This is a very long article (12 pages in Word at 12 point font). Even though I have not made time for translating in a while, I thought this article would be particularly interesting for those of us who are fans of skating. Platov discusses his thoughts on COP (and doesn’t hold back), coaching, Krilova-Ovsiannikov , and his skating career. This interview was for a skating magazine, so his comments include insights that would be irrelevant for “regular” press. I realize that my English is not what it used to be, so if there are things that do not make sense – please do not hesitate to ask for clarification.
“On Both Sides of the Boards”
“Figure Skating” magazine Issue 20, 2006
Translation M. Diffley
It’s believed that brilliant athletes don’t make good coaches. Two-time iced dance Olympic champion Evgeny Platov, following in the footsteps of Natalya Linichuk and Oleg Vasiliev, successfully rebuts that proposition. His first steps as a coach indicate that he has correctly chosen his profession. It is simply a pleasure to talk about figure skating with Platov. His judgements are precise and specific and his speech is articulate. And even his most revealing admissions could not offend those whose athletic fates have crossed paths with Evgeny’s.
Obligation to Navka
Q. How difficult is it for a two-time Olympic champion to take on the coaching role?
“I never suspected how difficult coaching is while I lived my daily life as an athlete. When I competed, I just could not comprehend what the person behind the boards was feeling. Only now, after having stood there myself, have I come to fully feel the rigors of this craft. Many skaters of my generation have become coaches and when we meet up, conversation always starts with the question: ‘How did your first competition go?’ The most common answer you’ll here is ‘I don’t remember anything. Just that my legs were shaking nervously.”
Q. It is not possible that skaters experience less stress than coaches at the most critical starts!
“When an athlete goes out on the ice, the nerves disappear with the sound of the first notes of music. However, a coach remains in a state of great stress during the whole course of the four-minute dance. He is vicariously with his students. He is trying to send them his energy. From the sidelines, the coach’s actions can even look funny: there maybe some kinds of grimaces, aimless running along the boards. In reality, though, this is all a reflection of huge internal labor. Occasionally, competing fatigues the coach as much as the skater.”
Q. Do you remember your first competition as a coach?
“Of course. We (Galit Chait & Sergei Sakhonovski) went to Skate America. While the guys were skating the Golden Waltz, I was thinking that I was about to die. This happened even though my first baptism with fire occurred during a show, for which I had choreographed an exhibition program “Stranger in my House” for Galit and Sergei. We enjoyed working together. The debut occurred at Champions on Ice, so there should not have been any nerves… All the same, as they began to skate, I could not really understand what was happening with me. So you can only imagine what competitions are like! Now my experiencing is building up, so my legs don’t shake anymore.”
Q The formal arrangement of your New Jersey group this Olympic season is that two pairs are yours and two are Zhulin’s.
“The surnames on the press sheets are a formality. We work together on one ice.”
Q. Are you equally emotionally invested in everyone?
“Absolutely. Moreover, Tanya Navka and I go way back. When Oksana Grishuk was dropped from Natalya Dubova’s group in 1992, I was advised to take Navka as my partner. We skated together for three months, but in the end I returned to Grishuk. I did not feel guilty, but rather obligated to Tanya. It is a great pleasure to help her.”
I don’t feel that Zhulin is my BOSS
Q. Did you return to Grishuk because you saw that Tanya was in love with Sasha Zhulin?
“No, there were no personal issues involved. It is just that Grishuk and I were already world bronze medallists, and were treated as a high-level team. By this time, I had worked in Dubova’s group 10 years. I trusted her completely. When she proposed that I skate with Navka, I did not have a choice. Due to the respect I had for Natalya Ilichina, I could not immediately, impulsively leave with Grishuk for another coach. But Dubova was giving all her attention to Usova-Zhulin, and her promises to work with Tanya and me 24 hours a day rang hollow. That is when I decided to return to Grishuk and win the Olympics under the tutelage of a different coach. As you can tell, it all worked out. Sometimes Tanya and I talk about what would have happened if we had continued to skate together. It is good for a laugh.”
Q Would you skate with Tanya now, just for a joke?
“Who needs to joke? We skate together at nearly every practice when I have to explain something to Roman.”
Q People recall your competitiveness with Zhulin and are surprised that you began to work together.
“We met in 1980 at competitions, sponsored by the newspaper “Evening Odessa’. Sasha had just started to skate with Maya Usova. We then skated together in one group for 10 years in Moscow. We shared the locker room and went to nearly all the same competitions. Despite our competitiveness on the ice, we always got along in life.”
