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  1. #1

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    `Am not too fond of the USA' - Vaitsekhovskaya's interview with Leonova

    `Am not too fond of the USA' Vaitsekhovskaya's interview with Leonova for sport-express-ru.

    The world 2012 silver medalists tells Sport Express why she had no doubts about participating the Worlds, why the old programme is better than the new and why she'd rather train in Russia than in the USA.

    In Saturday, the day before Leonova was supposed to leave to the USA and join her coach's group we met in Novogorsk

    EV: The decision who would represent Russia in London - you or Nicole Gosviani was made after the Russian Cup Final in Tver. Were you worried?
    AL: Not really. I was quite confident. After the LP I felt everything worked for me despite failing the first combo. After all everyone saw me in the warm up and the practices in Tver and saw how I was skating. And I was quite good.

    EV: A bit earlier during the Europeans where all 3 Russian skaters did quite well - were you afraid your season might be over?
    AL: No. I kept practicing every day and kept in mind I might go to Zagreb. What if? Then it was the same before the competition in Tver.

    EV: When did you decide to change your LP?
    AL: Right after the New Year.

    EV: Changing the programme often means the new programme was a flop. When you felt first the new programme is not good enough?
    AL: Probably at the beginning of the season. On one hand I always felt the Spanish music should suit me: the characteristic dance, flamenco. On the other - I couldn't find myself in the new programme. Perhaps it lacked some more profound Spanish sounds - the guitar, the rhythm. After all we chose that piece not because I particularly liked it, but rather because we were sure no one else would skate to it. As for me - I always wanted to skate a tango, but Nikolai Morozov declined. He said everyone and his grandmother will be skating to a tango.
    BTW, during the practices I was skating that programme just fine. I loved working on it, but once I stepped on the ice on the competition - all went wrong.

    EV: In other words - you need to feel the programme throughout?
    AL: I'd say I need the music to turn me on. Yet here it seems I was just skating. doing some elements but felt no connection to the music. It was a nice background not related to me. This is why we decided to change things. First we changed the music to Aranjues - I skated to it in Russian nationals, then we tried to find something more dramatic. It didn't work either - sounded like a funeral. So we went back to the last year's programme.

    EV: After you failed to qualify to the Europeans it was obvious your coach is more focused on his other pupils - those who are to skate in Zagreb. Were you uncomfortable with that?
    AL: Can't say he wasn't focused enough on me. I came to the practices just the same, was skating on the same ice. More than that- many times after the training was over Morozov would work for another hour or even more with me. It's when we were working on some technical aspects which is rather time consuming. When Morozov was away for 3 weeks I worked with my 2nd coach Alla Pyatova. It was quite an intense work with lots of run through. Alla Viktorovna was always for skating as many run through as possible, while with Nikolai we usually work on certain parts of the programmes.

    EV: Why didn't you go to the USA with the rest of the group?
    AL: Frankly, I don't even know. Morozov wanted us to go together, but then the thought I should stay in Russia for a couple of days more came up. Frankly - I was glad - didn't want to go too soon. So Nikolai will go with the ice dancers to the USA on 21/2, and I will join on 25th.

    EV: It seems you are not too fond of the USA
    AL: Indeed. I'm uncomfortable with everything there.

    EV: What exactly?
    AL: Everything. Starting with the accommodation and finishing with the food. The only positive side - lots of ice time and not many people. No one bothers while skating

    EV: Do you like skating alone?
    AL: I like it when I'm not bothered. When the coach is concentrated on me only.

    EV: It's rather hard in Morozov's group - you must feel quite uncomfortable all the time with the amount of skaters he has.
    AL: I mainly jealous the skaters. No matter how many times he says he likes working with the single skaters better sometimes when we are on the ice at the same time it's obvious he doesn't know where to begin. It would be better had he divided his time: either there are ice dancers on the ice or the single skaters, myself included. BTW, I don't mind working with the single skaters. Besides, he sometimes says I work better than the guys.

