Happy Birthday, Tamara!
May you be able to do the push up/handstand (whatever it's called) for many years to come.
Thank you so much for this translation. As always, Moskvina is so insightful and delightful. The description of her and Mishin trying to recreate their program is hysterical!
What an inspiring woman. I should have her energy. Btw, if she is now 70 then Alexei Mishin must be at least that old.
Creating a pleasure called Figure Skating the 2nd part of Simonenko's interview with Moskvina
Tamara Mosvkina tells Simonenko of her reading the internet forums and how willingly she experiments.
AS: Tamara Nikolaevna, there is a saying the most qualified professional will never stop perfecting...
TM: Of course! One of my previous pupils, who, frankly, is not particularly fond of me recently in certain things once told me he is amazed by my constant learning. And indeed I learn all the time because one shouldn't stop on what is already achieved. Am not ashamed to ask the others to voice out their point of view. Am interested to know what is written about my work on the internet. I read all the critiques on the forums and blogs and many times I stop and say myself - wow, they are right! And if they are wrong I sometimes think: they are not aware of the background. But then no one cares about the background! It's the facts that matter, so the facts should be removed. Redone.
AS: It's interesting to hear you talking about reading the forums especially since some never do fearing of reading harsh critique.
TM: It's not a hobby, of course. I read some things some times. But it is very important for me to know what people think. Perhaps my direction is all wrong. So yes, one has to learn all the time. And be aware of the results. For example Yuko and Sasha took the 4th place in the Worlds.
AS: Who do you blame?
TM: Myself only. Even if the skater was the one to make the mistake,
AS: Pardon me, but how is it your fault Smirnov fell on the steps? He performed it hundreds of times and never stepped out.
TM: I'll explain. It was a dancing position which is not usual for the pairs. We choreographed such steps sequence to gain a higher level. But we didn't work on it enough. Just not enough. We had to train it when he's tired after all the hard elements and still concentrated. I overlooked it. And then - allright, I'll blame him. And what? Is my goal to be blameless and say here I am , the coach of four Olympic champions, I'm so wonderful and he's so useless? No, my goal is to prepare a pair. And the pair fell on nothing. Everyone saw that. I can be objective about myself. I can admit there was a something missed in the preparations. Resting on the medals can be done once I retire.
AS: Do you ever get tired with the federation who while understanding the motivation of your work is the process itself rather than the medals sets the goal for a number of medals?
TM: Well first of all the federation indeed understands me, but yes, they have to show the results rather than the process. Like any other organisation. So the understanding is mutual. BTW, I gain nothing from my pupils Olympic medals. Except perhaps the most important thing - the respect of the others. I only realised that a short time ago. I used to think - who am I? Just a coach, compared, to , say a Nobel price winner. Or a politician. Just a coach who teaches a boy and a girl to hold hands. But now I realize millions of people follow my work. They are worried about us, they talk about us, they live through us. This understanding of self importance makes me more responsible and more precise in my work. People find pleasure in different things. Some need a diamond ring, some to read a book, some driving a cool car and some in watching figure skating. And I'm the creator of that pleasure named figure skating. Every coach should realize it.
AS: So well said.
TM: Creator. Or as it is called now, a producer. I'm a coach, a responsible for preparations, the shrink, the decisions maker. I'm the organizer of all. I like the Russian words, so the one who is a good organizer he's a good coach.
AS: Every year you create memorable programmes. How hard is it to find a new piece of music, how often do you dare to experiment?
TM: I only experiment after understanding what will the reaction be. Say, I will do something unusual and the audience will not react because it's way out of line. Or the judges will not mark it well. So as a result of my will to use a less known music the skaters will suffer. And then I think - allright, so the journalists will write kudos to Moskvina for experimenting, but what is the gain? I don't want to put my skater in the uncomfortable positions. Another consideration is the audience - it changes all the time. We keep working and get older while the new people come to see the skating all the time. So perhaps for them Rachmaninov is a new things even though we've been listening to his music for 40 years.
AS: I recall Julia Obertas/Sergey Slavnov - you were experimenting all the way with them!
MT: They were just kids! I couldn't create a Belousova/Protopotov out of them. They had their own interesting sides. Which I was trying to develop. But unfortunately their state of mind prevented them from trusting me. So they left. I then took Mukhortova/Trankov into the group to have a sparring pairs as I always do. But Obertas/Slavnov were jealous and thought I would exchange them. I was actually very fond of them. It was inspiring working with them. Everyone were saying how interesting they are, what elements they have. But they came to me and said: `we feel you do not enjoy working with us'. Who told you that, I wonder.