Q. You began coaching under Tatyana Anatolievna Tarasova…
“She worked in Simsbury, which is near Boston. I live closer to New York. By American standards, the distance between these places is significant. For two years, I traveled this route of 300 kilometers back and forth once a week. After we had worked together for two years, Tatyana Anatolievna decided to go back to Moscow. And I was out of the picture. I could have continued working in Simsbury, but I really wanted to live at home – I have a comfortable, great house.”
Q. How did the alliance with Zhulin form?
“A year before Tarasova left for Moscow, my students, Chait and Sakhnovsky, did some training with Zhulin’s group. Tatyana Druchinina, a wonderful choreographer and fantastic person, works in this group. When we saw that Tanya Navka improves choreographically not daily, but hourly, we realized that somebody special is working with her. We decided it would be good for Galit and Sergei to participate in this school. I went a few times to see how they train. When Tatyana Anatolievna left, Sasha and I tried working together. We’ve been at it since July 4th.”
Q. You had a different relationship with Tatyana Anatolievn than with Zhulin…
“Of course, she is the boss, I am the helper. I learned a lot from her. Tatyana Anatolievna is not just a great coach, she is a great teacher. Even though we did programs for Shizuka Arakawa, Lesha Yagudin and all the other skaters in our group together, I was always just an assistant. It was incredibly interesting work. There was no such thing as a life – there was only work, but I learned a lot over those two years. Wish Sasha, we are partners, everything is 50-50.”
Q Did Zhulin ever have a creeping bad feeling like my colleague is a two-time Olympic champion and I am just a silver medallist?
“No, you cannot be serious. If Sasha ever had some light envy, it disappeared long ago. Sasha has been coaching for over 12 years. He has solid experience. We complement each other well. Zhulin is more into choreography and I am more the technician.”
Grishuk was the Third
Q. We know how your coaching tandems developed, but what about your dance teams?
“I had three partners over the course of my sports career. Lena Krikanova and I skated together for 9 years and won three world junior titles. Nobody has beaten our record yet, even though when we skated the age limit was 18 and now they can skate until 21.”
Q. Why did a team with such potential split?
“We were both 18 and girls mature faster. I was still a kid, but in a split second Lena turned into a real lady. Our team lost its special quality. When we were equal, this quality shone like a star, but then its light went out. Off-ice issues emerged; she planned to marry… In short, she just outgrew me. Dubova then recommended finding a different girl.
“I looked for the fire that had been lost with Lena and found it in Larisa Fedorinova. She was a highly talented athlete, as flexible as a human snake. We skated for three years and even went to the world championships as the third Russian team. We finished sixth – things seemed great.”
Q. But you split with Larisa…
“She gained weight – and got all the way to 69 kilograms (trans. 152 pounds)! Lifting her became impossible. So the time came to find a new partner again. Thanks to Dubova for finding me Grishuk. Honestly speaking, at first, I did not believe our duo could be successful. We had completely different technique.”
Q How can that be if you are both from Odessa?
“Oksana never trained under Boris Alekseevich Rublev. She was a singles skater and left for Moscow at a very young age. Her first adult coach was Natalya Linichuk. It took a year for Oksana and I to get used to each other”
Q Your foundation was Dubova’s technique – Oksana’s was Linichuk’s. Which technique did Grishuk-Platov adopt?
“Dubova’s school of technique is by far superior. To say someone has a “Dubova blade” is high praise for any skater. There were always excellent specialists working with Natalya Ilichina. Mark Gurevich – a great fan of skating, was a big help to us. When Dubova made the Golden Waltz for Klimova-Ponomarenko , Gurevich wrote down every step and turned it into a compulsory dance. Eduard Evgenevich Samokhin, the father of a fairly famous skater, prepared Lena Krikanova and I for the world junior championships in Sarajevo and Colorado Springs. Along with Natalya Dubova, naturally, these two people comprised the Dubova school. I gained a great deal from them.
“Linichuk taught us other things: the ability to think, to put your emotions and soul into a dance. I think it was my tremendous luck to work with three great coaches. Two I already named, the third was Tatyana Anatolievna Tarasova.”
Q. They say Linichuk and Tarasova had a pact “make no peace and you won’t start a war” – did their conflicts affect you and Oksana?
