Vaitsekhovskaya talks to Moskvina after the first official practice for sport-express.ru
EV: Such an unexpected results as what your students showed in the Europeans in Zagreb becoming only fifth demand some processing. How long did it take and how hard was it to motivate them again?
TM: Normally I come to the practice with a list of suggestions, but before voicing them I ask the guys whether they can tell the reason. It allows the analysis to go faster thus getting us closer to the solution. After Zagreb we did just that, decided on the working plan and made some changes.
EV: What were the changes?
TM: The warm up: it's length, order of the elements. This is what we were working on mainly.
EV: Can you yourself explain why Kawaguti/Smirnov failed at the Europeans?
TM: As far as I can see their problem is lack of control during the competition .It's explainable - Yuko and Sasha felt they can place high. Such a feeling always gives you more energy, makes you go faster. And in real life it means that at the important moment they rush too much into the emotions and loose the synchronization with each other.
EV: Was your idea to come to London right before the competition an attempt to save their nerves?
TM: It's not that. Kawaguti/Smirnov have no need coming earlier. They usually don't have jet lags, their sleep and mood is fine. Hence there was no point coming earlier to a foreign country, live in a hotel especially since all the practices were planned and didn't take too much time. I.e. most of the time the athletes would be just sitting in their rooms and thinking and rethinking the competition. What for? Hence we always try coming at the last minute - it was the same in Grand Prix and the GPF when it took place in Quebeck. If they had to skate in the highs - that would be a different matter.
EV: Adjusting to the rink size was not a problem either?
TM: We did it in St. Petersburg. We would collect all the blade guards and mark the needed size. I've never considered that a problem.
EV: During your work with Kawaguti/Smirnov you tried several times to create a sparring pair, but till this moment there is no 2nd pair of such a level in your group. Does the lack of such make the work harder?
TM: No. First of all Yuko and Sasha never needed artificial motivation. They are completely professional and independent. Sparring is mainly needed in order to see some other faces on the ice on the daily basis. To keep a certain level of emotion. After all when you are among the same people all the time it's tiring. In our case there are junior pairs that skate all the time, Gerbold/Enbert, who despite not making it to the team keep practicing very seriously. Before the worlds we were often visited by Petr Tchernyshev who choreographed both their programmes and our group choreographer Alexanrd Matveev, so it was far from boring.
EV: Was their failure in the Europeans a blow for you?
TM: A blow is a different thing. As for the competition - there is a reason there are places from the first to the last. Someone has to take them. Of course everyone wants to lpace higher, but you have to agree the work on such a level means a high risk of loosing. I taught myself a long time ago not to dwell into things. In case of a failure i try to understand where exactly did we go wrong.
EV: It's hard to believe that attitude can always be applied.
TM: It depends on how you set yourself up. In order to command the practicing process successfully I have to be mentally fine. If I start whining it will not end well. For anyone. After all everyone goes through some hardships.
EV: The coach's work teaches patience, or does it just sucks out from you everything you have?
TM: I think an understanding what and how you do is needed here as well. Everyone wants to get high and fast. But it just doesn't work. Besides, being a coach I have influence on people's lives. Sometimes those people are so different, with different abilities, goals and motivation. To teach the right technique doesn't mean to reach the goal. So it's not a question of patience, but about finding the shortest route to the success while remaining healthy, positive and remaining needed for my family and interesting for the others.
EV: During the official practice of the main competition what do you pay attention to?
TM: Everything. The crowd's reaction, the judges', the skaters' mood, how the others are skating. I haven't seen everyone this season, so it's interesting to see. I saw how well ready Volosozhar/Trankov: they were very confident and made no mistakes. I haven't seen the Canadians who won the 4CC yet (Duhamel/Radford), but I read impressions of their skating. So everyone works hard, have complicated programmes and everyone wants to win.
EV: Is it true you are going to quit after the Sochi Olympics?
TM: It's a bit premature talking about that.