2004 Russian Nationals Interview
October – Dmitriev show. “Then I thought he’d gotten unaccustomed to journalists’ attention. When I asked for time to talk, he questioned, “An interview? With me? Do you think it’s necessary” after looking at his watch, he sighed sadly, “I’ll come to you in the stands before rehearsal. Will 20 minutes be enough”
….Then I remembered his quote “I’m not sad. My eyes are just like that.” :
Then I asked, is show – a chance to make money or fun?
“It’s fun, although rare. I’m glad to still be in demand. Recently, I went to Korea and skated in Bobrin’s theater. I try to keep myself in shape as best I can. I get joy from skating and it’s good for the family budget.”
Does touring conflict with coaching?
“I try to find a compromise. Sometimes it’s tough though. I’d like to give pupils more time.”
What’s more important?
“Both. I like what I’m doing. I have decent skaters, who are starting to get results. ILya Gurilev is a very small boy, but was second at the kids’ nationals. Valera Vorobeva was at junior nationals and finished 7th.”
Q. I thought you left pros because you were disappointed in it.
“I was more disappointed with the small number of invitations I got. That’s how it went. Not the best way for me. There aren’t many skating tours of a high level in America. It’s just Stars on Ice and Collins. There are other collectives in Italy and Germany, but they’re not as large. The chance for working regularly in America didn’t come about because they make contracts years ahead of time with people, and I wasn’t one of those people. So there were just once-off exhibitions that suit me now as a coach. For example, I wasn’t in Bobrin’s group numbers, but just did solos. Nevertheless, I quite enjoyed being part of the collective.”
Q. Do you make new programs or use old ones?
“When I can, I make new ones, if there is time. I skated one of those this summer. Of course, I also modernize older ones. Evgeni Serezhnikov, with whom I worked a lot as an athlete, helps me. Of course, it doesn’t count as athletic training because the demands aren’t as great. But I try to keep a schedule. I come to the rink, work with pupils, then I skate myself. For now, it works. Sometimes I get cold on the ice, can’t manage to get warm or rest, but I know there is no other time. Our schedule is very tight. I don’t always have a chance to work with the music. Especially in the heat of the season and everyone is practicing with music.”
“Plus I have children that I only see early in the morning and late in the evening when I get home from the rink. Sometimes I’m late for work because I want to be with my sons more.”
Are twins tough?
“Because there are two. Now they’re 2, so there’s care enough for everyone, my wife, and grandmas.”
Kids on ice?
“It’s too early. All the children’s coaches say even 3 is too early. After age 4, the child is old enough to get it. Any work before that is pointless.”
Working with kids?
- “Good question. Of course there were problems. Each coach wants to give the students all their knowledge right away. But you can’t always manage it. I started working with Valera 3 years ago, when she was 12. She wasn’t ready to do what I suggested. We had to start from the beginning.”
Trial and error?
-“It varies. I tried to get information from everywhere. My experience, other coaches’. I never thought the information that I got in childhood would restore itself so much. I started to remember things that I was taught by Natalya Golubeva, Nina Monakhova before I went to Mishin.”
Do you keep a coaches’ diary?
“From time to time I write down my more interesting thoughts.”
Q. RE; working with someone to start? Mishin?
“We never discussed such a thing. I think we both realized neither of us needed it. I wanted to work independently from the beginning and he knew it perfectly well.”
- Q. re: period of Plushenko-Yagudin-Urmanov?
“The thing is the competitive period of Yagudin, Plushenko and I was not very long. SO if Mishin feels guilty [to Urmanov] then it’s a total waste. I was never offended. It’s different when a coach decides which one of his athletes he’s putting his money one, then as much as he tries to hide it, it’s completely obvious. Probably, it’s psychologically correct to try to hide it, so that skaters won’t see who has more potential than the rest. Because the rest will just leave you. I understand that now.”
“ In 1997, I was injured and couldn’t recover for a long time. I went with the group to Spain for the summer camp, but couldn’t train like the rest. The leg hurt too badly. The coach had to pay more attention to those who could work. It’s natural. Aleksei Nikolaevich still helped me a lot, took me to the doctors, so I never felt abandoned. But he was obligated to Zhenya and Lesha. It’s his profession.
“During that camp, Plushenko was just learning the triple axel and I helped him directly with it. I think everyone who has been successful does such things. Dmitriev was a big help to SIkharulidze. Any normal person in a group will give some pointers to a young athlete. The main thing is that it be with good intentions and from the heart.”
“Coaching work means going after results. If you don’t aim for them you won’t get anything. I would like to make Olympic champions, but it’s early to talk about it. So my goal is to make athletes that can progress, go for the top. But we don’t yet know what kind of arsenal they’ll need for that. It’s so unpredictable because skating changes so fast. It’s possible the new judging system will change everything.”
Q. What kind of athlete were you to work with? Tough or easy?
“Tough. I’m very different in serious work than now in conversation. Moreover, I was younger and didn’t understand a lot of things. In part, a lot in life should be accepted calmly. But I reacted to everything too emotionally. I wasted energy and nerves on nothing. But I see that now. Then I couldn’t see it.
“On the other hand, I quickly understood my tasks and did them. I think it was convenient for coaches. I learned fast and could show others. It was more difficult during the creative processes, especially during choreography. I didn’t like changes. I didn’t understand what I’m now being convinced of each day as a coach – from which side things look better, what is really good and what needs changing. You have to trust the teacher and I protested.”
Re: school figures?
“It’s hard to say for myself, but generally. A talented person, gifted naturally for skating, can do without figures. But when there isn’t enough talent and you have to get results from sheer effort, then figures are a huge help. Unfortunately, most young skaters can’t do them. There isn’t time for it. I remember Aleksei Nikolaevich asked me while I was still skating to make the beginning of a program for one of his girls. I said, “Do “petelechka”, then turn and do a “skobochka”.” The girl looked at me oddly, and then I realized she had no idea what I was saying. I had to show her. She still couldn’t do these elementary figures. And eally they are the base for mastery over blades."
Q. Your coach said you become harder to coach after Lillehammer…
“Probably, the thing is that being Olympic champion is a very high level and you can’t bend it. So it was tougher for the coach. It’s easier to work with someone who hasn’t achieved anything.”
Q. Do you recall the Olympics often?
“Not now, I’m a realistic person and live for today.”
Q. Do you keep the medals?
“My wife and I just finished renovations of the flat where we want to live. We plan to have a corner for my sports career. I didn’t have such a chance before, we lived 5 of us in a 2-room flat – mom, dad, grandparents. But I knew that someday I’ll hang the medals on the wall. It’s like a memory of that old life of mine. I still can’t watch the Olympics calmly. SLC was like a non-stop nightmare for me.
“I think you shouldn’t pervert the Olympics the way they have. Not just in figure skating. Every day there was some scandal. I know the effort they put in to reach that level. Maybe when I’m retired, I’ll watch sports like a normal viewer. But while I’m still cooking in this stew, I’ll still be vicariously with our athletes, whoever they might be.”
Q - Memory of a great Standing ovation?
“The most memorable skate I had was in Dortmund at Europeans in 1995, when I go 6.0s for “Swan Lake”. I got a standing ovation. And one of the first to stand was Oleg Protopopov.”
Someone told you?
“I saw it myself. Coincidentally. I skated to the center to bow and when I raised my arms, I saw directly oppostite of me that in one of the first rows Protopopov was getting up and applauding me. That was powerful. So much that I can still the picture of it in my mind.”