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`Am not too fond of the USA' - Vaitsekhovskaya's interview with Leonova

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by TAHbKA, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. TAHbKA

    TAHbKA Well-Known Member

    `Am not too fond of the USA' Vaitsekhovskaya's interview with Leonova for sport-express-ru.

    The world 2012 silver medalists tells Sport Express why she had no doubts about participating the Worlds, why the old programme is better than the new and why she'd rather train in Russia than in the USA.

    In Saturday, the day before Leonova was supposed to leave to the USA and join her coach's group we met in Novogorsk

    EV: The decision who would represent Russia in London - you or Nicole Gosviani was made after the Russian Cup Final in Tver. Were you worried?
    AL: Not really. I was quite confident. After the LP I felt everything worked for me despite failing the first combo. After all everyone saw me in the warm up and the practices in Tver and saw how I was skating. And I was quite good.

    EV: A bit earlier during the Europeans where all 3 Russian skaters did quite well - were you afraid your season might be over?
    AL: No. I kept practicing every day and kept in mind I might go to Zagreb. What if? Then it was the same before the competition in Tver.

    EV: When did you decide to change your LP?
    AL: Right after the New Year.

    EV: Changing the programme often means the new programme was a flop. When you felt first the new programme is not good enough?
    AL: Probably at the beginning of the season. On one hand I always felt the Spanish music should suit me: the characteristic dance, flamenco. On the other - I couldn't find myself in the new programme. Perhaps it lacked some more profound Spanish sounds - the guitar, the rhythm. After all we chose that piece not because I particularly liked it, but rather because we were sure no one else would skate to it. As for me - I always wanted to skate a tango, but Nikolai Morozov declined. He said everyone and his grandmother will be skating to a tango.
    BTW, during the practices I was skating that programme just fine. I loved working on it, but once I stepped on the ice on the competition - all went wrong.

    EV: In other words - you need to feel the programme throughout?
    AL: I'd say I need the music to turn me on. Yet here it seems I was just skating. doing some elements but felt no connection to the music. It was a nice background not related to me. This is why we decided to change things. First we changed the music to Aranjues - I skated to it in Russian nationals, then we tried to find something more dramatic. It didn't work either - sounded like a funeral. So we went back to the last year's programme.

    EV: After you failed to qualify to the Europeans it was obvious your coach is more focused on his other pupils - those who are to skate in Zagreb. Were you uncomfortable with that?
    AL: Can't say he wasn't focused enough on me. I came to the practices just the same, was skating on the same ice. More than that- many times after the training was over Morozov would work for another hour or even more with me. It's when we were working on some technical aspects which is rather time consuming. When Morozov was away for 3 weeks I worked with my 2nd coach Alla Pyatova. It was quite an intense work with lots of run through. Alla Viktorovna was always for skating as many run through as possible, while with Nikolai we usually work on certain parts of the programmes.

    EV: Why didn't you go to the USA with the rest of the group?
    AL: Frankly, I don't even know. Morozov wanted us to go together, but then the thought I should stay in Russia for a couple of days more came up. Frankly - I was glad - didn't want to go too soon. So Nikolai will go with the ice dancers to the USA on 21/2, and I will join on 25th.

    EV: It seems you are not too fond of the USA
    AL: Indeed. I'm uncomfortable with everything there.

    EV: What exactly?
    AL: Everything. Starting with the accommodation and finishing with the food. The only positive side - lots of ice time and not many people. No one bothers while skating

    EV: Do you like skating alone?
    AL: I like it when I'm not bothered. When the coach is concentrated on me only.

    EV: It's rather hard in Morozov's group - you must feel quite uncomfortable all the time with the amount of skaters he has.
    AL: I mainly jealous the skaters. No matter how many times he says he likes working with the single skaters better sometimes when we are on the ice at the same time it's obvious he doesn't know where to begin. It would be better had he divided his time: either there are ice dancers on the ice or the single skaters, myself included. BTW, I don't mind working with the single skaters. Besides, he sometimes says I work better than the guys.

    EV: Sergey Voronov mentioned the advantages in working on the same ice with Takahashi. What about you?
    AL: I'm equally amazed by the way Takahashi works. He does so much in one practice. And at the end of the practice when everyone is already tired he is attempting a quad lutz

    EV: Can he land it?
    AL: He is trying. But the sheer fact he is trying is what I respect so much. And his ability to do an LP run though after just one warming up round.

    EV: During the last 2-3 weeks before the Worlds usually the skaters polish their programmes, getting rid of the slightest mistakes. It demands someone from the outside to watch the skater constantly. Who is working with you?
    AL: When Morozov left to the USA he left me a list of tasks. He said I should go on the ice everyday with the thought I'm the best. I should get used to present myself in such a way now. Of course I have to polish the programme, perhaps add some emotions at some places. Indeed it is hard to do without a coach. The technical part is easier - it's all on the level of doing out from the sleep.