AS: Did you try persuading them to stay?
MT: No. As I told you before the agreement is the same with everyone. If you want to leave - champagne, flowers and goodbye. Though there was no wine no flowers. Just a half an hour talk. But I told them straight away I would not be holding them back.
AS: What were your conclusions?
TM: None really. It was just another step of my learning. Besides to which conclusions should I had come? Obertas/Slavnov came as a grown people to me. Was I supposed to put their previous coaches down and tell them they didn't learn things right before? I never do that. I never compare the work of the previous coaches to mine and never stress the skaters' attention on that. Only if it's positive for instance praising them on doing an elements really well.
AS: Is it what you said before in different words: the first coach teaches one thing, the second the other, you the third. Like the school - first grade, 6th, 7th..?
TM: Spot on. More than that let me use the same example and tell you the coach who teaches the skater in the 5th grade are doing a far better job then the 7th grade coach would. So when kids come to me I tell them they should go to the kids coach who will teach them far better than me.
AS: In those words?
TM: In those words. If there are other reasons I can no take a certain skater into my group I always tell them and never take them.
AS: Who are you talking about?
TM: Totmianina/Marinin for example. They were trying to switch to my group for three years but I sent them to Vasiliev. Remember the 2000-2001. We were working in the USA with Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze, Kazakova/Dmitriev. Who would take care of them? I had the SLC Olympics ahead while someone had to take care of their housing, their food, their transportation... To tell them `hey guys, wait, the Olympics will be over and then I'll work with you' I couldn't - that's not right. So I told Vasiliev: take them. And decided for myself if they don't like it with Vasiliev they'll come back. If they like it - thank god! It's the kids, not a mean to earn money. I did the same with Mukhortova/Trankov - we worked together for a while and I felt the things were not right. The contact was lacking. So they should go where it will be better for them.
AS: Did you consider Vasiliev your heir in work?
TM: I did and I wanted him to become one. When greeting him with his 50th birthday I wrote `You are continuing the St. Petersburg school of figure skating'
AS: When the pupils leave - retire or for any other reason - do you keep in touch with them?
TM: Yes. Besides coaching I also teach them to leave. Some life skills. How to call the bosses. Who ask for what and how. How to deal with the conflicts. I push them forwards so they learn better. I hint how they should behave in various situations.
AS: But reckon not like Mishin who goes to the sauna with his pupils?
TM: No, am not that close to anyone. I can invite over to my place to listen to the music and a cup of tea. I can celebrate with them in a restaurant at the end of the season. But not much more than that. Even though I know certain details of their personal lives and demand help I might hint. So people feel I do help them but without getting into their lives.
Last edited by TAHbKA; 07-14-2011 at 10:00 PM.
Jacques Rogge called me a smart women Simonenko's interview with Moskvina for sport.ria.ru - 3rd part
Moskvina talks about the SLC scandal and why she remained to work in the USA.
AS: Tamara Nikolaevna, I reckon Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze were the hardest case in your career as far as the personal and the sport lives went?
TM: Yes, definitely. There were so many hard episodes - the beating by Oleg Shliakhov (Berezhnaya's previous partner) and other moments. In many of the contemporary editions they like the sordid details. They had a full pack.
AS: I reckon the most interesting part of this pair's fate was their psychological relationship and their mental stability
TM: Of course, psychology plays a huge part in reaching the goal. One can create great programmes, make wonderful costumes, teach the elements but really the strength is in the skaters mental state. Berezhnaya had so many hard moments: the change of the federation, leaving the partner, the horrible injury after which it wasn't even clear whether she'll ever recover. She was only allowed to skate after t he surgeries as part of rehabilitation. The doctors said in order for the brain to rehabilitate she has to be put into her usual environment. So I called Anton for a talk. I explained him that there are no talks about any sport career that he just has to come and skate with her, pretend being enthusiastic and happy.
Another problem was the registration - Berezhnaya needed one. So she was registered in my flat while she lived with Anton's family - his father Tariel Grigor'evich and mother Ludmila Alekseevna took care of her as if she was their daughter.
We did not make a habit discussing their private lives. But we were very open on the other issues. In fact I know plenty of my pupils private lives. But I only use it if needed for the teaching. And I never reveal it to the press.
AS: Are you in a good relationship with them now?
TM: Yes. Lena came to St. Petersburg for my birthday. I also keep in touch with Anton.
AS: Did you ever try to persuade him to coach?
