Samokhvalov's interview with Nina Mozer `When am mad my inner Montserrat Caballé wakes up'


Cats and garlic lover
Anatoly Samokhvalov's interview with Nina Mozer `When am mad my inner Montserrat Caballé wakes up' for

AS: Nina Mikhailovna, following you for the last 2 years I am quite certain Mozer has it all under control. Am I wrong?

NM: Am a system person. I have German ancestors, I have a German blood and in our family the precision of the execution was always important. Am used from the very childhood the system is very important. Living that way I always find time to take any question seriously. Hence yes, am used to control the situation.

AS: Did you ever `swim'?

NM: I never had a chance. Genetically am capable to regroup if the situation requires. If it happens the first thing I do is turning my brains on and calculating the options. I do that very fast. But I can't always make everything work.

AS: Fedor Klimov in his interview for rsport recalled when he first switched to your group and broke a leg falling from a bicycle he called you and immediately got a full recovery plan.

NM: I would not allow the emotions to take over. I approach the problems coldly and rationally. I had a conversation with a coach who is responsible for the juniors in our school. I explained her the most important feature of the coach is being able to hold the skater within his working zone. You must be reasonable. You can't suffer or be extremely happy. This is what I learned from my coach Petr Petrovich Orlov, a great specialist who coached Belousova/Protopopov, Stanislav and Nina Zhuk.

Orlov was told to organize a Ballet on Ice in Kiev, Ukraine, It was created from 10 skating families Orlov moved from Moscow and St. Petersburg. Most of them were given apartments in the same flat. Every entry - 3 families of those who moved. I was living in the first entrance with my parents, Petr Petrovich in 3rd. When he didn't feel well my journey from the rink home (I was coaching by then) went through his place. I would come and tell him `Petr Petrovcih, things are going great!' and he would reply `things are horrible!'. Some other time I came and said `everything is awful, Petr Petrovich!' `no way', he says `you have such a great team'. I couldn't understand what was going on. He later admitted `Nina, the coach has to be even in his emotions. If you are floating as on the waves you athlete will never achieve a thing'. With years I understood the athletes are on the same wave, they are happy with you and upset with you and at the end of the day you get an athlete who can do everything today and fails completely tomorrow. Orlov's lesson was with me through my whole coaching career.

AS: No one was ever able to piss you off?

NM: Very recently. You might hear me scream, but it takes an effort. When that happens my inner Montserrat Caballe wakes up. You can hear me from afar. Everyone is afraid of that `song'.

AS: I was told by many people both from St. Petersburg and Moscow that Ksenia Stolbova is a very complex person.

MN: She is mainly complex for herself. She does not allow others into her inner world. Hence the problems. But it's a very interesting world really. She is a very smart girl. Just 2 hours ago we were sitting in front of each other and I was telling her my point of view. She listened to me. And I listened to her. We hear each other. Hence, we've been together for 6 years.

AS: She doesn't trust anyone?

NM: Not everyone.

AS: You?

NM: I hope she does. As said, she listens to a lot of things I tell her. We discuss it and she does what I ask her. Hence, she is here.

AS: She is an amazing actress on the ice.

NM: She is a fantastic skater in projecting the emotions.

AS: She never has to tear her cloths but with her blade and moves she projects the emotions great.

NM: She has a great ability. She is very strong. Though every skater in my group has the strong sides.

AS: Fedor is the only brilliant who can stand Ksenia?

NM: Fedor's character allows them to co-exist on the ice and progress to the podium. Fedor is able to hide his emotions and work. He wants to reach his goals.

AS: And Ksenia wants to co-exist with him, or she is into the same goal?

NM: They are together for the goal. The only thing they have in common in their lives. They are totally different people.

AS: I figured that when talking to Fedor.

NM: If it wasn't for work they probably wouldn't even speak to each other. They have a completely different set interests, principles and a life approach. I mean both the small and the big things. And their view on the development is different.

AS: Is there an athlete you would absolutely refuse working with? The one to whom you haven't found a key?

NM: There were such skaters and we parted our ways after a year.

AS: And they achieved nothing?

NM: They did in a way. My coaching career is quite long and there were so many athletes who live in the different parts of earth. Am in touch with some of them, they all tell me stuff about their life and always sign `your favourite pupil'. You see, I coach and build the relationship in a way so that a person feels special for years. And indeed, while we are working together they are the favourite.

It all happens because am used to communicate with people understanding they only live once. Of course after an accident or something you get a feeling of the second life, but it's not really a second. Hence why upset a person if I can give them smile, joy and happiness. I don't want to create tragedies for people who cross my ways. When I hear my specialist shouting at the skater I ask them `who gave you the right?!'

AS: And you might be answered `Nina Mikhailovna, that's the only way to get to them'.

NM: That's more or less what I hear. If you insult a person it will leave a mark. Some will overcome, forget and move on, some will dwell and get a mental block and those tend to develop.

AS: But some might recall the shouting coach with a gratitude `if he wasn't strict with me, where would I, an idiot, be now?'

NM: There is not a single approach for all.

AS: Who do you know better - your skaters or your son Nikita?

NM: When my son was growing up I spent most of the time on the rink. He once called me and asked `mom, what is my shoe size?'. `Approximately that', I answered. `And Anton Tokarev's?'. `42'.

`Mom, what is my clothes size' was the next question. `Well, something like...' I hesitate. `And Sergey Karev?' he insists. `48'. `Isn't it lovely mom, you know exactly your skaters' sizes, but not mine'. Tokarev and Karev were at the time the members of the Russian junior team.

