Rooting for underdogs!
This article by Rob Brodie was originally published in the January/February 2021 issue of International Figure Skating:
Brian Orser has been coaching in a virtual world for the past 10 months, and believes this concept could be the template for the future.
Orser said that due to the limited number of training hours and people are permitted on the ice at any one time, a schedule was set to keep all the coaches working. “I might get the shift from 8 until 11 in the morning and I may not have any of my kids on that shift. So, I work with Karen Preston’s kids, or with Ernest Pryhitka’s or Joey Russell’s skaters,” he explained. “And then, later in the day, when those people have a shift, maybe one of them will work with Conrad. The coaching team that we have is really strong and we are all helping each other. I trust putting any of my kids with any of these coaches, and they trust all the other coaches with their kids, too. Tracy and I work four days a week and Jeff Buttle works three or four days a week. We try to make it fair. We want everybody to get their hours.”
This arrangement has also proven beneficial for the skaters themselves. Orser said the coaches have all noticed over the past six or seven months that their skaters are doing so well because of the diverse coaching they are getting. “For me, it is kind of fun to see some of the kids who have come up through our program, who I don’t normally get to see. But I do miss the big guns. I do miss Yuzu and Jun and Katia. It’s too bad for now, but it will be a great day when they are all back.”
“It is frustrating for us and it is frustrating for me as a coach,” said Orser. “I see every weekend a competition in Russia. Whether it is a qualifier for their nationals, or Rostelecom Cup or their test skates … it is a bit frustrating that they have been competing and they have been doing their domestic competitions and we have not. And you know what, the Olympics are looming, so good for them. If this goes on much longer, we need to create a high-performance bubble with Skate Canada to push through and work, train and isolate as a team. That needs to be done if this situation is going to continue. You have got to bring the best athletes from all over the country to train together. That is kind of what they do in China; that is what they do in Russia.”