TM: No, he always said he didn't want to coach. He wanted to do exactly what he does now. I saw it in the way he spoke to the retired sportsmen who either became businessmen or politicians.
AS: At the Spring before the worlds that were moved from Tokyo to Moscow the government took enormous interest in figure skating. How did you take it?
TM: I took it well. Look on the situation from the government point of view: there was a tragedy in Japan. Our government decided to help the country the sport. The appearance of the most important politicians with the skaters was a demonstration of the support and understanding for the competition preparations. And we only had a month to prepare, while the other countries take years.
AS: What about you personally? Putin himself visited your rink.
TM: So what? Ok, Putin. Lets' assume your boss comes to you and is interested in your work. Will you faint? No, you'll say hello, mr. Smith. Here I am writing an article about the skaters. It's the same for us. Hello, Vladimir Vladimirovich. The things are going well. We had a test skate. That's it. This approach makes my life much easier.
AS: Did you always treat the politicians the same?
TM: I treat them like parents. For me the president is the ruler of the country just like a ruler of a family. I was raised to be respectful to my parents and older relatives. So I'm respectful towards the government of the country, of the city... not afraid, but respectful. If I'm not listening to the boss who will listen to me? I'm someone's boss as well.
AS: In our country sometimes a lot is decided by asking the right people on the right time. Did you have to use that often?
TM: I think the president should worry about the politics and the economics of the country. Not, let's say, that Gerboldt/Enbert's scholarship is low.
AS: But it does help sometimes. For example that elderly woman who asked in the open air show for the gas in her village.
TM: True, but I'd like to think I'm competent enough to find the sponsors for the St. Petersburg skating federation. But even then my part is usually to explain that even if you see the skaters on the TV all the time it does not mean they are particularly reach people. In general I hate asking for favours. For example I know how to talk to Miller (the head of one of Russian gas companies). But why should I? We prepared the champions before without their help. So if things get really bad I'll talk to him. And to the governor of the area. Of course, if I think it's something they can solve.
AS: So it happens that things get hard. Are you sometimes sorry coming back to Russia from the USA where you worked for several years before the SLC Olympics?
TM: No. We only went to the USA to get Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze ready for the Olympics and Kazakova/Dmitriev for the professional tours. Yes, it was nice and cosy in the USA. But the work was on the contract - stand near the border, get payed. So the honorary citizen of St. Petersburg went to the USA to be a servant? As Mishin puts it - come to the rink and charge a kid 120$ an hour with your sweaty hands? Of course the salary was high, but then the expenses were high as well. You have to pay for everything in the USA. In our old age we didn't consider working so hard in the USA just to survive acceptable. I've been to the USA hundreds of times, I can go there as many times as I like again. But the family and friends are here. It's important.
AS: You were asked thousand times about the scandal in the SLC but I'd like to ask another question. Right after the Canadians were given the marks after the best skate of their lives during the most important moment of their career they remained with the silver. Were you sorry for them?
TM: No, why should I be? The judges were sorry enough for them after the SP. They forgot the fall entering the final pose. The programme was not over yet and they should had been penalized for the fall, but they were put on the 2nd place instead. They should had been 4th. According to the rules. So it never even crossed my mind to be sorry for them. And then when I recall that Olympics.... All was set to make them the champions. Everything! For two years the judges from different countries approached me and said Tamara, that person who holds this position on the ISU explains how the Canadians are better. Then was the Worlds before the Olympics where the Canadian pair won with the fall, despite the clean skates by Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze. So I told myself: this is the political situation.
AS: How did you take some Russian skaters and coaches supporting the Canadians during the scandal? I remember Yagudin was spotted on the ice arena wearing a Canadian team coat.
TM: What can I say. I was offended, of course. But each decides for themselves how to behave in such a situation. I decided for myself long ago - if I'm a citizen of my country I will be proud of it's achievements. Even in the hardest times we had achievements. Though have to admit I drive a WV, not a Lada, but what can you do if Lada is worse?
BTW, recalling that Olympics - there were so many scandals before. In IOC the alleged bribery that gave the Olympics to the USA. Imagine you were part of the IOC. They still had to explain those allegations and there is the figure skating with it's 1st and 2nd places. They had to cover it as fast as possible! And have everyone happy with the decision so no one would complain. What would you do in their place? You'd try to settle the way they did.
