Panina's interview with Bazarova


Cats and garlic lover
The interview is a couple of weeks old but watching the Russian junior pairs test skates made me thing of what Bazarova is saying here.

Anastasia Panina's interview with Vera Bazarova for

AP: 4 years ago you retired from the competitive sport. That was announced by your coach Oleg Vasiliev and there were no comments from you. Do you recall what drove you that moment when you decided to retire?
VB: It just was made to be. The summer 2016 was a hard time, with constant minor injuries. We were getting ready for the GP events, we were in a training camp in the USA and at some point we all realized that there will be no sudden rise in our pair's progress. I wanted a different life without the constant stress.
After the Sochi Olympics when Larionov and I split up I haven't even thought about retiring. Nor before when we were disqualified because of the doping or had some other sportive hardships. I was asked constantly by the press why don't I change a partner, a coach or retire altogether. I don't know, back then such thoughts haven't crossed my mind: `ok, we are disqualified, we'll sit out for 1.5 years'. But it was still my coach, my partner and we were together facing the music.
It was only once I thought about retiring when at the age of 12 I moved to Perm. I had just switched to pairs, I was skating with a guy who, obviously, was better than me. The first months were tough. In an addition it was me, mom and my sister who moved while dad stayed for work in Ekaterinburg. I realized that because of me my sister has to switch schools, mom has to almost give up her job and here I am, two months later still can't do a thing and am a hopeless lack of talent.
I spent a month thinking `this is it, today I'll tell them we should go back before the school begins'. At some point mom went home and dad came instead of her. I went to him and admitted that I can't do it, that we should go back. My parents were always able to find the right words. They were not feeling sorry for me, nor pressing on me, nor trying to convince me. Dad just said `Vera, you understand the beginning is the hardest - both in sports and life. The first 3 months are certainly going to be tough. If you stick around for another month and realize you are not well, nothing is changing - don't worry, we'll go back. It's never too late to go back'.
It calmed me down and at the same time the things started to work out - I started landing some jump that I couldn't figure before, we went to the first competition with Larionov. When mom came back thinking we are to move back to Ekaterinburg things were already good.
Hence when at the summer 2016 I started thinking of retiring I thought perhaps it's a sign. If all previous hardships did not break me, nothing major is is going on now and yet am turned off.

AP: So was it an spur of a moment emotional decision or something you thought over?
VB: The moment we came to the federation to write the retirement letter was not emotional. The coaches - Vasiliev and Vlasova were hoping till the last moment that I'll change my mind. So did Gorshkova. I understood while I love figure skating I can't do it anymore. Being outside top 6 and having 0 financial support while not being a native Muscovite and having to pay the rent was too much.

AP: Did you have a clue what would be next? Some kind of a to-do-list for the retired skaters?
VB: I didn't have a certain plan. I was thinking more towards the shows than the coaching. But when I first came back from the USA my good childhood friend Maksim Petukhov asked me to help with his group for which am forever grateful. I spent 3 months helping anyone who was on the rink and at the end there was a group of kids who wanted to work only with me. I joined the municipal school and after while opened my own group coaching more or less the same kids. Most of them are there for the general development and health, but there are some talented kids who can later switch to pairs or dance. I love helping the kids to grow sportive, healthy and beautiful.
On my first Averbukh show I was skating with another partner and met Larionov. We had a two adults conversation and decided we'd better be skating together. Now we participate the Tchernyshev's and Navka's shows every winter. Its' great we have such an opportunity - the guys who retired can still continue being on the ice.

AP: 4 years and a whole Olympic cycle later can you tell that your routine after the retirement is good?
VB: Yes. I didn't have a being lost period. Well, perhaps for a couple of months. Though when I was retiring I was afraid of, not even a depression, but hesitations whether I made the right decision or should I fought for a bit longer. I was ready to be worried, but guess I was so sucked into the coaching and I had such a great bunch of kids' parents, many of whom are still with me. I was really interested in teaching the kids - I just retired, I still had that fire and energy and I could share with them that fire and knowledge I have. I didn't have any free time at all. Only once I took out the new dress which was made for the season that didn't happen and was upset: `here is that gorgeous dress and no one gets to see it'
Once we started participating the shows I was back into my moment. The audience, the adrenaline, the same partner, the amazing team of Navka's show. Of course it's a lot - we combine the shows with the coaching but I can't give it up - I enjoy it too much.

