Tatiana Tarasova: I don't like the word intrigue
IR: Tatiana Anatolievna, how would you define, what is the main intrigue of Zagreb?
TAT: I really don't like the word intrigue...
IR: The main question.
TAT: Zhenya Plushenko came to Zagreb. It's one of the main questions for us. It's not even about his participation — his shape, his condition, his, we hope, of course, win. We all believe in him, we see him overcome himself, what he's been like at the last Russian National Championship, how his mind and body, after many years, had remembered what they had known before. If only he stays healthy, then Plushenko will do everything that he needs. It's a big challenge for Zhenya, and I would want him to really benefit from his truly hard work, so that he can close this page and start a new one.
IR: Do you think that Plushenko should succumb to the increasing pressure and go to the World championship to increase the Olympic quota at home Olympics? The pressure is really huge.
TAT: I think this decision can be and should be made by two persons only. Zhenya himself and his coach Alexei Nikolaevich Mishin. What they decide, so it should be.
IR: What do you expect of Maxim Kovtun? He was named for the team instead of Konstantin Menshov and it has made a big uproar.
TAT: I expect him to show everything he has.
IR: Is he going to include quad toe loop and quad Salchow?
TAT: Of course. Maxim will include two quad jumps, but we are going to decide which jumps right before the competition. Besides, I would like you to mention, that his primary coach is Elena Buyanova, not I. It's some strange tale written everywhere, that his coach is Tarasova. I emphasize: Buyanova. Yes, I am also his coach, but I'm the second coach. I am asking not to mix these two. Don't try to cause a disagreement between us. You know, the work of the main coach is kind of overlooked in passing. Don't do that. It's a pleasure for me to train Maxim. Co-train. I believe in him. And I am not going to listen to some other coaches' opinion about him.
IR: People are already talking about a medal for Kovtun. Isn't it a bit early?
TAT: If Maxim does everything... You see, the boy is only 17, but for some reason, none of many the articles on that matter that came out recently, mention that he's only 17. And another candidate for the same spot, Konstantin Menshov, is 29. Why has noboby written about that? How long are these lies going to last?
IR: Valentin Piseev has repeated it many times in his interviews.
TAT: Only Piseev! By the way, what Kovtun does at his 17, only Yagudin and Plushenko had done before. But Maxim doesn't do it any worse. And now the responsibility is huge.
IR: Volosozhar/Trankov again are going to compete against Savchenko/Szolkowy, whom they still haven't been able to beat. Sometimes they lose only by decimal points, but still lose.
TAT: Yes, we didn't have an opportunity to see Tanya and Maxim on the same ice with multiple world champions Savchenko/Szolkowy this year. That's why Zagreb is going to be such a treat. Tanya Volosozhar always shows what a great pairs partner she is. I have to say, that Alyona Savchenko is also in a very good shape. Having skated for so long and having won all the possible medals, she still is learning a new throw, triple Axel. I was at their practice with Robin and saw it.
IR: I've heard that Savchenko/Szolkowy's programs this year are not very impressive. Do you agree with that?
TAT: I never make such conclusions ahead of time. And I won't say before the competition who I like the most. It's tactless. I simply believe in Tanya Volosozhar, but it happened so that she met another outstanding pairs skater on her way, Alyona Savchenko, who, like Zhenya Plushenko, follows her own, special way.
IR: You make an accent on female parnters in these teams, does it mean that you think they are the leaders?
TAT: Many things depend on female partner, it's true. Psychological aspect will play a big role: who will cope, who won't be scared. Tanya and Maxim have very intersting programs this year. They included six difficult elements into the second part, they have already shown us at Russian Nationals how it's done. It's a calculated risk, now everyone tries something they are going to show at the Olympics, to try themselves, if they can do it. You have to start getting ready to such difficult rules that there are in pairs skating from childhood, but Tanya and Maxim got them in adulthood. Volosozhar and Trankov are taking risks, but you have to keep in mind that they are not young children for whom it's easier. But the more valuable their risks are.
IR: Alexander Zhulin said quite confidently, even before Pechalat/Bourzat had withdrawn, that Bobrova and Soloviev are ready to fight for European title. Zhulin is one of those coaches who take full responsibility for their words. Do you like the work he's done with Bobrova and Soloviev? Do you think they are ready to become European champions?
TAT: I always like Zhulin's work. His creativity, and especially — how interested he became [in his work] lately. I agree: when Sasha says something — he knows what he is saying. If [you] look at past competitions, that you base [your words] upon — so far Katya and Dima haven't competed with the French for the first place. Zhulin's words, for me, mean that now he's got his team on the level which will let them expect to win. The more so that the French team is now out... But the Italians Cappellini/Lanotte are also to taken into account.
IR: If the French team haven't withdrawn, I don't think the judges would let anyone beat them. In ice dance skaters have to wait in the queue for years and years. Will this conservative practice change sometime?
TAT: I don't think it's just about queue. For exampe, I'm not a fan of the French team at all. But as a professional, I cannot help but notice their creative fire every year, new elements, constantly appearing in their programs, their consistency. I have to notice what I see. But the basic skating of our teams — Bobrova/Soloviev and Ilinykh/Katsalapov — is much better, than Pechalat/Bourzat. But ice dance is not only basics. It's elements, their difficulty, their novelty. Music. Fusion with music. Interpretation of music. Creation of artistic image using elements of dance. Our teams have it all. I, for example, liked very much lena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov at the Russian Nationals. Their make a progress, I cannot help but notice that.
IR: After the World championships in Nice, you couldn't help but critisize them: «Ilinykh has lost herself and is barely walking. She lost her edge and herself»
TAT: Yes, I said that she was «walking». But maybe she was «walking» because of nerves. Now she has an edge and the program is based on skating. I think they are capable of much more than they do, Lena and Nikita are very talented. Now they perform their program quite clean.
IR: «When will Ilinykh and Katsalapov finally live up to their potential» - it's a very popular refrain and it's still relevant.
TAT: When they skated their «Schindler's list» program at the Junior Worlds, I started crying at the first beats of that program, and it's not easy to make me cry because of skating. They have everything, they need to develop that. They can do more difficult things.
IR: We didn't have a European ladies champion since Slutskaya. Can Tuktamysheva or Sotnikova win in Zagreb? It seems that both girls are in transition period. Liza's injured, Adelina is struggling with nerves.
TAT: Adelina also has injuries. Transition period for both gilrs isn't over yet, but they came close to the point where they can cope with themselves. I see Adelina at practices all the time, she looks confident, strong and very good in every aspect.
IR: At practices – yes. But in competitions, she sometimes has meltdowns...
TAT: Yes, she does.... We know. It is the transition that cannot be avoided during puberty. At the Russian Nationals, Adelina did everything, even if she was not perfect, she did maybe 70%. I'm glad to say that. Liza and Adelina are talented girls, but their growing up is a complex process that cannot be over in half a year. Actually, no girl of their age shows consistent results in the world figure skating.
IR: Baiul became an Olympic champion, at about the same age.
TAT: And it was the end of it for her. Therefore, we cannot set a goal to win European championship for Liza or Adelina right now, because no one has ever achieved such goals. Slutskaya didn't turn into a seven-time European champion, breaking a record of Katarina Witt and Sonja Henie, overnight. Ira had landed on her back many times, had sometimes five falls in one program. Let's remember Maria Butyrskaya as well. She became a World champion only at 26. Before that, she happened not to make top-24. So excuse me, it's not like with mushrooms that you plant out today and they are ready by tomorrow... At the same time, no one in our team goes to Zagreb to just skate. Everyone has a chance.