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Thread: Repost of Entire MK/Coach article

  1. #1
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    REPOST OF ENTIRE MK/COACH article. Sorry you couldn't read it before

    http://chicagosports.chicagotribune....,5955689.story

    The above is a really good article about Michelle and her new coach Rafael Arutunian who used to be Sasha Abt's coach.

    Arutunian says Sasha Abt left the U.S. , presumably meaning southern CA anyway, "Because of stupid."

    Michelle sounds like she is aiming for Turin in 2006.l
    QUOTE:
    New coach helps energize Kwan



    By Philip Hersh
    Tribune Olympic sports reporter

    December 25, 2003


    LAKE ARROWHEAD, Calif. -- This began when Michelle Kwan was looking for someone to fix severe problems with her custom-made skate boots. Her choreographer, Nikolai Morozov, told Kwan one of his buddies was the man for the job.

    In mid-November, Kwan took her boots to Rafael Arutunian, a figure skating coach with a cobbler's skills. Arutunian made some adjustments and watched her skate. Then he made more adjustments, watched her skate again and made some suggestions about technique. More adjustments, more suggestions.




    After several sessions, Kwan asked Arutunian if he would like to help fix her skating as well as her skates. He was stunned.

    "Anybody would be surprised," Arutunian said in his self-taught, still developing English. "It's Michelle Kwan, right? Everyone wants to just talk with her, and I'm working with her. I think I am the luckiest man in the world."

    They are working at Lake Arrowhead, at the mile-high rink in the mountains east of Los Angeles. It is where Kwan trained under Frank Carroll from 1992 through 1998 and where she returned for a few months after breaking with Carroll right before the 2002 Winter Olympics.

    She was training without a coach then. Arutunian was at the rink coaching 2002 Russian Olympian Alexander Abt. Kwan occasionally would ask Arutunian for help, especially on jumps.

    This time, Kwan wanted help to get back to the future.

    "If I look into the future for the [2006] Olympics, it's like, `OK, if I want to do it, maybe Rafael can take me all the way,"' she said.

    After the 2002 Winter Games, when she let a gold medal slip away with a mediocre free skate, Kwan was uncertain about her future beyond the ensuing Champions on Ice tour. Worn down by the lengthy tour and the pressure of the Olympic season, she wanted to cut herself some slack.

    "I didn't know where I was in my life," she said.

    At the same time, Kwan knew she would continue competing, and she realized that doing it without a coach was not a good idea. She turned to Scott Williams, who understood his role was to be more teammate than teacher, to provide more comfort than critique.

    "I didn't need anyone then to really push me, because I felt like I just wanted to relax a little bit," Kwan said. "It was perfect how I fell into [contact with] Scott, and he was a longtime friend, and I'm like, `Hey, Scott, can you help me out?"'

    He could. Kwan was unbeaten in Olympic-style events last season. She won Skate America, a seventh U.S. title and a fifth world title, but with performances she knew were lacking some of what had made her one of the great skaters in history.

    Her fierce competitiveness had been enough to compensate for shortcomings that bothered Kwan more than skating judges.

    "I looked at some videos after last season and I realized I have been pretty much the same skater for a while," she said. "I think I need to step it up a notch.

    "I had spoken to Rafael many times before. He has that technical thing about him. He's just intense. The intensity is hard to keep up with."

    They have worked together since right before Thanksgiving, when Kwan relocated from her town house in the Los Angeles suburbs to a hotel in Lake Arrowhead. Arutunian was at Kwan's side a week later as she won a pro-am, her first competition of the season. Seeing how Arutunian dealt with the competition atmosphere convinced Kwan their collaboration could be fruitful.

    "Before I start to work with her, I realize she is good: five-time world champion is five-time world champion," Arutunian said. "But when I start to work with her, I realize she is a genius on ice. She picks up everything without explanation."

    Arutunian, 46, who previously had coached in Russia and his native Armenia, moved to Lake Arrowhead with Abt before the last Olympic season. The talented but famously inconsistent Abt had the best results of his career in 2002--second in the European championships, fourth at worlds, fifth in the Olympics. Then Abt returned to Russia, apparently leaving his skills behind.

