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Grebenkina interviewing Zhulin

Discussion in 'Great Skate Debate' started by TAHbKA, Oct 22, 2012.

  1. TAHbKA

    TAHbKA Well-Known Member

    Zhulin talks to Grebenkina and Rodak in "Triangular" @ 3channel.ru
    Grebenkina; today in the studio the European champion, the world champion, olympic medalist, a great coach Alexand Zhulin. Hello, Sasha

    Rodak: Sochi olympics, who are you going to root for?
    Hopefully for my pupils, hope to get them ready and hope to root for them
    Rodak: who are they?
    Zh: my two Russian pairs: Bobrova/Soloviev and Monko/Khaliavin. Bobrova/Soloviev are more experienced and well known, but Monko/Khaliavin are younger but also have a great potential and I really hope at least one of those pairs will attempt even for the medal.

    Rodak: you think there is a chance?
    Zh: hope so

    Grebenkina: what about the singles? Who will you be waching and cheering?
    Zh: I guess Pluschenko, who they said is deep in preparations, hope he will be there, if he is not there I will be rooting for my compatriots. For the Russians.

    Grebenkina: do you think the athlets should be watching the competitions? Whether it's watching their competitors, or, say, if the athlete is a dancer should they watch the singles?
    Zh: I will ask you back Nastia- you were my pupil. Did you watch the skating?
    Grebenkina: no, I never did
    Zh: and you were right. I think bothers the skater's focus during the competition.

    Rodak: are you emotional when watching figure skating?
    Zh: Yes, I am when I watch competitions that do not concern me like pairs or singles. As for the dance I'm very calm (at least on the cerface) - I feel very deeply for my skaters and I don't want them to see it.

    Grebenkina: I don't know, I saw you several times dancing along with you skaters. At least when Navka was skating at the Olympics.
    Zh: No one forbade the coaches dancing during their pupils skates, besides back then Tanya was my wife and coaching your wife is not an easy task.
    Grebenkina: Yeah, I guess. Nevertheless, it's so cute when the skaters are out there and the coach as if trying to help them doing their moves behind the bars.
    Zh: and then you realize you can't help, but you're doing it nevertheless. Though I guess some energy passes through to the skaters and I hope they receive it.

    Grebenkina: we are 1.5 years before the olympics and coaching switches are possible. About a year ago your very good skaters left the group - first Ilinyh/Katsalapov, then the French Pechalat/Bourzat. Did you feel your coaching career was over?
    Zh: It was a scary experience. It happened that I went to Greece to heal my back for 5 days right after the Worlds and 2 days later I was notified on the first switch, then immediatelly on the other and I was left with no group. I was left with no one to work with. The thought to leave the country crossed my mind if there wasn't an option to coach in Moscow. I didn't mind taking young athletes. It was a blow below the belt.

    Rodak: you took it as a treason.
    Zh: Not the French. The French pair got a hint from their federation Zhulin would be putting more effort to coach the Russian pair, so I can understand their motives. We parted in a good terms: they invited me to meet them and we had tears in our eyes when parting. It was a French federation decision they obeyed and it's understandable: as French they would be uncomfortable skating on a Russian ice before the Olympics. I understood perfectly their situation.
    As for Ilinyh/Katsalapov I still don't realy understand, but it's the 2nd time they left my group, so guess there was something that was bothering them.

    Rodak: wait, leaving for the 2nd time? I.e. you already took them back once?
    Zh: I did once and told them should they leave the group again I will not take them back. It doesn't seem they would want to go back to me, but even if they would 90% I wouldn't take them back.

    Grebenkina: Taking you coached them since they were kids and Nikita more or less grew up in front of you and yuo made a skater of him and Elena as well, did they come and voice out what they didn't like in your coaching, programmes etc or they just burnt the bridges and that was it?
    Zh: Frankly the pair was created not by me, but by Lobacheva and Averbukh - they skated in Lobacheva's group as kids, then they skated in my group, then they split and Nikita skated with another partner, then Elena came back
    Grebenkina: but that was on your ice
    Zh: Yes, it was in my group. It was under me and Oleg Volkov they became junior world champions winning with a huge gap.
    They are extremely talented. If you remember there was once a Russian skater Alexandr Abt. Those people don't like working too hard. They are trying to avoid all the hard work behind. I think one can't become a great athlete without that work.