I couldn't dismiss my son's words and not understand that there is wrong in my work when you dedicate yourself so much to your skaters and lose your relatives. I have a feeling I know everything about my pairs. When I started coaching Lena Vodorezova cut it `You understand you'll have no life now'. I didn't believe her. Come on, it's not that bad, right? Half a year later I told her `Lena, you were absolutely right'. My personal life became a short overnight stays at home.

AS: Yet Elena Germanovna always had time to cook the soup.

NM: She is a true woman. She can cook, do domestic things and come to the ice rink on time.

AS: You are not the greatest cook?

NM: I used to be, but I forgot it all in the last 8 years. I told our managers the coaches such as me need a domestic help course, the sewing course etc. Coming back home I feel awkward. I can't find things, I try to recall how to make a soup and I still haven't figured how to turn on the oven! I never bake. I go to the supermarket and buy a ready food. The worst nightmare is when the shops that I usually visit at 10pm on the way home are close. I only have time to reheat things and get some sleep. I wake up in the morning, have breakfast and off to the rink.

AS: What about reading before going to sleep.

NM: I used to read a lot. I always had a book with me. Right up till the moment I started working with the top teams. I lived in the USA for a year, my pupil was picking me up as I don't drive myself, and seeing me with yet another book was asking `is reading interesting'. I was in awe. The guy was 20! What did he just ask me? `Edam, how many books did you read?' He counted and said 8. By the age of 20 he read 20 books! He started coming up with excuses `I don't have time, in order to be coached by you I need an extra work'. I love the historical literature and hate the romantic books and detective books.

AS: There is a lack of detective stories in figure skating.

NM: There is more than enough passion and drama. The people, their emotions. Though recently I stay out of all that. I created my own wonderland and live there.

AS: Working in figure skating media for 2 years I get an impression there are very strong women there who are against each other. Who is more cunning. I mean you, Tatiana Tarasova and some other influential women.

NM: You know, Tatiana Tarasova asked me several times `What would you do if you were in my shoes'. She asked me once more when we were flying together to some meeting. I replied `not what you do'.

She was asking about what should she do if she can't coach full time. Every specialist asks that question deep down. I guess she has such a dilemma. I don't. I told her she can help a lot of people by coming to places and talking. When we came to that meeting Alexandr Zhukov, the head of the ROC asked me `what do you think of an idea of gathering the talents from the whole country in one centre?'. That's when `Sirius' was created. It was different back then. So I talk to Zhukov, Tarasova approach and I turn to her `Tatiana Anatolievna, hear the idea, we can take those kids and work with them within that project'. She jumped up `Are you nuts!? I have music in my head, there is nothing else I can do!'. Well, excuse me. Sometimes Tarasova's strictness from the TV show transmits to figure skating. And that causes troubles, because every specialist has a point of view and the self love causes unfairness. Here is what I disagree with her.

AS: What kind of a person are you?

NM: A gamer. When I need to clean my mind I start playing computer games. I take the strategy games, the logical ones, the quests. I sit and idly play for 20-30 minutes and don't think about what is going on. It's an important thing. The person should not be dwelling on the problems. Figure skating is great, but it's not the most important thing in life.

After the Worlds in Helsinki I was in a car in Novgorod's area, was looking out of the window and thinking `it's awful! Where are the roads? What are those horrors instead of the houses'. And people live there. What have I done to improve their live? We passed another 10 km and I think `Nina, why should you even think about it?'. We went to Tula area to Yurii Kaminski, our skiing coach. Again, I look out of the window: one house got on fire, one cowshed fell apart. Why no one cares? I want to build, not destroy. And there are so many people in figure skating who are trying to destroy what the others built!
Once someone important came to my rink and started explaining me how am I doing everything wrong. I listened and said `I know what my mistakes are, but why did you come over? To ruin? First build your own!'. So Anatoly you are quite wrong thinking am a person who would come up with things to make the others' lives harder.

AS: Not quite what I meant. More like the powerful people who are fighting for the control.

NM: I have no desire to be powerful or control things. I don't need to become a president of the RFSF or anything. I need the power to create good things. Just as much as needed for the work. Like I have now in `Sirius'. I live differently. I have no envy. When someone starts telling me how successful or rich the other person is I boil `Yeah, am such a moron and have nothing'. But I was raised with different values.

AS: You have the global values: reviving the Novgorod area...

NM: One of the coaches I work with says I never see what is under my nose. It's my problem. She tries to discuss a small detail about one of the skaters, instead of talking of that detail I see what will happen in the future. I can do that. To predict the result. The final product.

AS: How good is the final product of the Russian figure skating taking it's potential?

NM: A hard question. Every month 50 skaters from all over Russia come to me. Out of 85. Every head of the region can send their most talented kids for 24 days. A lot of kids come over, some are better some are worse, but the same problem I encounter is the lack of knowledge. Am not talking about Moscow/St. Petersburg and another 5 cities with the specialists, but the rest of Russia, where we have no skeleton to build figure skating on.

AS: What is needed?

NM: Not what, who. A leader. If there were such leaders in ever region we would have a good group in every corner and our sport would progress faster. Right now the figure skating is built on the stars. If there is a talent we are happy with it. Not because we coached so well, but because it's just so talented. When such a talent falls into the right hand if he is not too lazy he becomes a star. And it would be great. But the amount of the skaters who represent our country in different age groups is not that big.

AS: Do you feel you are a monopoly?

NM: No. Nor do I want to be one.