    EV: Sergey Voronov mentioned the advantages in working on the same ice with Takahashi. What about you?
    AL: I'm equally amazed by the way Takahashi works. He does so much in one practice. And at the end of the practice when everyone is already tired he is attempting a quad lutz

    EV: Can he land it?
    AL: He is trying. But the sheer fact he is trying is what I respect so much. And his ability to do an LP run though after just one warming up round.

    EV: During the last 2-3 weeks before the Worlds usually the skaters polish their programmes, getting rid of the slightest mistakes. It demands someone from the outside to watch the skater constantly. Who is working with you?
    AL: When Morozov left to the USA he left me a list of tasks. He said I should go on the ice everyday with the thought I'm the best. I should get used to present myself in such a way now. Of course I have to polish the programme, perhaps add some emotions at some places. Indeed it is hard to do without a coach. The technical part is easier - it's all on the level of doing out from the sleep.

    EV: Who works with you on the choreography?
    AL: Sometimes I get remarks from Tatiana Druchinina - Arthur Dmitriev's mother (used to be a choreographer in Moskvina's group, a rhythmic gymnastics world champion). She also works with us off the ice when asked by Morozov. Have to admit I like working on the ice much better and dislike the ballet classes. It's so tiring.

    EV: How do you know if you are not taking those classes?
    AL: When I was skating in St. Petersburg we were working quite a lot on the choreography. Of course it's important - it gives you the flexibility, the posture, the lines which you later take with you to the ice. But I think working on that is more important to the skaters who prefer the classical programmes. I, on the other hand, prefer the characteristic ones.

    EV: From what you've seen in the Europeans what did you like?
    AL: I loved Carolina Kostner's new LP. In the past I was not impressed by her programmes- I couldn't understand what is she trying to do on the ice. But I loved this one.

    EV: Were you ever sorry you can't do on the ice things the others can?
    AL: The jumps perhaps. When I saw Mao Asada doing a 3A I thought how much I'd love to learn that jump. I think I can, though I realize it takes a lot of special preparations.

    EV: Which is Leonid Raitsin, who used to work with your group, specialty.
    AL: We didn't get to work much together. I didn't quite get his approach. Perhaps I'm more used to more active and energetic exercises which we were given in St. Petersburg. Raitsin's approach is more focused. But also more boring. In general I could convince myself to do such a work.

    EV: Do you have a general physical coach in your group right now?
    AL: No, we work it out ourselves.

    EV: Do you have ideas for the Olympic season?
    AL: Not yet. We'll try to surprise, like usually.

  2. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by TAHbKA View Post

    EV: Do you like skating alone?
    AL: I like it when I'm not bothered. When the coach is concentrated on me only.

    EV: It's rather hard in Morozov's group - you must feel quite uncomfortable all the time with the amount of skaters he has.
    AL: I mainly jealous the skaters. No matter how many times he says he likes working with the single skaters better sometimes when we are on the ice at the same time it's obvious he doesn't know where to begin. It would be better had he divided his time: either there are ice dancers on the ice or the single skaters, myself included. BTW, I don't mind working with the single skaters. Besides, he sometimes says I work better than the guys.
    How many skaters is now in Morozov's group? (I am curious how busy it must be when his groups in on the ice. I am amazed that they don't practice in split groups - dancers and freeskaters separately.)

    Freeskaters:
    Leonova
    Voronov
    Takahashi
    Amodio
    Dmitriev
    Bariev
    Rakimgaliev

    Dancers:
    Illynich/Katsalapov
    Pushkash/Guerreiro

    did I forget anyone?

  3. #3
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    I find it interesting that she dumped Aranjuez because it was too much "like a funeral", so went back to Adagio for Strings?!

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    Quote Originally Posted by TAHbKA View Post
    EV: From what you've seen in the Europeans what did you like?
    AL: I loved Carolina Kostner's new LP. In the past I was not impressed by her programmes- I couldn't understand what is she trying to do on the ice. But I loved this one.


