Vayetskhovskaya's interview with Novoselov: When Stolbova wrote me I thought it was a prank

TAHbKA

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Andrey Novoselov for ria.ru (please click the original link for the paper's counter)

EV: A year ago when I spoke to Ksenia about your pair she declined talking to you explaining you were not yet released by the FFSG. How did you become French at the first place?
AN: Guess I should start with 2009, when I was still skating with my first partner Sabina Imaikina. We made it to the JGPF and became 5th, despite skating for just 2 years at that point. However, we haven't made it to the Worlds - we were just a couple of points short. We thought should we keep progressing we'll end up quite high. But I was invited to Moscow.

EV: Alone?
AN: Alone. I was offered to try with another partner- Tatiana Danilova. I agreed, because understood should I stay in Perm the options will be quite limited.

EV: Were you feeling you betrayed your first partner?
AN: As a human - yes. But the thing with the sport is that it's quite cruel - you sometimes have to do certain things for the results. Am so grateful to my Perm coaches Valentina and Valerii Tukovs, who gave me this great pairs skating base. Just that the pairs skaters experience shows that even after winning the JW they never progress. I really wanted to skate. And I understood what was expecting me if I stayed.
I was invited to Moscow by Natalia Pavlova, whose two leading teams at that moment were Martusheva/Rogonov and Ilushechkina/Maisuradze. The others were put in the 2nd group and we didn't get much attention, though it was in that group that I met an amazing coach Inna Utkina - she was Pavlova's assistant at the time. The partner was pretty good - she was landing her jumps, I was landing her jumps, we were skating quite well, got all the 4th level elements, the triple throws, twists... but the competitions didn't work. Then Tatiana injured her shoulder - the same injury Yuko Kawaguti had. She had to undergo a surgery.

EV: And you waited for her?
AN: I waited for half a year, though understood getting back to the previous level, nevermind progressing will be hard. After half a year the doctors said she'll need another half a year, perhaps a year to recover. I made a decision to switch to Mozer's team - they were looking for a partner for Tatiana Novik. Utkina moved to Mozer's team as well. That was my 3rd step in the pairs skating.

EV: Which, like the previous two, was not successful?
AN: Yes. Quite fast I understood the most I can count on is participating the Russian Cups, the best case is making it to it's finals. I.e. my career was over. Then I started thinking of representing another country. I thought it would at the very least allow me to participate the Europeans/Worlds. The big competitions require a completely different type of work and it's a different motivation. When you only participate the Russian inner competitions no one sees you, you kind of don't exist. It's doesn't even really matter on what level you are skating.

EV: Were you planning to switch federations together with your partner?
AN: We learned quite fast it would be almost impossible if both partners have a Russian passport. That was exactly at the time Bruno Massot stopped skating with Daria Popova in France to team up with Aljona Savchenko. Daria and I skated together for a short while in Pavlova's group, we knew each other quite well and decided to try skating together. In half a year we had the programmes ready, participated the skates in France, the national federation was quite satisfied with how we looked but they demanded I move from Moscow to Paris.

EV: I.e. the training conditions in Paris were better than in Mozer's school?
AN: There were no training conditions at all there. The only pairs coach was Claude Thévenard, who was the first coach of James/Cipres. Claude herself was a single skater, but then participated many coaching seminars, including in Russia and Canada. I.e. she knew the basics of the pairs skating, but that was not enough. In half a year we lost almost all the elements and Daria decided to retire. She said she doesn't see a point continuing skating.

EV: How did you take her decision?
AN: As an end of one stage of life and a beginning of another. The heads of FFSG almost immediately offered me to team up with Lola Esbrat, and we talked about if there would be a better partner in the future I can skate with her. In the mean while it would be a good thing if I start training with Lola and teach her. We had the summer camp and were told in a couple of months the finances would be figured out. Just that by that time I understood I didn't really have a future with Lola, because you can't progress in pairs skating if there isn't a good coach working with you.

EV: What were you thinking of yourself as a skater at that time?
AN: That, perhaps, I will be lucky to find a partner with whom we'll make it to the top. I even tried talking to some single skaters, but no one wanted to switch to pairs. Lola and I were progressing slowly, in 3 months we learned 2 throws, a triple jump, a 2split twist, which was fine by the federation, but they were not particularly invested in our pair. It was more or less the same with James/Cipres at the time - it took a while till France started financing their preparations.

EV: Yet you became the national champions with Esbrat.
AN: The competition we won there were hardly any pairs. Vanessa and Morgan withdrew, so there were just some junior teams who competed with us and we beat them with quite a bad skate. I had no illusions about that victory. By then FFSG let me know they were interested in me as a coach and offered to undergo the training. I was interested, there was a Russian/French pair and I started coaching them, while studying and skating myself. The rink were paying me something, the FFSG offered the accommodation. But the summer 2018 Lola started thinking of retiring. She did change her mind a couple of times, but those changes of mind convinced me I wanted to coach full time sooner than later.

EV: And then Stolbova wrote you....
AN: Exactly. Ksenia was in a training camp in France with Nikolai Morozov - she was recovering after the injury and somehow the information about my split with Lola got to her. When I saw the whatsapp message frankly, I didn't believe it. I thought it was a prank. It blew my mind. Besides, by that time I moved to Paris with my wife and child, hence we discussed it home and my wife immediately said I must at the very least try to use that chance. Otherwise I will regret for the rest of my life for not taking a risk.

