Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Spilband `I worked more this summer than ever before' for sport-express.ru
Not long before the competition in Oberstdorf Spilband had his first victory - in the court against his previous employer the management of the rink in Canton. When we met in Germany he was said first:
IS: I don't want to discuss it. The trial was not pleasant, and it was something I had to go through. It was important for me. There were 2 issues, one was personally against Marina Zueva and in both cases I won. Now I'd like to put it all behind.
EV: I saw how deeply involved you were when you worked with the best two teams in the world together with Marina. Is your work now less demanding?
IS: Tessa and Scott were not always the best. Just like Meryl and Charlie. I worked with them since they were juniors, so I can't really tell after stopping coaching them I work differently. Besides, I have some leading pairs in my team as well - for example the French Pechalat/Bourzat, who joined this season. There are also skaters who I predict a great future, just as I did once in Virtue/Moir and Davis/White. Also both those pairs have their disadvantages. Just like anyone else.
EV: Let me rephrase. For many years you were leading a group with 2 best teams, while the other coaches were trying to run after you. Now you are one of the running after. I think you are the best person to ask whether it's possible to beat your previous pupils. Do you see a way?
IS: Of course I know the way, but you don't really expect me to reveal it here, do you?
EV: Can you at least name a pair who you think can compete with the Canadians and the Americans in Sochi?
IS: I was always against such predictions. Yes, there is a gap in technique, interpretation, execution between those two teams and the others. But take Nathalie and Fabian - their blade technique is great. Quite equal. In that aspect they can compete with anyone.
EV: Were your surprised when Pechalat/Bourzat asked to join your group?
IS: Yes. I didn't see that coming. Usually the ice dancers don't switch coaches in their last season.
EV: Did you agree immediately?
IS: No. I was approached by the head of the French skating federation Didier Gailhaguet, we met in Detroit and I was going to decline. I was fully booked as it was for the summer and I couldn't figure where to find time for another pair. But in the end I agreed to try. When I started working with them I was swept by Nathanie and Fabian's will to work hard. I never regretted taking them. Besides, having such a team in the group is a wonderful example for those who skate alongside.
EV: Do you ever ask the skaters who want to join your group why did they leave the previous coaches?
IS: I know Nathalie and Fabian's relationship with Angelica and Pasquale remained good.
EV: I.e. the decision to switch coaches was not theirs, but the French federations'?
IS: Yes. At least that's the official version.
EV: Who choreographed their Olympic programmes?
IS: They came with the ready programmes. We had to make some changes though.
EV: Is it easier to choreograph yourself than work with made programmes?
IS: I love creating the programmes. It happened before that the skaters had programmes and I offered them something different and they agreed. It happened this season with the Azerbaijan couple Zlobina/Sitnikov. Sometimes the programmes are changed because they do not meet the ISU demands. There are rules for music, rhythm, elements etc.
EV: Are there choreographers who you trust?
IS: I love what Paola Mezzardi who works with the Italians Cappellini/Lanotte. I think she is an amazingly talented choreographer.
EV: I know the `Swan Lake' that Ilinyh/Katsalapov are skating was also your idea.
IS: Now quite. When Morozov and his skaters started working on the choreography the `Swan Lake' was one of the options Morozov had in mind. When I came to his rink for 4 days I supported the idea. I was thinking in the same direction and meant to advice Ilinyh/Katsalapov to take that very piece.
EV: You consulted Morozov, worked a bit with Riazanova/Tkachenko, with your own pairs.. It seems anyone can ask for your help and you will not decline.
IS: No. I'm limited with the ice time. And with my own energy. I can't work for 24 hours a day.
EV: Hence you work just 18?
IS: Of course not. Though this summer I worked more than ever before. I would spend 12 hours a day on the ice only.
EV: What inspires you?
IS: The nature. I love the place where I live. The summer is rather short but very warm. I take the weekends off to spend it in Michigan lake with friends. Besides, when you work with the pair you like and see how your ideas come true it doesn't require an energy, it gives you the energy.
EV: Did you ever have to kick an athlete from a practice?
IS: Not that I recall in the last 10 years. There was always a great discipline on the ice rink.
EV: When you work with your skaters do you prefer to work with each team alone, or there is a sparring like in Russia?
IS: My work on the ice is individual. It allows me to dwell in the pair I work with currently. But there are more things than just the work on the ice. During the offseason when we work on the technique I work with several pairs at once. this summer, for example, there would be 10-12 people on the ice at the same time. This is how I always worked. Since I never coached in Russia I can't really compare which method is right.
EV: What is the most expensive thing in the top class athletes preparations?
IS: A bad programme. It causes a lot of troubles and is the most costly thing. It's always a hard decision to change the programme if it was not successful. It should be done as early as possible.
EV: Were you uncomfortable with Riazanova/Tkachenko and their coach Alexey Gorshkov coming to Detroit to you for their summer preparations ?
IS: Why would I be? They are no foreigners for me, and Alexey is a wonderful coach, who helped a lot with my other skaters. I think we worked really well together.
EV: Are there countries where work is hard because of the coach-federation relationship?
IS: I never had to explain my work. Every federation has it's goals and interests, but I never was in a situation where I had to navigate or bend. Quite the opposite - I always received help and support.
EV: Were you offered a job in Russia?
IS: Nothing particular, but when Marina and I parted ways and I had to stop working in Canton I received a phone call from one of the Russian Federation leaders and was told I can always count on their support should I need a job. It was nice. Would I be able to leave? I don't know. I have been coaching in Michigan for a long time now, I have a great team which I would have to build anew in any other place. It's not only the coaches, acrobats etc, but also the dancers who help with different things -flamenco, tango...
EV: How do you start working on a new programme? From the music, idea, technical moments or key points?
IS: It differs. Sometimes it just happens within a couple of practices, sometimes I have to redo and rethink things till the programme `shines'. You can't really come up with a method that would work for everyone. Guess that is what makes the choreography work creative.