AP: In one of the interviews you said only when you paired up with Andrey Deputat and switched to Oleg Vasiliev you became completely independent. You were 22. I was surprised because at the age of 13 you already moved from Ekaterinburg to Perm and later switched the cities several times more. Surely you had a chance to grow up and become independent?
VB: When Larionov left Mozer and I had a conversation and she said she currently doesn't have a partner for me. Which was true. So there were no hurt feelings.
I then got in touch with Oleg Vasiliev - I always liked him a s a coach and I knew he was willing to take us with Larionov before Sochi. Deputat was skating with Davankova, who grew too tall for him. We contacted and within 3 days we met at Vasiliev's rink. It was a very short while after the break of our pair that we came to the federation and said we would be working together. Probably less than a week. It was my idea and my first step into the independence.
I grew older and understood more and at the same time I no longer had the covered in cotton conditions like before Sochi. The federation could not support the new team - the home Olympics were over and the whole Russian sport state was different. I started dealing with my problems alone and felt an adult.
The last 2-3 years before Sochi we spent a lot of time in the training capms in Novogorsk. You dont' need to think of anything there: you are fed, if you have an injury the doctor is brought, if you need to sharpen the blade - they will. Perhaps it's not so great in a way - you'd better be in shape.
In Perm and Saransk I was always under Kalinina's watch. She was a second mother to me and am so grateful to her even though our parting was rather unclear.

AP: Kalinina is an important coach in your career who made two juniors into the Olympics participants. I doubt there is an athlete who knows her better than you and Larionov and Rogonov. How is she as a coach and a person?
VB: I met her when I was a teenager and she taught me all that I knew. When we first started skating in Perm we lived at her place for a couple of months with Larionov and another girl. We had nowhere to live and we lived at her place.
She always said that you don't need to be talented, but hard working and you'll reach your goals. She is a wonderful person. She has kids and gradnkids. She was always caring about the athletes, like they were her kids. Yet she was a strict coach, but I guess it's the only way.
I have only good things to say about her. Our parting is a stupid misunderstanding. Guess it what was needed for our future development at that moment.

AP: It seemed that you rationally chose the better training conditions.
VB: True, Mozer had great specialists working with her and great conditions. The year prior to Sochi was a fairy-tale - all the possibilities, all the camps, the best specialists and medics.

AP: You were the main team and the only stars in Kalinina's group. With Mozer you learned what is it like when several good teams are sharing the ice and you are competing with each other. What you personally more comfortable with?
VB: On one hand it's comfortable being the leading team of your coach. On the other - the inner competition gives it's results. It's a tough question. For us it was not so much the comfort but a habit - we switched the coaches for the first time in our lives. Sometimes we felt we slightly lacked the coach's time. Perhaps had we stayed with Mozer for another year or two we would be completely used to that.

AP: You have an experience working with the ballet dancer Vlasova who was your choreographer. She seems like a person in front of whom everyone improves their posture, raise their chins and the hands go to position number 1. What did you take from working with her?
VB: I can talk about her for hours. Vlasova came to Mozer when we did and when I moved to Vasilive she kept working with Deputat and I. Her life story... she is a legend. I love her so much but not only as a teacher - of course she is so talented. She made me feel different. She taught me how to present myself on the ice, and I now try to teach my pupils the same.
Vlasova - its' the inner energy and the looks. Just imagine: we are flying to the USA, it's a 12 hours flight and then a 4 hours bus drive. We are wearing the sport gear, the sneakers and complain our feet hurt. And then there is Vlasova, as old as she is, on the high hills, with a perfect skirt or trousers, a matching hat and her straight back. It doesn't matter whether the practice was at 6am or 7am, she was there with the full make up and looking amazing. I was always in ave of her because of that as well. Not only as a human but as a woman. Yet she is so strong. I try to resemble her, both outside and inside, yet keep being feminine. It's a fine tuning.
I go to her for some celebrations, we are in touch, talk on the phone. Am happy I got to know such a person.

