View Full Version : From Russia With Love - 3

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02-04-2011, 08:01 PM
After becoming 7th in the Russian nationals there were romours the skater would continue skating but would represent France. Andrey Simomenko spoke to the coach Oleg Vasiliev.

AS: What is going on with Mukhortova/Blanchard now?
OV: During the period after the nationals we were looking for means to go on working. But it all comes to a dead end with the finances. Since we became 7th at the nationals and didn't make it to the team we didn't get any federal or regional support. The sponsors... We had talks with our current and potential sponsors. They showed some interest and wanted to go on supporting the team, but without the govermental help continuing working is indeed hard. Hence after hesitating for several weeks we decided to close the project. Each of us have plans for the future, this part of our lives is over.

AS: What is the govermental support is about?
OV: First of all neither the St. Petersburg no Russian federation can send the pair to an international event. Second - the skaters have no salary. mainly it's about Blanchard really - Maria is still payed by Chazov (the head of sports in St. Petersburg) it was impossible to get a scolarship for Jerome since he is a foreigner and has no past achievemnts for Russia. We supported him for half a year, but we can not hold on for the next 12 months. After we did the calculations we figure we need around 100K$ till the next Russian nationals, and that at the very least. That is without the costumes, or a good choreographer, which would cost another 50-70K.

AS: Did you ask the St. Petersburg or Russian Figure skating Federation for help so Maria and Jerome can go on skating?
OV: St. Petersburg federation supported us for the firs 6 months of our work. When we were nobodies I went to Chazov, to Oleg Nilov (the head of St. Petersburg Figure Skating Federation) and told him about the Mukhortova/Blanchard project and asked to support us. At the end they both helped us as much as they can, for which we are very grateful. Based on the promise only that we are to create an interesting pair they covered 70% of our expenses. As for the RFSF they fired me on 31/52010 from being the head figure skating coach in the centre of Russian teams preparation. Where, generally, all our coaches work. Hence the support from the RFSF was nill.

AS: Have you considered skating for France? After they didn't do so well in Saransk you were talking about a `plan B', which many took as a hint for a country switch.
OV: No, we considered skating for France at the beginning. We did not hide we spoke to the French Federation, but we decided to represent Russia back in July. After that we didn't hesitate. We didn't turn to any other countries the skateres could represent in tshoe couple of weeks either.
The `Plan A' was our real goal - to make it to the team and participate in the Europeans and the Worlds. `Plan B' was kept in case we wouldn't do too weel at the nationals and then would participate B internationals. But with the 7th place in the nationals it didn't work either - we would have to finish 4-5th. In the case that actually happend we had a `Plan C' - to regroup and work on the real programmes and not the trash we prepared within a couple of weeks. To work on the new elements for which we didn't have time etc. But for that we needed financial support ,which I mentioned before and which we haven't found in the month after the Nationals.

AS: So what prevents you from turning to the French federation now? Mukhortova/Blanchard did not participate any ISU competitions and could represent France straight away.
OV: That's a principal. The skaters can only grow if there is a competition. There is none in France. There is one pair who are, well, not worth much. The pair wouldn't be stimlulated to progress. They would just participate the Europeans and the Worlds... They wouldn't have a reason to overcome the `I don't feel like', which is the only way to gain something serious. No, they could represent any country - France, Singapure, any African country. It's just that it holds no interest for me.

AS: How did they take the end of the project? I thought at the beginning of December they were very eager and hopeful.
OV: Everythign changes, and sometimes rapidly. At first, at the beginning of the year it was mentally hard, then there was a glimpse of hope that we'll find the solution. But as one after another things didn't work out it became more and more clear we hit the dead end. We sat down and spoke and came to a decision which I just voiced out.

AS: So if someone shows up with those 100K$ you and the skaters will change your mind?
OV: Theoretically, we might. But see, being realistic - that amount is not enough. Our supporters were generally ready to invest that much. But it's not just about the money. We also need the support from the federation - the St. Petersburg, and most importantly, the RFSF. Because the project Mukhortova/Blanchard is not regional, it's goals are much higher. But the RFSF did not support us at all, actually the other way around. So just the money will not save us.

