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Thread: Grand Prix improvements

  1. #1
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    Grand Prix improvements

    This is sort of a technical question that interests me but may seem to have an obvious answer to those who are more familiar with elite skating.

    I was wondering how coaches with many elite-level pupils (e.g. Orser, Carroll, Arutunian, Sato/Dungjen, etc.) and the pupils of those coaches manage the Grand Prix season. It seems to me that the coaches would basically travel non-stop throughout the Grand Prix series so they can be with their students when their students are scheduled to compete. It also seems like this constant traveling would significantly cut down on the amount of time that coaches could spend with all of their elite pupils during the series. For example, if Frank Carroll is in Beijing with Denis Ten this week, he probably isn't doing much work with Gracie Gold. If Brian Orser is in Saint John with Yuzuru Hanyu, it's likely that he isn't concurrently instructing Javier Fernandez.

    How do skaters/ coaches manage these issues? Do elite coaches all have many assistants who work with their pupils while the main coach is away? Do the skaters just run through their programs by themselves? Or is it an unwritten rule in elite skating that many elite skaters don't make big improvements during the Grand Prix series because skaters don't see their coaches often enough to benefit from their insights?

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    I'm not familiar with it at all, but wouldn't it be similar to an instrument player seeking lessons from a teacher? It would be better to be with the main coach every day, and during the coach's absence I guess the training regimen would be there for daily routine practices and checks by an assistant coach during the season.

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    Sometimes they use assisants. For example, Joshua Farris was only accompanied at Junior Worlds by Damon Allen because Christy Krall was back in Colorado Springs working on someone else.

    Others simply schedule things beautifully. For example, have you ever noticed that Artur Gachinski and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva go to the same competitions so often? Then Mishin can look after both of them.

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    All of the coaches in every discipline have assistant coaches, and just about every skater has someone (or several) who they work with outside of their primary coach. Couple that with the fact that these 'scheduling' issues are entirely predictable and thus can be planned for, means 'some' inconveniences but I cannot imagine that for an elite Grand Prix competitor, produces a meaningful problem. In some instances, the athletes are known to travel to a competition city along with the coach even if they are not competing. That to me, though, suggests a level of dependency that is a not extreme but I would think suboptimal at this stage of the season, where rest and conditioning are just as important as a few words from a given 'primary' coach for an hour or so a day. JMO.

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    Makes sense. I had noticed that some skaters who share coaches compete at the same events- I remember that Alissa and Jeremy both competed at that random senior B in the Netherlands in 2012. That would certainly make things easier. Still, it seems like it'd be hard to make that happen on the Grand Prix circuit since the assignments are based on the host country's preferences/ finishes at the previous year's worlds.

    So the consensus is that skaters generally rely on assistant coaches/ advance planning to sidestep any inconveniences brought on by their coaches' travel schedules?

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