I am often asked why did we go to the 2nd medals ceremony. It's simple. First of all if Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze didn't come the next day all the papers would print the picture of the Canadians standing alone on the podium and the text -here are the real champions of the Olympics 2002. Could we let that happen? No! Second it would be expressing disrespect towards the ISU and IOC. How would that effect our federation in years to come? The RFSF is a member of the ISU. It would mean we did not follow their instructions. If you ignore what the chief exec. tells you to do what will happen? You'll be fired. So this is my point of view: if we are part of an organization we take orders from them. It's an anarchy otherwise.
AS: Do you agree had the Canadians won with just one judges' voice there would be no scandals no protests, no attempts to organize an alternative ISU and as a results no CoP?
MT: Totally agree - nothing would be going on. Everyone would consider their win as something that was meant to happen. This is why I'm saying had we hid behind in that situation, didn't come to the 2nd medals ceremony we can't imagine how back would we be put.
Recall another thing: there was almost no Russian press in the SLC. Just a couple of journalists, the rest were in Russia. I understand the importance of the press, so I started taking them to the journalists. Larry King, NBC, CBS etc. Elena and Anton were giving interviews and I was telling everyone everything. Just in NY we spent a week giving interviews...
You know, I participated that IOC meeting where it was decided to present the 2nd set of the gold medals. After the meeting was over Jaques Rogge approached me. And said : you are a very smart woman. I'm proud that I was able to overcome the ambitions and not allow the chaos. If we all came to the same decision back then we had to follow it.
Last edited by TAHbKA; 07-14-2011 at 11:17 PM.
After the Sochi Olympics I'll concentrate on writing a book the 4th part of Simonenko's interview with Moskvina for sport.ria.ru
AS: Tamara Nikolaevna, a silly question - one champions after the others for so many years. What is your secret?
TM: Keep working and never stop. Prepare the next generation. There are coaches who bring the skater to the higher medals and then disappear. It's not because there are no more talented skaters left. But because they did not think of the continuity. The process is like making pies. One is in the oven the other's dough is ready.
AS: So easy! What is there are no ingredients?
TM: That happens. But then there are replacements. If there are no strawberries use rhubarb. It's sour - add some sugar. And cut it small so no one would wonder what on earth is it in the pie. The flour is not soft enough? Find out something! and so on. My mother who was a very simple woman from Ural used to repeat a saying which is a bit rude, but it's point is that I have to make a pie from what I have. And I'm baking it. Not so it will win a competition but so it will be tasty, interesting and attractive. If it's not particularly tasty but interesting and attractive I'll admit and will not blame the judges for not appreciating. Or that the ice was bad or the worlds were moved. I will take it easy that the journalists walk near me and run to Volosozhar/Trankov who won the medals.
AS: Since you mentioned Volosozhar/Trankov - are you surprised with their success in their first season?
MT: No. Trankov is finally in a comfortable mental environment which is very important. His partner is a very easy to get along person, their characters match, there is no misunderstandings outside the rink. It's great. For the Russian figure skating it's awesome! I always look on such a situation not as a coach of their main rivals but as someone who cares about the Russian sport.
But as a coach there is just me, my pupils and the result. Which we analyze. And come to conclusions - what will we change in the future.
AS: I remember you telling about various amusing situations that happened to you while skating with Mishin. Does the sense of humour help working with your pupils?
TM: All the time! Of course there are some things that are easier to recall when put in the same situation rather than when just out of blue. For instance when the skater is nervious before stepping on the ice. Shaking with fear. I tell him `Are you on a field?'. He's like totally puzzled `why a field? what field?' and I reply `I see you are going to loose the last cow you have. Why are you shaking?' and that's it - the pressure is gone. Another thing that works with the guys is to look on the audience and say `There look, all the girls are staring at you, I'll go and tell them to wait for you outside'. He starts to look around -what girls? Where? Got him interested, distracted, relaxed. I also appreciated the pupils sense of humour. Vania Bich was late for a training. I ask `what happened?'. He replies `The petrol station took too long'. We all collapsed - I heard various stories - the tram was late, the metro stopped, mother didn't wake on time, but the petrol station! And he just goes one asking us to smell his hands - that still stink of petrol!
AS: Were there skaters who didn't understand your sense of humour?
TM: There were and there are. We teach them. First they are offended, of course. The best example is Yuko - Russian is not her mother tongue and she does not necessarily get the double meanings, so she has a hard time with the jokes. So I always ask her `Did you understand?' so she will not get offended and I have a chance to explain what did I mean.
AS: Does she?
