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Thread: Elena Sokolova - Interview

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    Keepin' it real gsk8's Avatar
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    News Elena Sokolova - Interview

    Thank you, Ptichka! Translation: http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/34133.html

    I am the gentleman


    07-28-2008

    FIGURE SKATING STAR ELENA SOKOLOVA WILL HELP SARANSK ATHLETES ASCEND WORLD SUMMITS

    “You have a great Ice palace”, Elena Sokolova, the figure skating World vice-champion with Mordovian roots, noted during her first visit to the historic homeland. “In time, Saransk will become a famous figure skating center. I will do everything I can to that end!”

    Is she planning to open a figure skating school in the Mordovian capital? Why isn’t she taking part in the popular Channel One “Ice Period” project? Is she getting married? Taking part in the pair journalistic “skating” with this sports star is EVGENY NAUMOV.

    Saranks

    “S”: Lena did you like the Saransk Ice palace?


    I was honestly in awe. The conditions are superb! I’ve never seen a rink quite like that. Even when I performed abroad, the conditions are far more modest. Therefore, sooner or later, world caliber skaters will grow up in Saransk. I will help. How? I will conduct monthly master classes here. Rather, even the minor training camps. I will bring my leading students here, and together we will conduct joint classes with Mordovian kids. We’ve already discussed this with the rink director Valentin Knjazkin.

    “S”: Would you agree with have t he Mordovian figure skating school carry your name? There is a precedent: Republican boxing Youth Sports School is named after the professional world ex-champion Oleg Maskaev.


    I don’t mind. (smiles – “S”) Especially since I will take part in the rink’s work.

    “S”: Is it true that you’ve wrapped up your athletic career, and have now switched to coaching?

    No. I train others, but I also train myself. I spend about eight hours a day on the ice, though most of this time is spent as a coach. My best student is Yekaterina Shingarina. I even brought her to Saransk, so she could see the great conditions for herself. She, too, really liked your rink. The girl is very talented, the best of my students. She’s already Moscow champion, and I’ve only trained her for half-a-year. Katka is sure to get to the Sochi Olympics and win the gold medal there!

    “S”: Would you perhaps like to move to Saransk, may be move your students here as well…

    We can’t do it now, because I also work in journalism. So you and I are colleagues. I have my own show on “Sports Radio”; besides I am working on a special TV project on “Russia”.

    “S”: During your first visit to Mordovia, did you get to visit your grandfather’s historic homeland – the Dolgoverjasy town of the Krasnoslobodsk region?

    Of course! It’s a great town. Remarkable area. Nature there is amazing! Oh, and we were so well received! I even found some relatives. They showed me where my grandfather’s house used to stand. I even cried. In August, I am sure to take my mom to Dolgoverjasy again. I want to visit Mordovia often from now on.

    “S” By the way, I heard you have a godson in Saransk?

    Yes. Unfortunately, I won’t get to see him on this visit. He is in France with his parents. He’s a great boy. He takes after his godmother, meaning me. May be he’ll become a skater. Or, perhaps, a hockey player.

    Coach

    “S”: Athlete, coach, journalist… How do you manage it all?


    Sometimes I wonder. The challenge is to get enough sleep, all other time I’m at work. I don’t have days off.

    “S”: Do you enjoy it?

    I enjoy skating. I skate often and a lot. Therefore, I’m lucky at work.

    “S”: What about journalism?

    I like that too. I wouldn’t do it otherwise.

    “S”: A trick question: did fellow athletes ever refuse to grant you an interview?

    My editors arrange all the interviews. I am just a host.

    “S”: Just curious, what’s your relationship like with your former team rivals – Victoria Volchkova, Irina Slutskaya, Maria Butyrskaya…

    Vika and I talk all the time. Ira and I talk sometimes, too. You wouldn’t call Slutskaya and me close friends, but we’re just good pals. We can have lunch at a Japanese restaurant sometimes. Ira and I know each other for twenty years. At one time, we started skating in the same Moscow sports school of Olympic reserves. As to Butyrskaya, we’ve never been close, since she’s significantly older than me, and ended her athletic career relatively early. When we see each other, we talk.

    “S”: Do you find common ground with male skaters? They’re supposed to be quite difficult…

    I am a regular reasonable person, so I am on great terms with all the guys. There haven’t been any conflicts yet.

    “S” Which of the skaters would you call a real gentleman?

    Elena Sokolova!

    “S”: I meant male skaters…

    Don’t try to trick me. I won’t answer anyway, because I don’t consider it a proper question.

    “S”: You glanced at the photo of Ilya Averbukh at the Ice palace with some disdain. Is it personal?

    No, no, no! It is just that Ilya directs the Channel One project, whereas I work with TV channel “Russia”. We have no issues with each other. We just work for competing companies.

    “S”: Didn’t Averbukh ask you to join “Ice Age”?

    He did, but I declined because I was already under contract with a different station.

    “S”: What’s your take on those TV shows in general?

