By popular demand..I summarized the parts not directly related to FS.
Vassily Solovyov: "You can't tell the truth about figure skaters. So let other people be quiet from now on."
Solovyov commentated figure skating events on NTV Plus for 15+ years. After the Sochi Olympics he decided the gig is up. Details in this long interview.
Why did you decide to stop commentating?
(Doing more movie producing, going into business, planning to leave for a while, things fading out etc.) NTV Plus' contract with ISU ran out, and the Russian Nationals broadcasting rights were sold to another TV company for the first time in 16 years.
I came to these Games as an almost free man. When I came to Sochi and I saw how fabulous the Olympics were, and how horrid things were in figure skating, my decision became final.
I used to live with this. I tried to distance myself from things but it would still suck me in. Once you enter the booth, you become obligated to someone, for something. You teaming up with one person means you piss off something else. Team up with someone else and cause a mortal offense to another. Tarasova wouldn't talk to me for months because - believe it or not - I teamed up with Vazgen Azroyan to commentate some competitions.
Is there bad blood between them?
He either said something about her students or someone close to her or something. I got a call right after the broadcast: "How could you? You shouldn't have commentated with him!" What do you mean, I shouldn't have? It's my decision. Who the hell are you all?
Yet other people told me - Vassily, when are you going to stop commentating with Tarasova? Don't you see that she's only after her own goals? Not really folks, she's much more objective than many others in this field.
The most amazing thing in figure skating is this: it's not scary to say something bad about someone; what's really scary is not to say something about someone. That can't even be figured out. For instance, Linichuk and Karponosov might come up to you and say: "Vassily, are you banned from talking about us? Or do you simply not like us? You never, NEVER, say anything about is." Well, what do you mean, "never?"
Plus you will always be a stranger in this world. You can understand and sum up some things a lot more accurately than those with a lifetime in skating, but you'll still be a stranger to them because you never skated. Tarasova and I had a talk about this once. One of the best technical specialists in figure skating is called Peter Durnev. He used to be a dancer and then became a choreographer and worked with skaters. He started to learn the rules and the system has changed, so he learned the system so thoroughly that all figure skating greats used to seek his counsel on choreographing routines.
Tarasova introduced us and said, "Petya knows best." But that was when people needed him. A little later, when everyone learned the rules, elements and components, a new theme emerged: how can this dude, who never skated, tell us anything at all?
Besides, when you understand that certain things are just pure fraud that no one explain intelligently on air or online, then it becomes clear: you shouldn't talk about it at all.
What kind of fraud?
The judging games. It is a mystery to me how ISU manipulates their scores. There are only two possible scenarios. Either they tell all nine judges and three technical specialists how to score people ahead of time. Or their scores are just neglected, and there is someone else sitting by the computer, clicking away. Because some things that happen in figure skating are just beyond belief for me.
The simplest thing is Adelina Sotnikova's scores in Sochi. Let me say this again: Sotnikova, Vodorezova and Tarasova are clean as a whistle. They are doing their job, they are advocating for their skaters to be the best. If the person is talented enough - like Yagudin in SLC - that person becomes the top of the best. But if someone is not as talented as Yagudin, he or she still gives it their everything, they reach their peak form and then the judges begin to compare them with others.
Over the last two months Sotnikova's PCS scores shot up by 14 points. For your information, your PCS scores are more or less carved in stone. But since her last performance before Sochi, they grew by 14 points, and no one can say why.
If the games were held in Torino, and Kostner skated the way she did, she'd be the gold medalist. If the games were held in Korea, there wouldn't even a question that Kim would become the champion. So I'm looking at these 14 points trying to understand: did the judges become super-kind, or is there a person somewhere pulling on the strings?
So how do they pay them? In caviar or Versace pants?
As I understand it, ISU's relationship with our federation and all other federations allows them to manage this somehow. Perhaps if the judges don't do as they are told, they don't get these assignments any more. They don't make millions out of them, but it's a steady gig.
Let me repeat that I was prepared to live with this. But I got tired. It's not just about the scores. When the whispers begin the second the skater is done with their routine, I'm ready to tell everyone to piss off. Right now we have two camps: Sotnikova's and Lipnitskaya's. Even though they say they're one team, the relationship is very complicated. Just take a look at the two coaches and get it into your head: it's a war. No one getting killed or beat up, but it's a very real war with people fighting for very important things. As soon as one of the girls completes her routine, someone from the opposite camp will come up to you and tell you all about her mistakes: "Have you seen how bad her axel is, how she didn't glide right, how she touched down with her other foot?"
Which one of your pieces caused the most outrage?
It was in 2002 during the colossal fight between Yagudin and Plushenko. Before the Olympics Yagudin demonstrated, for the first time in two years, that he's back and can defeat Pluschenko - he shot up like a rocket. I didn't say, "Yagudin's back, your Zhenechka is kaput." I said, "friends, we are witnessing a historic moment. This is Yagudin's first victory in two years. You can see it in different ways. Some will call it an accident, some will call it a sign. We won't know for sure till SLC." So what did they tell Mishin? Of course, "Solovyov said it's a sign!" So the next competition Mishin told me everything he thought about me, even though he hadn't heard me say it. "Have you heard me say that?" I asked. "No! But they told me you did!"
A year later Grand Prix Final was held in St. Petersburg. Pluschenko skated his "St. Petersburg 300" routine. You know I love both Alexey and Evgeni as athletes very much. It was one hell of a fight and it was interesting to watch. Even when one of them lost, you still treated him as a man because he took every competition like the very last battle.
So I decided to commentate in a way to sing praises to Plushenko so much, I wanted to cover him in honey so he'd become all sticky. He is skating, and I'm loving his skating, so I start talking, "Friends, look at how powerful and strong Evgeni is. He isn't just representing Russian skating abroad, he's an ambassador of the Russian culture as well. What do weaker skaters do? They take Chaikovsky's music and it's done, they are as good as swans. What does Plushenko do? He takes the music no one knows in the West, written by this composer called Igor Korneliuk and he performs it. Because he's not afraid he'll be underscored or misunderstood because of his music. You understand, don't you, that Korneluk is no Chaikovsky.."
After the broadcast I walk down the stairs and I see Mishin.
"Korneluk called," he says.
"He was sobbing."
"He said, that's the way it happens, you help people, you don't charge them anything and then they throw crap in your face." So I had to find his number and call and apologize. Although it took a while.
(Nadya - I stopped here as he rambles for a bit about Plushenko's TV appearances, working with Tarasova etc.)