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  1. #1

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    Ludmila Velikova (Stolbova/Klimov's coach) talks about the Russian Nationals results

    http://nvspb.ru/stories/fedyu-i-ksyushu-ubrali-50314

    Ludmila Velikova, coach of the pair skaters Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, thinks that her athletes were underscored at the Russian national championships.

    Russian national figure skating championships, held in Sochi before the New Year, turned out to be interesting and controversial. Unfortunately, figure skating fans didn't get to see it. Mostly, the audience in the Iceberg skating palace consisted of volunteers, soldiers and construction workers, and it was broadcasted by the obscure satellite channel. NV correspondent asked Liudmila Velikova, whose pupils Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov took the bronze at the event, to speak about the championships.

    Oleg Alekseev (OA): What surprised you at the Nationals?
    Ludmila Velikova (LV): I'm going to start with the bad one, the story with Konstantin Menshov. I think that the coaches demonstrated great solidarity and decency. And the athletes, too. Everybody wants Konstantin Menshov to go to the European Championships, because he deserves it, having placed third at the Nationals. There are some rules, norms of conduct. You cannot just ignore the coaches. If there were no coaches, there wouldn't be others, either…

    Maxim Trankov, of course, was very pleasant to watch. Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov skated well. But I think, if you apply the same principle as with Menshov, my pupils have to go to Euros. Because by the same logic, what is the purpose, in perspective, to drag thirty years old girl to international competitions?

    I have a great respect for Yuko and Sasha. They got themselves out from such a pit… They found the strength and courage to get themselves together. And after such an unsuccessful Grand Prix Final, they had great skates at the Nationals. So it's double standards. At some point, they want to solve "state issues", like with Menshov. But at the same time, there is an opposite approach to Stolbova/Klimov. Moreover, we re-watched our skates at the nationals. There simply aren't the mistakes the were "found' by technical specialists and controllers. Fedor is a very competent guy. He always analyzes our skates, trying to find the mistakes, how to avoid them… He says: "Today in the morning I re-watched it again. It isn't what it looks like in protocols. We didn't have a level 1 death spiral. Never!"

    I will explain: in our case, it is impossible for us to do a level 1 death spiral. Because it is set up for level 4. And all our lift are level 4. And at the Russian Nationals we got everything downgraded a level or two. And thus they got rid of us. Why? Is it a statesmanship? No, I don't think it is. I see no logic in the Federation's actions.

    OA: If you don't mind, a few more words about the singles.
    LV: I would like to say particularly of Misha Kolyada. I didn't like some things in his free program, but in the short he skated great! He is a very talented boy, and, unfortunately, he also is being held off. But he still manages to outskate the rest. And he will continue to, because you cannot hide the talent. I hope he qualifies for the Junior Worlds and skates well there. Also I liked Zhenya Plushenko a lot. Most of all, his fighting spirit. He managed to get the program together, even though it was very difficult for him. As I know from Alexei Nikolaevich Mishsin, he hasn't had a single full run-through at practices. He performed it for the first time at the Nationals. He is great, of course. But it is such an abuse of his health… God help him.

    OA: Was it a surprise for you that neither Alena Leonova, nor Ksenia Makarova didn't get even close to the top three?
    LV: It was going to happen, to be honest. I was with Ksusha at training camp. You could have seen, that she is a person that has a choice: to skate or to study. It's completely different when there is only sport and nothing else, "blinders on the eyes, and forward!" I feel sorry for Alena, of course. Because there isn't anything for her besides figure skating. Ksusha is her own person. She is, if I'm not mistaken, in her second year of a very good college. Her life is going to be alright. It's just for now, life chose this variant, with the sport.

    Actually, at the Russian Nationals ladies singles were the subject of the most heated discussions. Or, more accurately, the Federation's politics in that regard. I think, that the Federation was destroying both Leonova and Makarova with their own hands. Because it is one thing when 12-13 year olds do the jumps that they later lose because of their growth. But it is completely another matter when grown up skaters try to beat them up in difficulty. They cannot do that. And the olders lose to the young kids. And how are they supposed to go and compete at the European championships? After such psychological trauma?

    Look at Polina Shelepen (at some point in time, she was considered to be one of the main hopes at the Sochi Olympics - NV). She has no jumps left. Because her body is changing. You have to get used to it - to the new height, new weight… Yes, we know how to prepare juniors. But very soon, we won't have any senior skaters left with such approach. And besides, you have to be careful with athletes. Especially the ones who are in the transition period. Look what is happening to Adelina Sotnikova. Liza Tuktamysheva has a difficult time now, although she deals with it amazingly well. Mishin, by the way, is very careful with her. He is like a grandfather for her. And he is an amazing coach, of course. Now he has a right attitude towards skaters.

