Arutunian interview post-Skate America 2020

Sylvia

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This interview by Elena Vaytsekhovskaya originally was posted in the U.S. Men thread - thought I would repost the translated version (thanks @alilou) in its own thread (since it's not just about Nathan):

Original interview (thanks @marysy):
 

Sylvia

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Excerpts:
[EV:]In ladies’ skating, they [Russians] start thinking about quadruple jumps much earlier …

Rafael Arutyunyan: In America, the situation with girls does not change: at first, no one demands anything from them because they are too young, they are simply not trained as it should be. And when the athletes themselves realize that they want to skate at a high level, it is too late to start serious work with them. Therefore, when I hear from someone something like: “She is only 13 years old,” I always correct: “She is already 13 years old.”
[EV:] Turns out that the most correct tactics in ladies’ skating has been chosen by Alexandra Trusova, who is about to show a quadruple loop at the competition and will perform all existing quadruple jumps?

Rafael Arutyunyan: Certainly. I think Sasha is doing the right thing. The more money you have in your pocket, the more you can afford to spend. In addition, one must understand: in order to perform a complex element more or less consistently, an athlete must have two or three years of experience in performing it in competitions.
 

Alexa

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The translation is no better than google translate 😂, it is so hard to follow in some paragraphs.

Good interview though, lots of information about the bubble
 
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Tinami Amori

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Rafael Arutyunyan: Certainly. I think Sasha is doing the right thing. The more money you have in your pocket, the more you can afford to spend. In addition, one must understand: in order to perform a complex element more or less consistently, an athlete must have two or three years of experience in performing it in competitions.

Is that the same Rafael who called top Eteri's girls (Trusova was one of them at the time) - disposable paper cups? Is that the same Rafael who complained about "too many jumps and no artistry" which was direct hit at Trusova (at the time), and made smirks and faces (that Russian fans noticed) when Sasha skated?

I get it, he is "sour grapes" about Eteri's success and now that Trusova with Pluschenko he is willing to give her praise. It is worthless then.
 

feraina

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I always enjoy his interviews.

Good job Mariah and Nathan. Thank goodness the US has such a great coach in Rafal.

It’s a pipe dream but I would love for Alysia Liu to work with him. For once a jumping phenom like Alysa comes along in the US, and she self combusts (probably at her dad’s insistence) with literally the worst possible coach changing decision. The two of them went to the east coast on their own to get some ice time for training for a month and half - they could’ve gone to Rafal!

Who knows when the Canadian border will open - Alysa could’ve been occasionally training with Rafal in person instead of never with Lee Barkell. To suddenly go without a tech coach nearby just before the olympics, and just as she’s going through a growth spurt and so needs daily adjustment of her jumping technique... it’s insanity.
 

Carolla5501

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I always enjoy his interviews.

Good job Mariah and Nathan. Thank goodness the US has such a great coach in Rafal.

It’s a pipe dream but I would love for Alysia Liu to work with him. For once a jumping phenom like Alysa comes along in the US, and she self combusts (probably at her dad’s insistence) with literally the worst possible coach changing decision. The two of them went to the east coast on their own to get some ice time for training for a month and half - they could’ve gone to Rafal!

Who knows when the Canadian border will open - Alysa could’ve been occasionally training with Rafal in person instead of never with Lee Barkell. To suddenly go without a tech coach nearby just before the olympics, and just as she’s going through a growth spurt and so needs daily adjustment of her jumping technique... it’s insanity.

So I am assuming that you are involved in the decision making process for Alysa? After all you apparently know all the facts and therefore KNOW that the WRONG decision was made. LOL!

Honestly, it's more insane to assume that someone looking at a situation without any knowledge besides a press release knows more than the people involved day to day. Maybe they did look at Arutunian and decided against him. Maybe they felt his style of coaching was not right for this skater.

This "send everyone to the coach du jour" method doesn't always work (You did see the outcome from Gracie Gold and Frank Carroll???)
 

Stephanie

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I would add that he don't even know if Rafael would even agree to take on Alysa since she's a direct competitor or Mariah.
 

feraina

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I would add that he don't even know if Rafael would even agree to take on Alysa since she's a direct competitor or Mariah.
Actually Rafal has said repeatedly he’d help anybody who wanted his help. And he voiced the desire many times over the years that he’d like to coach younger girls, but the girls usually come too late - including in this article.

