Another interview with Tamara Moskvina: "We have more coaches than skaters"
Elena Vaitsekhovskaya's interview with Tamara Nikolaevna Moskvina: "In our country, we have more coaches than skaters"
My conversation with Tamara Moskvina got an unexpected twist from the very beginning. I wanted to ask her a rather banal set of questions regarding the new programs of her pupils, Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov, and the recent closed test skates in Sochi. But I haven't even had time to pick up a voice recorder, when Moskvina very casually said, "Unfortunately, there aren't many people around to whom I could turn to for an advice... " .
EV: Who was that kind of person for you, Tamara?
TNM: At one time, it was Mila Pakhomova, and no one actually knew about that. Elena Tchaikovskaya's group, including Pakhomova and Gorshkov, had always been very closed off. But it happened so that when Alexei Mishin and I were still competing, Pahomova and I often shared hotel rooms. Then I realized that she and I had very similar views on many things. And when I started to coach, I could call Mila at any moment and discuss anything with her. Programs, music, different ideas.
And I've always liked the way Mila held herself. If she had any weakness, no one could ever tell. We, as Mishin said, "provincial finches", could be poorly dressed, Pakhomova always looked like a queen. And remember the look of supremacy she always went on the ice with!
EV: Did you like Mila as a coach?
TNM: I have not had a chance to watch her in work - after all, we lived in different cities. But judging by the results,when Mila coached Elena Batanova and Alexey Soloviev (two-time junior world champions in ice dancing. - EV), she achieved big success with that team.
I remember how one night, during some event, when we, as usual, shared a room, Mila suddenly started crying and said: " Tamara, I'm going to die soon... " That's when I found out about her illness. We kept that very close emotional bond between us until her death.
Recently, by the way, I found a very good psychological term in one book: the reference point. It's not just a person to whom you can trust completely in any situation, but also the one who gives you peace of mind and confidence by his mere presence.
EV: You didn't have any other person like that in your life?
TNM: Another one was Iris Baker, an English dance coach. I met her in 1962 in Geneva - she worked in the secretariat of the European Championships. Iris was older than me, but we somehow became friends. And it lasted for many years.
EV: Do you know the feeling when around you, there are less and less people of the same…
EV: Not only. Age indicates also a certain circle of interests, communications, attitudes, values. And I wanted to ask not so much about age, but about people who speak the same language.
TNM: I communicate with many people who are much younger than me, and I can say that I really like that. Young people might also be interested in me - I can see how people listen to me, when there is an occasion for socializing. Age-related interests do not always help to get together often, which is another issue.
EV:That's what I meant.
TNM: In such cases, I say to myself: "Tamara, don't wait until someone approaches you. Go ask them yourself. Find topics that will be interesting to younger people. Engage them in conversation." For me, it is really interesting to know their opinions about my athletes, about my work. I cannot just hope that the audience will consist of the people of my generation only. So I should not only understand what the younger audience wants to see, but also give it to them. So that the majority of people who came to the event would end up rooting for my students, instead of their rivals.
EV: Could you set the program to rap music?
TNM: To be honest, I have this music that was written for me two or so years ago, and it's rap.
EV: Who was it for?
TNM: For Yuko and Sasha - for a gala number. There was never the right time for that music. Maybe I will have to give it to someone else, if we end up not using it.
EV: It was quite a surprise for me, and many other people, when you teamed up with Oleg Vasiliev. It looked like you, and especially Oleg, judging by some of his interviews, were quite far from being able to start working together again.
TNM: You know, I take calmly other people's interviews. Perhaps the person didn't have the full information or was misinformed, or maybe at some point in his life, it was hard for him to admit his mistakes and he subconsciously wanted to find the cause of his failure in someone else.
Vasiliev and I had a great time working together when I was coaching him, then Oleg became my colleague, and we parted our ways. It is very likely, by the way, that at a certain stage of his coaching career, Oleg sincerely believed that it was me who didn't let him have a breakthrough. But for me, it was always more important what I know about myself, not what others think of me. I never did anything I could be ashamed of.
EV: When did you start thinking about taking steps towards your former student?