“No, it did not concern us. At one time, Tatyana Anatolievna warred with Dubova. It was pretty interesting to observe the off-ice intrigues when Klimova-Ponomarenko and Bestemianova- Bukin competed. For us, it was calm. When we left Linichuk, we just called and explained our motivations for leaving.”
Q. If you went back 15 years in time and became an athlete again, to which coach would you turn?
“Probably, I would not change anything. I got the best out of each coach. Dubova gave technique, Linichuk opened up Oksana and me as dancers and Tarasova found new aspects that she made stand out – and they enabled us to win the second Olympics.”
Taming the Shrew
Q. You and Oksana have completely different characters.
“When you have a goal, you close your eyes on everything else to attain it. We argued often and it was a lot of work to keep our team together to achieve our stated aims.”
Q. How did you respond in the past and now to her public comments about fights, face-spitting and other unpleasantries?
“Oksana is a very talented person and impossibly industrious. During training, most teams take a 30 second breather after working on a piece of the program. My partner needed only 3 seconds before she was anxious to skate. And have me out there with her! It was this irrepressible desire to work in the name of future victories that was the cause of her excessive behaviors. She just lost self-control. Recently, Oksana and I recalled this time – moreover, we did so calmly. She even asked me why neither I nor our coaches stopped her hysterics. Although I think if you would look at the video of our training sessions, it would become clear that it would have been impossible. By the way, we were not exceptions. Many teams have breakdowns.”
Q. When did they happen most often with you and Oksana?
“The biggest problems occurred when we created programs. Naturally, you are always doubting whether or not you found the right element. You want each step to be unique. In our battle for perfection, we broke down a lot of copies. But the programs turned out great! My favorite is the Arab Dance, which Grishuk and I did together without coaches. Even seeing it now, I get goosebumps. I remember how it came to life.”
Q. Which of your coaches was best able to cope with Grishuk?
“Everyone helped me to deal with Oksana’s crazy character. Tarasova was the best. We came to her 14 months before the Olympic Games. At the Europeans in 1997, we skated programs that were already prepared, but then we made “Memorial”. This program did not work for a long time. At first, it did not work at all. We even wanted to go back to the Arab dance. Only as Nagano approached, did we start to fully skate the program that enabled us to win the Games a second time.”
Golden Rock and Roll
Q. It was rock and roll – an unlikely musical choice, that brought you your first Olympic gold.
“In my opinion, the most dangerous thing to do in skating is to change your style. It is a total risk- sink or swim. There is no in-between.”
Q. How did you manage to swim?
“Probably, it is because we revealed qualities that I had not imagined we possessed. Linichuk had this ideas for the pre-Olympics season 92/93. We turned it down. I just could not buy it – what kind of rock and roller am I? Natalya Vladimirovna explained that even Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov – renowned classists, skated to this rhythm. But she still didn’t convince me. We then chose blues, as did our competitors Usova-Zhulin, by the way.”
Q. So how did they break you with regard to rock and roll?
“In the summer of 1993, Linichuk recommended it again and we refused once more. Then Natalya Vladimirovna gave it to Krilova and Anzhelika and Volodya Federov started making the program. As Oksana and I listened carefully to the music we rejected, we realized our error. It was a total 10 – or 6, according to the old scale. At first, I still did not want to admit though, because I wanted to skate to Spanish music.
“This is where Grishuk’s character decided to break me. Her only argument was “I believe in it!” Even though it seemed to people that we hated each other and never interacted outside of practice, we were able to discuss all these questions in an appropriate manner. I went to meet her, along with my then-wife Masha Anikanova. Then she and Oksana teamed up and convinced me together. Against such a killer force, there was no way to win. Especially since it really was winning music.”
Q. So how did this go over with Krilova and Fedorov?
“It resulted in a scandal. They had so fallen in love with the dance that they chose a different rock and roll piece. So we were happy. We found a great choreographer of ballroom dances – Yuri Kondrashev. He made our program. At first, we learned to dance rock and roll on the floor. In the beginning, nothing worked. It took time to understand the character of these dance movements and then to translate them on the ice. The first skates were tortuous. We would fall on the ice from fatigue after just the first section – 1 minute, 10 seconds. We were ready to throw up! It was not clear how we would ever skate a whole program. The style was so unusual and, on the ice, all those flying legs were dangerous. We had to wear shinguards or might have gotten bone fractures. But our torture paid for itself many times over. Everything worked: the music, the program, and the effect of doing something new.”