    Seeing her expressing opinion over other programs is just...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Loves_Shizuka View Post
    I find it interesting that she dumped Aranjuez because it was too much "like a funeral", so went back to Adagio for Strings?!
    And RFAD. And a totally empty program where she just strokes from one jump into another.

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    Quote Originally Posted by TAHbKA View Post
    `Am not too fond of the USA' Vaitsekhovskaya's interview with Leonova for sport-express-ru.


    EV: It seems you are not too fond of the USA
    AL: Indeed. I'm uncomfortable with everything there.

    EV: What exactly?
    AL: Everything. Starting with the accommodation and finishing with the food. The only positive side - lots of ice time and not many people. No one bothers while skating
    Everything? We can't be that bad.

    What accommodation is she talking about? I have several Euro / Latin American friends who are more than happy to debate the quality of life in America. However, one thing they praise is the quality of accommodations here (more space, comfort, privacy, etc.)

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    Everything? We can't be that bad.

    What accommodation is she talking about? I have several Euro / Latin American friends who are more than happy to debate the quality of life in America. However, one thing they praise is the quality of accommodations here (more space, comfort, privacy, etc.)
    It may be different when they are constantly travelling. I would imagine that they would be staying in some dormitories or somewhere like cheap hotels. In comparison with skaters who have one training base and don't constantly trek around the world, I would imagine that her accommodation would be very impersonal (e.g. not worth putting posters on the wall if you are staying perhaps for a month). Maybe she is not talking about life in America as such, but more about the life Morozov's groups is leading.

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    Thanks as always for the translation, TAHbKA!

    Quote Originally Posted by Marco View Post
    EV: From what you've seen in the Europeans what did you like?
    AL: I loved Carolina Kostner's new LP. In the past I was not impressed by her programmes- I couldn't understand what is she trying to do on the ice. But I loved this one.


    Seeing her expressing opinion over other programs is just...
    This actually strikes me as a fairly common sentiment. I'm a Kostner fan from way back, but it seems as though a lot of people have only warmed to her in the last couple of years or so. At least Leonova isn't suggesting that Kostner's programs weren't good, just that she didn't get them.

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    I do understand her desire to be as comfortable as possible for as long as possible before a major comp - that makes sense.

    I don't understand why people who are interviewed, even just occasionally, don't get the PR thing (and I have advised people on this professionally and once it is pointed out most people really get it) - I suspect she is just not very mature in publicity terms. When an interviewer throws you one of those questions that has an obvious negative answer (and they will) just turn it around - "It's more about wanting to be as comfortable as I can be in preparation for an important competition and I am definitely most comfortable at home. That's what's best for me. "

    She's entitled to her opinion and she may hate the US (my country) - that's fine, we're not everyone's preference. But negative comments, especially in public, just aren't that necessary. EV who asked the question is doing the usual journalist's job of trying to get someone to say something notable, questionnable or controversial - and she did it.
    Last edited by Willowway; 02-24-2013 at 03:11 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willowway View Post
    I have never understood why people who are interviewed, even just occasionally, don't get the PR thing (I've advised people professionally on this) - I suspect she is just not very mature in publicity terms. When someone throws one of those questions that has an obvious negative answer just turn it around - "It's more about wanting to be as comfortable as I can be in preparation for the comp and I am most comfortable at home."
    That would be a very American PR answer, but it's not the sort of thing you'd see in interviews with Russian skaters and coaches. They tend to be a lot more honest and less inclined to engage in PR-speak. I doubt they're immature; it's just a cultural difference.

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    Given that I do this in a very global firm I can assure you that it's a very AsiaPacific and European answer too. Most people (politicians aside!) are out to explain themselves or their point of view clearly, not offend anyone.

    Actually I find that almost 100% of the people I've worked with (granted they are international business folks, not skaters) are pleased and relieved that they don't have to offend anyone else to make a point.
    Last edited by Willowway; 02-24-2013 at 03:24 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by olympic View Post
    Everything? We can't be that bad.

