Original – Tarasova interview with Elena Vaitsehovskaya
Tatiana Tarasova: “A STEP IS NOT ENOUGH. WE NEED A BREAKTHROUGH”.
For skaters, the Summer is behind-the-scenes time. Music is chosen, programs are created, but we can only guess how it will work out. So far, one thing is for certain – Russian team in up for a difficult season. Turin Olympic champions Evgeni Plushenko, Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, Tatitana Navka and Roman Kostomarov, as well as the two time World champion Irina Slutskaya have all taken a time out, and won’t take the eligible ice for at least a year.
The “SE” correspondent has asked the consulting coach of the Russian team Tatiana Tarasova to talk about the goings on in figure skating today.
“Tatiana Anatolievna, I know you spent almost the whole Summer at the Olympic training camp for skaters in Novogorsk. Could you share your impressions as to what we can expect in the next Olympic cycle? The fans, after all, do worry.”
“It’s good that they worry, that they feel for us. I confess – I didn’t expect the work to go at such speed. A huge program was developed to examine athletes in Russia. Almost all our coaches took part in this project, including myself. We enjoyed consulting anyone who wanted help – we both created programs and selected music. Just imagine – all top choreographers were involved in working with the junior team! We already had several test skates for the juniors in Novogorsk in both ice dancing and single skating. This helped us see the picture in each of those disciplines.”
“So how is it?”
“Lena Kustarova and Svetlana Alekseeva are doing a great job with the ice dancers. Ira Zhuk and Sasha Svinin are also showing results. One of Kustarova’s teams, for example, is quite ready to fight for the top spots at the junior level.”
“Why aren’t you naming the athletes?”
“That’s on purpose. I think at this stage the coaches’ work is far more important.”
“We have already talked about it after the Turin Games. At the time, many noted the third Russian ice dancing team – Yana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski, who were incidentally coached by Zhuk and Svinin.”
“I sat in at the practices of Ira and Sasha’s group. I liked how they have it set up. Junior teams work alongside the adults, and that produces noticeable growth. Khkokhlova and Novitski improved even further. They have interesting programs and clean elements. I am happy to see this. I enjoy seeing the good coming out of my help.
Frankly, following the Turin Games, I was deep down hoping that if I work less I won’t have to go to so many practice sessions. Now, it turns out that there amount of work is staggering. And that this work is incredible exciting.”
“Do you continue to consult the singles as well?”
“I work with anyone who asks for help. By the way, I can say that singles men situation is quite promising. Much better than in ladies’. In general, that’s understandable – girls always have certain problems when they start growing. Therefore, one needs a lot of experience to get them to top results. Therefore, I am very glad to see a good girl in the group of Elena Anatolievna Tchaikovskaya and Vladimir Kotin. There are good kids training with Zhanna Gromova, Elena Vodorezova, Victor Kudrjavtsev, and Natalia Dubinskay. What’s most exciting, though, is that all that work directed toward the future is finally coming together.
During camp and test skates in Novogorsk, we had the best specialists with real competition experience. They judged and analyzed absolutely everything, including elements and difficulty levels.
All information was immediately entered into a computer, processed, and discussed. In other words, the judges were not only checking the athletes and the coaches, but also themselves. It was amazingly interesting to see our work from that angle, while simultaneously getting consultations on any question.
Valentin Piseev was personally at the rink from the early morning until late at night. He talked to the coaches and discussed problems with the athletes to know what kind of help they need. We really tried not to let anyone or anything fall through the cracks. I think we succeeded. In any case, I can’t imagine what else we could have done to achieve the results that Russian fans expect as soon as possible.”
“Yet the team is in for a difficult, perhaps a failing year. Right?”
“Let’s be honest. For years, there was sort of a “group B” behind us, the country’s leading coaches. We even had it within each group. The second team, the second skater. However, right now we don’t have that “group B”. That’s why we are doing everything in our power to not just make a step forward, but a breakthrough. We put all of our efforts into this, and I think we’re succeeding.”
“Following the Turin Games there were several interviews with the champions, where they all in one way or another made it clear that they’d stay eligible if they were to receive a more solid financial support. What do you personally think – perhaps it would have been worth it to try to find personal sponsors for the stars, somehow convince them to stay?”
“I am sincerely grateful to our Olympic champions that they carried through this Olympics. I think they now deserve to do whatever they want. No one has a right to tell them what to do. In any case, they can all use some rest. In a year, they’ll get back to normal and make a decision themselves. If a person still feels up to competing and fighting, it’s unlikely he’ll just leave the sport. At the same time, I am very happy that the team still has Masha Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov. I personally asked them to stay. They are a true top level pair, and I think we have a better change to raise the younger teams alongside them.”
“Is it true that Alexander Zhulin plans to return to Russia and train here?”
“Yes. It’s not only his wishes. It’s in our federation’s interests as well. I think Sasha will have all conditions for work, though it hasn’t been decided which rink he’ll train at. After all, he’s not just a young coach. He is someone who has prepared Olympic champions. That’s a whole different level.
FFKR plans to return to Russia those who still work abroad. However, that can’t be done overnight. People can’t just come and live at the train depot. Besides, many have foreign students – for example Zhenya Platov is now coaching the British ice dancing team of the Kerr siblings.”
“What’s your take on the fact that several of the new generation coaches, including Olympic champions Evgeni Platov, Artur Dmitriev, and Oksana Kazakova, all agreed to take part in a long TV show project? Do you worry it can negatively impact their main work?”
“It’s a very interesting project that also pays well. Skaters aren’t rich, so why turn it down? Besides, as far as I know, taking part in this project absolutely doesn’t hinder coaching. It’s just that some temporarily have to do it at night.
As to the show itself, I think it’s far more interesting for the TV viewer that “Star Factory” and endless action movies where eight hundred people a minute are killed, and it’s impossible to understand what’s going on. Figure skating with world famous people is at least fun. And, I think, it makes people respect the skater’s labors more – it’s clear that it’s not so easy to even skate from one end of the rink to another.”
“Do you plan to attend this season’s major competitions?”
“Certainly those in Russia. As to the International ones, I haven’t thought about it yet. Perhaps, I’ll go to the first one. But I somehow get the feeling that for now I’m needed here more. It’s the personal coaches that have to accompany their athletes abroad.”