Q. Why did it not work for Krilova and Federov?
“The didn’t choose a ballroom (or as they say now sport) dance rhythm, but an acrobatic rock and roll. It requires totally different technique. What helped Oksana and me was our wonderful foundation gained by daily ballet lessons and Dubova’s discipline. Now I apply parts of Natalya Ilichina’s methods in my work: if you skipped choreography, then you cannot go on the ice.”
Q. The Lillehammer Games were unique in that nobody could say afterward – there is a queue for medals in ice dance.
“My American friends, who do not understand anything about figure skating, wrote me on the Net – many people think an Eastern judging bloc had the most votes and that is why you were first over Torville and Dean. I did not argue – I just gave them the tapes. The next day, they called and apologized: ‘We just cried. Torville and Dean and Usova and Zhulin skated great, but you were better.’ Then I offered them the original dance. But without exception, my friends gave the original dance to Torville & Dean. Oksana and I and Sasha and Maya skated, but they danced.”
In Nagano We Could Have Lost
Q. Why, after winning everything possible – nationals, Europeans, worlds, did you leave Linichuk for Tarasova?
“The two strongest teams cannot have the same coach. No matter how hard everyone tries, jealous and offenses are unavoidable. We were friends with Angelika and Oleg. We even lived in one house. But when they reached our level, someone had to go.”
Q. Usually, that is the second team.
“I think that by that time Linichuk was tired of our scandalous practices. Now I am in her place and realize that sometimes working with some people is more comfortable than working with others. You can work 24-7 with students who trust you implicitly and meet all your demands. There was another factor – we had already won the Olympics; they had not. For a coach to get two teams to the top of the podium – that’s awesome.
“When Linichuk and Karponosov left with their other teams for competitions and left us, basically on our own, for a whole month, I realized that Linichuk definitely did not prefer us. The only help we had was from a fan, who videotaped us. Oksana realized what was going on much earlier. Women’s brains are more flexible.”
Q. How can you explain the initial failure of “Memorial”?
“When Tatyana Anatolievna found this music, it was immediately clear that it meant victory. Just like rock and roll in Lillehammer. We just needed the perfect arrangement and we decided to put the Bolero rhythm behind the melody – although not right away. At first, Grishuk did not like this music at all. In the beginning, she simply stated her opinion, then as we say she “dropped a bomb” (Trans. Platov doesn’t mention a bomb… but the verb is not a standard Russian one. Basically dropped a bomb/threw a curveball, etc. is what is intended here.): ‘I shall not skate to it, you can cut me if you like!” (Trans. I chose to use “cut” instead of “stab” because this is typical street language when things get heated, so I’m matching it with English street language. It is not typical language in “civilized” Russian language disagreements. ) Then Tatyana Anatolievna left for New York for three days and went to Alik Goldstein, who had done arrangements for Soviet
skaters. For three days, she did not leave his house or even answer the telephone. Then she came back with a stack of cassettes that made a pile from the floor to the ceiling and said, ‘Choose!’ Three of the options were simply inimitable.”
Q. Did your partner acknowledge you were right immediately?
“No, of course not. I realized that if I did not put pressure on Oksana, then we would lose. She had pressured me for four years – now it was my turn. We started practicing, but after a few months, she “dropped a bomb” again. This music annoys me. I do not understand it. We shall choose something else. It was almost November at that point. So we had to convince her again.”
Q. Who did it, you or Tatyana Anatolievna?
“I think we did it together. Oksana was a unique case. She ran up, grabbed Tarasova by the collarbone, and starting shaking her and screaming, “Will we win or not?” She shook her like a pear tree – even though their weight categories were not exactly even.”
Q. You did not actually think that you could lose to Angelika and Oleg?
“It could have happened easily. We were very close to it. A minor weakness and we would have lost.”
Q. Do you think their choice of “Carmen” was a mistake?
“Their mistake was that they did not choose a canonized portion of the great opera as Navka-Kostomarov did this season. They chose the modern ballet version of George Killian. They practically copied everything from it – the idea, movements, costumes. A composition performed in modern dance style must be performed at the highest level. If your arm or leg is not placed exactly right at any point – you’re done.
“They worked like fanatics that season. Physically, they were better prepared than we. Moreover, Angelika and Oleg were younger and they really wanted to beat us. I admit that they skated their original dance better than we, even though we used a brilliant choreographer who had worked with Torville and Dean. We had a nice little dance, but it was not super or chic. But Krilova and Ovsiannikov danced an incredibly impressive jive.”
