Team Khokhlova/ Novitski no longer exists
http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/49607.html - translation of article by Elena Vaitsekhovskaya, translated by "Ptichka" with the author's permission.
Team Khokhlova/ Novitski no longer exists
On April 29, at the capital’s sports center “Mechta” (Dream), 2009 European champions and World bronze medalists in ice dancing Yana Khokhlova and Sergei Novitski were awarded the “Distinguished Master of Sport” titles. That same day, the athletes told their coaches they’d no longer be skating together – Novitski is wrapping up his elite career due to health issues, whereas Khokhlova will try herself with a new partner.
* * *
The next day, the “SE” correspondent met with the skaters at the house of their coaches Alexander Svinin and Irina Zhuk.
Novitski arrived before his partner, and it was apparent that end of his career, which we’ve discussed even back in late March at Turin world championships, is still a sore subject for the skater.
“I just don’t know what to do now”, he said. Yana and I got such a warm reception when we were coming out to receive out “distinguished master of sport” pins… I thought then that his attitude of the fans is worth a lot. That alone makes me want to go on skating.
On the other hand, I understand very well that I just can’t guarantee being able to continue training the way elite skating requires. My problems began back in 2006, when Yana and I got into a serious car accident two weeks before the Calgary World championships. I even needed to have my knee operated after returning from Canada. Obviously, age makes all practices harder anyway. The injury is especially acute during competitions, when emotional stress is added to the physical.
Theoretically, I’d like to remain in figure skating, perhaps as an organizer as opposed to a coach. For now, I’m just not ready to make any decisions regarding the rest of my life. I keep going to the rink and training a bit, just to stay in shape.”
* * *
“Yana and Sergei let Irina and me know that the Turin World championships will be their last competition together back in early March”, recounted Svinin. “We agreed it was a sensible decision, as Sergei indeed couldn’t train “all out” through the last season.
Irina and I tried to safeguard him, all the while fully realizing that was not how one prepares for the Olympics. Correspondingly, we couldn’t hope for a high result.
In the end, Yana and Sergei couldn’t even complete the world championships, as Novitski’s injury got worse following the Original Dance.
Upon returning to Moscow, Sergei did heal up a bit and rested up; he even told Irina and me he wouldn’t mind skating for another seasons. However, this wouldn’t satisfy anyone – not Yana, not us, and not the skating federation. If we’re talking about continuing to skate together, we have to plan for four years, toward the Sochi Olympics.
Continuing to skate just to make it into top ten in the world is, in my opinion, unacceptable for a team of Khokhlova/ Novitski’s caliber. They have already achieved things that I, for example, never managed as an athlete. Few do. To continue progressing, though, one needs to ramp up, continually increasing the load. Moreover, the competition continues to move forward fast. No one can tell what that would do to his health. As coaches, we cannot accept such a responsibility
As for Khokhlova, it’s too early to talk about her leaving us for other coaches, as there is no clear picture just yet. There are only intentions. One can only be sure that if Yana does continue to skate, she’ll go on representing Russia.
Honestly, we didn’t do anything to find another partner for Yana, since she didn’t inform us of her intention to go on skating. Also, there aren’t many male dancers available. Choosing someone almost always breaks up another team. Russian doesn’t even have many strong teams now. It was easier back when we skater ourselves – there was always five or six replacements for anyone even at the elite level.
Obviously, any coach hopping is always painful, now just as then, often resulting in complete breaks in any relations between athletes and their former coaches. Irina and I never planned to say, “Better you belong to nobody!” but frankly we were a little hurt that Yana never even consulted s about going to America to try out in Shpilband & Zueva’s group.
* * *
On April 11, Khokhlova flew out to Detroit to see Igor Shpilband and Marina Zueva, the world’s best coaching duo based on their Olympic results. The skater was in luck – Zueva and Shpilband’s two strongest teams, Tessa Virtue/ Scott Moir and Meryl Davis/ Charlie White, the top medalists at both the Olympics and Worlds, were skating in shows; therefore, the ocahces weren’t too busy in Detroit.
Khokhlova decided to go there largely out of desperation – she had no hope of finding a suitable partner in Moscow, whereas Shpilband and Zueva worked with a Lithuanian skater Deividas Stagniunas. Together with the American Katherine Copely, he represented Lithuania at various international competitions since 2006; at 2009 Europeans, the duo closed out the top ten, being eighth in both Original and Free dances.
Last seasons, Lithuanian government refused to grand Copely citizenship (depriving the team of going to the Vancouver Olympics); later, Katherine sustained an injury and decided to end her career.
I called Zueva in Detroit before Khokhlova’s trip to the US. Marina confirmed that Shpilband and she agreed to look at Yana with a new partner, and then added,
“There is another possibility here – my son Fedor. Even in Vancouver, I’ve been approached by fairly influential people back from the Russian federation to see if I’d be interested in having my son represent Russian in ice dancing. The talk, though, was mainly about a partner for Oksana Domnina. Fedor is a bit tall for Khokhlova.”
