“We originally planned that Aleksa would represent Canada. There’s less competition and now she also can compete internationally.” Canadian coach Martine Dagenais who works in Russia together with her husband Alexandr Volkov.

Posted on 2023-03-17 • No comments yet


Interview with Canadian coach Martine Dagenais who works in Russia together with her husband Alexandr Volkov.

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source: Sport24 dd. 16 March 2023 by Konstantin Lesik

Canadian coach Martine Dagenais has been working in Russia for 15 years. Together with her husband, Alexander Volkov, she works with students at her school in New Moscow. The main star of the group right now is 19-year-old Artem Kovalev, who broke into the top 5 of the Russian Nationals this season and won the bronze at the Grand Prix stage. Also, Volkov and Dazhine were the first coaches of Alexandra Trusova after the figure skater moved from Ryazan to Moscow.

Was it difficult to learn Russian?

Martine Dagenais: Oh yeah! I have been living here since 2008, and then I did not know anything! But being a coach made me learn the language quickly. Just talking a little is not enough. Language should be used every day. But the first two years were very difficult for me.

Which word was the most difficult?

Martine Dagenais: “Dispensary”, ha-ha-ha I can’t write yet, but reading is getting better. It is, of course, difficult, but not as difficult as my native French for the foreigners. In Russian, almost every letter in a word is pronounced, not like in French.

Are you satisfied with the results of Artem Kovalev this season?

Martine Dagenais: Of course, we are very pleased with how the season went. Artem performed well at many competitions, thanks to the FFKKR for holding these events. Kovalev didn’t always skate clean, but it’s great that he skated with three quads in the free skate. We worked a lot on components and spins. There are still a lot of things to work on, but we’re trying.

Artem said that he wanted to try four quads in the program. Is it real?

Martine Dagenais: Of course, it’s real. He can do it. He made a quadruple lutz and a quadruple loop. I don’t know what jump he will add; we will decide before the next season.

How do you distribute training responsibilities with your husband?

Martine Dagenais: Alexander is a good technical specialist. He understands all jumps and spins well. I’m more into choreography and creating programs. But this is not a clear division. For example, I can also work on athletes’ technique because I myself was a single skater. I just like the choreography more.

Your eldest daughter, Aleksa, placed third at the Canadian Junior Nationals. How would you assess her success?

Martine Dagenais: Just tonight, we fly to our first international competition in Luxembourg. Our goal is to compete in the junior Grand Prix series next season. Therefore, the Canadian Federation sent us to the competitions so that Alexa could understand a little bit what they’re like. Skate Canada is happy with her performance, and so am I. Of course, there was stress. At the Canadian Nationals, she made a mistake in the free program, but it’s okay. So far, she has the third place; I hope next year she will be the first.

As I understand it, you and Aleksa live in two countries? Is it not difficult to move around, given all the logistical difficulties?

Martine Dagenais: This season I was in Canada for a very long time with our three daughters—three months. Alexa had three competitions in a row. There was no point in returning to Russia; these movements were too complicated. The girls went to school online.

Now we will be at competitions in Luxembourg, and then I will fly to Canada alone; I was asked to conduct a seminar and choreograph programs. I will be there for three weeks.

Flying is hard right now…

Martine Dagenais: It takes longer, yes. Previously, everything was much faster—a transfer in Frankfurt or another city in Europe and a flight to Canada. Now it’s much more difficult: a Moscow-Petersburg plane, a bus from St. Petersburg to Finland, a night there, and then a plane to some European city, and only then a flight to Canada. The journey takes 2–3 days. Now we will fly through Istanbul, which is also a long way.

Did you originally plan that your daughter would represent Canada?

Martine Dagenais: Yes, we have known about this for a long time. The main reason is that there is less competition. In Russia, this is very difficult; all the girls are very good. In addition, now she can compete internationally. This is a big advantage.

What is the difference between working with skaters in Russia and Canada?

Martine Dagenais: Everything is very different. Here in Russia, there is a huge sense of discipline, and everything is very serious. Children are prepared for competitions in a different way. In Canada, the main thing is that the child is happy and smiles more. If a child performs unsuccessfully at competitions, no one will make the end of the world out of it. In Russia, parents can press a little, “Why did we skate?!”, and in Canada, it’s “Next time will be better.” There is less stress, and the atmosphere is simpler, but the results, of course, are not the same because in Canada there is no such discipline as in Russia.

Alexandra Trusova trained with you from 9 to 12 years old. At that age, was it clear that she would grow into a great athlete?

Martine Dagenais: From the very beginning, it was clear that Sasha would be a good athlete. She always listened carefully to what the coaches told her. She was like a sponge; she absorbed everything and took new information. And most importantly, she did everything we asked.

Trusova has always been very strong physically; she did push-ups better than all the boys. Nature gave her great strength, and she took advantage of it. We knew she would perform well.

Her five quads at the Olympics are just Bravo, Bravo, Bravo. Few skaters can do that.

Do you think she is still able to surprise?

Martine Dagenais: Sasha is very strong. But in June she will be 19 years old—she is already a woman. It is more difficult for her to jump quads than before. The best age for figure skaters is 15–16 years old. I can’t say how she will perform. But I hope that she can still perform at a high level.

Are quintuple jumps possible?

Martine Dagenais: I think yes. But it is important to understand that the federations, the ISU, and the judges are trying to make the skaters pay more attention to artistry, the second mark. So I don’t know exactly when the quintuples will appear. But I’m sure they will.


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