    What accommodation is she talking about? I have several Euro / Latin American friends who are more than happy to debate the quality of life in America. However, one thing they praise is the quality of accommodations here (more space, comfort, privacy, etc.)
    I think she got traumatized by the bad bottled mineral water service

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    I have no problem at all with her saying that she doesn't like being in the US. Everybody's got different comfort levels with different situations, and if she's happier or trains better at home, absolutely nothing wrong or offensive in saying that.

    I've traveled in countries I didn't enjoy so much. Doubt I'd want to spend an extended amount of time there even though those who do live there find it just fine.

    I am rather amazed at the number of elite skaters Morozov is attempting to train simultaneously. And I didn't think that dancers/freestyle skaters were normally on the ice together in training, but perhaps since the end of compulsories there isn't a great need for separate dance sessions?

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    I am glad she didn't provide some vague responses and expressed her opinion in that frank manner. Perhaps it's due to the cultural difference between the US and Russia but I find many of the American athlete interviews generic and self-censored while Russian athletes aren't afraid to name names and express their grievances without resorting to some beat-around-the-bush statement.

    It's perfectly fair to say she doesn't like America. On some days, even as an American, I don't like this country either

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    The title of the article was unfortunate - did Vaitsekhovskaya choose that, or an editor? The comment about feeling uncomfortable in the US was just a tiny part of the interview, and it was something that Vaitsekhovskaya seemingly drew out, based on the fact that Leonova delayed her departure a few days. She might feel more comfortable training in her home country for various reasons, it's not surprising.

    BTW, thanks for the translation!

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    My experience is that the Russians usually love Russia. But a lot of talented athletes, skaters, skating coaches left Russia, because of the financial considerations. We in Europe and I think the in Russia still think that the U.S. is the land of opportunity. Leonova was honest, and he gave the interview to a Russian journalist not to the FSU readers.

    Do you remember? Emmy Award Winning 2005 World Figure Skating Championships Show Open for ESPN/ABC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta1_x0Lqe70 I simply adore it

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    I don't think it's a big deal if she doesn't love the United States. I'm sure Russia is a lovely place, but I wouldn't feel comfortable spending huge gobs of time there. Doesn't mean I hate Russia.
    Team Peeps!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Willowway View Post
    Given that I do this in a very global firm I can assure you that it's a very AsiaPacific and European answer too. Most people (politicians aside!) are out to explain themselves or their point of view clearly, not offend anyone.
    I've come across plenty of statements by European skaters that were expressed clearly but also honestly and not via a PR filter. Nathalie Pechalat and Brian Joubert come to mind as two skaters who have not shied away from expressing their opinions, but there are others. Joubert, BTW, has also said that he doesn't like to train in the US, because he tends to eat more junk food and gain weight. I also remember that in the Orange Team interviews, some skaters were expressly asked about poorly organized competitions they had been to; almost all chose to answer, even though it wasn't a super polite thing to do.

    What's viewed as appropriate comments differs between people, between cultures and between contexts; sometimes, honesty is valued above diplomacy and politeness. Leonova isn't suggesting that the US is a terrible place, just that she doesn't like to go there for her own reasons. So what? She's not the first skater to say something along those lines about other countries.

    I much prefer to read Russian interviews in which people express actual opinions than the bland results of endless media training.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Zemgirl View Post
    This actually strikes me as a fairly common sentiment. I'm a Kostner fan from way back, but it seems as though a lot of people have only warmed to her in the last couple of years or so. At least Leonova isn't suggesting that Kostner's programs weren't good, just that she didn't get them.
    Kostner used to be terrible, IMO. Really awkward and gawkish and it's only in the last two seasons or so that she's bloomed into an absolutely extraordinary skater who just has the whole package.

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    Virtually every Russian skater interview has the obligatory anti-USA digs, so it's par for the course. No problem.
    But I can't imagine the hate if a US skater were to publicly say he/she was "not too fond" of another country. They'd be completely roasted!!
    "Marge, if you're going to get mad at me every time I do something stupid, then I guess I'm just going to have to stop doing stupid things!" - Homer Simpson in the Mr. Plow episode

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