Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Kawaguti `I really want to go back competing' for sport-express.ru
They never had such gorgeous and colourful programmes as this Olympic season. It's hard to express how much they were looking forward for their first competition this season - the GP in the USA. But on on October the 10th while practicing one of the jumps Smirnov was injured in his knee. 2 days later he underwent a surgery in Munich where the Russian doctor who accompanied him said there is no chance the pair can compete in Sochi. No way.
A talk to the Russian coach Oleg Vasiliev was a first hope the doctor might had been wrong. Vasiliev became Moskvina's assistant this year and while talking about Aleksandr and Yuko in Paris he said.
OV: They might come back. See, Sasha is already skating, though without the full effort on his injured leg. At the beginning of December he will be allowed to take off all the bandages. I think skaters of such a level need a month to get back into the shape. I judge from my own experience: in 1988 my partner Elena Valova was in the hospital and was released a month before the Olympics. Just before the Europeans she had some pains in her leg - the doctors gave her a wrong injection and it had consequences. We haven't figured it immediately and by the time we did it was severe - and that was just before the Nationals. Elena was hospitalized immediately, underwent a surgery and for a month she lay with a 7sm hole in her right leg. The leg itself became so thin she had to rebuild all her muscles. But the fact remains: on January 14th she was out of the hospital, on February 14th we were skating our Olympic SP finishing 2nd.
We met again with Vasiliev in December during the Russian nationals in Sochi. He said about Kawaguti/Smirnov:
OV: All depends on Sasha. Should he be able to start jumping at the beginning of January I will stand behind my words they have a chance to compete at the Olympics. If that shouldn't happen their come back will not be
On January 4th Smirnov landed his first tree jumps. A couple of days later I called his partner in St. Petersburg
EV: Yuko, what did you feel when Sasha was injured?
YK: I was so upset, but then I didn't even think he would need a surgery. Guess I was in denial. All the time Sasha spent in the hospital I tried thinking positive.
EV: Did the thought you have too many hardships cross your mind?
YK: Everyone around said that. Deep down I was sure we would go to Sochi. The harder the things became the more often I repeated it.
EV: It happened twice Sasha had to wait till you recovered. First after you broke the leg and then when you had troubles with the shoulder and had a surgery. Which is harder - to be the one inured or to wait for the partner?
YK: When something happens to your partner it is the hardest thing that can happen in pairs skating. Your own injury is easier: you know what you have to do, you go through a routine, do the excersizes, feel the situation changes. You just have to wait till the pain goes away. But that feeling of helplessness when you can't do anything - now that's a real hardship. It's hard not to be down.
EV: Do you feel Sasha doesn't believe he would come back?
YK: The opposite. Even in the hardest times when we all lost hope he was the one to inspire. When I look at him in such moments I recall how I was injured and the more the others tried to convince me that was it the more certain I was that it'll be fine. Or almost fine. And that I will do everything just on time.
EV: Were there a lot of doubts about Sasha?
YK: Nobody spoke to us about it. Everyone just kept quiet, and, frankly, am not sure which is worse - toe voice the doubts or to keep them silent.
EV: What was Moskvina saying?
YK: She was ambiguous: `I don't know... we'll see...'. Her usual. First she went into her own shell and only after she saw how Sasha rehabilitates she became more talkative.
EV: In one of her interviews she called your pair a satellite that went down before reaching it's target. Was it hard to realize the coach doesn't really believe in you?
YK: The hardest was when Sasha was taken to the surgery to Germany and remained there for the rehabilitation Moskvina almost never came to the rink. I was training as usual, but working alone all the time was... not quite hurting, but felt uncomfortable. On one hand I understood it's not that she doesn't care - during our years together I taught her myself I don't need a nanny, but at that particular moment I could really use some support.
EV: How did you handle your own emotions?
YK: I was telling myself things are much worse for Sasha in Germany right now. And for Tamara Nikolaevna - after all she gave us she would have to start from the scratch.
EV: I know Oleg Vasiliev works on the same ice with you now. Does it help or bother?
YK: Training became more fun and we are stimulated by the competition of Gerboldt/Enbert. It's harder skating alone.
EV: Do you like the way the work goes now?
YK: I like the feeling of a progress from every hour or day we spend on the ice. First I felt how afraid Sasha was of the elements, but he overcomes it now. Skating when nothing hurts or bothers is a different and a really nice feeling
EV: How much do you train now?
YK: We are back to the usual regime - two times on the ice, which didn't happen always before the injury - we had to take care and not overdo things. Now we don't have that, working is fun. I really want to go back competing. I haven't expected being left outside the competition to be so hard. First I couldn't even look at the other pairs skating - it hurt too much, but then I calmed down and started watching all the competitions, even the smallest ones, being so jealous about the others who can skate there. No matter where would they be placed. Of course no one will allow us just to go back into the team, I guess there will be some test skates and I can't wait for them
EV: Do you like the new programmes?
YK: You have no idea! They are amazing. Let me tell you: even if we don't make it to the Olympics an opportunity to show those programmes to the crowd would mean no less than a placement in a competition. Even Tamara Nikolaevna said we don't have a right to retire before showing those programmes.