TNM: When Artur Dmitriev left St. Petersburg for Moscow. We worked together for a long time, and maybe Arthur was tired of the fact that I led him for so many years, as an athlete, and has continued to lead, in a way, when he became a coach.
When I felt it, I even offered him to go to work at the Academy, where he would have his own ice and full independence. I did not want him to leave Peter. But in the end, he decided to leave.
That's when I began thinking: who I can call to help me in my work ? Natasha Mishkutenok is in America, Lena Bechke is in America, Denis Petrov is in China, Anton Sikharulidze is in Moscow, Lena Berezhnaya and Oksana Kazakova both have little children. And anyway, after an athlete becomes an Olympic champions and has a fairly high earnings in all sorts of shows, it isn't easy to move on to coach's salary. Figuratively speaking, it is like falling off a mountain. As an avalanche. You were on top just a moment ago, and suddenly you are sitting on the ground, where you need to disassemble the stones to build something without having the slightest idea how to do it.
Vasiliev came to St. Petersburg from Chicago from time to time. So I decided to talk to him. I, in general, try to talk with all of my athletes. Even when everyone, as you say, thought that there was an animosity between us, Oleg and I sometimes went for coffee together, talking about our daughters , discussing some other problems - up to a guinea pig that lived in Oleg's house. Especially since now we have absolutely nothing to fight over. And working together is better.
Although I must say that there are more pair skating coaches than athletes in our country at the moment. For a year, there have been an announcement at the Yubileyny ice rink that the coaches Moskvina, Kazakova and Berezhnaya invite to join their pair skating group. One girl came. Single skating coaches also stopped giving away their athletes. Even when there is someone to give.
EV: And do you keep looking?
TNM: I have been, not anymore. I understand that when an athlete comes to me, he expects that I will be dealing with him, not my assistants. But I don't want to take responsibility for someone else's work anymore, to be honest.
EV: It was decided to make the pre-season test skates completely closed. From your point of view, is this secrecy justified?
TNM: No. Up to a certain time, everyone, of course, try to keep their work secret. But now it is important to get as much feed-back as possible - reviews, opinions , criticism. On the other hand, there are advantages of closed test skates. Not all the athletes are ready to skate two full programs in early September. Moreover, some try to avoid it. It is completely useless to show up in public when you're out of shape.
EV: I know that Kavaguti/Smirnov's got mixed reviews in Sochi. Why did you choose "Katyusha"?
TNM: First of all, I tried to imagine what other teams would do. I was thinking: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov will definitely choose something pathetic or a drama. Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy will likely prefer fast and modern style. The Chinese are lyrical with beautiful lines. Canadians have technique. What do we have to offer considering that Yuko and Sasha were only the sixth by the end of last season? Make a theatrical program? It's not that good for the short program: acting distracts from the elements.
EV: Then tell us what is the highlight of the new short program.
TNM: The music, which arranged in such a way that the familiar "Katyusha" is hardly recognizable background. This is important, because anyone, hearing familiar tune starts listening and looking closely. It is a tribute to the host country. And most importantly, this music is very comfortable for the athletes to perform all the difficult technical elements to. So that the judges see all the things they need to see. If you are interested in what this program is about ...
EV: You have just articulated it quite brilliantly. The poetry is completely unnecessary, I think.
TNM: I have, by the way, two backup variants.
EV: When a coach talks about possible replacement , it does not contribute to the certainty of success, to be honest.
TNM: Why? If you are going to travel from Moscow to St. Petersburg, do you really consider only one travel option? You always have to have a backup plan.
EV: Why are you planning to include a quad throw in the free program?
TNM: Being the sixth pair of the world half a year before the Olympic Games, you need to have a clear view of situation. What else can we offer if not the difficulty? By the way, to include the [quad] throw in the free program is not my wish, but my athletes'. If so, it is my task as a coach to prepare the necessary conditions. I think that we have managed to deal with this element. Both physically and technically.
EV: Who were you watching more closely - your skaters or their competitors?
TNM: I watched the others mostly at practices. I liked Volosozhar and Trankov. The most important thing that they have is security.