I don’t know that Rafal would be the best coach in the world for Alysa. But I do think it’s definitely better than spending everyday with only an ice dancing coach. I think staying with her old coach plus Massimo (as she had already been doing) would’ve been way more preferable too. Her old coach helped her get the 3A and 4Lz so she can probably help her get them back. Alysa has always said her old coach was like a mom to her - not having grown up with a mom. It must be so rough to lose your long time coach, lose a mother-like figure, then also lose all your hard jumps and then trying to regain them essentially on your own...

I’m not saying it’s insane not to go to Rafal (That’s just my personal preference). I’m saying it’s insane to go without a technical coach.

If Orser says he can’t do anything for Medvedeva, even though they’ve already worked together for two years and she already knows his method pretty well, how could Lee Barkell help Alysa?
 
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lurkz2

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I would add that he don't even know if Rafael would even agree to take on Alysa since she's a direct competitor or Mariah.
I don't think he'd turn her down for that reason... After all, Rafael did successfully coach Adam Rippon and Nathan Chen at the same time and they both went to the Olympics and won US Senior Nationals (on different years) while training together under him.
 

thvudragon

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Is that the same Rafael who called top Eteri's girls (Trusova was one of them at the time) - disposable paper cups? Is that the same Rafael who complained about "too many jumps and no artistry" which was direct hit at Trusova (at the time), and made smirks and faces (that Russian fans noticed) when Sasha skated?

I get it, he is "sour grapes" about Eteri's success and now that Trusova with Pluschenko he is willing to give her praise. It is worthless then.
This is reaching, even for you. He's stating facts. Quads get you more points, so you can afford more mistakes. I don't see how his analogy is wrong.
 

concorde

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Rafal has a tough style. My daughter worked with him twice (2 different years) at the "Jump on it" camp and she came away with a very negative impression. My guess is lots of other young female skaters picked up on that same vibe. Maybe he shows a different personality one-on-one than in a group setting.
 

Weve3

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I would add that he don't even know if Rafael would even agree to take on Alysa since she's a direct competitor or Mariah.
In a perfect world, skaters would train alongside one another, sharing the same coach even though they might be rivals, right? And, more than a few have, but there is usually (unnecessary, in most cases) ott tension, drama, and mayhem - look @ Eteri and now Plushy's group. The biggest concern is probably a coach favoring one student over another and everything that comes with it.

Rafal has a tough style. My daughter worked with him twice (2 different years) at the "Jump on it" camp and she came away with a very negative impression. My guess is lots of other young female skaters picked up on that same vibe. Maybe he shows a different personality one-on-one than in a group setting.
I think Raf is no-nonsense and would put up with training rink drama for less than a second. I would guess that he tells his students to either 'grow up' and 'get along' or move on down the road. Can Raf be rough around the edges, have a tough style? Of course, but he doesn't have time to play games. His job is to be a responsible, reliable, trustworthy coach - nothing else.
 

twizzletoes76

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I would add that he don't even know if Rafael would even agree to take on Alysa since she's a direct competitor or Mariah.

This is possible. Also, sometimes a coach will have no problem or be happy to work with a particular skater—but, if that skater has a difficult or controlling parent, the coach might then decide it’s not going to be worth his/her time. I have no idea what the case would have been here—or, if Alyssa and family even approached Raphael, but, for sure, the coaching change she made did seem odd.
 

concorde

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I think Raf is no-nonsense and would put up with training rink drama for less than a second. I would guess that he tells his students to either 'grow up' and 'get along' or move on down the road. Can Raf be rough around the edges, have a tough style? Of course, but he doesn't have time to play games. His job is to be a responsible, reliable, trustworthy coach - nothing else.
What she saw had nothing to do with drama. It was flat out nastiness.

I doubt USFS knew the type of comments he was making. If they did, I doubt they would have ever invited him back.
 

VALuvsMKwan

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What she saw had nothing to do with drama. It was flat out nastiness.