    I am not against them, but I am not really for them either. Those projects give the TV audiences an idea that becoming a skater isn’t too taxing. The actors do it! Just a month of training and you’re a skater. In reality, you need to train for many years to become a pro. Trust me; you can’t do it in six months. “Ice Age” and “Stars on Ice” give an erroneous impression of figure skating.

    “S”: Nonetheless, you were once on the jury of the “Ice Age”. Did you mark from your heart?

    All depended on how much money each one gave me (laughs – “S”). I came in and said right away – “You want good marks, you pay me a little bonus” (laughs again – “S”). For real, of course from the heart. How can it be any different?

    “S”: Do you personally enjoy watching the performances of professionals with the amateurs?

    Let me reiterate, it’s not really right. Each one should do what they’re good at. Singers should sing, actors should act, and dancers should dance. Figure skaters should skate. That’s my opinion.

    “S”: Competitive figure skating in Russia is now in crisis. In your opinion, will it be for long?

    Until my Katka Shingarina learns to skate! Seriously, though, I think we’ll gain speed by Sochi. Though I don’t think we should expect much in 2010 in Vancouver. We should wait until those like Katka grow up.

    “S”: You’re a champion of Europe, and a vice-champion of the World. Are you happy with your career?

    I know it will get even better.

    “S”: You mean as a coach?

    Yes. I don’t doubt that I’ll have a great coaching career.

    Sport

    “S”: Were the judges often unfair to you?


    Unfortunately, that happened many times. For example, at the 2003 World champions, I came in second after Michelle Kwan. I am absolutely certain that I should have won, because I skated significantly better than Kwan. It’s not just my opinion, but that of many world specialists as well. However, the championships took place in the US, so the judges chose not to deprive the American darling of the golden award. I, therefore, ended up in second. There are many other examples, but I won’t go there. You must admit it’s not the best memories.

    “S”: Are skaters superstitious?

    I am a rather religious person. I always pray at the boards until the music starts up. However, I am also into superstitions. For example, I always do costumes with one sleeve and one long glove. That goes back to 2003, when my career really took off in a dress like that. It became my trademark. Also, I have the Russian flag inlaid in stones and my name written on my blades. Everyone has such quirks. Ira Lobacheva also carries with her a little talisman she’s had since childhood. Before taking the ice, she kisses it and puts it on the boards. Lena Berezhnaya used to always put up a picture of her mom and brothers on the boards so they watch over her during performances. Many guys forego shaving before competitions.

    “S”: Did opponents ever play dirty with you?

    One time, I went to a practice, took the ice, started to warm up… and fell. I fell once, I fell twice, I started wondering. My coach and I start looking – the blade is all cut up on purpose. This was two days before Worlds. I managed to get new skates, but this incident really played with my head. Masha Butyrskaya had her skates stolen right from her hotel room on the eve of a competition. It’s not for naught that skaters now either keep their skates with them or give them to a coach even when they go to the bathroom. And that’s really nothing! Now, some go to even greater length. You can’t believe it – back magic, evil eye, and all that! Even my coach’s wife Marina Grushina, a former skater, is really into it. Many athletes are so afraid of the evil eye, they won’t take home the toys the fans throw them. They give them away or throw them away altogether.

  2. #2
    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Great interview, great translation!
    My best student is Yekaterina Shingarina. I even brought her to Saransk, so she could see the great conditions for herself. She, too, really liked your rink. The girl is very talented, the best of my students. She’s already Moscow champion, and I’ve only trained her for half-a-year. Katka is sure to get to the Sochi Olympics and win the gold medal there!
    I can't wait!
    Quote Originally Posted by ChuckM
    While [Sokolova] had the edge on the technical score because of her superior jumping skills,...
    Elena did complete 7 triples, IIRC, including a triple-triple, to Michelle's six. It's kind of hard to tell how the judging actually went, though. This was the year of the Interim Judging System and the scores for tech and for presentation were just listed separately in order from lowest to highest, so we can't pair the two scores up.

    The real controversy about that event, however, was Fumie Suguri holding on for the bronze against Sasha Cohen. Fumie won because she was first in her qualifying group, while Sasha was third in the other group behind Michelle and Elena.

    Sasha supporters were quick to point out that Sasha was in the more difficult qualifying group. She had to go not only against Kwan and Sokolova, but also Hughes, Liashenko and Arakawa, while in Suguri's group there was only one other top eight finisher, Volchkova.
    Last edited by Mathman; 08-01-2008 at 03:40 PM.

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    Thanks for the article and translation. The Russians seem to give very candid interviews (seems like it's the norm)

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    The Zamboni Rocks!!! sillylionlove's Avatar
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    Wow what a great interview. Thanks for the translation. Nice to see she is still involved with the sport and really excited about what she is doing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
    Thanks for the article and translation. The Russians seem to give very candid interviews (seems like it's the norm)
    I don't think they're candid as much as they're bitter. They're always complaining about some judging injustice.

