Tatiana Tarasova: In sports, if you don’t compete and you don’t have an injury, then you left
Part from the interview with Tatiana Tarasova, about Alina Zagitova, Evgenia Medvedeva, age limit and men’s skating.
by Igor Rabiner for sport-express.ru dd.17th May 2020
Was Alina Zagitova’s decision to suspend her career unexpected for you?
Tatiana Tarasova: I think she did the right thing. This is her foresight, and her coaches. They did not remove Alina, but came up with the idea that she would take a break. And if they had raised the age to eighteen, she would have fought for all the titles.
Do you think Zagitova will return? Or there is no powerful motivation for her after winning the Olympics in Pyeongchang?
Tatiana Tarasova: For someone it’s enough to be an Olympic champion once, for some it’s not. Alina has powerful and beautiful jumps. But she does not want, for example, to get up and learn the quadruple. I’m sure she would have learned them. Although of course not in such amount as these little ones learn. Trusova’s didn’t jump only loop!
That is, you think that Zagitova will not return?
Tatiana Tarasova: I would like her to come back. If the age rules change, this can happen. And if not, I think she will not.
In your opinion, is Medvedeva’s transition specifically to Brian Orser the right decision? What exactly can this coach give her?
Tatiana Tarasova: She couldn’t help but leave. And the choice is another matter. What Orser could give, he gave her. He loved her. Zhenya is a strong person, a true Russian character. Talented, hardworking to the point of insanity. She makes an excellent contribution to their school. Other girls learn a lot from her.
And what does she learn?
Tatiana Tarasova: Zhenya began to skate better. Another thing is that the many injuries that she had during her career, including her back, prevent her from moving up. But she herself wants to learn a quadruple. And I always support those who want. After the transition, she had a tough life. She came to a foreign country, to a foreign city, to strangers. And now they have become her family. They treated her very well and respectfully, looking at her work, how she changes herself, how she began to eat, how she does everything to keep her body strong. Medvedeva is a very deep person, and I respect her.
You said about the moment of her break up with Tutberidze: “They were killing the girl right before our eyes. I was very sorry for Zhenya.” What impressed you the most in this situation?
Tatiana Tarasova: Zhenya’s worthy behavior at the Olympics and after she left. Both in the comments, and in everything else – despite everything that fell on her. It costs a lot. She did not insult anyone, did not say anything, although, probably, she had something to say. Because for her it was a betrayal. Therefore, she left. For her, a wall collapsed, on which she held.
Did you recently learn from your old Japanese connections that she is training in Japan? Your statement made a lot of hype.
Tatiana Tarasova: Yes, everyone started to write. But she trained there a little, it seems, about four days. After that, all the skating rink were closed – a pandemic after all. And where is Zhenya now I don’t know.
I remember your statement in our conversation two years ago about Yulia Lipnitskaya: “She is a good, successful child, but after Sochi she turned out to be a little abandoned.” Can you say the same about Medvedeva after or even before Pyeongchang?
Tatiana Tarasova: I wouldn’t say that. They have a different fate, although it seems that a lot of the same. After Sochi, Lipnitskaya sluggishly existed. And Evgenia immediately made a move, realizing that she want continue to skate. She had to believe in something, and she found herself a coach.
Ladies’ skating has never been as young as it is today. How do you feel about the talking that we need to introduce a tougher age limit, because now, even at the age of 19-20 skaters are being thrown to the sidelines by the next generation of little girls?
Tatiana Tarasova: Positively. Now they are moving to seniors at the age of 15, and I would have done it at 17. Or 18. And then we would have everything provided. Even if the new rules were introduced right now. We have outstanding skaters who correspond to this qualification – Zhenya Medvedeva, Alina Zagitova, Liza Tuktamysheva. We could win competitions for athletes over 18 with three girls and competitions for those who under 18 with three girls. And then the next ones go. Eteri Georgievna has a lot of good girls. I will say more – supergirls!
All this is great. But it’s sad because such a long career, like Irina Slutskaya or Carolina Costner had, will become impossible. Especially in our country with such a competition.
Tatiana Tarasova: Carolina, by the way, says: “I have not left.” But she doesn’t compete. In sports, if you don’t compete and you don’t have an injury, then you left. In general, I can say that introducing a stricter age limit would be beneficial for us.
Really? And many believe that those who lobby it, do it just against the interests of Russia.
Tatiana Tarasova: You can consider anything you want, but outstanding athletes, for example, Medvedeva, have no business left, because she doen’t jump quadruple. Only Tuktamysheva jumps. So they would compete with girls from other countries – Americans, Korean, Japanese. It would be a very worthy ladies’ competition, which, perhaps, would not be so loaded with triple and a half and quad jumps. And girls under 17 would surprise us with technique.
It seems to me that such senior competitions would be watched, and they would be very interesting. Because we have time to fall in love with those who are older and we know their sporting path. We empathize with them, pay tribute that they did not go to some ballet on ice and continue to work hard here. This causes respect and a desire to watch how they develop. But we don’t see this, because they don’t compete!
Do you feel sorry for the older skaters because of what is happening now?
Tatiana Tarasova: Yes, I feel very sorry for them. They are not engaged in competitions now. They are trying and not guilty of anything. But the technical progress is developing so quickly that these girls are not keeping pace with it. They were the pioneers of the “triple-triple” combinations, but when it became “quad-triple” they were at the puberty age, in which they do not multiply, but save. Now they have come out of this age and could have contribute to all the competitions. I think that such a change in the age limit would not hurt anyone.
Recently, you spoke harsh about those who want to prohibit quadruple jumps: “They want to throw figure skating 40 years ago.” Who needs this?
Tatiana Tarasova: Of course, harsh! Because progress cannot be stopped. You can’t forbid anything. Such bans are made for someone and for something. Girls are not allowed to jump quadruples in the short program. Why is it possible for boys, but not for girls? Because our girls are the only ones who jump them. Allow – and we will be inaccessible. But it’s better to reach for the best than to equal everyone to the middle. In the ISU they know this well, but in their hands is power. The quad jump is a trick. And tricks are in the circus, so it’s circus. What causes applause and attracts the most. Because a trick gives a feeling of fear. Even through the screen. And these are super elements.
Are there any skaters who bring you such a delight that throws you out of the chair?
Tatiana Tarasova: There are. This are Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen. I am delighted how Shae-Lynn Bourne, the most progressive choreographer, remade him, and how much Chen has achieved in working with Rafael Harutyunyan. Harutyunyan and I once worked at the same rink in Moscow at the Young Pioneers Stadium, which is now buried under high-rise buildings. This is how they successfully buried the stadium, together with people – both me and him! And now he is America’s best coach. And I get aesthetic pleasure when I look at Chen. He jumps five quads!
Two-time Olympic champion Hanyu is going to stay for the third Olympics to jump quadruple axel there. Is this real?
Tatiana Tarasova: If he says that, then it’s real. He is the only one. We are fortunate that we see such an absolute, God-kissed skater. He does not lose motivation! He wants more and more.
What happened to our male skating? After your two Olympic champions, Kulik and Yagudin, there was only Plushenko – and that’s all, drought.
Tatiana Tarasova: There was a failure. It always happens in waves. While these two were fighting, Yagudin and Plushenko, the others, apparently, were resting. Now there are guys, for example Aliev. Interesting guy! If the psyche allows he can be in the medalists.
How do you feel about reproaches in subjectivity, that you have favorites? And do you really have them?
Tatiana Tarasova: My favorite is talent. I feel and see it.