forget that our school is called the Tamara Moskvina Club, and not the Club named after active athletes, no matter how titled these athletes are. The decisions here are made by the management and the senior coach, that is, me. It is the coach who must complete the group so that the work goes as efficiently as possible. And the skaters who come to us do this not in order to choose training companions, but in order to train with highly qualified specialists – regardless of who else these specialists work with.
It just always seemed to me that your relationship with your students is primarily of a partnership nature.
Tamara Moskvina: This is true. In everything that concerns work, we are partners. I teach athletes from the very beginning that there should be a normal working relationship between pairs who work together, no matter how fierce is the rivalry between them. Yes, they are all ambitious, they all want to be the best, to win – and I, as a coach, only welcome this.
Who is more interesting for you to teach – athletes or coaches?
Tamara Moskvina: Of course, there is a difference: you teach a coach a profession for his further life. Moreover, each new specialist comes with some already accumulated experience. Everything that you offer him, he passes through himself to a greater extent, compares with what he already knows. Working with skaters always has a much shorter time frame: your task is to bring people to the podium at big competitions. Accordingly, athletes must first of all trust the coach completely.
But you won’t argue that everyone is ready to do it without a murmur? Especially athletes with character and ambition?
Tamara Moskvina: Sometimes it takes time for a person to understand that the coach is right, and one way or another, he still begins to obey. It also happened that my athletes convinced me that they were right. The path to success is always different for everyone.
Do you have disagreements with Artur Minchuk, with whom you are now working together with both pairs?
Tamara Moskvina: Sure. Artur is a young, ambitious guy, so that’s okay. He grew up as a skater with another coach and started his career with him as a specialist. It is not surprising that his views are somewhat different. But after all, I am also interested in his point of view – starting with the fact that we have a colossal age difference, and the world is constantly moving forward. Young coaches do not work the way we did 50 years ago, they have different approaches to the profession, so I quite often ask Arthur’s opinion.
Does the feeling that the world is constantly running away annoy you?
Tamara Moskvina: Why would I be annoyed about this? Will this change something? Right now I have a bunch of everything on my desktop that needs to be done in time. So should I be annoyed that I was wasting time talking to you instead of hanging up and doing business correspondence? I try to have time to do what I consider to be the main thing. If I didn’t manage to cope with some matters, it means that they were not so important.
Last season, Sasha Boikova has established herself as a very reliable partner in competitions. And at the Grand Prix stage, she suddenly had mistakes on throws. What was it – an accidental failure?
Tamara Moskvina: One can argue for a long time about the cause of certain mistakes, but I see no point in focusing attention on this. There are griefs in life. Sometimes, you must admit, even eye makeup cannot be done equally well, although we women do it every morning. The main thing is different. Did sasha coped with the throw in the end? She did it, and brilliantly. The rest is purely working moments.
How do you set your athletes up to work when there is no clarity about the further part of the season?
Tamara Moskvina: I generally cannot set the athletes up to any specific situation, because I really do not have any official information on this score. This would mean to mislead them, and the coach should not do this, no matter how old his skaters are. Therefore, I honestly tell them: we do not have any information regarding the competitions.
Four Continents have already been officially canceled, and we do not know what actions the International Skating Union is taking in order to keep the European Championship on the calendar. Therefore, we just continue to train. If the European championships takes place, we will be ready for it. If it is canceled, we will continue to work according to the existing plans for this case.
Do these plans include complication of the technical part of the programs?
Tamara Moskvina: Not in the current ones. Our life is scheduled until the Russian Nationals, so we are not going to change anything until the end of December.
What if the season suddenly starts to develop in terms of competitions in the least preferred scenario?
Tamara Moskvina: So, we’ll start learning new elements and complicating the programs. We won’t stand still.
You can do dancing or acrobatics. Go to theaters, after all.
Tamara Moskvina: By the way, yes. It is very useful, you know, for general development, and it also cheers you up.