Zueva’s son Fedor Andreev used to be Canadian junior champion, training with Dick Callaghan, one of America’s best specialists. In 2005, the skater sustained a back injury while attempting to learn the quad; he then decided to quit skating and switched to auto-sport for two years. In 2007, though, he came back to ice.
From that time one, Andreev continued to skate in some national events as a single skater. In his free time, he worked quite a lot training ice dancer.
The week Khokhlova spent in Detroit was quite busy. The skater would spend two or three hours a day skating with Stagniunas, and then the same amount of time skating with Andreev.
At the end of the week, it turned out Yana couldn’t return to Russia as planned given that all trans-Atlantic flights were canceled due to the Icelandic volcano. Correspondingly, another week emerged for experimenting on the ice.
By then, both Shpilband and Zueva realized that Khokhlova and Andreev not only look very natural together, but, despite Fedor’s advanced age of 28, have quite a lot of potential
* * *
Khokhlova returned to Moscow to late April, bringing along a DVD with the recordings of her “American” practices with both partners as well we partially ready dances with Andreev – Fedor learned the compulsory “Golden Waltz” in addition to the program fragments that Shpilband has put together to different music.
Next, the recordings were shown to the specialists from the Russian figure skating federation, including Olympic champion and the ISU technical committee president Alexander Gorshkov, team consultant Tatiana Tarasova and the two-time ice dance world champion Oleg Ovsiannikov. They all came to a unanimous decision – a possible project of the ice dancing duo Khokhlova/ Andree is worth the effort.
* * *
I managed to talk on the phone to Igor Shpilband, who went on a week-long vacation to Florida immediately after Khokhlova left Detroit.
“Now it’s up to them”, said Shpilband on the phone. “I think Fedor will need some time to come to a final decision. It’s not up to Marina and me – Fedor is an adult, and we are talking about four years of his life here. As a coach, I look forward to working with this team. No question, I’d love to do it, not least because ice dancing has never seen anything like it before.”
A lot of respectable people in skating think this can work out.
True, but I wonder if it's wishful thinking; seems like everyone has something to gain if it does work.
Thank you for the translation. So am I understanding that if Khokhlova skates with Fedor they will be coached by
Shilband & Zueva. I wonder how Fedor is really feeling about this situation.
Wicked Yankee Girl
It's interesting that they chose a version of the new "short dance" as a tryout tape.
1. As Shpilband has pointed out, Fedor is an adult and is free to say yay or nay to this.
Originally Posted by demarinis5
2. He really can't do much better than S&Z.
3. It does take a mommy (I think) to invest heavily in a 28-y.o. skater with no prior ice dancing experience.
Constable , Costume Police
As to Fedor's feelings on the matter , someone on SFU referred to this ;
It's from yesterday, so... seems like he feels OK about it.
I don't think this twitter message has anything to do with the potential Khokhlova partnership. If Shpilband is on a one-week vacation in Florida, he wouldn't be spending it doing choreography with Fedor! Callaghan is in Florida...maybe Fedor will be working with him for a few days, doing choreography for himself, or perhaps even for someone else, who knows.
Originally Posted by colleen o'neill
My guess is that Fedor will make up his own mind about whether he wants to pursue a partnership with Khokhlova. He's spent plenty of time around the dancers at Canton and he knows how hard they work. I kind of doubt that lifestyle would suit him.
There is something Alexander Gorshkov, Tatiana Tarasova and Oleg Ovsiannikov can't tell from a videotape. It's called "discipline". All these Russians are assuming that Fedor, the lost Russian boy now Canadian, is in anyway mentally and philosophically resemble a male Russian Ice Dancer - you know, discipline, hard working and obeying. Fedor is a Russian in name only, I think these people would be shocked by the amount of cultural gap between what they think the kind of skater Fedor is vs. what he really is.
Originally Posted by callalily
Originally Posted by wallylutz
:lol: Honestly something about the whole thing feels off, and the only thing I can guess is that the Russians are sacrificing Jana to get in good with Marina and hopefully Igor. Apparently Domina was first mentioned, but that was nixed (Maybe Domina talked with Tanith :lol:
I.e we give your little boy Jana and you will agree to coach B/S. I have a hard time thinking the Russians haven't heard the rumors about Fedor.
I mean they have two very talented young teams to build on for Sochi. And so maybe they figure why not humor Marina.
Russian Ice Dance = Succession struggle in a medieval Royal Family
The cynical side of me thinks that Jana Khokhlova is too smart to be used just as a test ballon. I do not believe a serious athlete like her would agree to this unless she really believes there is a chance she can continue to skate competitively with this potential new partner and by competitive, I mean fighting for podium at the Europeans and Worlds, not just finishing in the Top 10. If the latter was all she wants, she would have stick with Sergei Novitski, so clearly, she wants more than that.