AS: What do the skaters do now.
OV: Maria still trains daily in St. Petersburg. Jerome left back to Lyon a couple of days ago. I'm leaving to the USA to do things' I didn't have time to do while I was coaching Mukhortova/Blanchard and Mukhortova/Trankov prior to that. Then am going to Singapure and several other countries, and then within two weeks I'll be back to Russia. Maria will be midning her business in St. Petersburg, Jerome in Lyon - his. At the end of February we'll meet again, look each other in the eyes. If we dont' change our minds - everything will be left as it is now.

02-04-2011, 08:03 PM
When I first heard the rumors that I/M were going to Vasiliev, the first thing my suspicious little mind thought was that he needed/wanted some of that funding and attention that I/M would bring to his team. I was worried for I/M. Now if M/B split, I will be even more worried for I/M. Just how powerful a politiker is Vasiliev? If I had to pick, I would say I/M or S/K would be his targets.

That's what I was thinking, because if he has no one, than what's he going to do? That would be a shame that the last coach of Russia to win Oly gold has no students...I guess it's his fault.

02-04-2011, 08:12 PM
Not a big surprise if the Russian fed dropped the funding. I think nationals was the event to decide where to invest their money. The 3 teams that went to Euros didn't even include the Nationals winner or I/M who did quite well on the GP circuit. Having 6 teams ahead of M/B is pretty daunting. They've been together as long as V/T and G/E so I think they had a fair trial as far as the federation is concerned. There are other options if they want to skate and still make another olympic run, but I suspect they're done.

02-04-2011, 08:19 PM
It sounds weird Vassiliev said that M/B shouldn't skate for France or any other country since they need competition to get motivated. But they had competition in Russia and didn't do that well at Nationals ! If their goal is to go to international championships, they could do that skating for France, and go to Europeans and Worlds where they would have gotten the competition they were looking for...
Vassiliev's reasons just sounds weird. Can it be that when he saw that M/B were not competitive enough this year, he had decided to go with another top team, I/M, in order to get medals at Russian Nationals and stay in Russia with a top team ?

02-04-2011, 08:20 PM
The reasons Vasiliev gave for not skating for France are so crazy--come on you can compete with the whole world if they go to international competitions. Most likely, France did not want to give him the plush package he's after (assuming Russia would have released Maria). I don't like this guy...really hope he stays away from my darling I/M!

02-04-2011, 08:24 PM
I am glad that S/S don't feel like Vassiliev because Germany is not that deep and competitive (especially when they teamed up together) and they seem plenty motivated.

If he means that M/B would have to beat the top Russian pairs anyway, then this is true. If he means it's strictly funding and motivation then I too am baffled.

02-04-2011, 08:24 PM
Thanks for the translation TAHbKA! :) :) :)

The reasons Vasiliev gives for M/B not skating for France sound like BS to me. "The skaters can grow only of there is competition". :huh: M/B would have met with competition in international events way before their national championships. Plus, to be honest especially Maria doesn't seem to shine in situations of competition.

Vasiliev: As for the RFSF they fired me on 31/5/2010 from being the head figure skating coach in the centre of Russian teams preparation. Where, generally, all our coaches work. Hence the support from the RFSF was nill.

Why does his being replaced as head coach in that preparation camp mean that the support for him to coach his own teams was nil?

Frankly, even I can think of a reason for firing Vasiliev from that particular function: It must be bad for the morale to have the male version of Moaning Myrtle as head coach. :shuffle:

02-04-2011, 08:55 PM
Am a bit bored tonight, so here are some more translations:

Rukavitsin: my skaters are ready for anything by Irina Vasilieva (http://www.baltinfo.ru/2011/02/03/Evgenii-Rukavitcyn-Moi-figuristy-gotovy-k-lyubym-fors-mazhoram-186283)
Tow of Rukavitsin's skaters participate the Europeans in Bern. Makarova became 5th, Menshov - 7th.

IV: What will you remember from Bern -your first Europeans as a coach?
ER: An incredible cold on the ice rink. We had to adapt to those conditions there because back home it's +15C on our ice rink. It's a huge difference. The skaters had to warm up more intensivly so they wouldn't injure themselves before the acutal competition begins. Fortunately we overcame that.

IV: Menshov admited that at the end of his LP he couldn't hear the music behind the crowd. Did you imagine your pupil would be supported so mcuh? Was he ready for that?
ER: After the Cup of Russia in Moscow Konstanting told me that when he was preparing for his first quad in the programme he lost his focus because of the shouts. After we came back to St. Petersburg I took certain measures. For example during the training I would behave well, like an idiot. But he never lost his concentration, so he was ready for it. On the other hand you can't get prepared to all the possible situations - something might happen any minute and one has to be ready. This is why he did his final steps sequence brilliantly, even though he couldn't hear the music.

