Tamara Moskvina: “There is no need to create destructive inner competition! If this happens, it means that the team is being led unwisely.”
Legendary Tamara Moskvina talks about how to avoid tension within groups that Tutberidze and Plushenko faced, pair skating and lack of competitions.
by Dmitry Kuznetsov for sport-express.ru dd.23d October
It is customary to think that in St. Petersburg people are a little melancholic and not as fast as in Moscow, but this is definitely not about Tamara Moskvina. 45 minutes after the call from the Panin-Kolomenkin memorial, I found myself in the car of the honored coach – in her “Maybach”, as she jokingly calls her Volkswagen. Tamara Moskvina, who will turn 80 next June, was switching lanes confidently, answering calls and my annoying questions at the same time. And she answered, as always, wisely.
Tamara Nikolaevna, do not consider it impolite, but how is your health? The leaders of the group are sick or was sick with coronavirus.
Tamara Moskvina: I am fine. In general, I don’t see a tragedy in the current situation, this is not a war. The situation is non-standard and even extraordinary, but we’ve survived worse. Dmitry has a mild form, the stage in Sochi had to be skipped, but by the next one, I think he will recover. He has already started training.
Planning an interview with you, I had moral torment: statistics show that I need to ask about Plushenko and Tutberidze. But it’s unlikely that you are very keen on what is happening on Instagram.
Tamara Moskvina: You know, I don’t think that the audience is so interested. I’m already bored to see all this, during my career I’ve seen so many things. So the readers do not need rehashes of the same. You need to come up with something else. I try to have news stories about my pairs as much as possible. But I achieve this with new elements, different things, interesting dresses.
But ladies’ single skating is clearly more popular than other disciplines. It’s not a problem?
Tamara Moskvina: There’s no problem. We really have great girls and strong boys right now. But once it was different! Remember how it all began – pair skating was at the top, we won at all the Olympics. Now, girls create a well-deserved interest and pull up other disciplines. Your task, as journalists, is to use this interest and turn people to other disciplines. After all, our pairs are going to perform very successfully at the Olympics, actually we also have victories.
We are in St. Petersburg, the Panin-Kolomenkin memorial has just ended. There are a lot of girls, but pairs competition didn’t take place, because all pairs withdrew. Is this not a crisis?
Tamara Moskvina: Oh, we’ve learned the word “crisis”! There is no crisis. Pair skating is a very difficult sport, two people skate there. It is very difficult to find partners, you need the right ratio in many respects – psychological, weight, age. In addition, a pair – I’m sorry, it’s like a tram on the ice, which you can’t outrun on the rails. For a lift, it needs to gain speed from corner to corner of the rink, and they will not give way to the others. This means that we need separate ice, time. It happened once that there were six pair at the World Championships. But still the discipline did not die.
You have two top pairs since this season. How do you organize internal competition? We have obvious problems with this – Tutberidze has transfers, Plushenko has different time for trainings.
Tamara Moskvina: First of all, I will say that I have no information about the problems in the groups you’ve mentioned. But when I worked, starting from the last century I tried, on the contrary, to make the internal competition friendly and constructive, aimed at improving the technique and artistic side of the programs. We need a positive climate with jokes and a good mood. There is no need to create destructive competition! If this happens, it means that the team is being led unwisely.
Boikova / Kozlovskyi and Mishina / Galliamov can joke with each other?
Tamara Moskvina: Yes, why not. My efforts, our team with Artur Minchuk efforts, are aimed at ensuring that they watch how others skate, but help each other. Not to point out the shortcomings, but to take something good. If we had only one car manufacturer in our country, It would have been boring, no one spurs, criticizes. For this, people unite in companies and countries.
I managed to maintain positive competition over the years – of course, there were small problems like what happened between Vasiliev and Makarov (a fight at the training camp in Kazakhstan in 1982 – ed.), but I managed to solve it. In 1992, at the Olympics, my skaters Mishkutenok and Dmitriev were first, Bechke and Petrov were second. And they competed among themselves also in the group. The same thing in 1998 – Kazakova / Dmitriev and Berezhnaya / Sikharulidze took first and second places, despite joint training. So internal competition can be successful.
So the question is – how do you manage to do this?
Tamara Moskvina: I just want to make it like that. So that it does not go beyond the framework of good neighborly relations.