AS: I realize you don't want to be one, but in your wonderland you are focused on your way. But what happens in the pairs skating? Tamara Moskvina: retired Kawaguti/Smirnov and juniors. The wonderful Ludmila Velikova - juniors. Arthur Dmitriev: Astakhova/Rogonov, who are not yet competitive with the leaders and nothing with Oleg Vasiliev.

NM: And there were so many articles about Bazarova/Deputat who would be competing in Europeans and worlds! I try not to comment on the other's skaters, but am surprised with people who dare to give marks or recommendations and show how important they are. Go and work! Stand near the border and work! What's the problem!?

AS: Vasiliev and Trankov's personalities didn't work?

NM: They are all tough - the skaters. but I lived with Tanya and Maksim a wonderful 7 years and I regret nothing. It was a good time. I have a great relationships with my guys. If am uncomfortable I part the ways.

AS: We switched the theme from your monopoly. You don't need the competition from the other coaching groups?

NM: You know Anatoly, competition is great. When the athlete see a competitive team ahead they get emotionally high. But they only compete during the competitions and are marked by the judges. If you can't show what you meant to it's your problem. Not the coach's or the judge's, it's yours. How is the competition related? To become a world champion of the practices? We have plenty of those. you have no idea what fantastic things I sometimes witness on the ice when there are no judges, audience and marks. You see it and you are happy. Then the time comes, the person comes out there to the lights and the audience, stands in front of the judges and is paralyzed. They get the rhythm wrong, the moves, then the legs are shaking and become made of wood and then they switch off. If the skater is in a good shape they might get into the autopilot mood and do what they learned. On the other hand it happens that a skater who just came back after the injury and did not train fully looks as if they are on the top of their shape. Sports is a fragile thing but the coach is always to blame. The skater wins the gold, but the coach loses it.

AS: Its' the same in every sport.

NM: It happened after a lot of years. The coach is the scape goat. No one ever knows in what state the skater goes out there, what happens home, whether someone is ill, do they earn enough to make a living, whether they spelt or ate enough today...

AS: But it's all the coach's responsibility.

NM: To control it - yes! But you can't live someone's life instead of them. And it's annoying when people make a huge deal out of a simple stuff. When the skater reads about it later and it all gets stuck in their head. Am certain a lof of our guys are such people. Sometimes they are oversupported and sometimes overscorned. And they stop skating altogether. I think some of them would love to own an invisibility cloak.

AS: It's not the coach's job to get the skater out of that mental zone?

NM: I always tell my coach it's easy to create a problem in the skater's head, it's hard to solve it. Why create it at the first place?

AS: What if something always goes wrong for a skater?

NM: If it doesnt' still don't make him a poor baby. He needs to know things might turn out well one day and he'll be victorious.

We had that wonderful skater Alexey Vasilevski. Such a huge talent. A wonderful glider. He was coached by Viktor Kudriavtsev. We were getting goosebumps when Lesha was on the ice. It was a pure pleasure. But we never saw him doing much at the competition. Being a nice guy and intelligence bothered him on the ice. You have to be an animal there.

AS: Again we switched the theme from the monopoly in pairs skating. I think it's nice when a person - you - worked so hard to get out from the junior circle and now you have all the leading pairs in the country while the great Moskvina, Velikovs and Vasiliev are out. Do you have a feeling of satisfaction?

NM: A complete lack of it.

AS: But you beat them all!
NM: I just don't have it...

AS: But it's a sport! A battle!
NM: There is a fine line. In the definition of the sport. It doesn't matter for me who was left behind. It's important that people who work with me could show their ability, and, if possible, win. Or at least become those who will be remembered for skating great. You have no idea how many times in my life I was 4th. It's not a nice feeling, to put it mildly. But still, it happens the one who is talked about is not the champion but one who became 8th. It feels better being 4th with a good skate than first with the mistakes. It's important. If they

are marked well and medal thanks to the great skating it doesn't matter what happens around. When we are - team Russia it's important to see our flag up there. And of course, hear the anthem. Am spoiled by Tatiana and Maxim - in almost every competition they were on the podium. If am destined to be in figure skating without the medals I will be lacking something. The victories are like a drug. I am a victory junky. When you are a winner you look for the skaters who would make your ambitions come true.

AS: What will happen when comes a time, that always does? When you are still addicted, but there is no drug?

NM: I think it will happen quite soon. And I know what I'll do.

AS: ???

NM: I really respect people who spend their lives near the border. I salute them. People like Tarasova, Moskvina, Mishin - people who spent so many years between the border and the dressing room and back, they stand there, spend their energy and never change their lives. They know what they do but they don't try to find something new. I'm a person of many interests and I want to try something else. My job in `Sirius' is of that kind.

AS: Having an option is a huge thing.

NM: It's easier for me that way, hence I don't really understand many of the questions you asked me earlier. I need a lot of things, but not so much material. I don't have a country house and till the age of 50 something I lived in a 54 sq.m at the end of Varshavskoe. I didn't have doors between the rooms because the flat was so small. And I didn't mind. I don't need much. I know am weird that way and usually people live differently. But it's easy for me. I don't like receiving presents but love giving them. I love buying flowers and giving them. Sometimes people are taken aback by my ideas and don't understand it, but I just love it so much when a person is smiling.

AS: How about a gold as a present?

NM: In 1996 when my skaters Viktoria Maksuta/Vlad Zhovnirskii won the Junior Worlds in Australia. My first gold medal of such a level. We were coming back from the ice palace in Brisbane and Galina Golubkova asks me `Nina, why aren't you happy?'. I was empty inside. I had a goal and I reached it. What is next? Starting from the scratch. That `from the scratch' starts taking over me during the medals ceremony. But I don't want to travel the same journey. If I made it till the end I don't start from the beginning. I pick a new game. And I play it till I win. When I see my guys receiving a medal I want to walk out. It's not interesting anymore. And it's quite against the character that I entered another Olympic cycle. I did it because I gave a promise. I thought of finishing after Sochi. We had an agreement with Tatiana and Maxim: Sochi and that's it.

