Nina Mozer interview: "There is no point of leaving good in search of something better"
Next year, Nina Mozer will bring her skaters to the Sochi Olympics to fight for gold medals. For Tatiana Volosozhar this will be her third Olympic Games. For Maxim Trankov - his second. For their coach - her first. This was the starting point in our conversation several days after Volosozhar/Trankov had became World champions for the first time in London, Canada.
EV: Olympic Games are considered special event, incomparable to any other competition. Do you agree with that?
NM: Not really. I have never been to the Olympic Games myself, but I always understood that it is completely different professional level. When I watched Olympic games on TV, I was mostly interested in its sports component. I tried to understand how the result is influenced by psychology, other things. But I don't have a feeling that Olympic Games are that much different.
EV: What Olympic performances were the most memorable for you?
NM: Pairs skating in Salt Lake City. Not the fact that there were two gold medals, but the skating of Russian and Canadian pairs.
EV: Which one should have won, in your opinion?
NM: What do you expect to hear from a Russian National team coach? In all seriousness, I just enjoyed the skating of both pairs, not trying to separate them. It is judges' work. I liked some things better about Lena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, and some other things - about Jamie Sale and David Pelletier.
EV: Doesn't it feel like a deja vu? A year before 2002 Olympic Games Sale and Pelletier became World champions. Now two strong Canadian teams emerged among the top pairs. Do you consider them potentially dangerous competitors?
NM: When the grown up, experienced skaters team up, it is always interesting. I remember Kirsten Moore-Towers and Dylan Moskovich back when they first appeared in 2009. I watched all Grand Prix events then, videotaped all the performances to be able to rewatch them if necessary. I remember Meagan Duhamel as well since when she skated with other partners. Same with Eric Radford. They teamed up around the same time as Tatiana and Max, and before that, Eric skated with one of his previous partners in Ingo Steuer's group. Ingo even had an idea to pair up Volosozhar and Radford. I give full credit for this team's great performance of such a difficult program to their coaches, Richard Gauthier and Bruno Marcotte. I like this coaching duo so much that I've been following their pupils for many years.
EV: Duhamel and Radford must be on top of that list?
NM: What I don't like about this particular team, it's their height and weight difference. Although they made a great progress this year. They are very serious competitors. But to pair up a petite muscled girl and tall refined partner, it is very difficult technically. They have completely different muscle structure. When Meagan needs to bend her knees just a little on an entry to a twist, lift, or a throw, the partner has to go almost all the way down on his knees. This is why Duhamel and Radford have a very particular technique of performing pairs elements. It isn't evident in the short program, but in the free, where there are three lifts, technical problems immediately become obvious. At the World championships in Moscow, which was Meagan and Eric's first competetion together, she broke his nose coming down from the twist. Their throws are very small, she basically just jumps while the partner stands by her side.
EV: I never noticed that.
NM: At first, I didn't realized myself what was so striking. It was Maxim who noticed that first. He has a good eye for such things.
In addition, Duhamel has male body type, she has male muscle building. And not very straight legs. It is good for skating, makes easier exiting jumps. But aesthetically it is a big flaw: air positions during spins often looks sloppy. In this regard, I like second Canadian pair better. Partners are very well matched in speed and movements. When they perform pairs elements, they look like one. Such harmony is very good for pairs skating. Like Tatiana and Maxim. When skaters jump, they take off at the same time, land at the same time, and do it all with good speed, it always leaves very powerful impression.
EV: Are you planning to add some new elements in the Olympic season?
NM: We learned two completely new lifts this season. There won't be any significant changes in the rules before the Olympics, so we don't plan anything new. To leave good for the better, in my opinion, is not right. We just need a good program, to find the style that will benefit us the most. Of course, there will be some minor changes, but most technical element will be the same.
EV: And the layout?
NM: Except for one jump, that we moved to the first part of the program before the World championships, most of the difficult elements are already in the second part. The lifts, the throws. We decided to leave triple twist in first half. It looks the best when performed on "fresh" hands and legs, we wouldn't want to make it look worse. We just need to skate good and pretty.
EV: What are your plans for your new pair - Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov? When did you make a decision to take them into your group?
NM: The thing is, I never look at other athletes thinking that I might take them. I never had any such thoughts about Vera and Yuri either. When in London they asked me to take them, I'd thought long.
EV: About what?
NM: When you have two top level pairs in your group, you cannot put any of them on the second place. Each has to get their share of love, attention, care, professional attitude. Franky, most of all I want Russian pair skating to be strong and competitive on every level. Therefore, I agreed.
EV: You were not fazed by the fact that Bazarova needs to recover fully first, and only after that to start training?
NM: It was the first clause in our agreement, and the process has already begun. It isn't only about Bazarova. I pay great attention to such things. What is the point of setting big goals if an athlete lacks health to achieve them? It is ignorant. And sooner rather than later it will lead to serious problems. Therefore the first thing is treatment, and second - functional and physical preparation. We have enough experts to help us.
EV: How are you going to deal with the problem of lodging in Moscow?
NM: It is not a problem. Actually, we have already discussed the details. The main thing is that Vera and Yuri understand: they come to Rome, and they are ready to adopt the Roman style.