    EV: Who works with you on the choreography?
    AL: Sometimes I get remarks from Tatiana Druchinina - Arthur Dmitriev's mother (used to be a choreographer in Moskvina's group, a rhythmic gymnastics world champion). She also works with us off the ice when asked by Morozov. Have to admit I like working on the ice much better and dislike the ballet classes. It's so tiring.

    EV: How do you know if you are not taking those classes?
    AL: When I was skating in St. Petersburg we were working quite a lot on the choreography. Of course it's important - it gives you the flexibility, the posture, the lines which you later take with you to the ice. But I think working on that is more important to the skaters who prefer the classical programmes. I, on the other hand, prefer the characteristic ones.

    EV: From what you've seen in the Europeans what did you like?
    AL: I loved Carolina Kostner's new LP. In the past I was not impressed by her programmes- I couldn't understand what is she trying to do on the ice. But I loved this one.

    EV: Were you ever sorry you can't do on the ice things the others can?
    AL: The jumps perhaps. When I saw Mao Asada doing a 3A I thought how much I'd love to learn that jump. I think I can, though I realize it takes a lot of special preparations.

    EV: Which is Leonid Raitsin, who used to work with your group, specialty.
    AL: We didn't get to work much together. I didn't quite get his approach. Perhaps I'm more used to more active and energetic exercises which we were given in St. Petersburg. Raitsin's approach is more focused. But also more boring. In general I could convince myself to do such a work.

    EV: Do you have a general physical coach in your group right now?
    AL: No, we work it out ourselves.

    EV: Do you have ideas for the Olympic season?
    AL: Not yet. We'll try to surprise, like usually.
  2. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

    How many skaters is now in Morozov's group? (I am curious how busy it must be when his groups in on the ice. I am amazed that they don't practice in split groups - dancers and freeskaters separately.)



    did I forget anyone?
  3. Loves_Shizuka

    Loves_Shizuka The Stolbova/Klimov and James/Cipres Uber

    I find it interesting that she dumped Aranjuez because it was too much "like a funeral", so went back to Adagio for Strings?!
  4. Marco

    Marco Well-Known Member


    Seeing her expressing opinion over other programs is just...
  5. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    And RFAD. And a totally empty program where she just strokes from one jump into another.
  6. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

    Everything? We can't be that bad.

    What accommodation is she talking about? I have several Euro / Latin American friends who are more than happy to debate the quality of life in America. However, one thing they praise is the quality of accommodations here (more space, comfort, privacy, etc.)
  7. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

    It may be different when they are constantly travelling. I would imagine that they would be staying in some dormitories or somewhere like cheap hotels. In comparison with skaters who have one training base and don't constantly trek around the world, I would imagine that her accommodation would be very impersonal (e.g. not worth putting posters on the wall if you are staying perhaps for a month). Maybe she is not talking about life in America as such, but more about the life Morozov's groups is leading.
  8. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    Thanks as always for the translation, TAHbKA!

    This actually strikes me as a fairly common sentiment. I'm a Kostner fan from way back, but it seems as though a lot of people have only warmed to her in the last couple of years or so. At least Leonova isn't suggesting that Kostner's programs weren't good, just that she didn't get them.
  9. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

    I do understand her desire to be as comfortable as possible for as long as possible before a major comp - that makes sense.

    I don't understand why people who are interviewed, even just occasionally, don't get the PR thing (and I have advised people on this professionally and once it is pointed out most people really get it) - I suspect she is just not very mature in publicity terms. When an interviewer throws you one of those questions that has an obvious negative answer (and they will) just turn it around - "It's more about wanting to be as comfortable as I can be in preparation for an important competition and I am definitely most comfortable at home. That's what's best for me. "

    She's entitled to her opinion and she may hate the US (my country) - that's fine, we're not everyone's preference. But negative comments, especially in public, just aren't that necessary. EV who asked the question is doing the usual journalist's job of trying to get someone to say something notable, questionnable or controversial - and she did it.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  10. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    That would be a very American PR answer, but it's not the sort of thing you'd see in interviews with Russian skaters and coaches. They tend to be a lot more honest and less inclined to engage in PR-speak. I doubt they're immature; it's just a cultural difference.
  11. Willowway

    Willowway Well-Known Member

    Given that I do this in a very global firm I can assure you that it's a very AsiaPacific and European answer too. Most people (politicians aside!) are out to explain themselves or their point of view clearly, not offend anyone.