EV: Were you afraid?
AN: Interested. I really wanted to figure whether am capable to keep growing as a skater after stagnating for almost 10 years. So we tried. Ksenia was still in pain, but she was able to do some elements.

EV: How did it feel?
AN: Unusual for me. I never skated with such a partner and at first I couldn't even catch up with Ksenia. In crossovers and elements.

EV: That's quite a disgrace for a man. How were you dealing?
AN: It was in a way, but it motivated so much! Every minute of a practice was a fight: will I make it? will I not? For a couple of months I was just chasing her. Even now at the times I'm still behind the level of Ksenia, but the motivation only grows.

EV: When did you understand you passed the exam?
AN: Two days after we began working. We sat down with Ksenia and Nikolai Morozov, had a talk and decided to keep going.

EV: Who was the motivator at first: the coach or the partner?
AN: They are very different: Nikolai is really good in explaining: what does he want and how to get there. And he is able to explain things in a way that is not patronizing, but motivating. Ksenia.. I don't even know how to define it. She is an amazing fighter. She is an athlete who will do all it takes, even if it's borders her ability.

EV: I know when Rodnina had just started skating with Ulanov in Stanislav Zhuk's group the practices were really tough and Irina would shout: `Just put your hands up, I'll jump there myself!'
AN: It was quite the same in our case at first. I knew Ksenia can do 90% alone and my first goal was just not to bother her. And if possible - help. I thought I understood quite well what Ksenia must feel skating with a partner like me - for 10 years I was doing the same with my partners - pulling the whole programme myself.

EV: FFSG didn't want to release you for quite a while. What caused them to change their mind?
AN: It was between the French and the Russian federations and I don't know the details. I didn't get between, just kept waiting. From Bruno Massot's experience I knew there are no impossible situations.

EV: How were you able to relearn the worst element for Ksenia - the 3 split twist?
AN: It was hard. Relearning the technical elements as a grown up is hard in general, besides, I had my own issues with the split twist. So we divided the element to several stages. For a couple of months we haven't practiced it at all to `forget' our previous technique as much as possible. We then started working with different specialists, including Stanislav Morozov, who taught Volosozhar/Trankov and Tarasova/Morozov the split twist. Stas instantly told us exactly what do we need to change in the element, and we started working. Unlike the other specialists Stanislav was not allowing us even a slight change of his schedule - he demanded a complete compliance of his recommendations. A lot of coaches go with `oh, the element works? Hey ho, so there is an error'. It doesn't work with Stas: he has his system, he has a set of trainings that takes about a month and I am now an evidence the system works, it works great, despite the first couple of weeks us being somewhere between `bad' to `really really really bad'. Now we feel the element becomes more and more consistent every day. Sometimes something doesn't work but it's ok for such an element - it's hard to change it completely very fast after chancing the whole technique.

EV: Did you learn the throw jumps fast?
AN: We had to adjust as well. Ksenia has a very peculiar technique of that element.

EV: In what way?
AN: She does the throw jump herself. In a way it's just another triple jump, just with a bigger amplitude. Most of the teams do it's the opposite way: the male partner throws, decides on the height, the initial spin and the girl has to group at the right time and land on one foot. My job now is just to help the partner as much as possible and not get in her way when she does the element.

EV: Have you decided which competitions you'll participate?
AN: It depends what we'll show on the test skates. Of course we need to compete in order to participate the nationals, we have some thoughts, but it's too premature talking about it.

EV: Do you feel your team is taken seriously by the federation?
AN: A year ago they were much more skeptical, even though after two months of working together we showed all the elements except for the split twist. On one hand I understood the RFSF point of view: doing the elements is nothing like skating the whole programme. At that point we were not yet able to do that, though the SP which we plan skating this season - a blues, we already had back then. We took a classical music with a contemporary arrangement for the LP. I don't think anyone skated to that version. This year the president of RFSF Gorshkov, the general director Cogan came to Perm, watched both programmes and commented where we progressed and what we still need to work on. They said the Federation would help us with the costumes and the equipment. It's a huge help. Of course things are easier now. The Perm FSF helps us, we are representing Perm region and hope we'll continue the collaboration.

EV: Once the competitive season begins you'll find yourself in a new environment. Does it bother you?
AN: Bother is a wrong word. Intrigues and turns on. I want to be there, I want to show what we are capable of doing.

EV: I.e. you love competing?
AN: If I didn't I would probably retire a long time ago.
 

hanca

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My dream teams would be Savchenko/Stolbova and White/Moir :lol:
I can’t imagine Savchenko and Stolbova working together. They are both such strong personalities. Thought I would be curious to see who would survive if they attempted to work together.

I would like to see Stolbova with Trankov. That would be fun to watch! (Not sure who would come out of that fight victorious).
 

hanca

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Trankov could not handle Mukhortova, so how should he come out alive the ring with Stolbova? :rofl:
Trankov is prone to tantrums and so is Stolbova. The question is whether his tantrums would be worse than her dead stares.
 

MsZem

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I can’t imagine Savchenko and Stolbova working together. They are both such strong personalities. Thought I would be curious to see who would survive if they attempted to work together.
I's clearly based on skill rather than personality. Though why anyone would want to pair Charlie White with Scott Moir rather than Guillaume Cizeron is a mystery.
 

rfisher

Let the skating begin
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It was both thrilling and anxiety laden to go through 3 years with Savchenko/Massot and I was relieved when it ended even better than I hoped. Here we go again. Let's get them a competion or 2 before nationals and then everbody just get out of her way.
 

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