Five Years of Mutuality
Q. Grishuk said in an interview with our magazine that you could have skated at a third (Trans. sic – fourth) Olympics?
“If you ignore injuries (I have had two knee surgeries and dislocated shoulder), then probably we could have. And if it had been possible to tame Oksana’s character at least by half… As a professional, I skated 5 years with Maya Usova and we did not argue once.”
Q. Do you think Maya’s soft character kept her from winning the Olympics?
“Maybe. There are more important things in life than winning medals. It is also important to enjoy work.”
Q. The famous ice dance coach Martin Skotnicky said the ideal team is a brother-sister team. Non-relatives will always be strangers, no matter how well they act, and husbands and wives can bring family problems with them to the ice.
“Maybe Skotnicky came to develop this opinion in his work with the Dushenays. Having worked with Aleksandra and Roman Zaretski, I cannot agree. I think the ideal pair is one of friends, who can calmly call each other after training and say, ‘hey, let’s go to the movies.’”
Q. Who suggested skating together – you or Maya?
“I called her. The most interesting thing is that I made this decision two days after winning in Nagano. Oksana had “dropped a bomb” again. We received an offer to skate in an unique show. Just champions and Olympic medallists! The first skate in Tokyo went fantastically. In Nagano, the prices had been inflated and a huge number of seats had been purchased by big corporations – so the arena was full of stone-faced people, who did not understand skating or even know how to clap. We did not understand – ‘Why are we being so badly received?’ They explained to us that normal people could not afford tickets. All the fans went to Tokyo, where the organizers basically repeated the Olympics. Anisina-Peizerat skated first, followed by Krilova-Ovsiannikov , then us. It was just like the Olympic Games, only without marks. There was no limit to the public’s appreciation. We could not even get into the hotel after the performance! We were supposed to continue with this
tour in North America, but Oksana suddenly refused. It was not interesting or necessary for her. She rushed to Los Angeles to film a talk show.”
Q. Convincing her otherwise was impossible?
“For three days, the IMG boss, Japanese producers and I did nothing else. Oksana just “lost her mind”. She had gotten involved with Hollywood agents, who played with her mind about a film career. We could not agree about show skating with anyone because of my partner’s pay demands. We had a million opportunities to find a terrific agent and a profitable offer for a contract with IMG. But Oksana did not want to give anyone a percentage. She fought with all the producers – demanding three to five times what they were offering. I just had the sense that after winning the second Olympics, I was about to lose my job.
“Then Grishuk called me from Los Angeles to tell me she had no concrete plans for us skating together. Now Oksana says skating was always her top priority, but 8 years ago she was hot for Hollywood. That’s when I called Mayka.”
Q. It’s like a Hollywood movie plot twist.
“It is really interesting that when I started skating with Oksana, I figured we would achieve everything in amateurs, but that I would go pro with someone else. True, Maya and I could not skate like Oksana and I did. We didn’t have to. But my dream came true – to perform for a long time, to get pleasure from skating and to feel love from the fans. I could not have lasted as long with Grishuk after leaving amateur skating.”
Q. Do you remember your new partner’s reaction to such a surprising offer?
“Maya later admitted to being shocked by it. She and Sasha had decided to do a final tour and quit. From the very first days of performing together, it was just cool. And not just in the shows. We bought homes just outside of New York, were mentored in coaching work by Tatyana Anatolievna. For five years, we lived in perfect harmony.”
Q. Did you feel the absence of competitive adrenaline when you were just skating in shows?
“Of course, it is a pity that pro competitions have been wiped off the face of the earth. The current ISU president has a negative attitude toward professional skating. I have talked with him a lot on this topic. Moreover, after having effectively killed off professional skating, he will not allow those who wish to return skate in amateur competitions. Even Grishuk, who really wanted to skate with Peter Tcherneshev, was not permitted to do so. Although, together – they would be a totally new team.”
Never Break Students
Q. Why has Maya Usova’s coaching career not gone as well as yours, given that she also learned under Tarasova?
“She is a very soft person.
“When you become a coach, you realize that it is impossible to work in this craft without harshness and discipline. Although a coach should be able to be warm to his students – sit together and drink a cup of tea. When you feel respected, works flows in a totally different way. The “Sovdepovskaya” (Trans. Soviet despot?) school that assumes the inscrutable authority of the teacher and the unquestioning obedience of the students is passé. People are different today. The boundaries have been erased. Young people spend hours on the Internet. They already know more than we do. It is wrong to break them.”