AS: Both you and them would retire?

NM: Yes. And then our beloved Jorje convinced Volosozhar/Trankov they can go on. And he told me. Ksenia and Fedor stayed. Yurii Nagornyh (from the ministry of sport) was still working. So I promised Nagornyh and the guys. Since then I keep my promise. Carry it like a cross. Tanya and Maxim are gone, so is Nagornyh, Vorobiev, who was the head of Moscow sport, Alla Kapranova retired because her husband's health.

And not so long ago our favourite physio Alexandr Kluikov died. An amazing person. He went through 11 Olympics, wanted to work on the 12th in Korea.. a month ago he was with us in the test skates in Sochi and was feeling not well, but he was taping the skaters. He came back to Moscow and was taking to the ER. Its' a huge loss for the whole team, there aren't many specialists of his kind left in our country.

The people with whom I made the Sochi Olympics are gone. Almost the whole team have changed.

AS: Who should you work for now?

NM: Just for the people who are on the rink now. I always tell them `Guys, if you don't need me I can step aside'. Am already used to the thought I will not be doing that. And if I will in some other way. I can't live on that torn couch in my office anymore. Spend days a nights in that office. I can't. I don't want to. I want to do something for myself. Yes, I enjoy life going to the theatres and museums, meeting my fantastic friends in the beautiful places where we talk and laugh and singe and there is no figure skating.

AS: Are you done talking, Nina Mikhailovna?

NM (laughs)

AS: What time do you have to be on the rink tomorrow?

NM: Today. In an hour. If am late Stolbova will give me a stare of death.

AS: And then you'll sit on your torn couch again, and in front of you instead of a journalist a young coach Yuri Larionov. Then Tatiana Druchinina will walk in...

NM: Yeah, yeah, yeah.. but it's just till the end of the season and then I'll speak differently.

AS: And after Korea 2018 Jorje will come and say `Nina, you know, I felt Ksenia's muscles, they are so amazing she is a sure winner of 2022'.

NM: I hope Jorje will not let me down. You see there are so many things I want to do in my life and I need time health and will. The will I have, the health is still fine and I'll find time. So I'll try a new role.

AS: And it will not be `Sirius'.

NM: Perhaps I'll work in `Sirius' part time, as I do now.

AS: `Sirius' and ...?

NM: I don't know yet what. There are several options.

AS: Sport?

NM: It's a small thing. Think bigger, Anatoly.

AS: So...

NM: Don't guess.

AS: The presidential elections are after Korean Olympics.

NM: I'll consider. No, it's a joke. Politics is a serious matter. That's certainly not in the book. I think only people who can predict really well should play that game.

AS: And people of a word, rather than deed, like you

NM: Oh, I can talk, I can change. Ok, another joke. I can't adjust, it's from my father. I will always tell the truth. I will find it very hard to contain myself if I go into the politics. Am still hesitating, but it's clear if you decided to do something do it at least 95%. Yet the situation in the sport is such I can only give 50%. Why should I waste my time on that? We will not reach the result that could have been. There are no possibilities that could have been. The people responsible for the organization for the sports in this country have different preferences. They don't care about the top sport. They care about the general health. May be I'll join those teams? Or just do nothing...

AS: Will you be comfortable on the lake Como in Italy with your beloved friends and a book before the sleep?

NM: For a couple of days -sure. I love the active life and I hate being home. I hardly ever watch the TV and hardly read the news. It's boring.

AS: The head of the RFSF is a small thing?

NM: (nods). I really want to help people. My sister works with the fund `A line of life' they support the sick kids. She does an amazing programmes, collects money for the surgeries. It's a real help but it needs money. I always tell my athletes `guys, we can ask for the funds only for the result'. I think it's wrong to ask being funded jsut to participate a competition. Because you can save a human life with these money. It's important, it's life. For now am in the wonderland, but I know I want to do something that matters. Build. But practically, not politically. `Sirius' is my attempt to learn living differently.

AS: What do you have to thank Nagornyh for?

NM: It was year 2010. Tatiana Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov came to Moscow with an idea of a new project in my school. I came to the ministry of Sports to Yuri Dmitrievich. I told him the idea and he listened. He asked to wait for a week while he discusses with Mutko (the minister of sports at the time). This is how Tanya became a Russian citizen and represented our country at the worlds together with Maksim Trankov. And I was their coach. A huge thanks to Antonina Kuznetsova, who was curating the documents in the ministry for Tanya's and then Natalia Zabijako's citizenships. She spent 40 years in the sports and is irreplaceable. Yuri Dmitrievich believe in me. In a person who was known for working with the juniors only. Believed and let working on a higher level. That person is an example of professionalism for me.

He knows how to take responsibility. For all the coaches and the skaters he was not just another person in the ministry, but a person who you could come to, ask for an advice, discuss, talk. He knew of all our problems. He doesn't only knows our last names, but the names of our kids and relatives. He reacted at instance on every problem. When Maksim's father died Nagornyh helped organizing everything very fast. A year ago the same happened to the skier Alexey Petukhov and again Nagornyh helped. He always helped the athletes and the coaches. With him we felt we had a back. Such a wall that you can come and lean on. And, most importantly, we were sure tomorrow another day will come and we'll come back and work.

