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Interview with Shanti Ruchpaul, 1993 World Championships.

S: “Oksana and Zhenya called me. I understand that Sergei Ponomarenko recommended it- he called my husband (he’s Russian and lives in Moscow) and my husband called me. I took the offer.”

Q. Why?
S: “Because your skaters are incredibly talented. No other country has such a number of gifted children. Don’t ask me why – I don’t know. But it’s a fact. And talent is something that really draws you.”

Q. What are the problems of the team?
S: “Your skaters – and not just those with whom I work but also those I”ve simply observed at practice – think very little. They aren’t taught to analyze, but work mostly by instinct and often to the point of complete exhaustion. This is why they are psychologically instable. The Europeans are better prepared in this way. They don’t need so many nannies. That is the main minus.”

Q. A secondary deficiencies?
S: “There are a lot. The athletes eat badly, eating completely the wrong type of foods. They don’t know how to “make” their figure. Moreover, many of them (and practically all of the ones in Linichuk’s group with whom I’m working) are too young. They don’t have enough maturity, sensitivity, expression. They can’t always express their feelings with movement. In this plan I was very surprised by Tatyana Tarasova’s feeling and intuition with this. But she worked with more mature people. Who were also so talented that they could express any idea. And you didn’t have to explain to them – in this corner, you suffer and in that one, you’re happy.”
“Is it possible in figure skating for something to be easy? Klimova is a huge talent. Huge. She always knew better than us what wasn’t working – including the deficiencies of her figure, and knew how to hide her vulnerabilities so well that even I fell for it. When I worked with Marina and Sergei, Tarasova never tried to interfere with my work or control what I do. I considered it professional trust to a fellow professional, but the same Tarasova could tell me at any moment – “you’re not part of the team and aren’t traveling anywhere.”
“In an interview after they won Olympics, she announced that they had only worked with me one week. At first I took it as a personal insult, but then I realized that if I want to work with Russians, then probably I need to be ready to realize that they will forget to say thank you.”

Q. How long do you plan to work with Grishuk-Platov?
“Oh, Lord! As if it depends on me? Today they say one thing, tomorrow the opposite. Probably I have great self-love, but I can’t shake the feeling that from time to time people want me to feel that they don’t need my services too much. In my view coaches in general – and yours in particular – are really afraid of losing their power over skaters. And draconian dictatorships start.”

Q. Linichuk wants a variety of choreographers …
“I disagree. Each choreographer has her own perception of style and image of ideas, feeling for music and movement. To put it all in a bunch – is the same as to draw a picture and hand it to another person to paint it.”

Q- Then why don’t you refuse to work with them
“It’s very difficult to refuse to work with such talented people voluntarily.”
Q. in other words, you’re putting your money on Grishuk to win in Lillehammer? –
“Yes”

Q. Then what placement do you foresee for Usova-ZHulin?
“I don’t know. They are also incredibly talented. But when two pairs from one country are fighting for the gold medal, it’s always a question of internal politics, and often not the talent of the athletes or choreographer.”.

Q. If it’s not a secret why did you refuse to work with Surya Bonaly?
“It’s not excluded that we’ll work together. Her new coach Alen Giletti (4-time European champion and world champion in 1960) wants this very much. But if such a contract will be written then it must have all details to the very least worked out with regard to my relationships with her mother – and only through a lawyer and in writing.”

Q. Yikes.
S: “Unfortunately, there is no other way in this case. She just took everything to the limit with her eternal advice to the first coach Didier Gaillughet”.

Q. National pride – Dushenays – Klimova.
“I’m not so French. My father is from an ancient Indian peoples. My mother is a Polish Jew. In her time she gave yoga lessons to Olympic champion Jeane Claude Kille, and my knowledge of this art that I often use in work with athletes is from her. I was born in France, it’s true. But I’m married to a Russian and live in Norway. As for the Dushenays, I plan to meet with Isabelle’s husband, Christopher Dean quite soon.” [Trans. Dean and Dushenay have been divorced for some time now. He is married to Jill Trenary now.]

Q. Why – The Dushenays don’t compete?
“Yes, but since Albertville, Isabelle has suffered from depression. Maybe I can help her. It doesn’t affect my plans and huge desire to continue working with Russian figure skaters.”