Konov's interview with Zhulin


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Vasili Konov's interview with Aleksandr Zhulin for ria.ru

Open the origian link, there are some nice photos and links to the videos of the programmes Zhulin mentiones in the interview

VK: Probably the question that bugs most of Sin/Kat's fans right now - how are they getting ready to the Russian cup and how do they feel taking Viktoria's illness?
AZ: I don't want to ruin it, but for now all is good. We are getting ready as we normally do, working as we normally would. I think for now they are in quite a decent shape, but we are still lacking 2-3 weeks of work. If nothing else should happen think they will be quite ready.

VK: How did the illness go? There were talks about how bad it was and even an ambulance was needed.
AZ: First it was unclear, some tests came negative, but later when Viktoria was sick home we knew it was соrona. In one of the days, think it was a Saturday she called and said she doesn't feel well at all, she is suffocating. We got in touch with the best doctors and the same evening she was hospitalized.
She had quite a bad damage in her lungs, the doctor said we did a right thing hospitalizing her. She got some injections in her hips and stomach. She was quite severely ill. She spent around a week in the hospital, then went home and had to quarantine.
Nikita had it easier, but the thing with соrona that you don't know who will get it badly. I was afraid of the aftermath hence did not set them to work too hard, but now we are almost doing the run throuhgs. For example today we did a SD. Judging by their pulse Viktoria is well recovered, but think we'll stick to the SD and see how well it goes.

VK: Who helped you when you had to urgently hospitalize Viktoria?
AZ: Tatiana Navka, for which we are very grateful. Viktoria's doctor was the one who mended Mishustin and Peskov. A huge thank her, we needed the right doctor at the right place and the right kind of hospital room.

VK: It am not mistaken when we were preparing the cameras the music that was playing was the one from last year?
AZ: Right. We decided to go back to the previous programme for 2 reasons: first we really like it and it's a lucky one. We won the Europeans with it. In my point of view, and I ran it through the other coaches and the guys - the new programme and it's final part to Jackson's music - the fast one, I think it was a bit out of place, it did not give a closure. In Dvorzak programme all is complete, there is a beginning, the middle and the finale. It's a complete piece and it looks good. So we decided to go back to it.

VK: Reveal the secret: how do you get from -11 beloe thw French at the Worlds to +0.14 at the Europeans?
AZ: You mean the worlds in Saitama?
VK: Yes, and the victorious Europeans.
AZ: Well, first of all we are working and progressing. Second spot on SD we had and think quite a successful FD. Besides, the French, once they felt we were stepping on their heels and were so close to them in the SD were uncomfortable and thye didn't like skating in such conditions. Perhaps it influenced them a little bit and they were a bit shaken, hence 2-3 elements were not clean. I.e. they gave us a chance.

VK: Just that it's unusial in the ice dance for such a margin to be erased so fast. It seems in the ice dance you get in a position and keep it the whole 4 years cycle.
AZ: I think there were two reasons. First the French, while being a unique pair who skate in a unique style and are gorgeous, together, flowing, but if you pay attention and watch their programmes of the last 4 years - they are quite alike and the judges started noticing it as well. Besides Viktoria and Nikita really progressed, became more consistent which they really lacked in the past - they would skate great one competition and do some unexpected mistake on the other that caused the judges not score them high even if they wanted to - because they were inconsistent. The French were much more consistent.

VK: 0.14
AZ: Hence had they skated clean who knows how would it end. But it's nice, it's not 11 points away and I hope we will continue in that direction.

VK: Who besides the French? Who should we note taking it's the pre-Olympic season and it's just one year left till Beijing.
AZ: For the gold - French are the most serious favourites and, I hope we are in that list as well. We already got the worlds silver and the European gold. I.e. it's comparable.
Another thing is having a hit programme, so everyone could relate- the judges and the audience. And to be in the top shape at the right place and at the right time.

VK: Do you have some ideas for the Olympic programme?
AZ: I have the ideas. And the music.

VK: I understand you won't reveal, but at least is it a classical one?
AZ: I will not reveal.

VK: Not even that?
AZ: Not even that. the guys liked it, but they have their own ideas as well. I think I will convince them to take my music, but frankly, they also liked it. Perhaps just they wanted to experiement a bit more.
It was important for us to experiment with the Jackson's music - we were skating more or less an exhibition number. And yet that lightness in the programme might not give the right result at the Olympics. Am not saying it must be a `Carmina Burana' or something equally global.