The coaching work consists of a lot of organizational, physical and mental details. When you have several athletes it's hard to keep up. And it's lucky if you have people who understand you.

AS: Will he come back to the sport?

NM: I can only hope... after the words of... a non decent person were taken seriously West we, the coaches, athletes, specialists prepared a letter, in which we were trying to defend Yurii Dmitrievich. 25 Olympic champions, 15 known coaches, 7 Paralympic champions and around 100 different specialists who helped the guys getting ready for the Olympics. Not just the Sochi Olympics. People still worry and understand we lack the spine that was holding us all.

Nаgornyh has a way of uniting the team. We -the coaches of various sports still meet up and keep in touch. The next Olympics is near and we are still so close! The moto in the Olympic village was `one country - one team'. The winter sports are still that one team.

AS: What happened to that letter?

NM: We were too frighten to send it. You see, every such thing can backfire. When there are so many lies around what we wrote about might have seen as a lie. We didn't want to make things even worse for the person who is our professional and human ideal.

AS: Were you asked to?

NM: No, we realized ourselves the time is wrong.

AS: You didn't want an open war?

NM: It's an undergoing investigation. How can you come up with an additional initiatives at such a time? Perhaps in the end they will figure what was the truth and what was a lie. It's weird when everyone accepts the lie. I know of the problems with the medicine in our country. It's funny when the person who is listened to is the one who was spreading doping in our country and now blames us all. Though he was the main source of the forbidden instances.

AS: When Stolbova's photo appeared in the Italian press in an article that said there is a chance she was the one to dope, what did you feel?

NM: Numb. I didnt' understand what was going on. We came to Italy, opened the paper and saw Ksenia's photo. A suspect... I was so mad. I didn't understand why it was happening. And then I cried. It was happening to alot when the rain of lies was pouring.

AS: You wanted to sue the Italians?

NM: Yes, Ksenia and I wanted to sue them. We spoke to a lawyer about it. It's funny she should be the one blamed - she is terribly allergic to everything ,even to some foods. When she is under the weather she never takes a medicine. That's the way she is. The same with Fedor, by the way.

AS: So why didn't you?

NM: At the time the committee under Vitali Smirnov was formed and we were told they would figure it all. We were advised not to mend locally what the country was dealing with globally.

AS: You think the committee will make sure Ksenia Stolbova's name is cleared or it's done and forgotten?

NM: Am sure there is some work is being done, but some names are being dropped off and new ones are added. There is a new information, new meetings and that case is no longer relevant. There is a big global, political fight and we, the coaches and the skaters, I guess, are forgotten.

AS: When was the last time you were frightened?

NM: Good question. I don't know. Perhaps I learned to evaluate the situation. Am not a person who fears in general.

AS: You were a coach of the juniors and there were people above you that we already spoke about...

NM: I want to answer your question but I need to think. I want to think of a personality who would make me shake. You know, if there is a personality I admire them, not fear. There are people whose professionalism I appreciate, but they are not my idols. I can be on the nerves but it's not what you are talking about. Not fear.

AS: Who was the most nerve wrenching meeting you ever had?

NM: The teachers before the exam and Vladimir Putin before a meeting. The first - I was going out there and had no idea what I will be asked in the exam, so it was scary. The second - before the Olympics, I was told I would be talking on that meeting. I started the presentation and calmed down. I was not shaking. I was thinking clear. I was speaking a bit differently, but that was it. I was talking to the president about a subject I know. I always try to do what I know. Hence am not afraid to take the responsibility.

I was working in `Umwaiad Art Production' from the UAE, which had an office in the USSR. It was year 1991 and I was 27y.o. Our plane was stuck in Dubai airport because the funds for refueling did not arrive on time. We had to sign the papers immediately. My boss was in Germany and our of reach, his 50y.o. vice was too afraid to sign. The other older men were deep in thoughts and came to me - a girl. We had 2 hours with 150 of our clients-tourists stuck there who either had to come to Moscow or stay there and ruin the mood, be accommodated and fed. `So will you decide with Samsonov later' asked me those bold older men. `Do you have any other ideas', I asked and signed. I was given an award for the decision making later.

AS: 19 years later you took Volosozhar/Trankov. A decision?

NM: Yes, but I had 10 world championships to back me up. Ok, a junior ones. Yes, some were shouting `she hadn't done much there', but..

AS: But there was no guarantee for a success.

NM: None. But when we were first talking about the roles in the project Stas Morozov was the one doing thing and me organizing. I had my own pair who were in the national team and I was coaching them. Tanya and Max started working and it was time to compete n Perm, but they were unable to skate the programme. Stas spent a lot of time on the technical details but was unable to get them ready for the right date. I was taught the planning in the USSR team by Mikhail Drei and Stanislava Lassotovich. Once Ludmila Velikova and I met at some junior competition and by chance opened our papers in front of each other with that planning and asked each other `oh, you are still doing that?'. We received an amazing knowledge but we were the last pupils of those legendary coaches. It was when I started working with Volosozhar/Trankov as a coach.

AS: But there was a thought `if it won't work - am dead'?

NM: It could happen even if it did work

AS: Why? there are so many attempts to attack you now and - nothing.

NM: Oh.

AS: The numbers are on the table.

NM: You helped me recalling a person who made me feel nothing but negative. Piseev. A huge professional. Seriously. It's the only thing I admired him for. The lack of ability to communicate, greed, a bully a three of his main features. He had a bunch of coaches who were part of the team and you had no chance. The last GPF in Marseille I met Rafael Arutyunian with whom, back in the 80s we were working together in the USSR with the juniors. Most of those people made a career abroad. Think am the only person from that generation who stayed in out country and made something. The rest lacked the opportunity. Piseev had a favourite, who I should not name, it's a specialist who once said someone about our generation `you are just a black workers, we are the elite!'