You said, you don’t have information about the problems in other groups. But two top skaters left Tutberidze, isn’t it an evidence of problems?
Tamara Moskvina: But you also probably changed your place of work. Why?
It’s more interesting in sports than in other fields.
Tamara Moskvina: And someone thinks that it will be more interesting in a new group. What is wrong about that? Everyone has right to self-determination. People tend to look for better conditions, salary, and move up the career ladder. Skaters may also decide that the result will be higher with another coach. This is ok. When a new pair comes to me, I tell them: “You have the right to leave for another school any time – this is your right. The only thing is – let’s part normally, flowers, champagne.” We must thank each other, you’re being invited to another group not for nothing. Probably, it was your current coaches who taught you that well.
But still, you do not have such an opposition as in ladies’ single skating. Although Nina Mozer has been quite harsh about you recently, I think you’ve read.
Tamara Moskvina: If I have time, I read the news. But I generally respect the specialists who give interviews. Bad specialists are not asked for their opinion. I judge people not by what they say, but by what they do. And the results of Nina Mikhailovna are very positive. And I respect her as a coach.
When you said about the only car manufacturer – is this not an allegory for “Chrystalny”? For two years this group has dominated in ladies, there was a monopoly, now another – “Plushenko’s Angels” has appeared. Is it good that there is competition?
Tamara Moskvina: Well, it’s not true, you took two groups and talk about what is happening between them. But there are several of them. There is such a coach, Mishin, who has been bringing up excellent single skaters for a hundred years now, there is Buyanova, Davydov, Rukavitsin, Sokolovskaya.
But for two years Tutberidze didn’t lose at all.
Tamara Moskvina: Well done, I don’t argue. You don’t consider her victories bad, don’t you? It would be like considering the performance of Apple company poor, which is the world’s first company. She worked and works perfectly, since there was such a winning streak. As well as I think it is wonderful that other coaches and groups appear who also want to achieve results.
Did you follow the last stage of the Russian Figure Skating Cup, where these groups met? And many questions about judging have arose.
Tamara Moskvina: In figure skating they talk about judging since the inception of the sport, when judges have just appeared.
But do we have biased judging now, is there such a problem?
Tamara Moskvina: It depends on what “problem” means. If you open the news about the past Olympics, you will see questions at every competition, every discipline. There are no objective criteria, and this is ok. It’s like with girls – some like blondes, some with a sense of humor, and others like very smart ones. And how do you distribute the weights between these criteria? Yes, the factor of a more famous coach plays a role in judging. A team from one city can gather. But it’s not a problem. The strongest, if he is really the strongest, will win.
But the reaction of the public, even whistle at times is not a call? This is something new after all.
Tamara Moskvina: Earlier there were no drums, banners. Generally noise. Maybe it a whistle of approval? It is necessary to talk about dishonest judging, maybe conduct some kind of investigation. You can make a movie. But I say this: to win, you have to be a cut above, despite the preferences of the judges. So that they cannot do anything, even if they want to. The ISU rules allow it, a lot of things are written there mathematically.
This season I have heard from coaches more than once, thare’s a lack of competitions, although the athletes don’t want more. Can we say that there is a bias in figure skating towards training? The skater appears at competitions seven times a year, and trains for 300 days, rarely where it is so.
Tamara Moskvina: When there was no situation with the coronavirus, there were never any problems. If the athletes did not have enough competitions, they could participate in the St. Petersburg competitions. This season, the federation has very wisely raised the status of the Russian Grand Prix series, the national Cup, so that people can compete. And every city also tries to organize something.
As for your wishes, it is logical, but from the category of theories. Because when it comes to working out specific moments, it turns out that we need finances, arenas with free time. And if we ask the coaches, they will generally say, we have enough.
But there is a request for figure skating, to have more of it. Still we don’t open training sessions to the audience.
Tamara Moskvina: Well, we recently hosted a youth competitions in St. Petersburg, a Cup. What was it called …
Moskvina Cup, it seems.
Tamara Moskvina: That’s right! The federation has made a request – there is a need for children of youth sports categories to compete, and it would be good if the competitions was held under your name. There is also a competition named after Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin. This is our charitable help to children’s skating. So there are not too few competitions. Not everything is as bad as you think.
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