VK: Perhaps something like what Nikita and Elena had in Sochi?
AZ: There are many options. There are so many musical pieces both classical and not that catch you. The most important is to create a programme that people would relate to and the elements would be comfortably spread. it's a very important thing.

VK: You said you never offered the pupils to leave their coach and join you group, but one way or another the coaching switches and rumours in figure skating is something everyone loves to discuss. This season gave us the great competition between the Pluschenko Agnels and Khrustalny. Do you think it gave a boos to figure skating in Russia?
AZ: Absolutely. There was an element of an offer to switch, then the TV began talking about it a lot showing Pluschenko on one side of the screen and Tutberidze on the other. It was a show biz and I now see that everyone awaits to see what happens next in figure skating. Whether it's the russian cup, a juniors competition - the media and the TV are broadcasting it.
You have to keep in mind in the previous years the Russian ladies were phenomenal. The level they showed that no one had ever seen. We are not witnessing the history in the making. Besides, there is probably the right decision for a switch by Kolyada - he has the great programmes this year and a different approach, a new consistency. I wish him health! he's great. the dance - Stepanova/Bukin who are great and Vika/Nikita. Watching the paris is a pleasure - Boikova/Kozlovski, Mishina/Galliamov, Tarasova/Morozov. We have a great team. I wish the Olympics would take place so it would have a way to develop into something.

VK: I think since the triumphant skate of Lipnitskaya and Sotnikova in Sochi there is a huge wave of popularity of the ladies skating here. No other discipline can compete with the ladies. Is Tutberidze the main character in that?
AZ: Let me put it that way - Tutberidze is a genious coach, she is phenomenal. It's a real level. She raises them.. it looks so easy - create the competition, send out a little girl and tell the other `see, she is landing a quad, and you, an idiot, are still doing the 3/3'. It's easier said than done, yet they turned it into a norm - warm up with the triples and not the doubles, without a quad you are nothing, hence you have to teach them - if you are in pain or not - go on and try it.
She with her wonderful team of Dudakov and Gleikhengauze made it into a superteam. Hence of course, it's hard to stick around when you are 18-19, not because she works differently with you, just that you can't handle it.
If the rules remain the same and you can't cope, if you can't land the quads you are 5th at hte best case. so either deal with your body at the age of 19, and let me help you here, let's fine some additional coach, an acrobatis, a whatever who can teach you how to do things. With the age you lose the girls' speed and if you want to aim for the highest places you need to train even more or at least smarter or in some other way. It's for a reason people reach the age of 20 and it all disappears. It's easy to explain with the physiology: the body changes, the hisp widen, the rotation speed of a girl is gone.
Hence Eteri is working for Russia's results. She needs the medals.

VK: Everyone needs the medals.
AZ: And yet she is a great person. I know how well she treats her pupils. Just that it's her approach - if you can't do it - that other skater will. No names to name, but if you can't win the other girl will. The junior competition is on - she always has the next raising star in her team, hence her pupils never relax. It's like our skiing team where if one is out someone else will takethe spot. hence they win

VK: Zagitova and Medvedeva. Can they go back being competitive?
AZ: Frankly?
VK: Franklu
AZ: I know I will be hated by the whole country now, but no, they can't. they already showed and proved and won everything back then in Korea. That was the breaking point for both.
I'm in awe with Tuktamysheva - she can add a 3A and a quad now. I understand it will be hard in a competition.

VK: She is the only one of such an age who is attempting a quad.
AZ: The only one, right. And not only attempting, but doing! But it's a different matter when will she integrate the quad in the programme and whether she'll make it. With the age you are more afraid to fall and injure yourself. You become let's say, a less silly single skater who are 13 and if you are told to go and jump you go and jump At that age you turn your brains on and start thinking whether you should. I think that's the reason. I used to be for increasing the age to 17.