AS: And his name is?

NM: I will not name the son of the bitch. You know how many great specialists are out there who couldn't live with Piseev and left! those who stayed retired working on the junior level. And then Piseev dared to say something like `we have so many great coaches', now we are looking back - we only now start getting new people and that thanks to the fact the top sport became important. The times of Mutko and Nagornyh. The old generation is too old to work and the new generation..

AS: Who are the new generation?

NM: Tutberidze, Goncharenko. Even Lena Vodorezova - she only started being on the top at the current times. Rafael left to the USA and became great. In Marseille he told me an interesting thing `Nina, you don't even understand why we couldn't make it'. And then added `because everyone were a snitch!'

AS: Rafael Vladimirovich is known for being harsh. He told me in the GPF in Barcelona the difference between Ashley Wagner and Nathan Chen. If things didn't work out for Ashley she is still happy, while Nathan was raised in Uta by a Russian coach and he is fighting for the win.

NM: We are a nation of winners. We were raised by the people who went through the war and won. Then came the generation of perestroika and the money. Maksim Trankov is an exception. When we started working he really impressed me that the anthem, flag, motherland were sacred for him. It's not important for the current generation of the athlets. Trankov was raised by his father, who was part of the equestrian team in the USSR.

NM: And I recalled when I was afraid. When Natalia Zabijako was injured. She bumped her head on the ice and it was a sound of a watermelon falling from the high. We were waiting for the ambulance and she was conscious. We were a bit calmed by her blood pressure that was stable. Her eyes were opening and closing, but the pulse was stable. The special car never reached us and she went with the usual ambulance to the hospital. I remember my legs not moving, I was so frightened for her life. It's scary seeing people fall from the elements. Scary because it's life. Its' easy to become handicapped doing what they have to do. I understand I send people to hardships, I understand am responsible to them. But they are sometimes so fearless that they don't talk about their problems. They take a risk to get their medals. That is scary.

AS: Were you blaming yourself when Natalia was injured?

NM: Of course I did. I had that case in 1996 a partner threw the girl very high in the split twist and his toepick was caught and he fell. The girl didn't react and fell on the ice in the split. She was taking to the ER and the doctors said the sides of her spine bones were broken. I spent the whole night moaning. Mom said she could hear me moan the hole night. The girl was hospitalized and later was told she was lucky - the bones that develop at the certain age remained softer because she was so flexible and that saved her from a broken bone.

AS: Should the coach in the pairs skating treat the athlete as a human material, it's hard to gain something when you feel sorry for your skaters?

NM: I can't. But they want to take risks themselves. When Natalia was taken to the hospital it was Ksenia's practice next. She starts a throw jump and I was scared again. No one saw it, but I was in tears and my heart was beating so fast. That sticky, disgusting, wet panic. Cold one. When you realize inside you can't go on like that! Something must change! And you cant'.. just can't.. .so you keep quiet. And that fear sits within you. `Screw that damn throw jump!' my blood is boiling. Boiling and gets cooler. But when they are out there in the competition am never even worried. No panic, no fear and other stuff.

I hate it when we learn something new on the floor and then take that, say, quad split twist on the ice. The tripple is nothing. The quad shoots into my heart. Though Tarasova/Morozov keep me healthy, I really understand they can do the quad split twist.

I was also afraid when my mom was dying. I couldn’t change anything because you can change everything except for death. I buried her 10 years ago.

In the other cases I am... silly, I guess. I don't realize the responsibility I take is huge. Perhaps that's why am never frightened. Whether it's our first world championship with Tanya and Maksim in Japan to which we came a couple of hours before the hurricane. `You're weird', said Trankov. `you are smiling and talking as if we are not in a situation here. My previous team would be in tears by now, it would be a tragedy, yet you are...'. `Maksim, if I cry the earthquake will not happen?'

Another case - 1995, Moscow, the 50 years of the WWII victory. It was raining and I was going back home under an umbrella. A short dude gets to me. Not a Russian. Takes me under the elbow and quietly says `give me the money'. `You know what, we are payed tomorrow. Come back tomorrow'. He gets quiet but keeps walking and says `you know, I don't even know what's the protocol now'. He takes his hand off and I realize there was a knife at my side all that time. I haven't noticed and kept walking in a good mood. Now I see his knife and him, but he is not leaving and keeps walking. `I feel very bad now; he says after a while. `Don't worry, it's just that our pay day is after the national holidays'. `Can I at least walk you'. `Sure'. I still don't resist. He walks me home and asks `can I kneel in front of you?' `No need, you'll just ruin the trousers'. `Can I kiss you on a cheek?'. `Go on'. He did and walked away. I went home, walked to the 3rd floor and start shaking. It hit me what just happened.

The next day I came to a friend who is a shrink. I told her all that without a smile. Emotionally. `You know what Nina, if you stopped, shouted or made an unexpected move he would have hit you. He didn't expect all that positivity, he got lost and became positive'. I had several such extreme cases in my life. I was kidnapped in Armenia.

AS: What?!