Historically, pecking order matters a great deal in Russian Ice Dance. With the retirement of Domnina/Shabalin, I think Jana Khokhlova feels she has inherited the right to be the #1 Russian team and she has paid her dues. No way is she going to give it up so easily. Too bad the rules wouldn't allow two women to skate together, otherwise, she would have made an excellent pair with Oksana Domnina, both are looking for an elite partner. If she is successful in finding a suitable male partner, she can still legitimately claim the throne which she would be forced to give it up to the younger Russian teams if she can't find a man that can match her. Funny how this almost sounds like one of those medieval succession struggle in a royal family. In the context of Russian Ice Dance, that's probably pretty much what's going on. It doesn't matter B/S or I/K are more talented - whatever, they are young and per the pecking order, they need to wait their turn, at least in Russia. I think Khokholova really believes if she finds a good man, she will be allowed to keep her throne and immediately pick up from where she and Sergei Novitski left off.
Cynically, if I try to put myself in the position of Skate Canada, I am thinking the pair of Khokhlova/Andreev is probably a good idea from a long-term strategic perspective if I am concerned that the young Russian teams will rise up quickly if there is not a veteran team in their country to hold them back. Put it this way, either B/S or I/K will be quickly groomed into the top contender position should Khokhlova disappears due to the lack of a suitable male partner. Assuming B/S and/or I/K have a lot of potential and the fact they are very young, they are a much bigger threat to Virtue/Moir than K/A will ever be, especially in 2014. Fedor is an unstable bomb, never known for anykind of discipline in anything he does - not to mention, no competitive history in Ice Dance. This pairing will probably last 2 years at most, 3 years if miracle come blessing down from heaven. In any event, it will not last till Sochi. But the longer they occupy the supposed top spot in Russian Ice Dance, the more they will blockade the advancement of the young Russian teams and which means, it will hold the young Russians back long enough that they will unlikely be a factor in 2014. V/M were able to rise so quickly to top of Ice Dance at the world level in the span of 3 years because Dubreuil/Lauzon gave up their status as the top team in Canada, clearing the way for Virtue/Moir to take over and dominate. If D/L had stayed on, it was highly improbable that V/M would have medal in the 2008 Worlds, let alone a Silver and winning the FD at Worlds as a pair of 20 and 18 year old. Cynically, if you were Skate Canada, you probably can't wait for Marina to pair her son with Jana so that B/S and I/K will have to deal with a veteran team who will feel they deserve to be there and the younger Russian teams need to pay their dues and wait their turn. Politically, the Russian fed would have to back up the K/A team otherwise, they risk angering Marina Zueva.
I think Jana's struggle may turn out to be the best gift for North American ice dancing and Fedor can actually help Canada to win a 2nd Gold in Olympic Ice Dance by making sure the young Russian teams are suppressed. How ironic would this be, eh?
That is really interesting conspiracy theory. The idea that Khokhlova and Andreev is a canadian plot to keep V/M number one as they will block the great young Russian team of I/K because K/A will be the number one Russian team. Then I assume some kind of deal will be made for Silipand Zueva to coach I/k or something for the following Olympic cycle. Or some Russian team. But then you do have to consider Davis and White who beat Virtue and Moir in the 2010 worlds free dance. Then what if K/A bombed at a Euros championship in 2011 or 2012-I mean fall down bombed. Khokhlova would bolt so fast!!! Anyway the poltical ramifications of this proposed/rumored team are definitely real and far reaching.
Wicked Yankee Girl
Khokhlova and Novitski won the University Games in their first season, so Jana's experience is that some success can come very rapidly. My guess is that this is about money and a desire to keep skating. I doubt that K/A will be charged the whole Shpilband / Zoueva usual price to be coached.
I think there is more to this story...it certainly makes the offseason interesting.
The problem with your theory is that Piseev mentioned when it came to deciding the Olympic team that he wanted to learn from the Canadians and promote a young team so B/S were going to the Olympics-no matter what. The Russians want their ice dance gold back and if Jana/Fedor aren't working they will move on. And two years is more than enough time for the Russians to politik a team to no 1. Not to mention one of those Russian teams will be moving up to for example 5th place, and so will be in position to take move ahead. M/D and B/A can be their model.
Originally Posted by wallylutz
Not to mention Zhulin, who I suspect has more power and standing than B/S's coaches is not going to stand by and idolly watch as this one happens. He's heavily involved in tv shows like Ice Age, and I believe some kind of new show that I/K will be on (or something like that). He will promote his young dance team heavily to the Russian public.
The Russian federation will not sacrifice Olympic gold in Sochi for Marina. There's already distrust there, they will essentially say we gave your son a partner (and mabye an Olympic spot) but other than that there was nothing that could be done.
Last edited by bekalc; 05-05-2010 at 09:38 AM.
I think you are forgetting Piseev is gone.
Originally Posted by bekalc