    Rodak: i.e. in order to become a great skater one must be very hard working even if not extremely talented
    Zh: Yes, hard work is the most important thing. My special talent is to work hard. It's like being very flexible or very charismatic. Hence
    this pair and I really did not see eye to eye on that. As my good friend two times Olympic Champion Arthur Dmitriev says: if there is a problem take a mirror and look there instead of blaming the others.
    You can blame the coach, the choreographer...
    Grebenkina: So who were they blaming?
    Zh: I'm not going into the details, but the parents had their say as well. I only figured later the switch was planned in advance and well, I'm not going to dig in the past.

    Rodak: did you yourself ever try to get a pair or a skater into your group
    Zh: Never! I only ever took those who asked to join my group themselves.
    Grebenkina: Indeed, it's the truth
    Zh: Am not into that. But when the athletes as to join the group I check all the pros and cons and think whether I can or can not help them. So far it was good - everyone who joined the group progressed.

    Rodak: do you like the figure skating system now or you'd like improve/rework something?
    Zh: I got more or less used to the CoP. I used to hate it. I still don't like some of the aspects, for instance the lifts are all the same, the programmes don't differ that much, the elements and the levels are so hard and so important that it's hard to come up with something that would be both difficult enough and creative, hence there are lots of look alike programmes. There isn't even enough time to work on the programme's choreography - there is no place for it left. But we are trying our best and the top skaters manage to skate interesting programmes even with the CoP.
    It took us the longest to get used to the rules - the Canadians and the Americans were the ones to come up with the new rules and for five years they held various leveled competitions in CoP. So when the system was changed it was quite sudden for the Russians we were not ready. We later bought the computers, saw what the new system was and started chasing that train that was going full speed. The result of the new system are 2 amazing pairs : Davis/White and Virtue/Moir who are the best in the world and they are very far away
    Rodak: do we have a chance to get them?
    Zh: There is always a chance. We just have to work very hard. It's late now to cry over the spilled milk and claim the system is wrong and doesn't work. If would be silly. If the others could work with that system you have to just catch up with them and then overtake.

    Rodak: what motivates the skaters to work hard now? Is it money? Fame?
    Zh: I think it differs from athlete to athlete and from generation to generation. One wants a new car, another a good pair of jeans and for someone to see their flag rising is important.

    Rodak: what about you?
    Zh: Oh, I wanted that `USSR' read sweather to wear it and wave from the bus so the others woul wave back at me. That was my motivation.

    Rodak: what about your pupils? Is the the same for them - just a sweather?
    Zh: It wasn't just a sweather for me - I come from quite a poor family and going abroad and having that sweather meant a lot. We used to be much more patriotic. I don't think my skaters are equally patriotic, but I can't say they are working less hard. They realize how popular figure skating is, especially in Russia. Becoming a European/Worlds/Olympics medallist you ensure a place in those shows, theatre on ice, TV shows etc that will make you a famous and a well off person. I think it's quite motivating.
    There are others- those whose parents were athletes and those who just really want to win and see their flag rising - nevermind even for which place, though, of course, they all want to win - it's in their blood the need to win.

    Grenebkina: a personal relationship with a parnter - does it motivate? If, say, a guy wants to hit on a girl will he skate better?
    Zh: No, he'll just try to hit on a girl. I think it's quite the opposited - the relationship in the pair bother. You should come to work and do your job, while that female partner who is always not making it to the end, she is always weaker and really bothers - you can stand her for 4 hours but if you have to face her the rest of the time... And it's the same for her

    Rodak: but it's exactly what you did!
    Zh: I was young and silly.

    Rodak: i.e. you forbid relationships among the partners in your group?
    Zh: Of course not. If they work hard, do their job and have great relationship - I'm all for it.
    Grebenkina: does it ever happen?
    Zh: Quite seldom.

