Vaitsekhovskaya's interview with Tarasova `Hope Russian dancers medal in Sochi' for sport-express.ru
The coach and a team consultant's thoughts on the new season
Tarasova started her pre-season preparations with a long camp in the USA, taking Maxim Kovtun, Elena Buyanova's pupil with her. Kovtun admitted he never worked so hard and so much in his life. When I passed those words to Tarasova she grinned:
TT: In his books it's a lot and hard. We really just did the basics, the stuff other coaches should had done with Maxim, and not at the age of 16-17, but much much earlier. That's where the figure skating starts from.
EV: You decided to hold a summer camp in the USA because you were choreographing the LP for Mao Asada there?
TT: Not only. Zhanna Folle works in Chicago, she helped me a lot with the basics working with Asada, now with Kovtun. I trust her as a specialist and Elena Buyanova knows her very well, which is very important, since she is Kovtun's main coach. I'm very satisfied with the way the camp went. We didn't loose a moment. I'm also happy I interested such a choreographer as Petr Tchernyshev to work with Maxim and Adelina Sotnikova. It's not easy letting someone else do what you've been doing your whole life.
EV: What made you take such a decision?
TT: It is needed. I wanted a fresh look on figure skating, a different interpretation of the music, a new direction. In order to develop the skater must be exposed to different approaches
EV: I.e. in theory Kovtun or Sotnikova, in order to try `different approaches' could end up with anyone else?
TT: Not quite. Vodorezova and I thought about it a lot. Tchernyshev skated a lot in my theatre in the past. I've been following his work for a while and I like what he have been doing in, for instance, Averbukh's show quite a lot. His approach is very different
I think Tchernyshev has a huge potential as a choreographer. I love some of his works and still sorry Tamara Moskvina gave up the `Cats' programme he choreographed for Kawaguti/Smirnov.
While Petr was working with Kovtun and Adelina I came to the rink every day and I have to admit I was watching with an open mouth. It was a great experience: when you choreograph yourself it's good to watch the others working from time to time.
EV: When is the moment you know the programme will be a success?
TT: Straight away. A lot gathers in just first training. Most important is to find the right music and the style. The rest is details.
EV: Is there a difference whether the choreographer is on or off the ice?
TT: Yes and no. I used to be a decent skater and would spend 8-12 hours on the ice. I stopped going on the ice myself during my 2nd year of work with Alexey Yagudin, when I realized Nikolai Morozov can be my `feet'. Tchernyshev was able to become my feet, arms, head and soul. He works really well with the skaters, teaches them very fast. His technique is great and, most importantly, he can set a goal and work towards it. I think such a person is needed in every team.
I'm also happy that except for Morozov and Zhulin there is another serious choreographer Averbukh. There should be a competition not only between the skaters and coaches, but choreographers as well.
EV: Are you sorry you can't work on the ice anymore?
TT: Physically - sure, I would love to feel different. To be able to run, for example. But after my spine surgery I can only dream about that.
EV: What do you think will happen in the men skating this season?
TT: It will be nice to see new things. I think there will be. I reckon the skaters who we consider jumpers only will have to start skating as well. I'm sure we'll see attempts to land 2 quads in the SP.
EV: Is it worth the risk?
TT: The young skaters shouldn't think in those words. They should take risks and move on. It's the only way to make a name. There is no other way to push figure skating forward.
EV: A year ago commenting the Europeans results in pairs you said `Alena Savchenko is one of those who never give up. She wants to win the Olympics with Robin Szelkowy no less than Volosozhar/Trankov'. Do you think Tanya and Maksim's winning the worlds changed the standings?
TT: The important thing is not who you are competing with, but what you do on the ice. Volosozhar/Trankov are unique skaters with unique abilities. They made a long way but they still have a lot to give. As you know, I respect Aljona a lot, but the style which she showed with Robin last year is too rational and lacks emotions. There was no speed and no thought. I thought the music choice was weird. Figure skating is not for chosen people only. I wouldn't write the Germans off yet, but I would love to see the Russian skaters' and the Russian coaches' success.
By the way, don't forget about Tamara Moskvina's pair. Kawaguti/Smirnov had a very bad season, but it happens. Still it was obvious the pair got to a new level and can show very high results.
EV: Are you worried about two more good pairs joining Nina Mozer's group?
TT: Why should I? Nina is a very smart and knowledgeable coach. If she went for it - she must be confident in what she is doing. I used to have a group with 5 dance teams who were top 5 in the national. Stanislav Zhuk never worked with one pair only, he always had at least 3. Also keep in mind we are talking about the adult athletes who understand perfectly what are their goals and why did they join that group. They just have to set the goals right and decide how to get there. I'm sure Nina will do just fine.
EV: Yu Na Kim came back last year and won the worlds quite easily. It seems she is unbeatable if she can stay away from mistakes.
TT: I think she can. Not many realize how Yu Na trains. I saw it many times- starting when she was a junior skater and I was working with Arakawa. That girl trains as a high level athlete. Her speed-strength Korean coach still works with her.
At the time I used to work with such specialists as well: Leonid Raitsin when I was working with Kulik and then Yagudin. I learned a great deal from him. More than that I was making all my plans according to Leonid Moiseevich's plans, because at some point of the preparation the shape was much more important than what we were doing on the ice.
Arakawa haven't done such a work, but she is very strong, she used to run off the ice and she would do several run throughs on the ice - sometimes as many as 10 times in a row, which amazed me. When I started working with Asada the first thing I suggested her mother is to take a Japanese coach for general strength. We had to integrate two 3A into the LP and one 3A into the SP. Asada was never able to do a lutz - she would get the wrong edge and back then such jump wouldn't be counted at all.
I explain her misfortunes in the post olympic season with giving up the shape coach. Later, following my recommendation she started working with him again.
EV: Can Asada beat Kim in Sochi?
TT: Yu Na has a huge talent and experience. Her glides, jumps and spins great. But when I see her skating - she doesn't touch my soul. I don't feel for her, you see? Beating Kim is only possible if there is a skater who will be able to capture the whole crowd and take them with her.
EV: What do you think about the ice dance?
TT: I think Virtue/Moir will be very strong this season
EV: Because they lost the Worlds?
TT: I don't think it was fair, by the way. I liked them better than Davis/White in the FD. The judges were unable to receive `Carmen' as they should had. I think it was an exceptional dance.
Of course I would love to see a Russian pair in top 3. It will be hard, but if that should happen we can start talking about the Russian ice dance come back.
EV: Were you worried none of Morozov's programmes, except for the one he did for Volosozhar/Trankov did much last season? Including the two programmes for Ilinyh/Katsalapov?
TT: Unfortunately Nikolai took a break on that pair last season. It's not only about the programme, but about the coaching work in general. I think the coach should be everything in one - a coach, a friend, a shrink, someone to lean on. Who can not only use the skaters' talents but develop it.
On the other hand if Nikola's programmes make the pairs champions - I dont' care much about the rest.