IV: But he failed his quad in t he SP. What happened?
ER: For both of us it was unexpected. At the trainings he never failed his jumps. From the technical point of view - he made a mistake - he started the jump a bit more sharply than he should have before he reached his pushing leg. This was the reason. Why did it happen we still have to figure. Menshov is very emptional - when he is told he must skate well for Russia, to be decent and gain three spots for the next year he is overwhelmend. He doesn't need any extra motivation - he is doing all he can as it is.

IV: Did the 14th place in the SP change anything?
ER: It probably helped a bit. I came to his hotel after the SP and we had a long talk. I told him he must never give up. On the other hand I was trying to be neutral without frazes like `you still have something to loose'

IV: Did you keep in mind the Europeans will determine who goes to the worlds?
ER: I couldn't not to. Konstantin just wanted to show what he is capable to do. He did so in his LP. Had he been in the last group anything could had happened, including a medal. It's not only about being able to do the ultra C elements, but about shwoing it, especially at such huge events as Europeans. I think we did 2/3 of that.

IV: What did you think of the new champion - Florant Amodio?
ER: I know him for a long time. It was interesting watching him. But he made an ambigious impression: on one hand he doesn't do the quad jumps. On the other he has an great command of the edge. When someone sings without a back voices it's hard to dance at the same time. The same in figure skating: in order to perform a quad a certain amount of concentration is needed. Where would you get it if you dance at the same time I have no idea. But all and all Amodio is an interesting skater. He has his own looks. He will not be mixed with the others.

IV: His winning in Bern revived the discussion whether the quad is needed in the men skating. Both the Olympic games and the Europeans won by the skaters who did not include the quad in their programmes. Is it needed really?
ER: I agree. In the LP Menshov landed two quad jumps being the only one who did. Of course it's a shame it is not rewarded as it should and doesn't allow a bigger margin. But those are the rules. If the ISU will change them perhaps we'll have more room.

IV: The level of the ladies in Europe is so low, that Sarah Meier who won it would not make it to the top 3 in the USA nationals. What do you think is the reason?
ER: Indeed the level of the ladies in Europe is lower. The main competitors are the Americans, Canadians, Japanese. If an american skater is performed it would be discussed how good her skating skills are, her gliding and how much soul she put into her skate. If it's a European skater the comments would be less excited. Though I personally don't see that much difference. I guess the components depend on the standings, that can be gained by skating well throughout the years. Perhaps for the Americans it's a bit less, for the Europeans a bit more. But if a European skater is consistent for severla season the reputation and the world standing would be enough to compete with the americans and the canadians. Right now Makarova's goal is to skate till the Olympics in Sochi consistently and well and gain the needed points and reputation.

IV: The Makarova's participating the Olympics is clear, but what about Menshov? He is quite old. Will he be able to hold it for another 3 years and made it to the team?
ER: I'm worried about it as well. We have to find the right amount of training, developing, gliding, trianing time. God forbid he injuries himself. Despite his age he developed quite lately. His physiological age, so to say will allow him to skate for many years more. The reputation is another thing, he is almost 28 y.o. after all. We'll try to keep him in the same shape he was skating his LP at the Europeans. If we'll make it - he can be a competition at least to the Russian skaters

dunno, half of the time I had an impression either Rukavicin was not answering the questions he was asked or the journalist didn't bother talking to him at all, taking his answers from elsewhere and putting them after not necessarily related questions. Since I don't know either Vasilieva nor Rukavicin am not sure which is it, but it is only IMHO

02-04-2011, 09:03 PM
I love how he can acknowledge ...
the trash we prepared within a couple of weeks.

The audacity to know that you're putting trash together and still think you can/should make a world team ahead of B&L, I&M and other couples who have worked hard to construct intricate, balanced programs. The feckin arrogance.....did he think his team had a right because they were just that, HIS team?


02-04-2011, 09:07 PM

Our supporters were generally ready to invest that much. But it's not just about the money. We also need the support from the federation - the St. Petersburg, and most importantly, the RFSF. Because the project Mukhortova/Blanchard is not regional, it's goals are much higher. But the RFSF did not support us at all, actually the other way around. So just the money will not save usTranslation, we need the POLITIK :bribe: power of the fed.

