Ekaterina Kulinicheva from Espoo, Finland: http://winter.sport-express.ru/figureskating/reviews/25547/ EK: Igor, how many ice dancing teams do you have in your group now? IS: This summer, I had about ten pairs. In addition to Chock/Bates, Cappellini/Lanotte, Ryazanova/Tkachenko, and Tobias /Stagnyunas, there are Justina Plutowska/Peter Gerber from Poland, several junior teams from Canada, America, France and Italy. I also helped another Italian pair, Charlene Guignard and Marco Fabbri. And just for a few weeks, I worked with Evgenia Kosygina and Nikolai Moroshkin - Alexei Gorshkov's athletes. EK: Was there anyone else who would like to work with you, but you had to refuse - for example, due to lack of time? After all, you had to deal with relocation to a new place ... IS: No, I didn't refuse anyone. At the rink in Novi, where I work now, there are two "fields" - and one of them is at my disposal almost the entire day. Certainly, the organizational part took a lot of time. But it's okay, I managed. EK: How long did it take to arrange everything? IS: It was hard because I did not expect what had happened, and was not ready for that forced relocation. Many of arenas had already sold out ice or closed for the summer by that time. But in the end we were lucky: there was enough ice in Novi, and working process didn't stop. To deal with what happened on a personal level was, of course, much harder. EK: Can you say that you have already got over it? IS: (After a pause.) I think I look into the future (smiles). EK: In general, you are not the one to hold grudges, are you? IS: No, I am not. But I'm not forgetful. EK: You must have had many offers ... IS: It was nice when people started calling from everywhere. Florida, California, New York. But I did not want to move far away, because it would be difficult to relocate all skaters. Some of them, for example, study at university. And I'm just used to Michigan, I have lived there for more than two decades. There are my friends, people who I had worked with for many years. The whole structure can be moved from one rink to another, but from one state to another - it is much more complicated. EK: They also invited you back to Russia, didn't they? IS: I actually got a call from the Russian figure skating federation. They offered support. We didn't discuss anything specific, but I was very pleased. EK: Was it even possible to convince you to move from the U.S.? IS: I would not use such words as "possible" or "impossible." Everything is possible in this world now. It is just extremely difficult. I was able to organize everything in Novi in a short time. It helped that I had contacts with many experts on ballet, acrobatics, general physical preparation. And if I decided to move somewhere else, I would have had to search all over again. EK: Who of the coaches is working with you now in Novi? In the summer, I know that Barbara Fusar-Poli and Marina Klimova came to work with you, but, if I understand correctly, not on a permanent basis. IS: Yes, Barbara and Marina visited several times and helped me a lot. They are very competent experts. But the schedule was built so that their constant presence was not necessary. EK: So now, after ten years of coaching partnership, you prefer to do everything by yourself? IS: I had worked like that before Marina (Zueva - EK) - for almost 15 years. And my group got on quite serious level. EK: Do you communicate with athletes who had stayed in Canton? IS: I wouldn't really call it communication - there is no time left. Working at the new place consumes all my time. But we are still on good terms. For example, Meryl (Davis - EK) always writes me emails, congratulates with Madison and Evan's successes (Chock and Bates - EK). I hold no grudge against the skaters. They are victims in this situation. EK: So, the official version voiced by Arctic Edge club - that three top teams refused to work with you due to some disagreement - it is not true? IS: No, it isn't. EK: Are you interested in what's going on with your former students, what do their new programs look like? IS: Certainly. Why should I lie (laughs)? I actually watch with interest programs of all ice dancers of the world, and even more so - of the ice dancers of their level . Each of their programs can bring something new to ice dance. EK: Have you seen any of them? During team USA test skates, for example? IS: No. In the U.S., test skates are organized in such way that only experts and coaches of the specific team can see them. EK: Everybody is wondering how your break-up with Zoueva can affect the situation in ice dancing. And how it can affect the gap between Virtue /Moir, Davis/White and the rest of ice dancers. What is your opinion on this? IS: (Laughs.) I cannot comment on it, because I have