Q. Who was your harshest coach – Dubova?
“Dubova’s discipline crossed all reasonable boundaries. It turned a person into a robot. But the times were different. Remember the scandals between hockey players, who later became NHL stars, and Viktor Vasilievich Tikhonov?”
Q. What do you think of the new judging system?
“This new system, created by the current ISU president Ottavio Cinquata, is interesting to me. There are elements, criteria for the marks and specialists can see right away why marks have gone up or down. After Turino, the final doubts about whether or not ice dance is a sport were cleared away.”
Q. What needs to be done to neutralize the negative aspects of the new system?
“It is necessary to reveal the judges, who today can use their position to create completely limitless injustice. This occurred at the Europeans in Lyon, where one judge put the French team Delobel-Shoenfelder in first in the compulsory dance after a fall. And this, while the two-time world champions, who indisputably perform the best compulsories, were dropped to third. One judge even pushed Tanya and Roman down to 14th. That is totally criminal.
“Previously, after the competition concluded, the referee used to review which judges gave which marks to whom. If there was indication of clear bias, then the judge had to write an explanation of his marks. Now what can you do with this judge who is hidden in the labyrinth of the computer?
“I have been able to sit in on judges’ seminars and I can assess the preparation of the elite judges. Of course, there are true professionals among them, but about half of them are very far removed from such a categorization.”
Q. Could you work as a judge or technical controller?
“Never. I would be absolutely honest – and who needs judges like that? Now each judge is working for his country, and doing so anonymously. Coaches do not even have the right to approach ISU representatives with their questions about the judging. Only the presidents of the national federations are allowed to do this. Figure skating has become corrupted. It is time to compare it with professional boxing, where the results of matches are sometimes known in advance. It is practically said aloud that representatives of the United States must be on the podium because America means the television company NBC – and NBC means millions of dollars for the ISU.”
In Turino, It was Honest
Q. Nevertheless, Tanith Belbin and Benjamin Agosto lost to the Russians at the Olympic Games.
“I am being responsible when I declare that in Turin, Tanya and Roman displayed their best performance of their free skate all season. They adapted the best to the new rules. The rules dictate completely different approaches to training and competing. The footwork is such that skaters of my generation would have died during the third minute. This is why we saw the falls in the original dance from Lithuanians Margarita Drobyazko and Povilas Vanagas and Italians Barbara Fusar-Poli and Maurizio Margaglio.
“The young Americans do not yet meet the current requirements for dance. Tanith and Ben’s level is more juniorish. Yeah, the girl is as beautiful as a Barbie doll, but she is clearly not up to the technical level of her partner. It’s not Grishuk. It’s not Navka. That is why she had an error on the turn in the free dance and this mistake was the deciding factor in who won.”
Q. Do you agree that the key moment in the battle for the Olympic gold was the original dance?
“I think so. The Italians dropped to seventh right away. I would not say it simplified the battle for gold because the Americans got activated. However, the judges that were working for Barbara and Maurizio got neutralized. We only needed to skate clean. If Tanya and Roman had one mistake, they would have buried them.”
Q. Was Tatyana and Roman’s training in the Olympic season reminiscent of yours?
“When I joined the work with Tanya and Roma, I literally relived what happened 8 years ago. The atmosphere and mood at practice was very reminiscent of our preparation for Nagano. Each day had to be used to its maximum capacity.
“I do not know how much I helped the guys in the development of sequences, steps and spins, but psychologically – I let them down. About a half year before the Olympics, all the potential medal winners start to go batty. Tanya and Roma dealt with this problem the best of everyone.”
Q. It’s been a long time since an Olympic gold medal free dance was performed to classical music.
“Clearly, the time for classical music has arrived. I think Zhulin’s choice of “Carmen” was completely winning. Remember what was going on in the arena during the free dance? Our skaters were the only ones who got the audience to clap in time with the music. A different melody probably would not have allowed them to feel the same level of support from the Russian fans.”
Q. Would the Grishuk-Platov of Lillehammer or Nagano be able to defeat today’s Navka-Kostomarov?
“Hard to say. Today the skating level is totally different and there are new rules. As you see, the returning teams could not even get close to the [trans. Olympic] podium. When you do level 4 footwork sequences, your legs feel like they are about to fall off. The Italians and Lithuanians did not skate badly in Turino, but they are skaters of a different epoch. The current generation of skaters prepared their legs and heads for two to three years to be ready for 21st century competition. Could Oksana and I have done it? – Well, that is a big question.