I doubt USFS knew the type of comments he was making. If they did, I doubt they would have ever invited him back.
Well, didn't your daughter report him or ask you to help her to do so? If not, you certainly didn't do anything to help USFS in avoidance of improper coaching behavior at their events.
 

concorde

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Well, didn't your daughter report him or ask you to help her to do so? If not, you certainly didn't do anything to help USFS in avoidance of improper coaching behavior at their events.
What exactly was I to report? The man was nasty and made some cruel comments about a certain skater's jumping ability (or lack of it from his viewpoint). To the best of my knowledge he did nothing legally wrong that warranted removal. Having said that, I do not think he was a good fit for the skaters at that camp.

My own belief is that since such camps that are intended for "top" talent (at the Juvenile - Novice levels), the coaches should be firm but also encouraging and positive. That was not what my daughter witnessed.

My daughter has now skated for 12 years. From my own point of view, skaters need different coaches as they progress during their "journey". I would not consider Raf to be a "go to" coach for younger skaters. Older skaters maybe but not younger ones.

I made my initial comments because someone up post asked why Alyssa did not go to Raf. It was also mentioned that he did not get many younger female skaters. My response was why I thought that was the case based on what why daughter had witnessed.
 
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misskarne

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I would not want to put any teenage girl in the care of a coach who once called a slender, muscular Adam Rippon an "elephant". That's it. Flat, cold, end of the line, cross his name off the list. This is not someone who has a safe view on body image or weight.
 

jlai

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I would not want to put any teenage girl in the care of a coach who once called a slender, muscular Adam Rippon an "elephant". That's it. Flat, cold, end of the line, cross his name off the list. This is not someone who has a safe view on body image or weight.
I read Rippon's book, he seems to be fond of Raf. He also thinks the desire to go to the Olympics is not what is considered normal (by people like us I guess)
But I do get that Raf isn't for everyone. The mature skaters do get along with him it seems
 

sk8nlizard

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Rafal has a tough style. My daughter worked with him twice (2 different years) at the "Jump on it" camp and she came away with a very negative impression. My guess is lots of other young female skaters picked up on that same vibe. Maybe he shows a different personality one-on-one than in a group setting.
I’ve never met Rafal in person, but this doesn’t surprise me at all. Look at the vast majority of his recent skaters that have succeeded with him, Adam, Ashley, Mariah, Nathan, Alexa Knierim. All are older and decided to take charge of their own skating. They all seem to do better with someone who tells them what to do and doesn’t sugar coat it. They also all have very strong personalities and quite possibly need another strong personality to balance them out. Every coach and every skater handle things differently. These skaters do seem to thrive under his coaching and seem to like him.
 

lurkz2

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I’ve never met Rafal in person, but this doesn’t surprise me at all. Look at the vast majority of his recent skaters that have succeeded with him, Adam, Ashley, Mariah, Nathan, Alexa Knierim. All are older and decided to take charge of their own skating. They all seem to do better with someone who tells them what to do and doesn’t sugar coat it. They also all have very strong personalities and quite possibly need another strong personality to balance them out. Every coach and every skater handle things differently. These skaters do seem to thrive under his coaching and seem to like him.
Nathan started with Raf at age 10... The interview also mentions Raf coached Audrey Shin for 2 years and worked with Ilia Malinin this summer. I get that he's not for everyone though.
 
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Alexa

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Nathan started with Raf at age 10... The interview also mentions Raf coached Audrey Shin for 2 years and worked with Ilia Malinin this summer. I get that he's not for everyone though.
Nathan did have communication issues with Raf when he was young. Raf complained that Nathan would tell his mom his problems rather than him. Raf said more than once it is easier to communicate with Adam and Ashley.
There was also this Marina Zueva drama in 2016.

I think Raf is a really good coach with visions for his students, but he did seem to have issues with younger kids who cannot express themselves well, and who might need more encouraging and supportive approach compared with more mature students like Ashley and Adam. Even Ashley said in a very recent IG post it was not always smooth.


Mariah did say something after the nationals 2018 about Raf would look intimidating sometimes even though he is well intentioned, and would help you as much as you can. She also said you need to be thick skinned when working with him.

For those skaters who did stick with him longer, they really love and care about him, like Ashley, Adam, Brezina, Nathan and Mariah.
 