AP: I know you worked with Kudriavtsev on your jumps. He is still a legend among the parents of the young skaters.
VB: We started working with Kudriavtsev while still with Kalinina and indeed there was a progress. I always had troubles with the jumps - guess I lacked the basics. Now as a coach I understand the basics the kids learn at the age of 7-8 I got to learn at the age of 16. The rockers, the brackets - I didn't know what it was and then the disqualification, Larionov's army happened and I spent a while skating alone. These basics make all the difference. I don't understand how on earth was I jumping before - it was a miracle.
Kudriavtsev really helped us out once - we parted with Kalinina but were not yet with Mozer. We asked Kudriavtsev to help and instead of going to a vacation he went with us to the Worlds. He supported us so much. It was enough for me just to see him and I would calm down. I use some of his methods now when I work even though I never thought I would be coaching myself.
There was that funny story with him in the camp in the USA: there were some kids skating and he asked me to analyze what they were doing wrong. I answered and he said `that's right. Remember - you'll need it one day'. I thought - `why would I need it? I study the hotel business, I want to open my own hotel one day!'

AP: You seem to have that unique talent: when parting with people you remain in good terms with them
VB: It came with the age. My parting with Larionov was not particularly good. But we are in good terms now, we speak to each other, call each other and even supported each other during the quarantinе.
Once the time passes you reevaluate some moments and understand that human relationship are more important, more important then medals. We parted well with Vasiliev and are in touch now.
Kalinina - the same. One day I thought I haven't spoken to her for two years and I should call. So yes, am getting back in touch with people. Sport is a sport, but I was never told to win no matter what. Not even by my parents. They never told me `you must win the Olympics'. Sport is a part of the life and if it does not ruin your life it's great for communicating with people and development - its' the right thing. Perhaps that 's the reason I didn't really have a problem to retire. I always understood that there is the after sport - the family, kids, a new interesting life.

AP: Do you remember the day you were paired up with Larionov? He was 7 years older than you. Were you afraid? nervous? misunderstood?
VB: The first day when we came we were met by Rogonov. Larionov was injured and was not on the ice. I for some reason thought I would be skating with Rogonov - oh well, the partner is my age, let's try. I was accepted and a month later I came for a longer time. And then Larionov showed up. `What is going on, why am I being paired up with that uncle?' that was my first reaction.
He was an experienced pairs skater, very strong and first I was more afraid of him than I was of the coach. I was not afraid of him as such, but to let him down, to make a mistake in front of him. He had some coaching experience and was working with me a lot. Kalinina who was very busy could tell him `Here is Vera, teach her to jump'. Larionov would teach me, he was always very patient.

AP: Kalinina told she thought of you as a temporary solution for Larionov, but your hard working and stubbornness made her change her mind. I recall when you were named not only one of the best partners in Russia but in the world - not so bad for a `temporary solution' I think. What do you think your most important sports qualities?
VB: Plus start, I always had it except for the Olympic year, I guess. I always loved competing. I could spend a week missing a jump and then land it in a competition. I didn't realize it then, but now as a coach seeing the kids with a minus- start I understand - I was a plus.
Patience. I never complained. I was told I have to do something I would try again and again, fall again and again till it worked and not mind it. When we were learning the pairs elements, the triples - it's an important quality.
The inner belief in yourself. I was never at the end of my rope, never thought it was all for nothing and I will fail. And lack of fear. There are kids who are afraid of jumping. The pair girl needs to be fearless - she has to do the lifts and the splits. Through Larionov had never dropped me from a lift or a split twist and I never know what it was like to be dropped and not saved.

