- As an ex-leader of the Soviet National Team, the European champion and the World Championship medalist, do you feel upset that Russian single skater in Men, whoever he may be, will unlikely medal in Sochi Olympics?
I.B.: Well, let's not discount Zhenya Plushenko. Although I do not know how well his health now is. His desire to participate in the Olympic Games is huge, but the health conditions are not always on his side in this. As for the other guys, there is sure a certain failure. And ironically Zhenya is partly the one to blame. Too many skaters tried to follow his syle, basicaly copying it. But it's a known fact that a copy is always worse than the original. That is where I see our misfortune: there's no individualities, no persons who could fully say that you can go in a different way. If you allow me to say it- to do what I did at my time.
- A Maxim Kovtun ? Do you believe in him?
I.B.: It all depends on psychology, how well he will be prepared. Sometimes he is the fifth in cometitions, sometimes- the fifteenth. The Olympics is a special event, you can't compare them to any other competition. This is a very different intensity of fight, someone must have nerves. In psychological terms, it seems to me foreign athletes are better prepared than we are now.
- You used to work with one of them- the Japanese skater Yuzuru Hanyu. Who found whom in your cooperation, he contacted you or you contacted him?
I.B.: My wife and I were invited by the Japanese Federation of figure skating. They knew about us, and about that I choreographed the programs for Lena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze with which they became the Olympic champions, as well as the program for Irina Slutskaya with which she became the World Champion. Natalia and I also choreographed the program for Sasha Smirnov and Yuko Kawaguchi, so I have some records in terms of choreography. And in all these contracts I was working not as a coach but as a choreographer and the creater of programs. Apparently, the Japanese watched all the stuff, they liked it and decided that it would be beneficial to invite such a choreographer for the young athlete.
I remember that from the very beginning we built a great relationships with him. It's incredible how he trains and follows all the demand of the choreographer! And sometimes the demands were to try something new, while we were not sure if that new will be included in the program. He implicitly tried everything what we said, and at each practice he worked hard, "till to sweat", literally to the point of exhaustion, feeling almost unconscious. When the Japanese television came to shoot his practice with us in Moscow, I thought this would be his last day in life, so hard he tried his best ( laughs).
N.B.: There is an idea that sits in our minds: the Japanese are different in terms of working hard. A year ago, before the World Championship where Hanyu won a bronze medal, the television visited us. After the interview with Hanyu they came to us, and I couldn't figure out what was wrong: they were just staring at us. Then the interpreter explained: "He said in the interview that he goes on every practice with the feeling of wild fear. He is afraid that he won't survive until the end of the practice." That's how he was given himself to work because he believed truly in what we were giving him. He's a very talented guy, and at every practice he worked really hard, as if it was his last time. Not so many athletes can train this way.
-Can Hanyu win in Sochi?
I.B.: Anyone in top 10 can win. They all go there for the Olympic gold.
N.B.: This is the main competition in any athlete's life!
I.B.: I can say that Hanyu is a very emotional athlete, he can make interesting creative programs. That is to some extent can be on his way: he doesn't have the nerves of steel. But, nevertheless, he has already gain quite a big competitive experience, he has proven more than once that at the decisive moments he can "gather" himself. Probably it's not a patriotic thing to say that I'll be rooting for him but I'm definitely wishing him to succeed.