    "He didn't stay here because of stupid," said Arutunian, not one to sugarcoat an opinion.

    Kwan, 23, knew that sort of frankness was what she needed to improve as she prepared for January's U.S. championships, where she will compete for a record 12th straight time at the senior level. Two of her jumps, the loop and salchow, had become shaky. Sometimes it appeared she rested during programs.

    "All coaches try to hide weak parts and make shiny your strong parts," Arutunian said.

    The weak parts?

    "Everything should be much more powerful, stronger and reliable," he said.

    The trick, with a skater of a relatively advanced age and a body that has taken years of pounding, is to push without risking injury.

    At a recent practice, Kwan rolled through her four-minute free skate with a performance good enough to win another U.S. title. There was no chance for her to catch her breath in the four minutes, especially since her trademark spiral sequence has been shortened and there are more details that demand attention in the spaces between elements.

    "You're taking up all my resting spots," she teased Arutunian.

    The resting spots, she knew, were what judges and critics were complaining about, what she needed to get past.

    "I have to push a little more," she said, "and not say, `This is good enough.' It's going beyond good enough."'

    Not since Norway's Sonia Henie, who won 10 world titles and three Olympic gold medals from 1927 through 1936, has a skater been as good for as long as Kwan. Only an Olympic gold medal has eluded her; she won silver in 1998 and bronze in 2002.

    "Nobody can compare to her now. Nobody," Arutunian said. "I'm looking forward to the Olympics and try to get her that medal."

    Which medal goes without saying.


    Copyright © 2003, The Chicago Tribune

    END QUOTE
    dpp
    Last edited by dorispulaski; 12-27-2003 at 04:47 PM.

  2. #2
    Custom Title Joesitz's Avatar
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    It's like a college rally before the BIG game. Both coach and athlete pushing onward towards the winning goal.

    I'm happy for Mk for working with him and absolutely mad that Abt left him. I'm just about to wipe Abt off but if he goes back I'll forgive him.

    Meantime, Torino is looking good for Kwan.

    Joe

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    Michelle Kwan Fan
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    I can't see the article, but that's wonderful news! Let's hope Michelle does well in Turin 2006. Third time might be a charm. :D

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    It won't let me see the article either because of some firewall issue. But, it certianly does sound like Michelle is considering another Olympic run. Great news!

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    Gone with the wind windspirit's Avatar
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    I can't access it, either, but someone has posted quotes from the article at FSU. In case some of you can't access FSU (I'm not sure if registration is required at the time to view the board), I'm reposting them here:

    ===========================
    Quotes:

    In mid-November, Kwan took her boots to Rafael Arutunian, a figure skating coach with a cobbler's skills. Arutunian made some adjustments and watched her skate. Then he made more adjustments, watched her skate again and made some suggestions about technique. More adjustments, more suggestions.

    After several sessions, Kwan asked Arutunian if he would like to help fix her skating as well as her skates. He was stunned.

    "Anybody would be surprised," Arutunian said in his self-taught, still developing English. "It's Michelle Kwan, right? Everyone wants to just talk with her, and I'm working with her. I think I am the luckiest man in the world."

    Arutunian, 46, who previously had coached in Russia and his native Armenia, moved to Lake Arrowhead with Abt before the last Olympic season. The talented but famously inconsistent Abt had the best results of his career in 2002--second in the European championships, fourth at worlds, fifth in the Olympics. Then Abt returned to Russia, apparently leaving his skills behind.

    "He didn't stay here because of stupid," said Arutunian, not one to sugarcoat an opinion.

    Kwan, 23, knew that sort of frankness was what she needed to improve as she prepared for January's U.S. championships, where she will compete for a record 12th straight time at the senior level. Two of her jumps, the loop and salchow, had become shaky. Sometimes it appeared she rested during programs.

    At a recent practice, Kwan rolled through her four-minute free skate with a performance good enough to win another U.S. title. There was no chance for her to catch her breath in the four minutes, especially since her trademark spiral sequence has been shortened and there are more details that demand attention in the spaces between elements.

    "You're taking up all my resting spots," she teased Arutunian.