VK: I.e. increasing the seniors entry age?
AZ: Yes. But then I saw a competition where all these Eteri girls were skating - Trusova, Schebakova and I was amazed! I saw that and was in awe with their quads and saw the perfect technique, on such a hight. It was not just go out there and ouch, those were the real jumps! And the gliding was great and even some emotions. I changed my mind. I became a fan because yes, things become younger. Think about Korbut at her times - and then gymnastics became younger. It's a process you can't stop. Watching the gorgeous 20 y.o bimbos who can't do a thing... there a lot of internet sites where you can watch them with or without hte cloths. But that's not a sport

VK: Would you take any of these girls to your group? You do have an experience coaching the single skaters, so why not go back to that? Who would you be interested working as a coach?
AZ: I don't think I can do it in that level. Not with that quads. To choreograph a programme -sure,or if one of these ladies, who I will not name would switch to ice dance.
VK: Is it possible?
AZ: It's hard
VK: It's a different discipline
AZ: Yes. But there are singles who I look at and see that yes, they could be the ice dancers
VK: Name some. Retired ones.
AZ: Sikharulidze was a great dancer. He was amazing, he wouldn't even need to learn.
VK: Pluschenko or Yagudin?
AZ: No
VK: Slutskaya?
AZ: No
VK: Lipnitskaya? Sotnikova?
AZ: No and no
VK: Trankov?
AZ: Yes.

VK: Back to the ladies. If Zhulin would have to name team Russia for the Olympics it would be...
AZ: Ok.. Scherbakova, Trusova, Valieva. In any order.

VK: Why not Kostornaya?
AZ: You asked about today, so I answered

VK: In what these 3 are better than Kostornaya?
AZ: They can do their jumps now while Alyona is not on that level. If she recovers from her injuries and will get her 3A back she would still have to show it all in the Russian cup final, as far as I understand. Or the Fed will do some kind of a test skate after which they might decide Alyona is the right athlete to fight with her 3A against the quads because of her level of skating, level of the jumps.

VK: Can't Tuktamysheva?
AZ: Don't do that.

VK: Did the girls who switched to Pluschenko do the righ tthing?
AZ: I dont want to comment on that.

VK: Ethical reasons?
AZ: Am friends with Eteri and Evgeni. If they switched coaches there was a reason. By the way not everyone likes training on the top of their ability all the time. It's a tough matter.
Quite often in our spots, in dance, you demand a result and the athlete might blame the coach they don't understand their artistic side and that's it. Think of it: Stanislav Zhuk and his team - 10 went down, one remained alive and won everything. Then take Moskvina - she takes a pair, takes another one, works with them, then takes a 3rd and creates the new team. Then someone retires and she is left with 2 teams still. I like that kind of approach - it has a human factor, you are in touch, you are not only raising an athlete, but a person.
Zhuk's approach was unique, if you recall there were 3 teams skating together - one dude even thought his TV was broken- 3 teams were skating together. He woke up after the new year's celebrations, turned the TV on and saw everything doubled.
VK: I think many would guess their TV is broken after the New Year's celebrations.
AZ: He took it to a shop! Oh well, he was drunk. He was explained his TV was ok. He told me the story and I was laughing so hard, because I knew. I told him: there were 3 teams skating at once! What I mean is that they were trained that way. Set on the elements and the results. It's for a reason Rodnina switched to Tarasova later - guess with the age she wanted to show something with her skating. It's not the energizer bunny doing the same over and over.
Back to Tutberidze: what I like about her, despite all these underage girls - when they are little they still have a unique style, they don't just move their hands. I guess they do talk - the coach and the pupils. At least they pretend understanding what do they depict in their skate. They use an interesting music, the choreography is high level. Everything is the top level! It's what everyone is aiming for now.

VK: How did you like the last `Ice Season' programme?
AZ: I liked it, everyone worked well. Averbukh and I talked about it, he invited me in July and then disappeared and never called back. As it later turned out and he explained me `Sasha, you have to understand, the budget was cut because of the раndemic, I was ashamed to offer you that'. So I answered may be 20$ would save my life? You should had offered anyway. So we laughed about it and he said that he was wrong not calling back I said `Yes, you were wrong not calling back. After all we spent 10 years working together'. But I understood his idea - he took the younger guys - Denkova/Staviski and Elena Maslennikova, who he worked with his whole life. Again, I hold absolutely no gruge because I would have to decline anyway - I coulnd't do the job because of my neck injury.

VK: From what you have seen what did you remember the most?
AZ: The `undying battalion' by Kuzmina/Enbert. They killed me!I can't watch it without crying. I rewatched it later - the idea was spot on, the music. It's the number one for me, perhaps throughout all the Ice Age shows. But there were a lot of nice numbers this year.