AP: You had to change the pairs elements technique when you switched the partners. Was it hard?
VB: When I started skating with Deputat for me it was news when Vasiliev said `Vera, why are you not working on the lifts? Why aren't you jump into the lift?'. I was genially surprised `I had to jump?'. Deputat is much smaller than Larionov, he is not that strong and we had to change the technique, which was quite hard. Vasiliev had a goal to teach me working as an equal in the pair. I spent 8 years prior thinking the girl just has to hold the back and the legs on the lift, while the entrance and the dismount were always my time to rest.
We made it and we were doing some complicated lifts and a decent split twist. Vasiliev also taught us a lot in gliding. We were gliding for hours, entering the jumps from the different steps, while usually we didn't have time to work on that. Each coach taught me something new, hence am not sorry about any of the switches.

AP: I know while you were sitting out waiting for Larionov being disqualified because of the doping you received many offers from different partners and coaches. It's quite unusual in figure skating where the boys are always lacking. Have you ever thought finding a better partner?
VB: Not as an adult. Perhaps if I found myself in the same situation at a different age I would have thought differently and made a different decision. But back then it was a sincere `No! I don't want to! I said I would be skating with Larionov and this is it!'. My mom did not interfere and let me made the decision myself. I was a kid so she as the one who received most of the calls.
Perhaps I understood how much Larionov had done for me. How much he had to take when while I was so much weaker, how long he had to wait till I grow. It was important for me. It was a naive childish emotional decision. But it was the right one.

AP: Because of the disqualification you had a sad experience returning the medal and the price money for the JGPF. How did it work?
VB: I don't really remember, but we payed cash - back then there were no transaction yet. We just brought the money and the medals to the federation. We did all by the rulebook.

AP: How did you prepare to your first Olympics? And was it very different from what went on before the Sochi?
VB: There was no fear and no pressure : just the euphoria - we are at the Olympics! Seriously. We were first told about two years of disqualification and we haven't even considered going to Vancouver. Then things changed so rapidly - wham! and we were given half a year off the disqualification. Wham! and we are 3rd at the Nationals. Wham! we are 5th at the Europeans. The Europeans were just before the Olympics - the guys came wearing the national team uniform and the team for Vancouver was formed. If the coach had some thoughts she did not share it with us. We came from Tallinn to Moscow and went to get the Olympic uniform and then took a train to Perm. A week later we went to the pre Olympic trainign camp in Vancouver.
I was living a fairy tale - the gorgeous Canada, the amazing city, the team spirit. We skated the SP and didn't even understand something happened. We were a bit shaken in the LP but still it was all quite calm. Usually people set themselves for 4 years on that moment and the pressure is huge.
For Sochi we were preparing completely differently. 3-4 months before the Olympics I was afraid taking a taxi if I didn't need it - what if something would happen? I can't let people down - I have the Olympics. I was keeping myself like a glass vessel. It's 9pm? I have to go to sleep - I have the Olympics. It was the routine and once we came to Sochi and went to the Olympic village we were really nervous.
I'm not a person who shakes before the skate - am different, I sometimes even needed to be shaken up to understand the competition is on and I have to concentrate. Before the Sochi SP I was shaking like never before.

AP: I can't avoid asking - were you and Larionov angry being left outside the team and an almost certain gold medal?
VB: It was fair. We lost the Europeans. What anger? If only at ourselves. I didn't eat myself and didn't mind we were not in the team. Yes, the price money, but the most important was the pairs event. After the Olympics I was disappointed - we could have done better, but there was no endless feeling down.

AP: There is that mature skating. They usually say with the age the athlete skates differently, projects the emotions differently. Did you feel a difference between skating at the age, say, 15 and 22?
VB: Indeed. On the ice you feel your body, you become less stiff and you can show some emotions. I didn't know when would that happen, but guess for me it was around the age of 22. Deputat and I had some wonderful programmes that season: Chopin and the Beatles LP. We decided on the SP quite fast - Chopin was a spot on, I sometimes listen to that piece while driving. As of r the LP we couldn't find the music for quite a while. Vlasova had her doubts about the Beatles, but it grew on her later. She was able to switch to the contemporary choreography and helped me to feel free. I was shocked - she spent so many years in the classical ballet yet she felt the contemporary music so well.
That season the Nationals were in my hometown Ekaterinburg. WE were so ready, we never made any errors in the practices. I was going out to the warm up, the skate, the competition and was just enjoying it so much.