    The resting spots, she knew, were what judges and critics were complaining about, what she needed to get past.
    ===========================

    (Thanks to Cem at FSU).

  6. #6
    Wicked Yankee Girl dorispulaski's Avatar
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    Registration is required but it's free, like for most newspapers. But usually after a week or so, it becomes not free to look at the article.

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    Well, after reading this article and thinking more about it, I am immensely pleased. Not only for the references to the Olympics in Italy, but more for Michelle realizing that she needs to push herself. I (As have SO many) have found her programs to be lacking in the "in betweens" department compared to what she had done earlier. She clearly sees this and is trying to fix it. I find this to be wonderful news and can't wait to see what she does with the remainder of this year and all of next! I thought "Aranjuez" was incredible because of the way she skated it last year, not necessarily for the choreography, etc. Now maybe we'll get another intricate masterpiece with fire!

  8. #8
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    [QUOTE]Originally posted by BronzeisGolden
    I (As have SO many) have found her programs to be lacking in the "in betweens" department compared to what she had done earlier. She clearly sees this and is trying to fix it. I find this to be wonderful news and can't wait to see what she does with the remainder of this year and all of next! I thought "Aranjuez" was incredible because of the way she skated it last year, not necessarily for the choreography, etc. Now maybe we'll get another intricate masterpiece with fire! [/QUOTE

    Include me in the mix of finding her recent competitions lacking in vigor, however, I was not impressed with any of the competitors either. And definitely include me with your thoughts about the ] WAY she skated Aranjez last year rather than because of the choreography.

    Joe

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    This past month seems to indicate a welcome change in Michelle Kwan's approach to skating. These strike me as the salient points of the article:

    a) Unlike with the split with Frank Carroll in 2001 and the recent Cohen-Tarasova parting, there appears to be little intrigue regarding the reason for Kwan's decision. It actually is a confirmation of the idea that most had that having Scott Williams as a coach was a temporary, though apparently successful (2003 Nationals and World champion) arrangement of comfort rather than intense training.

    b) This season Kwan seems to be admitting publicly what she and others thought regarding a run for the 2006 Olympics, and I couldn't be more pleased.

    c) The acknowledgment by Kwan that she "[has] been pretty much the same skater for a while," and "need[s] to step it up a notch." As BronzeIsGolden and Joesitz said, it was the way Aranjuez was so securely and confidently skated rather than the choreography that was endearing. I hope to see more inbetweens just so if a jump does go south that we don't get another Scheherazade, and so we can see more of Michelle's development as a dancer on ice (shameless plug for other thread). More inbetweens, better spins, harder jump entrances and more intricate (although what she has now works) will help rack of points and will be especially important if Michelle has a bad night or if she cannot progress as much as she likes technically by consistently adding 3/3s to her programs.

    d) The facts that (i) Kwan lost two Olympics on technical merit, (ii) the fact that challengers are arising (Carolina Kostner [3/3 in short and capable of two 3/3s in LP], Miki Ando [3/3 in short, 4sal and 3/3loop in LP], Jenny Kirk and Amber Corwin [3t/3t in LP] and Shizuka Arakawa in practice), and (iii) the fact that Elena Sokolova was able to produce 3/3s after most wrote Sokolova off, combined perhaps with a bit of healthy hubris has lead to a renewed emphasis on landing 3/3s and improving her already strong triples. Both Plushenko and Yagudin went into the Olympics in Salt Lake with the confidence that they could at least match the field in both technical (i.e., landing quad combos) and presentation skills. Michelle currently doesn't have a technical (as far as producing 3/3s, 3axels, or 4sal) advantage over other skaters, and it would surely secure her position as one of the world's top skater in the coming years (doesn't seem really necessary for the remainder of this season) to have an array of advanced, point-producing jumping weapons in her arsenal, especially with my expectation that the COP will be officially adopted and will be adjusted to increase the point value of combinations (perhaps multiply by 1.1?).

    e) Given all the talk about how Team Cohen-Wagner will fare, it's interesting that everyone has no such reservations about the relationship with Kwan and Arutunian. Why is that? Do their personalities mesh, at least on paper, or does Kwan show herself to be more receptive to other's tutelage?