VK: Who stood out?
AZ: Who was it there? Enbert with Kuzmina. Ah, and Chepurnenko, of course. I think he is lying - think he did both gymnastics and figure skating even though he said he never did and it's all natural. The way he does the spread eagles - half of my ice dancers can't do it. I think there is something he is hiding. It's impossible for a person to skate in such way! Unless he is some kind of genios. He does the stuff not every professional skater can do on the ice. I see how open his hips are, for him the spread eagles are more comfortable than just gliding. He even points his toes in a way that it's obvious he had some training. If I were in charge I would divide the 1st place between these two teams.

VK: What about Buzova?
AZ: I respect what she did - she came over and I helped - Soloviev who skated with her is my pupil. Respect that she didn't take a stand and I now understand why do people follow her - if she decided to do something she'll fight for it till the end. Such a hard worker.
What she looks like on the ice and how she skates does not matter. It's hard to teach one especially if they have no sports background: no gymnastics, no rhythmic gymnastics - nothing. That understanding of a pose is hard to teach. You are a girl, oyu want yo be gorgeous on the ice. The guys goes out there and say, like that German guy who is so great - so yeah, he is a bit off, but he just glides. It's a guy's skating and it's not bad. But when the girl lifts her shoulders and doesn't point the toes it's a bit... you think `oh, come on, that looks bad'. So in a way it's harder for the ladies.

VK: Were the hosts doing a good job?
AZ: Yeah. At first, forgive me Alina, it was hard to watch: she was stumbling, it was all wrong. But then while Yagudin was doing his job and just talking talking talking Alina began interviewing the participants and it showed that she was not always told in her ear hwat to ask and was trying to make some jokes herself. By the end of the project she was 50-60% better and it all became nice to watch. But first we get used to things and second Zagitova is so good looking, she was looking great on the screen.

VK: Yes, no questions about her looks
AZ: I think Zagitova and Buzova boosted the numbers of viewers of the project.

VK: Can you recall your first Ice Age shows? How was it?
AZ: I was going nuts thinking of the new ideas. I thought that was it. I was so tired. But that's nothing - skating myself, however, was a ting.

VK: Can you count how many numbers you created?
AZ: All and all? The last year we were working with Averbukh is a year or 2 ago, 92.
VK: 92 programmes in a year?
AZ: Yeah. 18 teams begin the project, you do 9 for one team, then there are 13 or 14 episodes. Last time I counted if was 92. But in average 80-90 programmes a season. There were 10 seasons or so, hence about 900 programmes.
VK: And if we count the competitive programmes as well guess you are over 1K
AZ: Give or take. Yes.

VK: Where do you get all these ideas from?
AZ: I don't know. First I was helped by the great Igor Orshuliak, who is a good choreographer. Averbukh works the same: first they come up with the idea together with Elena Maslennikova. In my group we found the music, decided who will skate to it and then Igor would go to his car and think of the ideas and I would come up with the unrelated elements so it would look good on the ice. Then Igor would come back and tell me the concept, would do the first 40 seconds and then it was my job, i.e. by then I understood what it was about and would add all the other moves.
It's a great help not being alone. Igor could always say `I think it should be this or that way, and hey, how about that as well?'. We would add more and more things and it's the same as everywhere - you add more ideas.

VK: Did these ideas move from the Ice Age to the competitive skaitng?
AZ: Of course. Bobrova/Soloviev's best programme was the one Staviskii skated. It was a soundtrack... about the junkies, a known movie.