NM: I was very young, thin and good looking. We came to the training cam in Tsahkadzor. The USSR team had a trip to Erevan. One of the coaches from Leningrad tells me `Nina, let's stay in town, I need to find shoes for my fiancé'. `But we are blondes, it's dangerous in Erevan', I tell her `Will you let me go alone?' she insists. `No, I will not, but let me warn you, there might be consequences'. She talked me into it. Once the bus have left we started our run in Armenia capital. We were escaping one dude after the other. We catch a taxi, get in and demand: `Tsahkadzor!'. The taxi driver, as they usually are, is quite talkative. We told him our story. `Awwww, bad bad men' he agrees. `So where are you trying to escape to' `We are trying back to the training base' and we tell him holding Larisa's fiance's shoes. `Awww, it's all so bad'. 15 minutes later I realize he takes us to a wrong place. There are villages, mountains and the civilization slowly stops. Then he told us `you will never come back'. I don't remember how, but I found the right words to make him stop and think.

AS: What words?

NM: I don't remember, but something smart. Anatoly, words just come to me sometimes. And in all these cases there was no fear and no panic. I heard so many confessions. People open their mind and soul to me. Sometimes person doesn't need an advice but just to be heart. They just need to talk. I have a good ear and I can listen.

AS: Was there a confession that you didn't know what to say?

NM: there were confessions when I didn't need to say a thing. When the person just told all they had to and I either agreed or said, that, perhaps, I would do differently.

AS: Have you ever reconsider your life after such confessions?

NM: No, it's too late. We are formed by our parents, life teaches us things. We have the stereotypes that we follow and rules that are set for us. I might want to change the flow of the river or dance in the Bolshoi Ballet, but it won't change a thing. I'm not ashamed of what I am, am comfortable being like that. When someone tries to sting me I reply `am loved the way I am and don’t' plan to change a thing'

AS: What is the main theme in those confessions?

NM: I heard different things. Sometimes people open up without thinking. In a train, among the friends. Perhaps they feel some calmness, start talking and then stop and say `weird, I was never up talking about it'. And its' not as if I needed someone's life, am not trying to interfere or give an advice. I can only listen and help. Sometimes it's exactly what the athletes need.

AS: You are never approached with `Nina Mikhailovna, I need an advice'?

NM: Am very careful in such things and never give a direct recommendation. I can come to a common decision with the skaters. Insist on something and explain why do I see the situation the way I do. I don't have half measures and I voice my opinion. I just see so many people around who are lying, living the imaginary world, forget... I don't want to look so silly.

AS: I understand it the figure skating is the most `lying' sport in Russia.

NM: Terrible.

AS: There is no other place with so many lies as figure skating.

NM: With a nice smile. Like the snakes. And kiss-kiss-kiss added.

AS: If people open up to you so much, will you turn to religion after figure skating?

NM: No, am not worthy. We were going to Saransk once with Andrey Hekalo, and we shared the train with a priest. We spoke a lot and later he invited us to the church of st. Fedor Ushakov. Later Andrey was baptized there. On a way while we were talking he said `you are doing an ungodly thing'. I asked why? I like what I do, the Russians are good, we are the best'. `No, he says, it's the pride talking and its' not a god's deed'. It was the first time I was doing a wrong thing in my life. And the last. It sounded so weird coming from him. One of my ancestors was a priest.

AS: There are enough people in religion who are quite stereotyped. If you don't follow their rules- you are doing wrong.

NM: Perhaps. Am a person of the world.

AS: Your start in the senior skating with Volosozhar/Trankov and a coach Morozov was not just a sports project. Tatiana was Stanislav's gf and you recalled how she and Maksim's gf were walking the dogs together. And then things changed rapidly. How did you deal with that triangular?

NM: I saw how Maksim and Tanya developed the feelings and stood out.

AS: It didn't bother the work?

NM: I think it even helped, because they were so high in their love that things worked. Kudos to them.

AS: You were not afraid their love would kill the goal?

NM: No. I realized they mainly think of their result. I will never forget how Maksim told me some serious words back then. There was some problem, I felt sorry and gave them less work. We came to Skate America, skated so so and we had a serious conversation. Trankov told me: don't feel sorry for us. We are not a man/woman here, we are athletes. We are robots. We have to do what you think is needed'. I overcame that and realized: for that pair the result is the most important. Volosozhar/Trankov will never exchange sport for love. Sport was the first, then love.

AS: When did your victorious path began?

NM: Guess in 2006. I was helped by that team spirit I breath before Torino. I was taken to a training camp in Voukatti by Povzner, from the skiing. I had a problem, I needed a bus to get to the rink. There was no funds. So am standing in the office, and a man enters. Eyes like x-rays. I understand he is a Russian. I was introduce. It was Valery Polhovski (the head coach of the Russian biathlon team back then). He recognized me and there were no further questions `Sure Nina, no problem we'll help'. Polhovski's bus was riding 4 times a day for us. That help might sound like not so much, but it did so much for me! I felt what the Russian Olympic spirit was and I took it from Polhovskii. I never thought about it before - I felt just fine on the Juniors level. I was looking at those people who they were preparing to the Olympics, and I wanted to try it myself. To make it to the Olympics.

We have a tradition since - on February 7th, the day of the opening ceremony of our Sochi games we meet up. The friends and colleagues from the different winter sports come over, we talk, recall, share the news, talk about the problems, help each other and smile. Openly and lovingly, because it's our history and it can not be changed. We had a dream and we made it true with the hard work and our health. Those who are trying to break us will not succeed - we are getting ready for Korea, we are smarter, we are wiser, we have the traditions, knowledge and will to fight. I know truth will come out and it will be terrible is my colleagues professionals will not find their place in our sports.

AS: Things are that bad?

NM: Our sport, in my understanding, is like that cartoon bunny, who reaches for the carrot. The carrot is slipping from it, but it still reaches....
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Well-Known Member
So it sounds like she is planning on quitting coaching after 2018? (Probably?)