    Elena Sokolova had one really good Worlds. Most of the time, her skating was mediocre. Rather than proving how good she was by trying again the next season, she packed on pounds and didn't train.

    I hope she asks more of the skaters she coaches than she asked of herself.

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    I see where you're coming from. But my point is, simply, how do we know that none of the other skaters are thinking the same thing or similar things about various competitions? Most skaters are trained (or advised) not to speak out about their feelings for the judges, etc but that doesn't mean they don't feud in private. Maybe the Russians have no trouble coming out in public with their true feelings (at home).

    Now that Cop is in place, I think there will be far less complaining score-wise among the skaters. The complaining will shift to the rules instead.

    Disclaimer: not that I think Elena is right or justified in thinking she should have won that comp. I think her view is distorted, but I don't know if anything got "lost in translation" or if that's just the culture over there.
    Last edited by R.D.; 08-01-2008 at 07:47 PM. Reason: forgot a word

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Red Dog, I couldn't agree more with you! You are exactly right - it is the matter of saying out loud what Western skaters only think about. It really goes to the whole "sincere" vs. "polite" cultural difference.

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    Custom Title demarinis5's Avatar
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    Thanks for the article and translation. Elena is delusional if she thinks she skated better than Kwan that night, sour grapes and poor sportsmanship is what I would call her attitude. It is one thing to think you should of won but another to publicly say it.

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    Interesting indeed. I've never heard anyone say they thought she should've won. Kwan was on fire that night. What is it with the Russian skaters having such sour grapes?

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Red Dog View Post
    Most skaters are trained (or advised) not to speak out about their feelings for the judges, etc but that doesn't mean they don't feud in private. Maybe the Russians have no trouble coming out in public with their true feelings (at home).
    Well, if it were true candor she was aiming at, she could have named the judges she was accusing. That would be Deborah Noyes, Mieko Fujimori, Igor Prokop, Leena Kurri, Florin Gafencu, Evgenia Bogdanova, Francis Betsch, Teri Sedej, Zoya Yordanova, Franco Benini, Jiasheng Yang, Georg Krummenacher, Yury Kliushnikov and Antica Grubisic, those incompetant crooks (I looked it up. )

    About that cultural thing, I think all that "never complain, never make excuses, keep a stiff upper lip" business comes from the British/Anglo Saxon tradition. Take it on the chin and keep on truckin.'

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    About that cultural thing, I think all that "never complain, never make excuses, keep a stiff upper lip" business comes from the British/Anglo Saxon tradition. Take it on the chin and keep on truckin.'
    Oh, it's far deeper than that. It is in part about presenting a certain face to the outside world. Almost all new immigrants to America go through a stage where they think Americans are all fake, insincere, cold, etc. By contrast, after living in America for a long time Russians can appear excessive in their emotions, needy, rude, etc. In reality, it's just a cultural thing. BTW, the first time I've encountered an attitude similar to American is in Estonia - Estonians in general tend to be more reserved than the Russians, also resulting in much ill feeling between the two peoples.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    Oh, it's far deeper than that. It is in part about presenting a certain face to the outside world. Almost all new immigrants to America go through a stage where they think Americans are all fake, insincere, cold, etc. By contrast, after living in America for a long time Russians can appear excessive in their emotions, needy, rude, etc. In reality, it's just a cultural thing. BTW, the first time I've encountered an attitude similar to American is in Estonia - Estonians in general tend to be more reserved than the Russians, also resulting in much ill feeling between the two peoples.

    I think much of the ill feeling between Russians and Estonians stems from the fact that Russia walked in and took over Estonia and the other Balkans after WW2 and made them part of the Soviet Union, whether they wanted to be or not.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    About that cultural thing, I think all that "never complain, never make excuses, keep a stiff upper lip" business comes from the British/Anglo Saxon tradition. Take it on the chin and keep on truckin.'
    It was also a rule in figure skating. I have no clue as to whether such rules still exist, but the rules used to forbid skaters from criticizing the judging. People actually complied with such stuff. Even if there is such a rule now, skaters of the 21st century tend to be freer in expressing themselves.

    I think many skaters feel they've been the victim of unfair judging at one time or another, but most take it in stride as being part of a subjective sport and many work harder so it won't happen again.

    It would seem a lot more palitable coming from Sokolova if she'd had a career filled with good performances, but she didn't. In fact, she carved a niche for herself as a lazy and undertrained competitor.

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    Custom Title Johar's Avatar
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    I wish American skaters could be as candid in interviews. And what the heck happened to my original post about Elena??
    Last edited by Johar; 08-04-2008 at 09:48 AM.

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    Custom Title demarinis5's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Johar View Post
    I wish American skaters could be as candid in interviews. And what the heck happened to my original post about Elena??
    A few days ago I received an e-mail from the GS admin. explaining that the original thread had been accidentally deleted and this new one was started. I was asked to re-post my original post (which was was contained in the e-mail from GS)
    .

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