“Training with Eteri you either work or leave the rink. Each training is stress.” Turkish figure skater about Tutberidze and Mishin
Turkish figure skater Basar Oktar about coaching approach of Russian specialists and specifics of figure skating in Turkey.
source: sport-express.ru dd.15th May 2021 by Rustam Imamov
Russian coaches often invite foreign skaters for training camps in Russia. This is a good additional source of income for them, because Russian specialists are in great demand abroad and, accordingly, their lessons are well paid. For foreigners, especially from those countries where figure skating is just taking its first steps, such training camps are almost the only chance to improve their level.
The Turkish figure skater Basar Oktar, like many other foreigners, went to training camps in Russia several times before the pandemic. But instead of a short two-week training camp, he had full pre-season training with the Russians at the rinks of the best coaches – Eteri Tutberidze, Alexei Mishin and Elena Buyanova.
Eteri Tutberidze is probably the most successful and influential coach in the world right now. How did you get into her team?
Basar Oktar: It was an incredible experience, I am grateful to the National Figure Skating Federation, they supported me on this trip. The athletes in the Tutberidze team are all world stars, it was very useful to see how they prepare for the competitions. And also to work not only with Tutberidze herself, but also with Daniil Gleikhengauz, with Sergei Dudakov, with Sergei Rozanov (at that time he worked at Sambo-70. – ed).
How did you get the invitation?
Basar Oktar: From Sergei Rozanov. I have known him for about seven years, he has been several times in Istanbul with training camps. Before the pandemic, I went to training camps in Moscow for three years in a row, to different coaches. Two years I went to Tutberidze, in 2019 I went to CSKA to Elena Buyanova. For the first time I went to Moscow six years ago for a training camp with Volchkova’s group, and Rozanov was there too. We agreed to keep in touch. And when he began to work in Tutberidze’s team, he invited me to the training camp at “Chrustalny”. Of course, I agreed, this is a great opportunity for me. Tutberidze watched several videos with my skating, gave the go-ahead for my classes, and a month later I was in “Sambo-70”.
How long did you train at Chrustalny?
Basar Oktar: During the first trip – a month and a half, the second time – two and a half months. It could have trained there more, the coaches were not against it, but there is also a financial side to the issue.
How would you characterize Tutberidze as a coach?
Basar Oktar: She is a very good specialist. And if I have another opportunity to train with her, I will try to use it.
Perhaps you have heard the opinions that Eteri she is a very tough coach?
Basar Oktar: Of course, and it’s true.
Didn’t it bother you?
Basar Oktar: When I first came to the skating rink, I remember she said that I am not good for anything and I have a lot of work to do. There was no lie, no desire to offend me. It was, albeit tough, but true. Why should I be offended? Yes, Eteri is tough, but in sports, it probably cannot be otherwise. If you want to achieve results, of course.
Many athletes from different countries come to Tutberidze for small training camps in the summer.
Basar Oktar: I remember a girl from China, very small. I don’t remember anyone else, as far as I know, this is a training camp for several days. I trained with the main team of Chrustalny. Therefore, there were only representatives of Russia and Georgia.
Did you communicate with Eteri Georgievna with the help of an interpreter?
Basar Oktar: No, she has excellent English. Mine is not, but I try.
What did lessons in “Sambo-70” give you?
Basar Oktar: I was able to solve the problems with the triple axel, now it’s quite stable. Most of all we worked on jumps, tried different quads, jump combinations, 3-3 combinations. I went to Tutberidze for the technique, because her team is well versed in this matter.
Did you train separately or with the main stars of Chrustalny?
Basar Oktar: Together. The training groups are divided, but since I am a senior, most often they put me together with Alina Zagitova, Alexandra Trusova, Anna Shcherbakova and other stars. So I talked to them a lot. Not all of them know English, so not with everyone I was able to talk. For example, it didn’t turn out to talk with Zagitova. Unless it was possible to talk in Tatar, Tatar and Turkish are very similar, if I’m not mistaken.