    OA: There are different variants after Sochi. It could happen that Volosozhar-Trankov, Kavaguti-Smirnov and Bazarova-Larionov all retire almost at the same time. Who will be left?
    LV: That's what I'm saying. Why not to support young skaters? Of course, we got some kind of support, I cannot deny that. Fedor and Ksusha were granted participation in the World Team Trophy. But it will be only in April! And until then, I have to keep them in shape. With what? Russian Cup Final? As a matter of fact, the season is over for them.

    OA: The main problem of today is the lack of "material" for pair skating?
    LV: I think here, in Saint-Petersburg, the problem is that there are no candidates. If there is a boy, there isn't a girl. In Moscow, there are girls for pair skating. And everybody will go to Moscow. Because there are money, they can provide the lodging and meals. Like Natalia Pavlova did. She found a girl for Nodari Maisuradze. Very good girl, from somewhere close to Moscow. Pavlova has the means to provide lodging and boarding. And as a result, she's got a great pair.

    OA: There is one more problem - the lack of coaches.
    LV: Well, who wants to work? Alexei Gorshkov was right to say that all the young coaches work for money. They make money any way they can. Because they need a place to live, a car. And not only coaches. I have a student, Andrei Kositsin. He does not want to live off his mother. And he makes money - dances on the plastic ice, takes part in ice show. He doesn't train, and there are three weeks left until the Russian Cup Final. We made him good programs, prepared him well. And he doesn't want to compete, wants to make money. Denis Cheprasov, the friend of my grandson, Vasily Velikov, got 60000 rub [~2000$] in three days for moving the cards in the "Alice in Wonderland" show. Why would you sweat at practices when you can make money so easily? Nikolai Matveevich Velikov (coach, Liudmila Velikova's husband - NV) gets a salary of 13000 rub [428$] a month. Who will work for such money?

  2. #2
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    Thank you for posting this.
    It's a great interview and Velikova has very interesting thoughts. Not sure about what she says about Ksenia and Fedor cause I haven't seem their programs from nationals yet.
    Nice to know that she also supports Menshov. But above all, I am glad to know that Mishin takes care of Liza so well.

  3. #3
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    I'm sorry, I like S&K a lot, but it's not really the same situation as Menshov at all. Menshov and Kovtun competed at different levels this season (junior vs senior), making head to head comparison difficult. S&K and K&S both competed on the senior GP and K&S made the final. S&K did not, having won only one bronze. K&S have an excellent track record in championship competition, including two World medals and a European title. Menshov has not accomplished anything near that. While K&S have struggled the past two seasons and missed the World podium, they are still considered medal contenders, possibly even at the Olympics (not favorites, but a pair with chances if everything goes right for them). There is no argument to be made to send S&K to Euros/Worlds if K&S are healthy.

    I do feel bad for S&K because they are a very good team and the depth in Russia prevents them from getting more experience. They exceeded my expectations by getting a bronze at Euros when they went in as substitutes (I thought Berton/Hotarek would win it). I hope they use the time off to really improve their basics and speed, since they already have very interesting programs and good jumps.

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    S/K got a lot of opportunities on the heels of other team's misfortunes.

    They got a silver medal at last year’s nationals but only because V/T and K/S didn't compete, otherwise they would have been 4th. They got the chance to go to Euros and compete because of Smirnov's emergency surgery and with S/S out they were guaranteed either 3rd or 4th, thank heaven the Italians performed so poorly so they got a medal.

    They have been to 4 grand prix competitions (with no medal) but did finish ahead of MT/T's bad free skate at the Cup of China this season and won the bronze by 0.19.

    At this year's nationals they again won a medal because a better team was missing - B/L otherwise they would have been 4th again.

    I don't see a double standard at all. She wouldn't want her wonderful team to be left off for a younger pair who aren’t as good especially if they are better, why would she be suggesting it now? It will only come back to bite her later.

  5. #5

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    As far as S/K are concerned,I unfortunately don't agree with her.And it makes Stolbova's strong support for Menshov look as she was trying to promote herself into the team and not being genuinely concerned about her teammate.
    Re Velikova's comments about young skaters.Bazarova is actually younger than Stolbova...Should K/S or B/L be deprived of winning a world medal which S/K still can't win because S/K need to continue with their season?It doesn't make sense to me...
    On the other hand,I never liked their earlier interviews where they were saying that they will surpass K/S this season.First do it,then say it.K/S showed at Nationals that they're tough competitors and won't give up easily.Maybe Ksenia wanted badly to celebrate her boyfriend's gold medal in Zagreb

  6. #6
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    I feel badly for S/K if their levels were called incorectly, but I don't find the quality of their skating to be superior to K/S in any way and generally feel they are wuzgifted in PCS.

