Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Drmitriev sr.

TAHbKA

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Artur Dmitriev sr. for ria.ru (please click the link, scroll down to the clapping hands and click them 10 times. WTF, yes, I know...)


EV: All the years you were competing, first with Natalia Mishkutenok and then with Oksana Kazakova don't think many thought how much effort you were putting in these victories, what it costed your coach Tamara Moskvina to run the victory factory which brought 4 gold and 2 silver Olympic medals. Why was it working before and is not working now? Or are the current Russian pairs are worse than the ones we had in the past?
AD: They are not worse. The rules have changed. It seems so minor at first: we were landing two triple jumps, so they do, we were doing two triple throws - so they do, we were doing a split 3 twist, so they do. But every element now takes longer. In the past the parallel spin took 10 seconds, now it lasts for 19, the death spiral took 5-6 seconds, now its' 10. I won't even start with the step sequence - it's a joke. How long did it take us? 10? 15 seconds at the most. It's 45-50 seconds now. All these seconds that are spent on the elements are taken from the choreography. From the transitions, spirals, steps, positions etc. I.e. the programme is much more packed. If you leave less time for the steps you won't be able to perform it to the level the rules demand. Besides, the elements themselves became so much harder. No one was performing 3 revolutions on the death spiral. Yes, we tried it at the practices for the fun of it. But now you must if you want a lvl4.
On the other hand the singles skating the new process began, which I expect to follow into the pairs - the jumps optimization.

EV: Explain please.
AD: The quad jumps are really nothing new. Alexandr Fadeev was doing his first successfull attempts more than 30 years ago. Then the Slovak Sabovchik, Canadian Browning, Russian Urmanov were landing them. They were wasting too much energy on these jumps. Now it's all set to finding the right technique, which would allow using just the needed amount of energy on these jumps.


EV: Am not sure I understand what you mean.
AD: We have a possibility to measure the height of the jump. So here, our guys are jumping the highest. It's true about both Kovtun and Kolyada. They really are jumping higher than anyone else, but it's rather useless. When jumping high the first revolution usually begins goo late. It causes the fall or an underotation. Nathan Chen and Uzuru Hanyu jump much lower. While Kovtun's quad toeloop is 73sm high Chen elevates 53sm only. Yet the American starts the revolution right after the take off. It allows performing the jump with much less energy. Hence Chen can perform 4-5 quads in his programme, while Kovtun can hardly pull 3.

EV: Then why do our coaches keep teaching the skaters jumping high?
AD: First of all not all the coaches even thinking of it - not all can think ahead. Here, the athlete does the quad, all is good. Second once the athlete learns jumping high it's hard making him doing it differently. All of the above does not mean Kovtun can't skate well. He can. Just that he has to be on the top of his shape, while Chen can show a very high level every time he is on the ice.

EV: What was the strategic advantage of Tamara Moskvina, in your point of view?
AD: First of all in choreography. Think about it: when Natasha Mishkutenok and I were competing Tamara Nikolaevna gave us the programmes that even now would score quite high. We were performing the steps and the transitions. I think Moskvina knew she can't beat Stanislav Zhuk and his teams with the complexity of the programmes, hence she had to put a stress on the programmes being original and memorable. She tried to come up with the new spins, new dismounts from the death spirals, new entrances into the dead spirals and lifts, unusual positions. Every element that could be invented - she invented it.
Indeed, the elements seemed easier than now, but it differed so much from what Zhuk's pairs were doing back then. He was thinking of the pairs skating in a way of: run, turn, run, turn, jump, turn, two feet -all that on a super high speed. The very fast skating has it's attractiveness, but you have to find the right balance. Those who can find that balance are winning now. And in addition what I said about the singles skating - the jumps must be compact, not too energy consuming, the same with the throws. Note that no one has mastered the consistent throw quads yet.

EV: Is it possible to master such a complex element at all?
AD: Of course. Oskana Kazakova and I were doing the quad throw in 1999, while we were still skating after the Olympics in Nagano. Had we needed it we could master it and make it consistent. It's the element where the right height and speed are important. When the throw is too high the girl will injure her back. If it's too low - it might end up being underotated. I.e. just like in the jumps you have to work on the initial spin. Since the high and good looking throws are scored better in the pairs skating no one really bothers, all just work on the beauty.
It's exactly what I was working on while I was in Moskvina's coaching team working with Yuko Kawaguti - was teaching her the throw jumps. In order to perform that element except for the girl being fearless the guy has to be well prepared. He has to control the process, understand the correlation between the power for the throw, the optimal height and the initial spin. Only then there is a chance to make the quad injuries free, just like Kawaguti/Smirnov learned in the end. Note, that the high on that throw was not particularly big.