What are the main words from Tutberidze you can remember? Something motivational, for example.
Basar Oktar: Basically, the conversation was about technical issues, I didn’t need motivation, I’m motivated myself. It does not happen with Eteri that you do not want to train and she makes you. With Eteri, if you don’t want to train, you leave the rink and that’s it.
Did Tutberidze work with you in the same way she works with Russian stars?
Basar Oktar: I think, yes, I didn’t see any difference in attitude. Everyone is equal for her on the rink and it is not so important what you can do now and what you have achieved. There are no regalia, you have to prove everything anew with each training session. She’s tough but fair. Sometimes she can show her temper, I will not argue that.
In your opinion, is this right?
Basar Oktar: There are pros and cons. Training with her is always stressful. You try to give your maximum, show everything that you can. Training is like a competition, if not harder. In addition, there is still a huge competition: world talents are working next to you. But on the other hand, how else to grow? I saw Shcherbakova and Trusova who are very young, how they do quads. This is inspiring.
You also trained with Alexei Mishin. Can you tell us about this experience?
Basar Oktar: I went to his training camp in Tallinn. Alexei Nikolaevich and Artur Gachinsky were there. And once they both came to us in Turkey, held an international training camp. More precisely, together with their group, they decided to diversify the training process and spend the summer in a warm country. They found a skating rink, trained there, invited Turkish guys and guys from other countries. It was great. In total, I attended Mishin’s training camp three times.
How would you describe him?
Basar Oktar: He is also a strong specialist, but much more calm and kind. Not softie. Something in between, just right. He speaks English, there were no problems. Everything was great.
Is such training regimen more comfortable for you than being under stress, like with Tutberidze?
Basar Oktar: With Mishin, I was calmer, with Tutberidze, I was often stressed. But at the same time I was feeling a progress. Therefore, it is difficult to say which is better. We see that Tutberidze’s athletes and results are better. Therefore, her methods are probably more relevant now. Alexei Nikolaevich is also an excellent specialist and has trained many cool athletes, and now he is showing results. But still inferior to Tutberidze. Eteri is definitely number one.
It is believed that Mishin introduces science into the training process. Have you felt it yourself?
Basar Oktar: Yes, it is quite so. He is a very educated, intelligent person and tried to explain not only what we are doing, but also why we are doing it. He’s also a real joker. Of course, he usually joked in Russian and I did not understand a lot, but for foreigners he translated some jokes. Moreover, as I understood from the words of the Russian guys, the translation was with adaptation.
What can you say about the atmosphere at the rink in comparison with the “Chrustalny”?
Basar Oktar: In the Tutberidze’s team, almost everyone who is next to you is a world star and shows incredible things in training. You have to reach out for them, strive. It’s not always easy, but it’s motivating. Mishin no longer has such competition, but in any case, the level is much higher than in Turkey. So it was helpful to me.
Do you agree that the main problem of Mishin’s team is the emphasis on technique?
Basar Oktar: I think yes. We were mainly engaged in jumping, he has somewhat outdated views on figure skating, that only technique is important. But figure skating does not stand still, it develops.
What can you say about your training experience at CSKA? There is an opinion that Buyanova’s team is in crisis now.
Basar Oktar: She gives all the best with every student. She devoted a lot of time to Artur Danielian. I have known him for a long time, from the Junior Grand Prix in Zagreb. He is a big star, but now he has difficulties due to his health. Let’s give him time to prove himself.
Have you seen Anastasia Gubanova, Elena Radionova on the ice?
Basar Oktar: Gubanova – no, but Radionova was there. Sergei Voronov also trained there. I don’t remember more famous people. At the next skating rink I saw Alexander Samarin.
Was Tatiana Tarasova at the rink?
Basar Oktar: Sometimes she came, but for a short time.
What can you say about Buyanova as a coach?
Basar Oktar: I was also comfortable with her, she is a good specialist.
Tutberidze, Buyanova, Mishin are one of the most successful Russian coaches of our time, and you have worked with each of them. Can you compare them?