    I am not sure if I completely agree with her about the ladies either. There is always going to be competition, be it from the jumping bean juniors making their first senior appearances or competitors at other senior events. Skaters have to be both physically and psychologically prepared for a competition and focused on their own jobs. I find it diffult to believe that the Russian fed would just blindly say, "Hey, we've got some promising juniors, let's not support our current reigning World Silver medalist!" Alena and Ksenia's placements were proper for the programs they put out at Russian Nationals, IMO.
    I meant to take the high road.... but I missed the exit.

  7. #7

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    S&K may be an up and coming pair, but they are nowhere close to K&S in maturity, refinement, and world placement. Unless K&S had bombed at the Russian nationals, I see no reason to replace them with S&K. May be the marks for S&K should have been higher, but K&S give Russia the best chance for more medals at the Europeans, and potentially at worlds.

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    She was saying that s/k has more potential for the future like kovtun and that's true because k/s is going to be gone soon but k/s still have some success. For a number one Russian pair for 4 years they have the least success but do have two world bronze and a euro title and that is compared to menshov's lack of big medals. I supported menshov's because kovtun is transitioning from Jrs to srs and it was so rocky at Russian nationals that euros seems more right for menshov. Russia is stronger in pairs anyway so s/k could so easily in the top 10 or even 5 but for kovtun or menshov thats nearly impossible at the world level.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by caseyedwards View Post
    For a number one Russian pair for 4 years they have the least success but do have two world bronze and a euro title ...... Russia is stronger in pairs anyway so s/k could so easily in the top 10 or even 5 but for kovtun or menshov thats nearly impossible at the world level.
    K/S also have 13 Grand Prix medals out of 13 competitions, including 5 gold from all gp except Skate America (they have never been.) Not to mention a bronze from the GPF. S/K haven't done anything in comparison.

  10. #10

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    quiqie, what a great translation! Thanks!

    The user АППП on FSOnline.ru did a comparison of their levels in the GP and Russian nationals. The order of the elements aside this is the table he came up with:

    The order is Cup of China, Trophee Eric Bompard, Russian nationals


    SP
    3Tw1 3Tw1 3Tw1
    BoDs2 BoDs2 BoDs2
    StSq1 StSq4 StSq4
    4Li4 4Li4 4Li4
    3T 3T 3T
    FCCoSp4 FCCoSp3 FCCoSp4
    3STh 3STh 3FTh

    LP
    3Tw1 3Tw1 3Tw1
    3T+2T+2T 3T+2T+2T 3T+2T+2T
    5ALi3 5ALi4 5ALi3
    FiDs1 FiDs3 FiDs1
    PCoSp3 PCoSp2 PCoSp4
    FCCoSp4 FCCoSp4 FCCoSp4
    5TLi4 5TLi3 5TLi3
    3LzTh 3LzTh 3FTh
    ChSq1 ChSq1 ChSq1
    2A 1A 2A
    3Li4 3Li4 3Li4
    3STh 3STh 3STh


    so much for the levels being lower.....

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    I'm sorry, I like S&K a lot, but it's not really the same situation as Menshov at all. Menshov and Kovtun competed at different levels this season (junior vs senior), making head to head comparison difficult. S&K and K&S both competed on the senior GP and K&S made the final. S&K did not, having won only one bronze. K&S have an excellent track record in championship competition, including two World medals and a European title. Menshov has not accomplished anything near that. While K&S have struggled the past two seasons and missed the World podium, they are still considered medal contenders, possibly even at the Olympics (not favorites, but a pair with chances if everything goes right for them). There is no argument to be made to send S&K to Euros/Worlds if K&S are healthy.

    I do feel bad for S&K because they are a very good team and the depth in Russia prevents them from getting more experience. They exceeded my expectations by getting a bronze at Euros when they went in as substitutes (I thought Berton/Hotarek would win it). I hope they use the time off to really improve their basics and speed, since they already have very interesting programs and good jumps.
    Yep. I think they'll be at the top of the heap soon enough, but this season, when B/L are more consistent than they've been, K/S stronger than we've seen in two seasons, and V/T, there's simply too much depth for them to overcome.

  12. #12
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    Stolbova/Klimov might be a bit rough around the edges but their choreography is outstanding and they deserve a lot respect for that.

    Velikova is the best Russian pairs coach, IMO.

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