EV: You spent a lot of years working with Moskvina as a coach. When you started coaching alone did you ahve a feeling you'll get to the high results as fast as your coach did during several Olympic cycles?
AD: No. The top coach is a professional. He knows the system, knows how and where to he is leading. But in order to reach the goals we need the right `material'. I.e. the athlete who not only has the body of the champion, but also really wants it. That is rare.

EV: I.e. the winning teams of Moskvina are just a happy coincidende?
AD: Not at all. More of a result of a long and good selection. And a pretty wide choice. For instance Valova/Vasiliev were very good single skaters before they paired up. I think they were top 5 in the country. Prior to that Tamara Nikolaevna worked with a pair Vorobieva/Lisovski. That's a team she made lots of mistakes with. She tried the new lifts and split twists. It was all hit and miss. They were falling, hitting heir heads. I was once told how many concussions did Vorobieva had - I was shocked. It was more than 10 for sure. But it was the first Moskvina team who won the Worlds. When Tamara Nikolaevna started coaching me I had all my triple jumps and a 3/3 combo. Let me remind you, it was 1984. The rest was a matter of technique. As Tamara Moskvina's skating partner Mishin used to say - Tamara can always find the shortest way to the goal.

EV: How much did your coaching ambitions changed in the years you spend in the profession?
AD: I understood at the very beginning the impossibility of some things. Hence from the very beginning my goal was not to win, but to teach. It was clear the process of getting to the goal will not be fast, that many will leave on the way, but I never imagined it would be so out of proportion. Many left on the way not because the work was too hard, but because they thought things would be easier. And then figure skating is not everyone's life. In order to win it must be one's life. You must think about it all the time, aspire to improve all the time.

EV: Perhaps you are just not hungry enough? After all there must be a thought at the back of your mind you already won everything and there is nothing else to prove? It would make sense for a two times Olympic champion after all.
AD: A tough question. I never had a really great material to work with during my coaching career. Yes, I worked with Astakhova/Rogonov. He was kicked out from figure skating by his previous coach - lacking potential and he left to a show. Astakhova more or less retired because no one needed her. It was then that I paired them up. The federation told me `whatever'. I.e. no one expected a result. I worked with them for just 4, not only 3.5 years. But at the end of the day the after Olympics World and at the Olympics Astakhova/Rogonov were the only team to get lvl4 for all their elements. Yet when we first started working together Rogonov didn't even have a 2loop.

EV: Why had they retired?
AD: In short - they had differences.

EV: It's stupid.
AD: It is. But it happens. Rogonov has his vision, while Kristina is simply not a big fan of a figure skating and thinks it's not as important as the rest of her life. Not much can be done about it. In order for the athlete to win he must want it. Badly. You can't convince and athlete to win. You can get them on that line, but they are the ones to win.

EV: Could it be the reason Nina Mozer was able to pull the brilliant project of Volosozhar/Trankov for the Sochi Olympics and came nowhere near in the next 4 years with Tarasova/Morozov? They are talented enough to aim for the top places.
AD: First of all Volosozhar and Trankov were the best existing partners at the point when they paired up. With a massive experience, the Olympic as well. Tarasova and Morozov suit each other physically, they have a good potential. But I don't have an impression they want it as badly as Tanya and Maks. They just float with the stream. The only thing they did was learning the quad twist, but they never completed it - it requires so much effort, a special shape, special preparation. Now things work against them: according to the rules the well executed lvl4 split 3 twist will be marked as high as a lvl2 split4 twist. Getting a higher level for a split4twist is clost to impossible. I.e. the half a point difference that demands too much effort and is too easy to lose. What's the point?
At the time I payed attention to Sui/Han when they were little. Horrible, no lines, but you could see in their eyes how badly they wanted it. I remember thinking `either they will break down with the complexity of what they are trying to perform and will never get back, or they will become great - there is no other option'. And what about Savchenko? Didn't she want it badly? Or Volosozhar? The only problem skating with Trankov was to make him work. And it's not something that Nina Mozer solved, but Tanya herself.


EV: If someone told you after the Sochi Olympics the next victory will be Aljona Savchenko's with a new partner - would you believe it?
AD: Of course. I always believed in Savchenko. I was just afraid she'll be injured. Which happened actually. She was injured when paired up with Bruno Massot and they started attempting a throw3A - she tore the ligaments. It's an element that requires an experienced male partner. Bruno didn't have such an experience. A 3A is not an element worth the risk. It doesn't cost that much while technically so complicated because of the forward take off and demanding a very high control. I.e. you can't hold the girl with two hands, i.e. the possibility of a mistake is higher. It's easier to do a quad throw- it demands less control.

EV: I once heard someone saying Axel is a scary jump because you might land on your head.
AD: Indeed.

