Simonenko's interview with Rukavitsin

TAHbKA

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Andrey Simonenko's interview with Evgeni Rukavitsin for ria.ru

AS: Aliev's first senior season is over. What did you think of his last competition - the Worlds?
ER: Positively. As for the LP am satisfied with Dmitri's skate, his mental consistency and the physical ability. Many said he is not making it till the end of the LP. Here he landed 3 quads at the beginning, made a mistake in the middle but the end of the programme was still with a high speed and with some clean elements.
As for the SP - he made a mistake in the 4T and it backfired- the second 3T was not counted. He said the blade was caught in someone's dwell and couldn't save the jump when already in the air. He had no chance completing 4 rotations.
But still, I think the 4z3t should had been counted to the skater's favour. This sport is subjective as it is and think it becomes even more subjective.

AS: You mean one athlete gets a < and the other doesn't while they underotated the same?
ER: Exactly that. I also think the audience who follow the skating and enjoys it can tell the quad from a triple and will not understand why the athlete who fell 3 times got the high marks and his rival, who landed several nice quads got less.

AS: If I understand it right it's the 6th, unspoken component of figure skating, that no one will ever mention - the standing?
ER: Let me just say that there are figure skating rules and the game rules. And everyone in that game know it. But sometimes it's too much.

AS: Aliev's temporary career peak was the Olympics - and it demanded the mental and physical energy. How easy were you to step over that peak before the Worlds?
ER: Dima indeed told us he was empty inside after the Olympics. Hence we sent him to participate some shows so he would be inspired by communicating with the Olympics and the World champions. But before the show in St. Petersburg he pulled his back so badly even walking became painful. It was very awkward with the show organizers, especially as we invited so many friends who dreamed seeing him on the home ice in St. Petersburg. But we had to withdrow from the show. We went straight to the specialist, did all that was needed and 3 days later Dima was back to normal.
But I'd like to stress he learned to overcome. Like after that leg injury at the beginning of the season he told us : can you please pretend am not in pain? We loved that approach, though we understood what was going on.

AS: Now is the time for the new programmes choreographing?
ER: Now we'll take a vacation, then we'll have more info about the next year's rules change and then will start choreographing. At the moment we are looking for the music and so many people, including TAT, who we are so grateful to, are helping us.

AS: Will she participate the choreographing?
ER: We haven't decided yet, but we are not writing it off. We also consider going to Averbukh.

AS: Aliev must had realized at the beginning of the season the dream to participate the Olympics is hard to reach. Had something changed after he made it?
ER: First of all I don't want the specialists who said Dima was not in the least of favourites for the Olympics to be mad, but frankly, we completely believed and went to reach our goal. The hardships we had to overcome did not change the goal. It was hard, but we made it. In our minds we never forgot our goal.
Second talking about how much Dima changed I'd like to stress after the successful SP at the Olympics and after all that experienced he became even more motivated. The hardships he had to go through since the beginning of the season let their marks. The unbearable pain, the daily treatments, the unability to train as hard as he wanted, doing the elements that were necessary. As a result - failures at the competitions. And lack of confidence after the other's success. He overcame all that, saw the goals he can reach. It's important to set Dima the goals. One is reached- the next is set. Not only the global ones such as making to the Olympics, but the small term goals.

AS: Such as learning a new jump?
ER: Anything. Yes, increasing the content. Trying something new. We sometimes have the practices with no plan - just for the fun. Not often, but we do. We improvise there and jump various combos. At those practices Aliev is outstanding. We tell him do land a 4z3loop - no problem. A 4z-euler-3f - easy. 4z from the knee.. remember Dima had a 3f in his programme which he entered from his knee? He can do a 4z like that- kneeling on a high speed, two steps and a 4z. Such things - the small provocations are fun for him. Those are the moments you see he can do everything on the ice.

AS: Aliev's 7th place at the Olympics during his first senior season was quite a success. Yet Zagitova, who was also skating seniors the first year went home with a gold. Could Aliev place higher at the Olympics?
ER: I don't want to say `it was impossible'. I respect the fans who want to the Russian athletes to be on the top no matter the first or not first season. It's normal and it's right. We, people inside the skating know what really goes on. Yes, it was Zagitova's first senior season where she won the Olympic gold. But she, just like Evgenia Medvedeva were the favourites. They won all their competitions this season. They were defending their titles. Dima and I were not among the favourites. Everyone knew the leads opened a gap. We let them. The Japanese and 2 Americans were landing 3-4 quads in their lp, while we only had two. The ladies, despite the 3lz3loop combo and all the jumps at the 2nd part of the programme, like Zagitova does, all and all do the same - well, that and one American who lands a 3A. The juionrs aside for now.