AP: What is your life like now?
VB: Working with the kids in the school `My way'. I thought for a while about the school name. All the `ice' / `snowflakes' / `skates' were already taken and I couldn't repeat. I participate the shows. Of course I would like to start a family, but didn't happen yet.

AP: I went through your instagram and was surprised by the amount of photos of really good looking food. We all are used to think even the retired skaters only eat salad lives and drink cold water. How do you keep in shape?
VB: I'm not much of a cook really. But during the quаrаntine think I learned to cook a bit. I never had time for it before.
I only had one time in life when I was gaining weight - the puberty. In general am not prone to gain weight - thanks to my father's genes. I work out 3-4 times a week for an hour. When I went to the quarantinе I offered my pupils' parents to work online and we keep doing it. So I work out just as I used to, but now together with the others so they can keep in shape as well.

AP: What do you think is Aljona Savchenko's secret? After the Olympic gold at the age of 36 she tries the 3A and the 4T. What are the pairs girls made of?
VB: I would add Tatiana Volosozhar tot the question and say they probably had a really good basics. I don't remember who was coaching them as kids, but think they were working with the same coach. I think they worked out correctly from the very young age. It's important.
I know what the work out should be like now, and I know what it was like when I was a kid. I know what kind of gliding technique should be taught and what I was taught. It's still underdeveloped in the regions.
Savchenko and Volosozhar were a hit - the genes, the great basics, the body, the character - for both of them. The body and the talent. The lack of fear. I am in awe of them. Ajona so it seems, still wants to skate. When they won the Olympics I think the whole world rooted for her knowing what she went through.

AP: Now when you are a retired skater do you still care about the figure skating?
VB: Of course, I follow all the main competitions. I try not to participate the conversations about our skaters, but I watch everything - the juniors and the seniors. As a coach I follow all the rules changes. Even if I wasn't coaching I would still follow it. I am interested in figure skating. It's funny - sometimes you talk to someone in the show and they say `oh, I don't follow it at all'. I think I'll be following the figure skating for the rest of my life


Well-Known Member
Thanks for the translation Tahbka.

I really enjoyed the interview. I admire the way she keeps in touch with all her coaches and says only good things about them. I was shocked when she went back skating with Larionov but she bears no ill will and they are friendly again. We could all learn from that attitude.

I loved her Chopin and Beatles programmes with Deputat but with her jump issues they were going to struggle in a strong & deep Russian field. Good to see her enjoying her post competitive life.


Let the skating begin
Thanks for the translation Tahbka.

I really enjoyed the interview. I admire the way she keeps in touch with all her coaches and says only good things about them. I was shocked when she went back skating with Larionov but she bears no ill will and they are friendly again. We could all learn from that attitude.

I loved her Chopin and Beatles programmes with Deputat but with her jump issues they were going to struggle in a strong & deep Russian field. Good to see her enjoying her post competitive life.
When she landed the jump in the Chopin program, the runout was a thing of beauty.


Well-Known Member
Thank you for the translation! She seems like a really rational and grounded person. I’m glad she seems content. I can’t remember, why did she and Larionov split?

I remember seeing them live in 2010 and she was so lovely to watch, jumps aside.


Values her privacy
After the world championship, he just told her that he doesn’t want to skate with her any more, and made it sound that she is always the one making mistakes. To be fair, she wasn’t very consistent with jumps, but Larionov did his own share of other mistakes. For example, at the worlds, he nearly dropped her. It was amazing how she saved herself that her head didn’t hit the ice. And to make it all even worse, when he dumped her, Moser told her that she doesn’t have a partner for her, so she had to also leave the group. Usually when a pair split up in Moser’s school, most of them just swap partners like this off season. I have never heard about anyone else being told to leave. So it seems Moser also gave up on her, at least judging according to Moser’s interview when the news was made public.
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