The man and his mantra are a disease to the sport IMO.

02-04-2011, 09:18 PM
To be fair, they look lovely together, but I can't see how they could be successfull. In partbnership Mukhortova-Trankov it was mostly Maria who didn't land the jumps. Now in Maria's current partnership it is both of them, which reduces their chances even more than she ever had with Maxim. What is the probability that they will both land it in both programs at some competition?

02-04-2011, 09:26 PM
Ilinyh/Katsalapov: `We live through our programmes' by Andrey Simomenko (http://rian.ru/interview_sport/20110202/329537228.html)

AS: I didn;'t want to ask you about the Olympics, but since you named it your main goal after the FD I would like to ask: do you think alot about it?
NK: It's what we see ahead of us. Every sportsmen wants to be an olympian, to fight there for medals.
EI: We are aiming there. Of course we don't think of it every day, but all our work, step by step in the near future is dedicated to it. We have to overcome those three years.

AS: So, say, if you are under the weather but you have to train the thought of Sochi might motivate you?
NK: Yes, and those are the moments that make you stronger. It's important to overcome yourself. Even when it's hard, through your `I can't' you go an train and give yourself a good makr for it. Then after you done your job you can go and `die' in your bed.

AS: What are the hardest thing in your first seniors season?
NK: The extra 40 seconds in the FD. Just now I start to get used to the seniors length of the programme.
EI: And the golden waltz. All the seniors skated it last year, they were familiar with it. We are the newbies, so we had to learn it. We spent most of the summer training it, and, perhaps, that was the reason our FD was not flawless at the beginning of the season.
NK: It was not ready for a long time.
EI: Yes, we had to fix it and change it a bit during the season.

AS: Is the golden waltz really as hard as it is said?
NK: Well, it is the hardest CD in figure skating.

AS: Mentally is it harder competing in the seniors level than juniors?
EI: Of course. You see how good the others are and you realize you have to skate differently. Not like before. The level of the competitros is high. There are skaters who participated the Worlds, the Olympics. Davis/White, the Italians, the Kerrs. Just look around -everyone is so amazing.

AS: Does it put any pressure on you?
NK: No, it motivates. During the training. You realize you can compete with people who have such international reputation only if you work twice harder then they do.
EI: Yes, and during the competition you dont' think about it. You jsut show what you learned. We finally gained the needed form towards the Europeans. Prior to that Nikita had pains in his arm just before the Cup of Russia, I had troubles with my boot before the Natioanals. It all prevented us from doing the needed work in order to compete well. But we did it before Bern.

AS: You seemed quite self assured.
EI: I get that feeling when am in a good shape. When I know I'm ready and know I will do everything I have to, will skate the programme with an easy and everythign will work for me.

AS: And that a silly mistake on an element that you can do with your eyes closed at the training will not pop out and say hello?
NK: No, that you can't be sure about.
EI: Things happen.

AS: But you just said yourself you are sure everything will work...
EI: No. Being too self assured is too much. We never thing `here is the element, it can't go anywhere'. Being self assured is about something different. It helps us to control the elements. After which you just go and do them,

AS: How do you prepare yourselves to `just go and do it'? How do you take your mind off the responsibility and those amazing other skaters?
NK: I can't thinkg of anything during the competition except for the programme. I clear my head when I go for a walk, but once I'm back to the hotel I go though the programme in my mind again and again. For 10, 20 times, thinking of some small things, correcting them...

AS: But that's overdoing it
NK: No, I'm used to it. That's comfortable.
EI: It's the other way around for me. I take it off my mind. I like walking, lying and listening to the music. I have no stress before the competition - I only start thinking of the programme before we leave to the ice rink, before we take the ice.
NK: Well, I'm not skating in my mind the whole day long either. Generally the though of the importance of the competition does not press on us. We like competing and being ready is a good thing, it goes on the smile. If you are stressed and worried - it will show.

AS: The smile -does that come naturally or you have to train it?
EI: It comes naturally. We work at the trianings, but at the competition we get the good vibes from the crowd, the judges. The adrenalin is what adds to the skating, makes us smile. We enjoy it.
NK: The first sounds of the music and we get into it. Then we live in that music, we live through our dances.

AS: But it all starts with the coach and the choreographer telling you where to look, where to smile, right?
EI: The training includes learning the poses, the arms...
NK: legs, head...
EI: As for the emotions and the feelings - it comes to us naturally. It's for the crowd only.