Basar Oktar: Tutberidze is demanding, but she definitely gives the result. She always works in a team with Gleichengauz, Dudakov. Also with Rozanov at that time. The training process is divided: first, we develop skating skills with Daniil for 20 minutes, then Dudakov joins in, and we work on jumps. Tutberidze controls everything, I liked this division of responsibilities. In Mishin’s team, the emphasis is on physical shape, various exercises for technique. It’s fun to train there, because in a difficult moment, when you get tired, the coach will always cheer you up with a good joke. I didn’t train much with Buyanova, but in general I’ll say that she is something in between Mishin and Tutberidze.
You said that no one would recognize Zagitova in Turkey. And what if Tutberidze walks around Ankara or Istanbul?
Basar Oktar: Unless a rare figure skater meets her. For example, a Russian one who is on vacation.
Maybe someone is watching competitions?
Basar Oktar: There are people who watch it on tv, but there are very few of them. And they don’t show much figure skating on tv. A vicious circle, but it’s good that now we have Internet.
What do your friends and family think of your passion for figure skating?
Basar Oktar: They are proud of me and support me. After all, I represent the national team of the country at the international competitions.
Are they not making jokes?
Basar Oktar: Sometimes. They watch my skates and laugh when I fall.
How did you become a figure skater then in a country where few have heard of figure skating?
Basar Oktar: I first tried skating at the age of six, it was a very small skating rink in a shopping center. I skated for fun, but the coach noticed me and suggested me trying to train constantly in order to become an athlete in the future. I was eight then. I decided to try, why not. And for more than 10 years I have been training, not to say that I have achieved something, but I develop to the best of my strength and capabilities.
How many ice arenas in the country, at least approximately?
Basar Oktar: There is only one skating rink in Istanbul, this is definitely not enough. It is difficult to find time for training, it is always packed.
How many skaters are there?
Basar Oktar: I think it will be about 200-250. But these are not such professional athletes as in Russia with quadruple jumps. These are amateurs who train at least once a week and can do basic exercises.
But are there guys in the country who can do quads and triple axels?
Basar Oktar: Three or four people including me. Maybe five.
Is it just guys?
Basar Oktar: There are few girls in figure skating. So far, only three girls have been able to learn triples.
Is this due to the cultural and religious specifics of the country?
Basar Oktar: I think yes. The Istanbul figure skating club has strict dress requirements for women who wanted to go on the ice with men. And in general, not the best attitude towards girls in sports. Our society still thinks in stereotypes, but it is gradually changing. A good example is Zahra Lari, a girl from the United Arab Emirates. The first figure skater to wear the hijab, she did a lot for the development of figure skating in the Islamic world. And her coach worked in Ankara.
Two years ago Tatiana Navka organized a big ice show in Turkey. Was it done for the local public or for Russian tourists?
Basar Oktar: I think such a project made figure skating more famous in Turkey. Several of our athletes took part in this show as artists, many people came to see this show. Even if the goal was to attract Russian tourists, Navka’s project also helped Turkish figure skating.
Could figure skating in Turkey ever become as important sport as football and basketball?
Basar Oktar: I would like to believe it, but hardly. There’s almost zero interest and it is not very clear what needs to happen for it to rise. But if ice rinks are to be built, who knows? But again, for this we need the desire of the authorities. While there’s no such, the authorities have other priorities.
Are you at your maximum now in terms of capabilities or can you still develop?
Basar Oktar: I definitely can and will. I am capable of more. In Turkey, it’s more difficult to do figure skating than in Russia, and besides, I started late. Therefore, I move slowly. I already jump a triple axel consistently, land quads. I try different quads, mostly toe loop, sometimes salchow. They turn out with varying degrees of success. It’s necessary to work. If we talk about goals, then this is at least two quadruple jumps and consistent skating. Then I will have a chance to compete for high places. Why not? Fernandez’s example is inspiring. He is an idol for all the guys who are not from the top five figure skating countries. He broke the barrier. Because the judges’ barrier still exists, many judges first look at the flag, and only then at the performance …