VK: A requiem for a dream?
AZ: Right. The story was that the girl is a junkie, so she is shaking, she is not feeling well and Staviskii would mend her the whole programme. He would help her and then there was a kiss in the middle, she would fall as if dying, hugging his legs and then Staviskii was shaking, i.e. she infected him. It's really so easy. But that's what it should be.
So I found the music for Bobrova/Soloviev the first season they joined my group - Moricone , a great piece. And it was more or less the same- Katia is holding Dima, Katia is releasin him and he is shaking, everyone understands something is wrong with him, and the ending was the same - Katia is shaking. The programme was spot on, they became 3rd at the Worlds.
We were trying to implement another idea - the `Birds' - a great number Domnina/Tikhonov were skating to Malikov's music. But I couldn't make it, it didn't work, I haven't thoought well enough because hen that bird is shot she was as tall as Alexey Tikhonov and she was falling off 2 meters and it looked great. We couldn't do such a lift, it's illegal. Hence Soloviev was lifting Bobrova on his shoulder, she was falling from there. It's the main moment and hence the programme didn't work. Besides, Tikhonov was carrying her around for 1.5 minutes.
VK: You can't have that long in the competitive programme.
AZ: Right. You can't die when you have to do twizzles and spins. In the Ice Age she was dying and dying and dying and died i nthe end. The programme lasted for 4 minutes and it was amazing - I mean Domnina and Tikhonov. I had the same idea, let's just do it. It's one of the best things in the show, let's take it. But, as I said, because we didn't have time to develop it it didn't work out.
We were restless, it was the Olympic season, we started changing the concept, the music and it didn't end well. Though well, the guys became a team Olympic gold medallists and 5th in the individual. I was trying to answer your question whether I take the programmes from the Ice Age - so I learned it - if you do, it has to be very well done.
Oh! Sorry, I also had another number - Schinlder's list Navka skated with Kalganov. But it was easy - standing next to the wall, the shots, in the end Navka was `killed'. I made a programme for Ilinykh/Katsalapov for the Junior Worlds where they beat everyone by 16 points.

VK : Besides the ice dance when you are asked to choreograph for a single skater what was the most memorable recently?
AZ: I liked working with Medvedeva. But that was a long time ago - she was still skating juniors.

VK: Was Medvedeva's potential obvious back then?
AZ: Of course

VK: Why haven't you continued working with her?
AZ: I would, but the timing was wrong, I couldn't come and Averbukh, as always, was at the right time at the right place. So we never worked again. He was picking his future Ice Age people back then.

VK: Should Medvedeva call you now will you help?
AZ: Of course.

VK: Was her going back to Tutberidze a right move?
AZ :Absolutely. It's the only move that can help her. Though as I said I hardly believe in her come back, I mean a come back to the top1-2, but it's the only way for her. More than that, in her case I would love to be wrong. Should she make it - will take my hat off, but it's really so hard.

VK: Going back to the ice age - I guess it's not something you want to talk about, but can you blame the Ice Age on killing your marriage with Navka?
AZ: It had it's part, but think it would happen anyway. The move to Moscow had more to that than the Ice Age. In the USA we had a different life, we had a home, a background, a routine. Here, because Tanya won the Olympics a lot of opportunities were opened and we had to weight it all right. Perhaps it also wouldn't matter and just the moment came when we had to part our ways.

VK: Was the divorce hard?
AZ: The divorce is never easy. By then I was already in a relationship yet I took it hard. Think the reason was having a 6y.o child. That was the hardest thing. But generally a divorce, and I did it what? twice? is always hard.

VK: Yet you are in a great relationship with Tanya and Alexandra, there are no problems?
AZ: None.
VK: What is the secret? Can you teach those who can't divorce amicibly?
AZ: You need to have some respect to the person, I think. Tanya was and is respecting me for being the father of her child, after all a coach of the golden pair that she became part of. I respect her for being an Olympic champion that she became under my coaching - I didn't have any Olympic champions before. And we raised a fantastic daughter, who is well behaved, educated, modest. That's it.
There were moments at the beginning when we had to decide how will it happen, who will live where. It was hard. But we are civilized people, we talked. Tanya is never doing thing in spite, and she is always telling the daughter that daddy is the daddy and Dmitrii Sergeevich is Dmitrii Sergeevich. I'm saying the same.

VK: Am I correct that before coaching Navka you tried skating with her?
AZ: A bit. Just for one practice. We did the rhumba, all 4 sequences. It's easy skating with her because she well, carries you. I saw a video later and learned we are almost equally tall, which would not look good. And I really think she only tried skating with me because we were searching for a partner.