    Rodak: I heard quite a few times when the partners abuse each other, usually it's the guys abusing the girls. What does the coach do about it? Does he turn a blind eye or does he take a guy to a talk?
    Zh: I know such pairs exist and I myself was far from a lovely partner. It's not an abuse, but you really want to get somewhere, you want that result and you want to win so badly
    Rodak: but why blaming the female partner?
    Zh: She is weaker to begin with, so she gets tired much faster than the male partner
    Rodak: that's where the male partner comes in, gives a hand and..
    Grebenkina: but it's hard for him too
    Zh:That's right, but you just have a feeling of skating with a heavy weight on your shoulders. You woul be so fast running towards that medal, yet no, you have to carry that weight.
    Rodak: then why not go for the singles?
    Zh: Exactly! That's a very smart saying. This is what I tell the male partners who start complaining `there is no, well, let's say Monko/Khaliavin, so there is no pair Khaliavin, there is a pair Monko/Khaliavin, those are you 50% of success'. Note it's just an example.
    Grebenkina: so you get in the way if things go out of hand
    Zh: Sure. And I explain each is responsible for 50% of the success and if she can't cope make sure she can - help her, work harder.

    Rodak: there is a rumour your wife Natalia gave up her career. Did you make her?
    Zh: I didn't make her, I adviced her. When she retired she was 6th in Russia, she was 2nd in the Junior worlds. She is very talented, but there was no male partner such as Kostomarov or Soloviev or Katsalapov for her. There was no point skating for the 6th place in the nationals. She is young and talented, she can find another field. It would be a skating to nowhere.

    it's the first 15 minutes, more to come
  2. equatorial

    equatorial Well-Known Member

    Thanks a lot! Grebenkina has the most infectious laughter :lol:
  3. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    I/K has to patch things up with Zhulin so he doesn't carry on this war on them. They are euros bronze medalist and placed fifth in he worlds can he take it easy with the not working hard when their results are better when they were wih him.
  4. love_skate2011

    love_skate2011 Well-Known Member

    interesting that Zhulin still mentions I/K work ethic, didn't know Alexander Abt had work ethic issues either
    I assume I/K blamed Zhulin for their parting ways
  5. lulu

    lulu New Member

    Very interesting interview, thanks for the translation! :cheer:
  6. TAHbKA

    TAHbKA Well-Known Member

    Rodak: do you like the fact Natalia is a housewife
    Zh: Some housewife... She does so much. Right now she works with me helps with the little kids and I think she likes it a lot. She is not a housewife at all.

    Grebenkina: so if there was a partner for her she would be skating
    Zh: She certainly would. I don't know what would they achieve, but it would be a decent pair.

    Rodak: were you afraid if Natalia continues and reaches some highs something will go wrong with your family life? Like it happened before?
    Zh: I'm not a future teller and I don't know what would happen. I think Natalia is strong enough to stay with her feet on the ground, but who knows - things change when the person becomes an Olympic champion it's hard to remain humble and choose to be a housewife when the fame and success landed on you. Natalia is a very open minded and decent person and had she been in such a position she would take her husband's side - right now she lets me be the head of the family.

    Grebenkina: why did you return from the USA? You had a job, you had Olympic champions.
    Zh: It just happened that first Tatiana was invited and then me by Ilia Averbukh to the TV show. I was quite interested and he bought me with telling my partner would be Ingeborga Dapkunaite, who is one of my favourite actresses. I just took my chance. Sure I thought nothing will work out
    Grebenkina: we all thought that - all the skaters. We couldn't believe we could teach the actors to skate.
    Zh: I thought it would be something to be ashamed of and no one would be watching the show. But then we put the costumes
    Grebenkina: turned the music on and off we went
    Zh: Indeed, and after the 3-4th show people started watching the show. We started liking it ourself. The main point of the show is telling the story - there are no limitations - you can use a minute or two to tell the story and then finish it off with the figure skating. The viewer understands the story from the top till the end, it's a mini show. We are limited in the sport and you can't tell the story in 4 seconds.