    Actually I find that almost 100% of the people I've worked with (granted they are international business folks, not skaters) are pleased and relieved that they don't have to offend anyone else to make a point.
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2013
  12. love_skate2011

    love_skate2011 Well-Known Member

    I think she got traumatized by the bad bottled mineral water service :rofl:
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  13. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    I have no problem at all with her saying that she doesn't like being in the US. Everybody's got different comfort levels with different situations, and if she's happier or trains better at home, absolutely nothing wrong or offensive in saying that.

    I've traveled in countries I didn't enjoy so much. Doubt I'd want to spend an extended amount of time there even though those who do live there find it just fine.

    I am rather amazed at the number of elite skaters Morozov is attempting to train simultaneously. And I didn't think that dancers/freestyle skaters were normally on the ice together in training, but perhaps since the end of compulsories there isn't a great need for separate dance sessions?
    hanca and (deleted member) like this.
  14. Suze

    Suze Active Member

    I am glad she didn't provide some vague responses and expressed her opinion in that frank manner. Perhaps it's due to the cultural difference between the US and Russia but I find many of the American athlete interviews generic and self-censored while Russian athletes aren't afraid to name names and express their grievances without resorting to some beat-around-the-bush statement.

    It's perfectly fair to say she doesn't like America. On some days, even as an American, I don't like this country either
    hanca and (deleted member) like this.
  15. flowerpower

    flowerpower Well-Known Member

    The title of the article was unfortunate - did Vaitsekhovskaya choose that, or an editor? The comment about feeling uncomfortable in the US was just a tiny part of the interview, and it was something that Vaitsekhovskaya seemingly drew out, based on the fact that Leonova delayed her departure a few days. She might feel more comfortable training in her home country for various reasons, it's not surprising.

    BTW, thanks for the translation!
  16. lala

    lala Well-Known Member

    My experience is that the Russians usually love Russia. But a lot of talented athletes, skaters, skating coaches left Russia, because of the financial considerations. We in Europe and I think the in Russia still think that the U.S. is the land of opportunity. Leonova was honest, and he gave the interview to a Russian journalist not to the FSU readers. :)

    Do you remember? Emmy Award Winning 2005 World Figure Skating Championships Show Open for ESPN/ABC http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ta1_x0Lqe70 I simply adore it
  17. Badams

    Badams Well-Known Member

    I don't think it's a big deal if she doesn't love the United States. I'm sure Russia is a lovely place, but I wouldn't feel comfortable spending huge gobs of time there. Doesn't mean I hate Russia.
  18. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    I've come across plenty of statements by European skaters that were expressed clearly but also honestly and not via a PR filter. Nathalie Pechalat and Brian Joubert come to mind as two skaters who have not shied away from expressing their opinions, but there are others. Joubert, BTW, has also said that he doesn't like to train in the US, because he tends to eat more junk food and gain weight. I also remember that in the Orange Team interviews, some skaters were expressly asked about poorly organized competitions they had been to; almost all chose to answer, even though it wasn't a super polite thing to do.

    What's viewed as appropriate comments differs between people, between cultures and between contexts; sometimes, honesty is valued above diplomacy and politeness. Leonova isn't suggesting that the US is a terrible place, just that she doesn't like to go there for her own reasons. So what? She's not the first skater to say something along those lines about other countries.

    I much prefer to read Russian interviews in which people express actual opinions than the bland results of endless media training.
    PRlady and (deleted member) like this.
  19. Ziggy

    Ziggy Well-Known Member

    Kostner used to be terrible, IMO. Really awkward and gawkish and it's only in the last two seasons or so that she's bloomed into an absolutely extraordinary skater who just has the whole package.
    flutzilla1 and (deleted member) like this.
  20. Cheylana

    Cheylana Well-Known Member

    Virtually every Russian skater interview has the obligatory anti-USA digs, so it's par for the course. No problem.
    But I can't imagine the hate if a US skater were to publicly say he/she was "not too fond" of another country. They'd be completely roasted!! :lol:
  21. Marco

    Marco Well-Known Member

    Except she really has to look at her own programs before publicly dissing her competitors and saying she isn't impressed at their programs. When was her last masterpiece? :rolleyes:
  22. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    Yeah, I felt the same... how is she self-aware enough to see that her other programs were duds, but then goes back to Adagio? I guess at least funereal is the correct interpretation for the Adagio music, which it isn't for Spanish music. :lol: Her comment about the music needing to turn her on was interesting. It seems like she either needs something upbeat with a character so she can really get into it, or something really slow so she can just forget the music and only concentrate on jumps (I much prefer the former!).