VK: How did you find Kostomarov? Did you steal him from Semenovich?
AZ: He found himself. No, why, we didn't steal him from Semenovich. Kostomarov was skating with Davydova but was too tall for her. I don't remember really how it went. Ah, wait! When I was told that skating with Nikolai did not work I was skating myself with Maya in Tom Collis tour. So we knew there was Kostomarov and we decided to try him out with Navka. They tried out and it seemed like they skated together their while lives - the lies, the legs. It was obvious.
They were skating at Linitchuk, had a wonderful `Bolero' programme. And then Linitchuk decided for some reason that `Tanya will not skate with you'. I guess that's what she told Roman. And they decided to pretend that Roman does not want to skate with TAnya. Tanya had to retire and he was paired up with Semenovich. But there was something that didn't work out with Semenovich, I think their temperaments didn't match - Anna is an explosion while Roman is more about hte gliding and skating. They were an ideal match with Tanya.
Perhaps Linitchuk was afraid we were planning a baby, that Tanya would not care so much. Tanya, on the other hand, wanted to skate. Hence we were done with all that skating, moved to a different city, Tanya and I began coaching. I told her Look, it's a life, all is going great. When Alexandra was born she said `The only thing am lacking is a call from Roman and him regretting being such an idiot'. She saw that his results with Anna were dropping.
A couple of days later Roman called, said he was such an idiot and asked to skate with Tanya under me. We said we needed 2 days to consider. We used to have a home in front of the WTC buildings. USA, the river, New York, all is so nice, the baby is sleeping nearby and here roman calls. Where to? Why? What for? But we decided Tanya would never forgive herself if she would retire so young and will just coach and watch her rivals who she used to beat winning the Olympics. So we decided to give it a try. And how did it end?

VK: Quite well.
AZ: Indeed.

VK: On one hand. On the other hand it was one of the reasons that lead to..
AZ: Well, we'll never know the reasons. But at that moment.. It's life. See, I think if both people wanted to save the marriage they would. But something went wrong. I was always against the `it's my cross to carry'. What cross? Its your wife, you are the husband. What cross? If you don't like your life - leave!

VK: Now you are a good husband?
AZ: Yes.
VK: What does it mean?
AZ: It's a question what does a good husband mean. I like it that am sitting here talking to you and look at the watch thinking of a moment I'll go home because my beloved wife and 2 kids are waiting for me there. I love coming home!
I don't have that habit of going somewhere after hte practice just to be alone and have some time for myself, though when both kids, 2 dogs etc it's nice to be alone from time to time. But I solved it by building a small sauna house next to our house. Just 8m from home and you are alone, sitting there for an hour, do your stuff, rest. It's a good thing.

VK: One of the urban legends about Zhulin from Grischuk's interviews is that during the competition of Usova/Zhulin and Grischuk/Platov you were trying to take the competition down and offered Grischuk to marry you but the condition was that she would retire.
AZ: Am now writing a book, think I'll write it all there, but in a light way. It's the hardest chapter of the book writing about Maya. I guess I'll write about Oksana, Tanya and Natasha. It's a hard thing because on one hand I want to write the way it was, on the other I don't want to offend anyone.
You are right this: when we were in a relationship I was number 1. Oksana, I guess, thought she would be a number 1 and she was doing all she could for that. I dind't understand that and thought I was number 1, and since I'm number 1 she has to wait for me. Just till I win the Olympics. It was so - I truly believed that I would win the Olympics, I believed she could retire. I was an idiot. Young, thought she could retire, sit home and give me babies.
I now understand it's silly - who has kids at the age of 20? No matter how much she loved me. I don't write off an option she was indeed in love with me. I did love her, there was that. But my approach was wrong. I did say all that and truly believed in that. In the end she beat me at the Olympics and that was it.

VK: Is it true you and Maya didn't speak for several days after the defeat?
AZ: 2 days. We didn't speak at all because we gave all we had. It was the dream of my life - the Olympic gold. Really. And then I said `you know what, the 2nd place is not bad either'. We lost by 1 judge. But life goes on! Am sure it gave a boost to my coaching career because I lacked that victory and it pushed me.
I sometimes think - I had such an interesting contract with Michael Rosenberg: had we won the Olympics, Maya and I, we would be skating in Las Vegas on a 2x5m rink 2 times a day. Just some lifts. On one spot. We would have a 2.5 minutes programme we would skate twice a day with Monday being a day off, say, for 10 years. But the money was huge.
VK: Can you reveal it now?
AZ: It was about 5K$ a show.
VK: A show? I.e 10K$ a day?
AZ: Let's say so. It was a lot anyway. Whether I would do it for 10 years is a different matter. But again, my relationship with Maya at that moment were on the verge. and imagining that you have to spend 10 years in Las Vegas with a person who can't stand you?
It would be a great money, we would improve our lives and then what? Life goes on. You can't write off 10 years of your life. In the end my life was very different, but very interesting. I didn't have much interest going out there and doing the same 4-5 elements every day.