    Rodak: would you want your children to become figure skaters?
    Zh: Not only I wanted but my daughter Sasha did figure skating. But she was also in tennis. When she became a big girl - at the age of 6 she approached me and asked whether tennis only would be ok. I asked her why, after all she is quite successful in both. She explained she likes tennis 10 out of 10 while figure skating is just 7.
    Grebenkina: did you mind?
    Zh: not at all. I dreamed of her doing tennis only. Figure skating is a lottery, and if she chose an ice dance
    Grebenkina: it would be really bad?
    Zh: You know how it works. The judging, the working with the judges: you must be liked by some judges, then all the judges, you have to talk to the judges...

    Rodak: it's a subjective sport
    Zh: Yes. Even now I'm a specialist and when I look at the element, say, a braket it looks clean to me, yet the technical team and say it's just level 2.
    Grebenkina: we need level 4 to win the competition
    Zh: Sometimes I don't understand why, it seems deep enough for me. nd then there is a different set of judges and they say it's level 4, while to me it looks quite the same.
    Grebenkina: there was always love towards figure skating. Did it become any less with the new rules?
    Zh: Actually yes, it's less loved. I'm a creative coach, I like choreographing, I like looking for new elements and doing things no one else done before. And I'm deprived of that! it's just the little part, while most of the time is wasted on checking whether the edge was clean or standing with the stop watch and calculating how long the lift took. So there is a difficulty working with all that and you can't be a real coach without it.

    Rodak: you didn't like skating as a kid and your parents made you.
    Zh: Not really, I did go to the practices, I liked the company, something even worked out on some competitions. Then it became less interesting but when I became an ice dancer it became really interesting - it was new, there was a girl, Maya Usova, my only partner, well, not only, there was an insignificant another one, but indeed I found it interesting and I really liked figure skating.

    Grebenkina: was it easier coaching back then in 2006 when Navka/Kostomarov won the Olympics or now?
    ZH It differs since Navka/Kostomarov is a serious talent and .. well, a good question - it became easy working with them after 3 years together. Well, for Navka it was the 5th year then - she skated with Morozov before, but when we found the way to communicate - after 3 years they understood me completely - I had to say half a word or just glance and then I didn't even have to tell them - they felt themselves - if something wasn't comfortable they would work it out themselves without coach's help. The technique was right. I thought it would be the same with Ilinyh/Katsalapov - they skated for 3 years and I expected a progress, but... Bobrova/Soloviev and Monko/Khaliavin are just learning now but I can see a huge progress already but I can't say it's easier with them than with Navka. Perhaps they'll do it in 2 years, but...

    Rodak: I noticed the ice dance became a much younger sport. Why?
    Zh: The new rules. Once you could win the olympics at the age of 32. Now it's the new kids with the healthy knees and who are not afraid.
    Rodak: but they lack the experience
    Zh: Yes, but they have learned to skate under the new system. Even pairs are sometimes chosen not by the beauty of the lines, but by a short female partner
    Grebenkina: 1.20 or so
    Zh: no, why, 1.50

    Rodak: do you dream opening your own school
    Zh: it more or less exists. I have a great conditions, I have a full support from the Moscow federation, I have the Olympic ice rink with enough ice. The School - you have to come early till the evening and teach the kids and I can't do it in Olimpiiskii. If there is a new ice rink...

    Rodak: Can anyone join your group just like that?
    Zh: No, the group is packed since I have to show the results it's not enough time. It would be great to have 2-3 hours to work with the kids. It's great having time for that.
    Grebenkina: to raise a new generation
    Zh: Imagine, taking a 7-8 y.o. kids and to work with them for 4 years and then it's a 12y.o. people who work with the technique I need and can be paired. I guess it'll be the next stage and if I have enough time.

    Grebenkina: how is working in Moscow? How is the ice?
    Zh: The ice is great. Great Moscow, I love the city if it wasn't the traffic. I like the city in general - the government is all for us and so much is done by Nagornyh and Vorobiov for the athletes and I hope it wont' stop after a year - we are working towards Sochi and it's important and I just want to ask you to remember there is 2018 and 2022 Olympics and we need the support.