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sk8nlizard

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Nathan started with Raf at age 10... The interview also mentions Raf coached Audrey Shin for 2 years and worked with Ilia Malinin this summer. I get that he's not for everyone though.
Very true...though I would argue Nathan is an anomaly and the other two are no longer or not currently with him. Though I do think there are younger skaters that could (I would have thrived in that Type of setting growing up).
 

Karen-W

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Very true...though I would argue Nathan is an anomaly and the other two are no longer or not currently with him. Though I do think there are younger skaters that could (I would have thrived in that Type of setting growing up).
Ilia was never "with" Raf, apart from working with him during the summer. I'm not sure we can read much into that since Ilia is still school age and his parents have built a life for themselves in Virginia. I could easily see Ilia transferring out to Irvine after the Beijing Olympics, when he is 17 and Nathan returns to Harvard/is done with competitive skating.
 

puglover

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I wonder how Stephen Gogolev is doing? I thought he was on an early list for SA but obviously did not compete. If he is still injured that seems like a long time out - either with one main problem or a combination of issues. Perhaps if he was training in Canada we would hear more about what is happening. I recall in his earlier interviews he seemed to really like Raf and found communication with him great as they could speak to each other in Russian. I see his listed surfing as one of his hobbies - so it seems he is enjoying California.
 

Sylvia

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I doubt USFS knew the type of comments he was making. If they did, I doubt they would have ever invited him back.
FWIW, I heard Arutunian did not coach at USFS' Jump camp last year (May 2019).
I heard Ilia worked with Rafael for only one week?
IIRC, Malinin visited Irvine, CA last December (ETA) - I found his clip of him working on 4T with Arutunian: https://www.instagram.com/p/B6OPzZNpaN4/.
This is what I posted in the U.S. Men's thread before the first batch of ISP Points Challenge videos were published in September:
Ilia Malinin, who placed 16th in his Junior Worlds debut this past March, shared a clip of his first 4T back in July and followed up with a 4S+3T clip: https://www.instagram.com/p/CCeZBOlJcud/
He posted his latest practice clip in early September: https://www.instagram.com/p/CEpUmERDuBN/
 
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Willin

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I think Raf is just a coach who works best with skaters that are self-motivated and mature. He talks and talks that he's want to "raise" younger skaters, but I think his coaching style is best for older skaters. There's a few exceptions like Nathan, but his biggest successes have been skaters that were raised in a different system.

Back when TSL visited the rink, Ashley talked about how there's no set lesson time. You just get on the ice when he's there for a set period of time and he will come to them and find them for their lesson/coaching when they need help with things on that session based on his assessment. They do their own training and routine. He'll spend more time with people struggling with tech issues and newer students, as the older ones almost coach themselves. In a recent interview either he or one of his skaters talked about how the skaters collaborate on a lot of things and work together under his guidance. Obviously it's pretty successful.

I think the issue is that that particular system only works for older elite skaters. He doesn't seem to know how to coach many of the younger skaters unless they're the few younger ones that have the right personality. Like he can't just let them loose into the collaborative self-driven milieu of his older group, and he doesn't necessarily have a good system outside of that.

Beyond age and fit, I don't think Alysa will go to Raf any time soon because her family is up in the Bay and she's too young to move. Maybe in 5 years. I think she's motivated and would fit in, but she's still a bit young to do so.
 

Coco

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You could see why that relatively unstructured environment would be difficult and isolating for a teenager who doesn't have great command of the English language. Explains a lot.
 

AxelAnnie

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What she saw had nothing to do with drama. It was flat out nastiness.

I doubt USFS knew the type of comments he was making. If they did, I doubt they would have ever invited him back.
This is second hand information? I assume you were not there. Let me know if I am incorrect.
 

VGThuy

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It seems Raf has a paradox. His biggest complaint about American skaters is they don’t have the basics/fundamentals before going to him and he has to work with that and either fix it or work around it. With some exceptions, of course. However, if his personality is so that he isn’t a good fit to coach younger skaters and be the developmental coach for them from the beginning (Nathan excluded and even that had growing pains), then he’ll always be stuck with skaters who were developed in ways he doesn’t like. Unless there comes a developmental coach who teaches their skaters the right fundamentals and basics! The US needs a slew of them.
 

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