I gather that Sirius is the official name of Mozer's training group/training center(?). Are other groups included within Sirius, or is it just Mozer's group?

ETA: Okay, I was going to say this interview was sort of bizarre, then I decided not to, now I see I'm not the only one who thought that :lol:


Cowardly admin
Staff member
The stuff about the doping scandal was strange, although I didn't understand all the references. I guess she is also in the camp that it's a worldwide conspiracy against Russia. Figures.

Spun Silver

Well-Known Member
Somehow I think this should be inscribed on FSU’s masthead.

AS: I understand it the figure skating is the most `lying' sport in Russia.

NM: Terrible.

AS: There is no other place with so many lies as figure skating.

NM: With a nice smile. Like the snakes. And kiss-kiss-kiss added.

She had me at Monserrat Caballé but man, there are about 3 movies and a novel in that interview.

Has she ever explained why she had S/K skip Worlds and what she thinks of that decision in retrospect?


Values her privacy
She sounds a bit depressed to me. As if she achieved at the last Olympics whatever she wanted to achieve (after so many years with juniors suddenly she had a great team at senior, got to Olympics, and two of her teams medalled) and suddenly there is no higher motivation. What do you do when you achieved everything you ever wanted to achieve? Or maybe she is so stressed (Stolbova/Klimov not being in their expected form, Zabijako/Enbert don’t seem to be getting any closer towards the complete top and all expectations are on Tarasova/Morozov), that she is gradually getting burned out. I found her interview very negative.


Well-Known Member
What do you do when you achieved everything you ever wanted to achieve?

But there are so many possibilities:
  • Stolbova & Klimova doing a Free Skate to Heartbreaker
  • Tarasova & Morozov skating to a medley of Monserrat Caballé arias.
  • Zabijako & Enbert as Nina and Konstantin in The Seagull. (There's a movie coming out with Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle in those parts. Maybe Mozer could use music from the version.)
  • And so on. :)
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alchemy void

Post-its for the win.

This interview is as eccentric as her style! :encore:

Where to begin?

NM: A gamer. When I need to clean my mind I start playing computer games. I take the strategy games, the logical ones, the quests. I sit and idly play for 20-30 minutes and don't think about what is going on. It's an important thing. The person should not

Mozer the gamer! :respec: Picture this: Mozer, in a casual poncho and sweats, headset on, deeply engrossed playing Halo on Xbox One. :rofl:

and thinking `it's awful! Where are the roads? What are those horrors instead of the houses'. And people live there. What have I done to improve their live?

Every time you are in the K&C you improve people’s lives! :encore:

will not name the son of the bitch. You know how many great specialists are out there who couldn't live with Piseev and left! those who stayed retired working on the junior level.

You go girl!

1995, Moscow, the 50 years of the WWII victory. It was raining and I was going back home under an umbrella. A short dude gets to me. Not a Russian. Takes me under the elbow and quietly says `give me the money'. `You know what, we are payed tomorrow. Come back tomorrow'. He gets quiet but keeps walking and says `you know, I don't even know what's the protocol now'. He takes his hand off and I realize there was a knife at my side all that time. I haven't noticed and kept walking in a good mood. Now I see his knife and him, but he is not leaving and keeps walking. `I feel very bad now; he says after a while. `Don't worry, it's just that our pay day is after the national holidays'. `Can I at least walk you'. `Sure'. I still don't resist. He walks me home and asks `can I kneel in front of you?' `No need, you'll just ruin the trousers'. `Can I kiss you on a cheek?'. `Go on'. He did and walked away. I went home, walked to the 3rd floor and start shaking. It hit me what just happened.

I swear I saw this on an episode of Law of Order: SVU.

I was kidnapped in Armenia

This too.

Thanks @TAHbKA for translating this epic interview!


Values her privacy
But there are so many possibilities:
  • Stolbova & Klimova doing a FS to Heartbreaker
  • Tarasova & Morozov skating to a medley of Monserrat Caballé arias.
  • Zabijako & Enbert as Nina and Konstantin in The Seagull. (There's a movie coming out with Saoirse Ronan and Billy Howle in those parts. Maybe Mozer could use music from the version.)
  • And so on. :)
Sure, but it seems to me that she doesn’t care anymore. She has achieved what she wanted and more medals may be nice, but not enough motivating to be emotionally involved. No exciting enough, or no such challenge any more. Her looking what next, it is like a midlife crisis. It’s a pity because it would be nice to bring more tallented juniors in. Stolbova/Klimov are constantly struggling with injury after injury, and Zabijako/Enbert seem to have reached their potential, so everything is now up to Tarasova/Morozov. But I suppose, if she managed to be successful with seniors, going back to juniors may feel like a step back.


Well-Known Member
I wish she'd said more which games she plays -- I'm very curious now. :)

As for future direction, I think the Olympics always seems like "the end" to everyone in skating -- it is this big huge thing blocking the way that no one can see past. The fact that she thought this way this time last quad means she will probably "snap out of it" so to speak.

I don't think Juniors are a step down, so much as a chance to bring up skaters the way you wish. Of course, she is top level enough to get her pick of anyone, just about, so she may not feel the need to take a chance on a Junior pair.


Well-Known Member
this interview is truly epic :eek: I can't pick a favorite part but that Piseev rant is worth a million :watch: graemlin!!!

It's too bad we don't have reputation points anymore because can you imagine the status?

X is playing Halo with Nina Mozer
X is glared at by Ksenia Stolbova
X was kidnapped in Armenia

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