    Rodak: if you could ask for anything you could have in order to win the Olympic gold what would it be?
    Zh: I'd ask for what I have now but 4 years ago so there would be enough time. I catch myself thinking had Bobrova/Soloviov and Monko/Khaliavin switched earlier - to the same conditions - in the past I was lacking ice time or such skaters with whom I can get anywhere. The athlete has a lot of influence. Some skaters have a ceiling they can reach, but those two pairs are endless - you can work as much as you can and it's fun.

    Grebenkina: is it possible to remain a good relationship with the ex wives?
    Zh: it's necessary. Especially if there are children involved.

    Rodak: how did it happen in your case?
    Zh: Tatyana my ex wife is a very smart woman. And a smart kid. I'm grateful to Tatyana for the environment we keep - we don't have any conflicts about our daughter and if I think her mother is right I always take her side. The parents should always take the same side and the kid can't forse them. We don't have any disagreements about where Sasha will stay or where she'll spend the vacation.

    Grebenkina; bottom line: marry smart women only
    Zh: And divorce smart women only.

    Rodan: what are your predictions for the Olympics?
    Zh: I think.. .dance.. pairs. ... girls.. boys.. I guess 3-4 medals. I think the Russians can take 3-4 medals. Of course you can't really tell. Oh, btw there is a command competition. WE don't know yet how will it work. Guess like in Japan, where there are I think 6 commands. So there is another medal. It's interesting, it never happened before.

    Rodak: who are the main rivals?
    Zh: The canadians - their ice dancers are Olympic champions and there is Patrick Chan, the Japanese, the Americans, the French and well, the Russians.

    Grebenkina: what makes you confident: the medals?
    Zh: you mean in the past
    Grebenkina: no, in general
    Zh: guess just to be confident. But you have to search inside yourself , you can't just claim you're a genious and everyone who disagrees can just walk away
    Grebenkina: but sometimes you have to remind yourself you're a genious
    Zh: When everyone is against you. In general I'm very critical towards my own work, I can always find something I did wrong. Though I can understand when people say it's great and a huge work was done, but I know it can be better.

    Rodak: what is your goal in life?
    Zh: To remain faithful to myself, to give as much joy as I can, be loved and love.

    Rodak: what are the most important things in your life?
    Zh: Figure skating... beloved woman and children.... and... parents.
  7. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    Zhulin is no longer married to Nakva?
  8. Cherub721

    Cherub721 YEAH!

    Tell that to Navka, Grushina, and Fusar-Poli...
  9. lulu

    lulu New Member


    Navka & Zhuln divorced a few years ago, he's now married to his former pupil, Natalia Mikhailova
  10. lulu

    lulu New Member


  11. joeperryfan

    joeperryfan Well-Known Member

    You are correct in the sense that they were technically stronger than their partners, but I think he is referring to the ability to remain fresh during exercise, in general men withstand physical effort better than women. Let's say Kostomarov could stand to repeat a sequence ten times in a row and Navka could only do eight, that doesn't make him technically better, does it? Is there evidence that these women didn't get tired before their partners during practice?
  12. hanca

    hanca Well-Known Member

    Depends how long the practices would be. Freeskaters don't do that long practices because it would be physically impossible, with all those jumps. Perhaps twice a day 2 hours each time. But ice dancers often go on and on, I read somewhere that even 5-6 hours in one go. I wouldn't be surprised if the female partner get exhausted earlier!
  13. Macassar88

    Macassar88 Well-Known Member

    Thanks for translating!
  14. arakwafan2006

    arakwafan2006 Well-Known Member

    Zhulin is a PIMP!!!!!!!!!!!!!LOL.
  15. barbk

    barbk Well-Known Member

    Thank you for the translations. Wouldn't it be cool if a John Nicks or Frank Carroll gave this kind of interview?
  16. IceIceBaby

    IceIceBaby Active Member

    It's quite sad that so many coaches and previous retired top skaters (for example Yagudin) say that they wouldn't want their children to become figure skaters because the sport is so subjective and ruthless with only one mistake possibly taking away your medal chances.
  17. TAHbKA

    TAHbKA Well-Known Member

    I think it's true for almost every profession - when you are in there you know all the positive and negative sides, while the other professions might seem much more glamorous etc.

    It only makes sense with something so hard as sports and as subjective as figure skating.
  18. ioana

    ioana Well-Known Member