VK: But 10 years! One could go nuts!
AZ: That's the thing.

VK: Did you want to have your own show?
AZ: It's a different thing of a different level of understanding. It's an Averbukh's thing. Hence he did not become a coach. He might had wanted to, but he will never become a coach because it's an every day work. I guess I'm uncapable doing something so big.
I do hold my own shows from time to time, but it's very loca. Once we had one in Belarus, then we did one here in Moscow, but we picked a wrong timing and it was somehow... I think each to his own and guess my way is coaching. It takes 7 hours a day and it's so satisfying. I work with a joy and it's important. Not everything is about the money and sometimes being satisfied by how they skated today is a joy.
Here, you asked what did I do with Viktoria and Nikita that they didn't fail the elements. You think it was easy?

VK: Of course not. Hence I asked.
AZ: Well this is what I mean, there are so many nuances which...
VK: The coach-shrink
AZ: Yeah. Then you think come on, why did I think it was impossible? Apparently we found the right way, the music, their relationship. It's one of hte examples on the ice and there are many.

VK: Your coach must had been a good shrink as well if they convinced you to stay for another Olympic cycle?
AZ: They didn't have to convince anyone.

VK: I read that you needed some convincing and wanted to retire.
AZ: Not at all! The other way around -the next Olympics were just 2 years away, it was a given. No, I didn't want to retire. In 92 we took the bronze. Ponomarenko retired which made us 2nd. Next year we won the Worlds and the Euros in Prague while training in Lake Placid. That's where the whole mess with the wives began. So yeah, I spoiled things for myself back then. I should had worked harder if I wanted to win, instead I was trying to combine things. To have my cake and eat it too. It doesn't work that way.

VK: Who was it more painful to lose to - Torvill/Dean or Grischuk/Platov?
AZ: Of course Grischuk/Platov. Torvill/Dean are the idols, go on and beat us. But then we beat them. Grischuk/Platov, of course, took us by surprise. I never said and never will say it was unfair though. It is the way it is.

VK: Who is the 1 voice judge who was against you?
AZ: The Czech Olga Zhakova.

VK: You remembered her name?
AZ: What's there to remember? I knew. I even knew how much she was payed, I will just not voice it. It's a shame it was so cheap.

VK: I.e. such a thing is possible in figure skating?
AZ: It was with Olga Zhakova.

VK: So it was unfair?
AZ: I already said it was fair. There were 4 other judges who thought so. No, I simply saw it myself. I don't rewatch it, but it's easy to see, even now. Perhaps it's a bad example, but Zagitova was a bit more fresh at the Olympics. Just a bit! And that's what was lacking. Grischuk/Platov were younger, faster. Dean and I are an old school, while Oksana and Evgeni skated for another 4 years. They were at the beginning of their journey. They were lucky to become 1st. They jumped at the right time.

VK: What is the best programme in Zhulin's career? Whether as a skater or a coach. One.
AZ: One? Then guess Paganini. It was the first time working with the choreographer Giuseppe, and since we were so unexperienced we included pretty much everything he showed us. I would now say `Are you nuts? I would never do such a thing!' but back then - the La Scala theatre, the idol, who was showing all that stuff. I didn't even understand how does his body work. It was a revelation.
Hence we put into the programme all he showed us off the ice. It was impossible to translate on the ice but we did. Though then in Korea the first exhibition I fell 5 times. We skated 2 parts and I fell 5 times. It was in October and in November we had to compete in NHK Trophy and skate the whole programme at a serious competition. It was frightening.


Well-Known Member
Zhulin's interviews are never boring, that's for sure.

It's good they managed to get Viktoria to the hospital & she got the right treatment, hopefully she can recover without any consequences.

VK: You remembered her name?
AZ: What's there to remember? I knew. I even knew how much she was payed, I will just not voice it. It's a shame it was so cheap.
I believe he voiced the sum in one of his previous interviews, it was either 1000$, either 1500$ or something like that.


Values her privacy
Zhulin's interviews are never boring, that's for sure.

It's good they managed to get Viktoria to the hospital & she got the right treatment, hopefully she can recover without any consequences.