not seen either of them this season yet. But I think that both teams have great potential. It will not be easy for the rest to catch up with them. There is eighteen months left until the Olympics, and I think it's ... (small pause) quite difficult, so to speak. EK: You agreed to work with Ekaterina Ryazanova/Ilia Tkachenko and their coach Alexei Gorshkov back in the spring. What did they want to get from working with you? IS: Perhaps they were looking for some new breath in their work, programs, in the skating technique. Alexei and I had known each other for many years, so it was easy to get along. So far we have worked only for three months, but I have very positive impressions. I feel that this team has huge potential and I enjoyed working with them. EK: What, in your opinion, did they lack before to be able to become number one or two on the Russian team? IS: I think they will be able to try to do it this season, and the next, Olympic season. They have everything it takes - they just need a little time. They both are very good skaters. Ilya is simply an amazing partner, Katya is very expressive, emotional, strong partner. We need to find the right programs and music for them. And then this team will shine and will surprise fans. EK: Have you agreed at once with Tatiana Tarasova's idea to replace the first version of their free dance "Hey You" with the waltz from The Godfather? IS: Yes. When we started working on the Pink Floyd program, the idea seemed interesting and fresh. But the program turned out to be a little flat, so we decided to choose more emotional music. Due to the "Godfather" I better understood this team. I think this is what they need. EK: At Finlandia Trophy your new students Cappellini and Lanotte won the free dance, but Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev won overall. What is your impression of the Russian team who also has made a coaching change in the off-season? IS: Unfortunately, I did not have an opportunity to watch them: I was too busy with my three teams. Let me answer this question some other time. I can only say that three months is too little time to draw any conclusions. You cannot say that athletes have moved to another coach and it had changed them completely. That with the former coach everything was bad, and now with the new one it is all good. It does not work this way. All you can see right away, it's some really interesting findings, programs. But it takes time to see the results of serious work. EK: Last season, most of the top teams preferred light dancing programs. Davis and White had even replaced dramatic La Strada to Die Fledermaus. And now many skaters decided, on the contrary, to skate "drama". Is it the new fashion in ice dance? IS: I am not sure if you can really apply the term "fashion" here. In principle, each team tries to show something new every year - that's how they continue to develop. And that is what I think can be considered the main trend. If you do just dancing programs or only dramatic ones each season, it will get repetitive. Current rules in ice dance are very strict - they require change of pace and change of character. Choosing the music, first and foremost, you keep that in mind. EK: How did it happen that two top teams came across the idea of "Carmen" (in addition to Cappellini/Lanotte, Virtue/Moir have chosen it for their free dance - EK)? IS: I had this idea in mind for many, many years. Even a program was set - for a team that did not happen. And when Luca and Anna came to me, I thought that this theme will be just right for them. EK: In figure skating, there were a few famous "Carmen". What is special about Cappellini/Lanotte's program ? IS: Last time that we saw "Carmen", let me remind you, it was Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov's version at the Olympics in Turin in 2006. But there were Toreodor and Carmen, while Luca and Anna have completely different story and different drama - Carmen and Jose, a story of love, betrayal, jealousy. Because of this, we chose different music fragments. You know, it's such a powerful thing, such an amazing music, that you can do several programs and not repeat yourself. I thought that now "Carmen" corresponds to what the ISU wants. EK: Have you re-watched any of the past versions? IS: Honestly, no. I clearly remember all of them, including Natalia Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin's program. I watched the ballet with Maya Plisetskaya, and many more. Many choreographers had turned to "Carmen", treating this theme in different ways. The closest to what Anna and Luca do is Plisetskaya's performance. By the way, Anna and Luca worked with the choreographer Ludmila Vlasova, former ballet dancer of the Bolshoi Theatre. She also added much to the program.