TM: Some things she does. I try to get the messages through the jokes, half serious remarks in front of the others. Here is another example- a girl in my group is trying to loose weight. I understand how hard it is for her and tell her `come to us, Igor Borisovich will make a nice soup'. We went, had a lunch. It's time to go back to the ice rink so I offer her a ride to the rink, but she thanks and declines saying she'll take an earlier tram. Fine. I come later to the rink and go straight to the cafe and ask - did this girl come over? Of course she did they say, took two sandwiches and a coffee. Some diet, I think to myself. But then she skates her programme and does a great job so I praise her and say `it must be the sandwiches that helped you'. She is wide eyed - how did you know? That's my job to know, I tell her.
I should probably write down those storied. There is a thought to write a book. It will not be about the medals that my skaters won but about those situations. There were so many. Of course some are forgotten, some are not so amusing anymore. So I should get down to the writing. Once the Sochi Olympics is over I'll start.
AS: What do you mean `you'll start'? What about the coaching?
TM: I already told you before am objective about my work and my powers. How old will I be at 2014? 73y.o.? At such an age I will not be able to perform all the task that come together with the coaching, it will be too hard. So I plan to resign after the Olympics.
AS: But you have just created a new team - Kamilla Gainetdinova and Ivan Bich. You'll have to work with them after the Sochi Olympics. Besides, I reckon Katarina Gerboldt/Alexandr Enbert are aiming towards after the 2014...
TM: First of all I did not say I'll retire completely. I will still help, advice etc. Second there are other coaches in the group - Arthur Dmitriev, Oksana Kazakova, the choreographer Valerii Pecherski. We just hired two more choreographers instead of Tatiana Druchinina who moved to Moscow with her son Arthur Dmitriev jr. who trains in Elena Buyanova group and needs to be looked after. So there are people to continue my work.
AS: Tamara Nikolaevna, usually when interviewing someone on his birthday the journalists ask to sum things up, to drow a line
TM: I'll put it this way: during all my years I never thought where will I get to. As I mentioned before it was never a goal to make one a champion or a medallist - I just worked and enjoyed t he process. I never thought of myself higher than of the others. I was always respectful to my colleagues - Tarasova, Tchaikovskaya and my husband Igor Borisovich Moskvin and saw them as my teachers. Thanks to that approach I was able to learn and move forward. I always respected the journalists. Sometimes I am shocked when someone says `Moskvina bought the press'. Did you actually come to take an interview so I'll buy you a coffee? That's silly!
AS: I'd like to finish with you telling me what is going on in your group now.
TM: Working, of course. Prepareing to the season. Yuko and Sasha will participat three GP events which is allowed by the new rules. Gerbold and Enbert will participate the CoR. My goal is to make those pairs a total sparring teams as I always did in my group. Right now Gerboldt/Enbert are behind - they need time to get to Kawaguti/Smirnov's level. The reason is obvious - Katia is a single skater who throughout her career used different muscles from the ones the pair skaters use. When under the pressure the things she is more used to pop out. Sasha has plenty of work to do as well, so they are still `rough'. Just like that pie I was talking about earlier. But if put it in the oven on the full power what will happen to the pie? Right, it'll burn. The same here - they need to be put in the right conditions and wait.
Thank you very much, TAHbKA!
I really enjoy reading interviews with Moskvina. She is a very clever lady!
Wow, that was a great interview and thanks for the translation, TAHbKA.
She really has a great sense of humour and also lots of experience! Great reading, thanks TAHbKA!
Thank you so much. I love her interviews.
If this is to end in fire
Then we will all burn together
A great interview with one of my favorite skating coaches. What a smart, funny and wise woman. Among other things, this interview answers a question that has come up here and at other skating web sites. Why some Russian coaches decided to return to Russia after working in the U.S. for several years. In addition to missing family and friends back home, Moskvina mentioned that staying in the U.S. would have required that she work much harder than she is prepared to work in her old age in order to support herself. The Russian coaches who stayed in the U.S. permanently (Igor Spilband and Shishkova/Naumov come to mind) were much younger when they first moved here.
Last edited by Civic; 07-16-2011 at 11:22 PM.
Good gawd man, that woman is 70??!! I never knew how old she was. She looks better than I do!!
TAHbKA, thank you for your translation!! I am always encouraged by Tamara's positive attitude to life & work. I also find that, even in translation in English, her manner of speech comes through, which is crisp & ever so refreshing. I am sad to hear Druchinina has moved to Moscow. I think she helped Yuko a lot. Interesting to learn that Tamara reads FS forums!! She probably reads this site too. It is true that she is interested in finding out what the FS viewing public thinks of her skaters & programmes. There was an extensive questionnaire on Yuko & Sasha's website asking the fans which programs/elements they liked.