AS: We'll talk about the juniors but for now - if it wasn't for the leg injury in September - could Aliev reach the leaders at the Olympics?
ER: In one season - no. Hah he have a bit more time and no injury - he could be closer. Yes, we learned the 4Z and started closing the gap, but catching up with them was not possible. It's a question of companents really. We can't overlook it if talking from the experts' point of view. Hanyu's components are sky high. So are Shoma Uno's. Nathan Chen's were on a different level.
Let's analyze what happened in the SP. Aliev skated brilliantly and yet he ended up 5th. Had someone skated a better technical content? No. And yet it's the 5th result. This is what we could count on. Yes, the 7th place is not the top of his ability for now, I agree, but see his marks: one of the favourite lands a jump and gets a +2/+3. The same quality jump landed by someone else marked +1/+2. It's a huge difference. It's the rules of the game. We knew Dima became the absolute favourite in his last junior season. In 2017 junior worlds he performed the LP with on hand down on a quad but did everything else well. That `well' was marked higher than the others. I hope if Dima will be consistent he will become one of the favourites and not yet another competitor. He is not there yet though.

AS: TAT publicly disagreed with Aliev not attempting a 4z in the LP in Korea. But seems there was no point anyway if he had no chance be higher than 5th?
ER: I thanked Tarasova for her point of view. I accepted it. But made a different decision. Indeed, with that max content, which, by the way, was not ready we could aim for the 5th place at the most. And only should the other competitors make mistakes we could have hoped for something higher. Hence after a very long thought I decided to settle for 2 4T like at the Europeans.

AS: After the failed skate of Kolyada in the team event we read and heard a lot Aliev should had skated instead. Are you bitter it didn't happen and do you agree with the decision and was Aliev even considered to compete?
ER: He was considered. After the Euroepans I personally went to Kogan and asked what were the odds Aliev would participate the team event. He said `There are odds, the experts will decide soon'. Do I agree with the decision not to include Dima? Of course not. I don't agree and I think Aliev should had skated. Am I bitter? Not at all. I understand the responsibility the people who were responsible for the team event result took and I respect their decision.

AS: Was it discussed during the training camp in Japan?
ER: Yes, and I said my skater is ready to represent Russia in the team event in both programmes. I.e. skate 4 times at the Olympics. But the decision was made, it was different and neither Dima nor I were bitter about. We took it with respect, changed the preparations plan and kept working very hard.

AS: Except for being consistent what else does Aliev need to do for the next step?
ER: As I said, we are waiting for the information of the rules change. The plan is for the quads to cost less and more points be given for the quality triple jumps since the GOE will change till +5. When we'll know for sure the decisions of the ISU congress we'll know what to do next.

AS: And yet the top skaters will probably land no less quads.
ER: Dima can land 5 or 6 quads in his LP. But what is important is when moving up the stairs you can jump 2 or 3 stairs. But it can backfire. I think Dima develops in the right paste. Improving in the 2nd mark, which, by the way, demands a lot of time. Often you hear people say `Aliev skates with his soul' but it still needs to be developed and controlled. He is an emotional guy. When his life goes well I see how confident he is in his work and progress. And suddenly and emotional fall. I don't want to dig, but I understand he might be going through something. It's normal, no one smiles the whole life, it's a development. Yes, I could have forced his preparations, but I think it should be balanced. At any rate, I should use the strong sides of my athlete and I do.

AS: It is considering having a good sparring partner in the team helps. When Aliev first joined your group the leader was Konstantin Menshov. Now there is no one near Aliev's level in the group. Does he need someone to push him and do you still hold the weekly practices with Kolyada?
ER: There are no weekly practices with Kolyada for now. The reason was Dima's injury. Whether we'll renew them - I can't answer that yet. As for a sparring partner not long ago I was sure Dima needed one. Now I think perhaps not. His mind is on a different level now. His sparring partnership is not on the ice, but in advance- with Hanuy and Chen who he constantly keeps in mind. He became a leader of the group. He helps the young skaters, the juniors.
But indeed the sparring partnership with Menshov helped at the time. Konstantin was landing the quads like on the batteries. If you tell him to land 10 - he’ll land 10 quads. Aliev was chasing him and now he is the one the others chase. He took that role very responsibly and it feels nice for him,

AS: If a true competitor comes up will he take it the right way?
ER: Am certain.

AS: Is it possible?
ER: There were times when we had 2 full groups: the main team and the reserve. Now, let's say, we have some spots to fill. The coaches from the regions send the guys for the try outs all the time. The goal is to have those 2 full teams. So me and my team - the choreographer Olga Glinka, the coach choreographer Valentin Molotov, the gym coach Andrey Luschikov, physio Alexandr Chikov and many others worked closely with the skaters.

AS: What is the age of the skaters you are trying out?
ER: 11-14. But it doesn't really matter. Sometimes a 16y.o. comes and you see something that will allow him to progress in 2 years.

AS: Do they come without the quads?
ER: Of course. Sometimes even without the triples. It's more important the skater's mind and his view. It's what defines the champions and the others. They see the world differently.

