Ekaterina Kulinicheva's (EK) interview with Ekaterina Raizanova (ER) for sport-express
The two times Russian nationals medalists in Ice Dance talks about her work with one of the most famous ice dancing coaches.
After last season was over Ekaterina Riazanoa with Ilia Tkachenko together with their coach Alexey Gorshkove moved to Canton to join the group of the most successful coaches in ice dance - Marina Zueva/Igor Spilband. After the coaches duo went their separate ways they continued working in Nove Ice Arena with Spilband, which is where they are now.
EK: Can you tell how is the work going?
ER: Amazing! I'm so thrilled about working with Igor and with all that goes on here, the athletes - coaches relationship, I'm speechless! A whole team of professionals works with us: ballet coaches, the general PE and a lot of others. Marina Klimova is now here, before that Barbara Fusar-Poli was here and as far as I know she plans to come back. Of course we get very tired with so much work, but it is also so much fun that the tiredness is welcomed. I'm so glad we had the chance to work with Spilband - she is a genious.
EK: His work is legendary. Can you tell me what your normal day looks like?
ER: Igor himself comes to the rink at 6.30. We dont' start working so early. First we were mainly working with his wife Adrien, mainly on the lifts. We film everything and see it after. She throws some ideas, fixes the mistakes. After that we have a session with Igor - sometimes it's an hour, hour 15, sometimes two hours. Actually we spend quite a lot of time on the ice. On Wednesday, Monday and Friday we have a general PE. On Thursday and Tuesday - ballet, while we work with the same specialist on the ice as well. We also have Michael, who teaches us the facial expressions and breathing. To sum it up - there is a lot of interesting stuff going on and from the very morning till 3pm we are in a constant move. I like it a lot, it's nothing like it was in Moscow. Even my mother says, when we talk on skype `your eyes are shining' I envy myself being here.
EK: Spilband has a reputation of the best technical coach in the world. Did he change much in your technique?
ER: We do many new transitions which we haven't done before. It was very uncomfortable at first, but later it became comfortable. Igor shows some moves on the ice himself. I'm amazed by the way he skates!
I can't really say he fixed our technique, it's more about the elements: take the step sequences, for example - they look much better now - wider, easier. The gliding and the technique, I think, haven't changed. Though I don't quite remember what it was like before.
EK: For how long have you, Ilya and Alexey Gorshkov have been to the USA now?
ER: A month, I reckon, perhaps more. We first came in May, spent two weeks in Canton and choreographed both programmes. We changed the FD in the end though. Then we went back to Moscow, had a vacation, then a camp in Bulgaria where I injured my hand. We were doing a lift - on the floor but wearing the skates. I started to dismount and put my hand on the floor, while Ilya lost his balance and stepped on my finger. After the surgery I didn't skate for about 5 days and then went back to the ice.
We then went back to the USA, to Spilband this time. But before that we had time to visit our much beloved Tatiana Tarasova. We showed her the video of our programmes. She loved the SP, but for the LP she suggested taking a waltz from the God Father. We gave the music to Igor, and together with Gorshkov they made a mix and started choreographing a new FD.
EK: What was the first music choice?
ER: Pink Floyd, Hey You.
EK: How is your hand now?
ER: Everything is fine, all works fine. The finger is ok, just a bit shorter.
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EK: Going back - how did you, your partner and the coach come to the conclusion you should go across the ocean to Zueva and Spilband?
ER: I think Gorshkov and Igor spoke about it, if am not mistaken, during the worlds in Nice. We all realized we need new ideas. We had to change something and Igor agreed to help.
EK: You only name Igor because you ended up working with him? Surely it was agreed by both Zueva and Spilband?
ER: Actually Gorshkov, Igor, Marina and Ilya were present during that talk. So you'd better ask Ilya.
EK: Did it come as a shock for you their decision to split?
ER: I couldn't believe it first. I never thought it was possible. Sure I was upset - it was not clear what do we do now and where do we go. But, thanks god, everything worked out. Igor's group is great and I'm glad it's so.
EK: You completely settled down in the new place?
ER: I think so.
EK: Do you think he recovered fast after what happened? After all the coache's mood is projected on his skaters, and it seems Igor started working in the new place almost immediately.
ER: I think you should ask him that question. Guess he hated being in that situation, but all and all - he didn't loose much. He works now and it seems things are going well.
EK: Why have you decided to stay with Spilband?
ER: I liked Igor better at the first place. So did Ilya. Perhaps because we spent more time working with him in Canton.
EK: There are many versions why the split happened. Among others - Spilband was worried having too many pupils and another that he wanted to work with some pupils by himself. Were there any signs of either in May?
ER: No. Everyone were minding their business. I haven't noticed Igor paying less attention to some or more to the others. But I wasn't digging so I can't really tell I know more than anyone else.
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EK: What are your plans? Is the training in the USA now the last one or will you come back to Novi before the season begins or during the season?
ER: Of course we plan to come back. WE hope to do that at the beginning of October to get ready for the Gran Prix.
EK: How do you see the team right now: do you have two coaches or is Spilband more of a consultant?
ER: I'd say we have two coaches: Igor and Alexey Gorshkov.
EK: Will Spilband be with you in the competitions?
ER: We haven't discussed it, but I hope to see them both. I'd love to have Igor and Alexey there. I got so used to them both, it feels we've been working together for years.
EK: You must be anticipating showing the results of your work in the Russian test skates. Do you have a feeling the judges will like what you did?
ER: It's hard to tell, but I hope everyone will be positive. I think our programmes are very good and we improved a lot in skating and mentally. I hope the reaction will be positive.
EK: Would it be right to say the style of your pair have changed?
ER: Our programmes differ from what we did before. The music for our SD was suggested by Marina and Igor. They said they see us skating to that music and it should suit us
EK: When Ilya and you just came to Spilband and Zueva how did you start working? What was the first thing they asked you to do differently?
ER: They didn't actually quite point on something we should change. It was more the atmosphere that changed us. They mentioned we should glide lighter and stronger. I think we were able to do that.
EK: The Italians Cappellini/Lanotte joined Spilband's group for the summer. How is working with them?
ER: Great. In general the mood here is pleasant, everyone supports each other, it feels nice skating here.
EK: Do you consider the Italians a good sparring partners?
ER: Of course!
EK: Do you have anything to learn from them?
ER: A lot. The presentation for example. When you look at your rivals and realize you'll be competing with them later the season it motivates you. You want to be better even during the trainings. Perhaps it's what were lacking in Odintsovo, where we were the only senior pair last season. We had no one to look up to.
EK: Deep down are you sorry things happened the way they did and none of the leading pairs joined Spilband, so you don't get a chance to share the ice with Virtue/Moir or Davis/White.
ER: I don't know. I guess it would be interesting working with them on the same ice, but can't really say am sorry about it. We just don't have time for it -there is so much work to do and we don't have time to think of anything but the practices.
EK: If the results would be as expected, will you consider moving to the USA for the Olympic season?
ER: I'm all for it. Frankly, I dont' want to leave. It would be great to continue working here. As much as I miss the family and friends I realize it's what Ilya and I need. I even missed my brother's wedding this summer. It's a shame, but at the same time my family is happy for me.
EK: I asked this question because when Domnina/Shabalin left Odintsovo and moved to the USA after every interview they gave I had an impression they were suffering in the new place.
ER: It's completely different for us.