I believe he voiced the sum in one of his previous interviews, it was either 1000$, either 1500$ or something like that.
Why would Russian federation pay off the judge to put one Russian dance couple above the other Russian couple? I would think it would not make any difference to them, as long as Russia has the gold and silver medals.


Well-Known Member
Why would Russian federation pay off the judge to put one Russian dance couple above the other Russian couple? I would think it would not make any difference to them, as long as Russia has the gold and silver medals.

This is what I was wondering too!

I thought this was interesting and will probably reference it in the dance thread this week-end: "It was important for us to experiment with the Jackson's music - we were skating more or less an exhibition number. And yet that lightness in the programme might not give the right result at the Olympics."

That was really my main reason for being glad they went back to last year's program, because it "felt" more like a program that suited the placement they are aspiring too (this is some circuitous non-jinxing language). This is an issue I've been thinking about a lot in the last couple of years for dance, and maybe skating in general. It's nice to see a wider variety of music and more contemporary stuff, but how do you compare a program to Bolero to a program to an Eilish song? I think other people find it less difficult than I do lol, but sometimes it just makes it harder for a program to "feel" like it has the gravity of a podium program for me.


Active Member
Wonderful article with Zhulin, as always! So nice to get a REAL translation, I get tired of the automatic Russian-English translations where couples are "rolling" together instead of "skating" together, and so forth...

His book should be fascinating if he ever finishes it, given his openness and honesty shared by most Russian skaters. I can't wait to see the ice dancing battle at Worlds between the top two Russian and USA couples, given the withdrawal of the French, and to see if there will be any surprise challengers after a two-year Worlds layoff who could battle for the podium at the 2022 Olympics.


Well-Known Member
Great interview. I really worry about Viktoria's health though. Wow that's awful the complications she's had.


Well-Known Member
Great interview. I really worry about Viktoria's health though. Wow that's awful the complications she's had.
No worse than that endured by Anastasia S. But I lay this squarely at the feet of the Federation for being so nonchalant regarding the protocols. The only difference is Vika fortunately had the best doctors at her disposal. AS not so much and she no longer has an ice dance future. When these types of interviews come out I am most concerned about those who do not receive special treatment. All will be well, there are others who have endured the same if not worse but we just haven't heard a word about it.

Dave of the North

Well-Known Member
Why would Russian federation pay off the judge to put one Russian dance couple above the other Russian couple? I would think it would not make any difference to them, as long as Russia has the gold and silver medals.

Maybe they paid him a retainer every year. :saint:


Values her privacy
Maybe they paid him a retainer every year. :saint:
Or maybe it is what Zhulin decided to believe because he is a sore loser and couldn’t accept that they were not the best at that competition. I know it sucks when someone who was supposed to patiently stand in a queue beats you in a competition, but skating competition should be about who is the best, not about who was waiting the longest.


The missing ingredient
....but skating competition should be about who is the best....
Yes, it should, but we're talking about ice dance pre-IJS. There are countless competitions where the standings did not match what happened on the ice.
I mean, where did you think all the emojis came from? :judge::bloc::bribe::blocjudge:skandal:drama: Hint: not singles or pairs.


Well-Known Member
Yes, it should, but we're talking about ice dance pre-IJS. There are countless competitions where the standings did not match what happened on the ice.
I mean, where did you think all the emojis came from? :judge::bloc::bribe::blocjudge:skandal:drama: Hint: not singles or pairs.
Oh, I thought that pairs at least helped inspire some of these... I mean, we did have toe-tapping judges in the pairs comp at Worlds in Nice, and they got suspended for it. But, yeah, ice dance pre-IJS inspired most of these. Good times! Love the Zhulin interview! Thanks for the translation!


RIP D-10
Why would Russian federation pay off the judge to put one Russian dance couple above the other Russian couple?
There are always internal politics and preferences, even when both contenders are coached by the same person.

I even knew how much she was payed, I will just not voice it. It's a shame it was so cheap.
Was it Tarasova who said that Frank Carroll should have sent a bottle of vodka to the Russian judge to swing a vote of Kwan over Lipinsky in 1998?


RIP D-10
And weren't U&Z coached by Dubova, and G&P by Linichuk at that point?
Could have been. I wasn't thinking specifically about these two dance teams, but more generically when a coach had more than one team contending for Olympic gold for their country. Even if the coach is neutral, judges and Federations have their own politics and preferences.

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