    I look even more forward to Nationals with Kwan's renewed energy apparent from the articles and mzheng's reports of good progress over the past month. May the best lady win!

    Insecureedge

    PS: Could the two threads on this topic be merged?
    Last edited by insecureedge; 12-30-2003 at 02:50 AM.

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    Originally posted by insecureedge
    e) Given all the talk about how Team Cohen-Wagner will fare, it's interesting that everyone has no such reservations about the relationship with Kwan and Arutunian. Why is that? Do their personalities mesh, at least on paper, or does Kwan show herself to be more receptive to other's tutelage?
    There was a ton of talk when MK split with Frank Carroll; her subsequent coaching decisions (working with Scott, and now switching to Artunian) are so tame in comparision that it doesn't warrant as big of a response, to me. When the switch to Arunian was announced, they had already been working together for a few weeks. Had MK competed in the GP this season, with Scott firmly in place as her coach, and made the change at this point, I think there would be a lot more talk.

    guinevere

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    The Teams of Kwan/Arturian and Cohen/Wagner are de facto and both teams will work towards gold. There is no other medal for either of them. Prior teams of Kwan and Cohen are now irrelevant.

    Insecureedge brings up the matter of Technical in their routines.
    Under Williams, Kwan's jumps became what I call solid, and her skate at Worlds was just that. Total flow and non stop. Impressive regardless of nitpicking the lack of 3x3s.

    Cohen has not attempted 3x3s during the season so far. She didn't seem to need them. She too, had non stop routines that won the crowd as well as the judges. Both Kwan and Cohen have strength in their Presentation given a 'perfect' skate.

    If we take the 'ideal' situation for both, a 3x3 would spell out the difference between the two.

    We can only wait and see if Arturian can give Kwan that elusive combo and if Wagner can make solid Cohen's 3x3.

    The time is near!

    Joe

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    Hogwarts' #1 MK fanatic
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    Thanks for posting the article, Doris. :D I can't wait for Nationals, it's shaping up to be a great competition.


    --Hermione

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    Thanks from me too Doris. I'm glad to hear all the things people have commented on in the article, but my personal favorite is that Artunian is "taking out all my resting places," as Michelle joked, and filling in the choreography for "Tosca." At Campbell's, most thought that although "Tosca" had a lot of stroking and two-foot skating that Michelle would fix it up by Nationals. When it wasn't noticeably different at IFSC, at least I could feel a little discomfort in, "Well, WHEN is she going to fix it?!" But this article makes it clear that Artunian has addressed the weark areas in the choreography and that Michelle is a strong enough skater to absorb them in time for Nationals.

    And ITA with Joe and it's now Kwan/Artunian and Cohen/Wagner. It's fun to talk about the whys and wherefores for Cohen's split with Tarasova, but where it's really happening for Nationals is on the ice between Cohen and Wagner. I give the edge to Michelle since she's had experience with Artunian before, as stated in the article, so he was not a complete unknown. Also, Michelle is coming off a wisely self-imposed "rest" period, whereas Sasha has been pushing that boulder up the mountain.

    Of course anything can happen and what I most hope for is great skates from ALL the US ladies. But I'm tellin' ya, I got this feeling that Michelle is going to win her OGM in '06 and be the only skater in Olympic skating history to win an Olympic silver, then bronze, then gold medal. So somebody remember that I said this here, 12-30-03, 6:18pm EST
    Rgirl

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    Originally posted by Rgirl

    Of course anything can happen and what I most hope for is great skates from ALL the US ladies. But I'm tellin' ya, I got this feeling that Michelle is going to win her OGM in '06 and be the only skater in Olympic skating history to win an Olympic silver, then bronze, then gold medal. So somebody remember that I said this here, 12-30-03, 6:18pm EST
    Rgirl
    Oh, Rgirl. I'll remember that. I'm too afraid to jinx her by speaking out loud. (knock, knock).

    It's so funny (lack of good word) read you first post last year at this board to this one.

  15. #15
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    Little known fact: Jinxes can be defused by sacrificing squirrels to me.

    You want Michelle to win? Bring on the tree rats!

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