EV: The fact that the spotlight has shifted to that team in the last two years, is it a plus or a minus for your athletes?
TNM: Yuko and Sasha have no problems with that. If there are such problems, it can always be seen. And then you need to have a sensible view of situation: if my height is 148 centimeters, I'll never be able to take a two-meter height. And here we have a team that stands above most of the athletes in the world, and mine in particular, in their technical abilities.
But this does not mean that we are not going to try to show our best at every competition, gaining maximum points wherever possible. The main thing is that we have hope. This is the thing that motivates people .
EV: And if you hope does not come true?
TNM: It can happen, too. The list of risks, as they say in business, is always present in sport. You shouldn't put on the blinders, seeing only one goal. Because it can happen that a truck, so to speak, comes from around a corner and you just do not have enough time to get out of its way. You need to thoroughly assess the situation and be prepared to sneak through the crack, if it suddenly opens. I know it very well , because not all of my students came through the open door.
EV: What do you mean?
TNM: Valova and Vasiliev sneaked into the same crack in 1983. One of Stanislav Zhuk's pairs suddenly fell ill just before European Championships, and my athletes were to replace them. I then gathered all my courage and went to the head of sports committee of the Department of winter sports and asked to send me as a tourist, so as not to leave them without a coach. Oleg and Lena took second place, and a month later they won the world championships.
A similar situation occurred with Dmitriev in 1998, when he started to skate with Oksana Kazakova. They barely made it on the national team .
EV: Returning to the Olympic season, is it possible for the four-time world champions Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy to reach another level, what do you think?
TNM: I think it is. Even the fact that they intend to do a triple Axel throw that they tried last season, says that these athletes are more than serious. When a skater performs successfully element of this complexity, it provides, in addition to the points, greater self-confidence. Inner conviction that you have an additional trump card. This year, as far as I know, Aliona and Robin chose "The Nutcracker" for their free program - what else can I say? The charming music of the Russian composer. The audience is going to love that music. I myself had this idea. What stopped me, it was the fact that my students already skated to "The Nutcracker". In 1992.
EV: When you coached Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze, Igor Bobrin worked with them as a choreographer. Petr Tsernyshev has been working with Kavaguti and Smirnov for the past two years. How does a coach finds "his" choreographer?
TNM: Organizational issues always play a big role: whether athletes, coach and choreographer can find the time to work together or not. We had worked with Bobrin and Natasha Bestemyanova, they choreographed very interesting programs for Yuko and Sasha, but our schedules, unfortunately, did not agree this season: everyone always has their obligations.
Program components are paid a lot of attention now. And this means a lot of dance moves. Tsernyshev is a dancer. Moreover, he worked as a dance coach for many years in America, teaching everyone, including the beginners. Although I think that choreographers need to be changed.
EV: Well now is not that difficult to go to a choreographer in any country.
TNM: You see what this is about... To go for a couple of days to a particular specialist is possible, but in this case, he will make a program based on what an athlete can do. That is, he would have to go down on the athlete's level. And I need to get my athletes up as high as possible. So that they not only get the program, but also learn something new. In this respect, Tsernyshev was the perfect choice for us.
EV: Do you ever think what you will do after the Olympic Games in Sochi?
TNM: I, as usual, have options.
EV: Related to the sport?
TNM: Not necessarily. There are plenty of activities I am interested in, but never had the time for. It is so much more prosaic at the rink. I've been through it so many times that I know exactly how much time it will take, how much energy it will require.
EV: Are you afraid that you may not have enough energy?
TNM: You know, I had a close relative who has led an active life teaching and died at 85. And it happened so that I set this age as some kind of a life limit. But just the other day I was at a concert dedicated to the 90th anniversary of our famous coach and scientist, an honorary citizen of St. Petersburg Mikhail Bobrov. He has phenomenal memory, he writes beautifully. I looked at him and said to myself, "Tamara, don't be a fool. Make a plan and live as you want!"
She is amazing! Thank you.
"I was thinking: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov will definitely choose something pathetic or a drama"
- Rep Power
Thanks for all the translations. Tamara is amazing.
DH - and that's just my opinion