AS: Eteri Tutberidze named discipline as one of the key things. Even in the free time the skater, according to her, should dedicate to be ready for the next practice.
ER: I can tell about one of our girls, who during a soul talk told us `so what, am I supposed to dedicate my whole life to the skating now?'. We were shocked. We told her `Of course! How can it be any different?'. After these words something in her changed and things started working. But the champions are those who don't even need to ask. Of course the athlete's free time should be dedicated to the sport. It's needed to let both the body and the mind recover towards tomorrow's hard work.

AS: Are there any such kids left?
ER: Yes, but they are rare.

AS: Since we mentioned Tutberidze I can't avoid asking: she has it all: Zagitova and Medvedeva took the gold and silver at the Olympics, Trusova and Kostornaya - gold and silver at the junior worlds, Erokhov also took gold. It's not a secret one of the components of her success is a very hard work. How do you plan fighting with her - the same crazy amount of work or you have a different way?
ER: Of course we have our own way. Every coach has his own system. Of course we look at each other. Understand one system is more productive than the other. It's clear.
The St. Petersburg school was always different from Moscow. The Moscow always worked harder and it was because the amount of kids in St. Petersburg is less than in Moscow. I don't want to offend anyone, but the Leningrad coaches have to calculate more carefully how much work the kids can do. Guess we inherited it in St. Petersburg.
On the other hand, of course, we can't ignore the progress in figure skating. In juniors. And we do overlook our philosophy. But personally I want to focus on the male skating for now. Of course Aliev is my main goal and all my thoughts and actions are about him. Yet I understand what kind of stress the joints and muscles take in figure skating. If I put the coordination work with too much work it will be one step away from the injury. Hence I have to be very cautious.
Yet I don't mean to say they don't spare the skaters in Moscow. I don't want to take down Eteri's success, her results are great. Am sure she thinks of the other side of the medal - the results of the hard work on the body.

AS: You have some junior ladies in your group. Will you learn the quads to overtake the Tutberidze juniors?
ER: Yes, there is one talented girl now. But I'll think 10 times before I decide. Should I see a potential, however - why not?
Again, without offending anyone, here we have a skater such as Karolina Costner and she represents a whole different world. Another world is Zagitova and another world is Medvedeva. Figure skating would be so much less if there was no Kostner in it. She represents what I call the ladies figure skating.
Take the past Japanese skater - Midori Ito. She had an amazing 3A. Her figure skating was different. An athletic one. Kostner is so musical and so feminine.

AS: A stupid question. We see the junior worlds are taken by the girls with the quad jumps. We see the Olympics won by a girl with a great jumping technique but a juniorish skating. Will everyone follow that route?
ER: Many said it, but I disagree calling Zagitova's skating juniorish. That's the first thing. And going back to the worlds championship where she became 5th - I want to say it's not that she lost her jumps. It's just something that can happen to anyway. She was so ready for the Worlds - we saw it during the practices. I think it was a one time thing, perhaps being too empty after the Olympics, which could happen to the most experienced skater.
And I don't think everyone will follow that route. The coaches who work on that level have a mind. In order to teach the 13-14y.o girls the quads you must deeply understand the subject. I have full respect Sergey Dudakov and I know for sure he treats the skaters as if they were his own kids. And I respect even more how they walked a thin line teaching the girls the quads.

AS: Is it very risky?
ER: Walking on the street is risky. Men are injured as well. Chen was injured during the exhibition a couple of years ago. But he didn't give up and achieved the 6 quads in his LP

AS: So you'll follow your route even knowing you'll be losing.
ER: Yes. Or till there is a girl who will be receiving 10th in the components or till there is a girl who we'll learn the quads with or till there is a girl who will be landing the quads and receive +10s.

AS: Alisa Fedichkina, who used to skate in your group. Why didn't it worked out with her?
ER: She lacked the discipline. She started growing and, unfortunately, the world of fun sucked her in.

AS: The girls are not predictable?
ER: Well, Eteri found a way, right? It's not one or two - it's a whole school. But, as I said, I will be working on the men skating full force. I have Aliev, who is limitless in what he ca n learn and it gives me an endless joy bing in this profession. It's a huge coaching luck working with such a skater.
 

alchemy void

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Amazing interview, thanks for the translation @TAHbKA

I kept waiting for a Leonova reference, but it didn't happen :drama:
 
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Tinami Amori

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AS: A stupid question. We see the junior worlds are taken by the girls with the quad jumps. We see the Olympics won by a girl with a great jumping technique but a juniorish skating. Will everyone follow that route?

ER: Many said it, but I disagree calling Zagitova's skating juniorish. That's the first thing. And going back to the worlds championship where she became 5th - I want to say it's not that she lost her jumps. It's just something that can happen to anyway. She was so ready for the Worlds - we saw it during the practices. I think it was a one time thing, perhaps being too empty after the Olympics, which could happen to the most experienced skater.
Finally someone said it with singles training expertise.
 

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