    Consider that her answer is the politically correct one in Russia. I can't recall a Russian interview with a skater that trained in the US that didn't have a question about how they liked it, and usually prodding them to diss it. No surprise that they took that quote as the title of the article either. She managed to make it clear she prefers Russia without saying anything too awful about the US.

    Sure, these articles get translated but they are mainly meant for the Russian audience.

    Exactly. I'm American, but I appreciate Russian culture and Russian skaters. I doubt I would be fond of their accommodations and food, though. I wasn't offended at all.

    Here's one of her blogs about the USA (bonus photo of her in a bikini ;)): http://en.alena-leonova.ru/blog/daily_life_in_america/2012-07-07-40
    Please don’t think that I have completely turned into an American and forgotten about my dear Russia! I am missing my motherlad very much, and as for American habits, I’ve adopted only the American smile.
    Now I’d like to tell you about things we are doing in our summer camp. First of all I must say that the first three weeks we were living a life of vagabonds, that is, we changed three hotels in 20 days. For two weeks we were staying in New Jersey and a few days ago moved to Danbury, Connecticut. The point was that our coach Nikolai Morozov had been searching for a rink where it would be possible to work at nights. In his opinion, nighttime is the very right time for choreographing programs. Now we have finally settled here until the end of August.
  23. PeterG

    PeterG Well-Known Member

    I am assuming the article was done in Russian, and then someone translated it into English? I think that's important to keep in mind. From what I read from the above translation, the only thing Leonova said was that she was "uncomfortable" in the USA. My bet is that the majority (or even a good majority) of Americans would say the same thing about being in Russia.

    Regardless, I appreciate her candor.
  24. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member


    I actually think that there are a fair number of skaters who have "grown" technically and artistically. Kostner just had the unfortunate -- to my mind -- experience of medalling at events very frequently even when she had big problems. Kind of like Sokolova.
  25. Vagabond

    Vagabond Well-Known Member

    Daily Life in America


    She has also expressed some distinctly peculiar -- and closed-minded -- views about North American food:

    My First Winter Olympics in Vancouver. Part One

    I love how she calls it her "first." They had already had wonderbabies in Russia back in 2010.

    You can take the girl out of Novogorsk, but you can't take Novogorsk out of the girl. :shuffle:
    OliviaPug and (deleted member) like this.
  26. quiqie

    quiqie Well-Known Member

    I just remembered a lady in the row behind me this year at TEB telling her companions a tale of woe that has been Pechalat/Bourzat's life in Moscow :lol:
  27. Zemgirl

    Zemgirl Well-Known Member

    But she was asked about what she saw at Euros. And she didn't compete at Euros ;)

    As a fairly picky eater, I'll give anyone a pass for sticking with what they like/are familiar with - especially in a situation like the Olympics. Every culture has its customs and preferences; I mean, I live in a place where we eat salad for breakfast, which I'm sure many people find strange and unappetizing.
  28. VIETgrlTerifa

    VIETgrlTerifa Well-Known Member

    Does every Russian interview have to have some sort of American dig?

    I understand that they're being "honest" and "un-PC" and Americans are just too "self-censored" and "boring" but this is getting so repetitive to the point where I feel it's rehearsed as well. It would be interesting to see someone make a dig against Russia (like quiqie mentioning how Pechelat/Bourzat were having a trying time there) or a Western European country, or China, or Japan, etc., and see how celebrated those comments would be.

    However, I do understand Leonova may have truly not have a good time during her time in the U.S. for valid reasons.
    OliviaPug and (deleted member) like this.
  29. Loves_Shizuka

    Loves_Shizuka The Stolbova/Klimov and James/Cipres Uber

    ^Salad for any meal would be unappetizing for me. The very word makes me weep :scream: :wuzrobbed

    Tell us more! :watch:
  30. CoyoteChris

    CoyoteChris New Member

    Plus one! Once I saw Irina Slutskaya take the ice at a Champions on ice show in Spokane. Even though she did a western theme skate hardly anyone applauded her before or after the skate. I was ashamed. I am sure very few ice show fans in Spokane knew who she was.
    Later, I heard her quoted as saying something to the effect that "All American audiences want to do is sit in the stands and eat their cheeseburgers". Like Suze, there are days I don't like this country either....translating from one lanuage to another is not as easy as people think, given culteral differences. Russians sometimes do come across as proud and arrogant. Even when they dont mean to be. I remember Yasa and Yuri being introduced on TV when they did their gala performance at SkateCanada about 1992 as the "proud" Russians.....well, I dont know if they are proud or not...they certainly have reason to be....whenever I talk to them, I just see two well mannered polite friendly people. It would be interesting to talk one on one with AL....I know I wouldnt feel comfortable living in Russia...I am sure she has her reasons for not feeling comfortable here.