AS: So you don't have any `just' dances? And if you take the last year's `Schindler's list' it's quite extravagant...
NK: Our coach Zhulin said at the interview - we are not afraid to take changes and experiment. I can only repeat his words. We want to experiment with everything and to get to the Olympics knowing for sure what will work the best for us.

AS: But the one who is experimenting is Zhulin. How deeply are you involved? Or is it `we do what he says'?
EI: No, we take part in the decisions. Of course he's the main source of the ideas, of the music.
NK: But he always asks whether we like it and we can voice our opinion.
EI: But then the Chilly music he brought last year for our OD and the `Schindler's list' and `Don Quixote' - we loved it all on the spot. He really hits it every time.

AS: Is there a limit to the experience? What if tomorrow he offers you to create a vampire and an innocent boy on the ice?
NK: If HE will offer, than, as always, it will be a genious idea.

AS: Were you vary by how hard the theme of `Schindler's list'?
EI: First of all we love the music. We can feel it. Secondly we watched that mindblowing movie and we can understand what the war, the concentration camp are and what is life like in those conditions. The coach believed we can project all those things on the ice.
NK: We understood what it was about and how it has to be presented. Or at least should.

AS: Was there a worry people might not get your `Schindler's list' together with all the cha-cha-cha the other competitors of your age skated to?
EI: Never. We skated from the depth of our souls and nevre thought about it.
NK: I know some critisized us. Said we are too younh. But see, it's still a sport, and not the theatre. Even though we feel like the actors. There are such programmes.

AS: `Don Quixote'?
EI: It was choreographed by an amazing woman and a ballerina Ludmila Vlasova.
NK: She is our mascot.
EI: We watched the `Don Quixote' on the internet. Unfortunately we didn't yet have a chance to see it in the theatre. But the choreographer explains us everything - what should we do and how.

AS: So you tried quite alot of things before your first senior competition. Which character do you feel most comfortable with?
EI: My favourite so far is the `Schindler's list'. I felt so much even when we skated it at the trainings. But recently I realize I like the passionate dances - tango, our aggresive waltz, for instance.
NK: I love them all. I like the fact we change so much from the SD to the FD. There is something about it.

AS: Is it hard to swtich?
NK: No! It's just like training - one dance, another dance.. not hard at all.

AS: Ludminla Vlasova is your mascot. What is Zhulin and Oleg Volkov for you?
EI: Zhulin is our inspiration.
NK: Not only he is a genious coach, but he is a very close perons who can help us in any situation in life. We can always talk to him.
EI: Our second coach - Oleg Volkov is an amazing technician. He does all the steps, helps us to understand the complicated details in our programmes. I ask his advice about the life situations as well. He can always tell how a girl should behave.

AS: Who is the bad cop and who is a good cop?
EI: They switch! Sometimes Volkov is mean and Zhulin is nice
NK: But lately Alexandr is being kind of mean, while Oleg... well, not nice, of course...
EI: Loyal (laughts). And Ludmila, as a woman, spins us all around her little finger.

AS: Now a cross questioning. Nikita, describe Elena.
NK; Very artistic, beautiful, smart partner and a good friend.

AS: Elena, your turn.
EI: Nikita is a very good friend. He is kind, open and decent. At the training he gives 200% of himself

AS: And together?
EI: Together we've got the power!

02-04-2011, 09:28 PM
I love how he can acknowledge ...

The audacity to know that you're putting trash together and still think you can/should make a world team ahead of B&L, I&M and other couples who have worked hard to construct intricate, balanced programs. The feckin arrogance.....did he think his team had a right because they were just that, HIS team?

He was probably hoping that M/B would nail their elements. With the CoP, a totally empty program with cleanish elements still scores better than an intricate program with a couple of mistakes.

However, a totally empty program with many mistakes doesn't hold a chance. :shuffle:

02-04-2011, 11:17 PM
I am very disappointed that M&B will not skate anymore. I loved their pairing, from whatever clips I saw. Maria was like a completely different skater. I wish they could at least skate for France.

02-04-2011, 11:21 PM
He was probably hoping that M/B would nail their elements. With the CoP, a totally empty program with cleanish elements still scores better than an intricate program with a couple of mistakes.

However, a totally empty program with many mistakes doesn't hold a chance. :shuffle:
Good Point.