EV: But how?
AD: It's simple. When your shoulders are not yet turned but you already pushing on the leg - the leg goes away and you are thrown on your back. Here your head hits the ice. Doesn't happen often, but you could get a serious bump.

EV: How did you end up coaching your son?
AD: I didn't have a choice, frankly. Two years ago Arthur injured his knee, he underwent a surgery and I asked Alexey Nikolaevich Mishin to take Arthur to a summer camp with me. When Arthur recovered I brought him back. But for some reason Mishin was not very eager working with him. Perhaps he didn't see much potential. It could be. I understand my son's pros and cons. My goal was first of all to keep him injuries free.

EV: Then why attempting a 4A?
AD: Oh, the 4A he is ready to do. He tried it twice in the competition and never landing it, but during the nationals warm up he landed it cleanly. There is a recording - you can see it.

EV: Will you continue the attempts integrating it into the programme?
AD: If he will be in the right shape by the Russian Cup finals - yes. The 4A demands an exceptional shape. Arthur can land a 3A at any state: without a warm up, with his eyes closed, weighting whatever. He has one of the best 3A in the world - the perfect trajectory, the perfect take off, the perfect revolution. I.e. the minimum energy and the maximum control. The 4A is impossible with an extra 1.5kg. It's not even worth attempting. The trouble is that Arthur is not training so well right now - he is coaching. He is not receiving a salary and being a 26y.o man who lives with his girlfiend he needs to earn money. Hence at his free time he travels between the rinks and earns his money.

EV: Is his goal to be the first skater ever who would land the 4A in a competition?
AD: I think so.

EV: Am asking because not so long ago I was discussing with Patrick Chan and he said he thinks Hanyu will be the first to land it.
AD: Hanyu's 3A is great, he is indeed capable landing a 4A, but I don't think he will.

EV: Why?
AD: During the learning of a complicated jump there is a time of an inconsistent landing. There is no other way. It requires healthy legs. Hanyu's legs are injured. His first injury was on a 4lz, the second on a 4loop. I saw both injuries happening. I saw his knee spranging in Japan. He was so tired. I would never allow Arthur attempt a 4lz in such a state. Hanuy did and tore his leg. The same happened on a 4loop. The 4A is even harder. Is it worth the risk? And what for? If Uzuru plans to become the first to land the jump and retire - it's worth it. If he wants to win the next Olympics - I would not take that risk.

EV: You think he can become a 3 times Olympic champion?
AD: Indeed. I don't think there is a man in the next 3 years who can land the quads consistently and skate better than Hanyu does.

EV: But what about Nathan Chen and his five different quads?
AD: The cost of the quads went down. It works in Uzuru's favour. It's hard to gain so many points with the jumps that they would be impossible to beat with the components.
 

SmallFairy

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Omg I love all of this😍Thank you @TAHbKA !

It was Tanya who made Maksim work. Artur had no doubt Aljona would make it with another partner. Dmitriev Jr will go for the 4a at Russian cup final. Moskvina can invent any creative move needed:respec: I could go on and on... of course I love when he explains the tech stuff... And my favourite: Sui/Han. As little kids... "Terrible. No lines. But I could see in their eyes how much they wanted it" !😍
 

Michalle

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Really excellent interview, insightful and honest without ever being unkind (imo). I am still really disappointed about A/R - I saw them for the first time at the Olympics, loved them, and then like two seconds later they were broken up!
 

Guinevere

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Very insightful and interesting interview. I never thought about what he said about quads and how jumping TOO high is actually detrimental. That's something I think no one but skaters would know. I would just assume "More speed, more height!!" Which is why I'm most successful sitting around watching TV instead!

Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Artur Dmitriev sr. for ria.ru (please click the link, scroll down to the clapping hands and click them 10 times. WTF, yes, I know...)

EV: What was the strategic advantage of Tamara Moskvina, in your point of view?
AD: First of all in choreography. Think about it: when Natasha Mishkutenok and I were competing Tamara Nikolaevna gave us the programmes that even now would score quite high. We were performing the steps and the transitions. I think Moskvina knew she can't beat Stanislav Zhuk and his teams with the complexity of the programmes, hence she had to put a stress on the programmes being original and memorable. She tried to come up with the new spins, new dismounts from the death spirals, new entrances into the dead spirals and lifts, unusual positions. Every element that could be invented - she invented it.
Indeed, the elements seemed easier than now, but it differed so much from what Zhuk's pairs were doing back then. He was thinking of the pairs skating in a way of: run, turn, run, turn, jump, turn, two feet -all that on a super high speed. The very fast skating has it's attractiveness, but you have to find the right balance. Those who can find that balance are winning now. And in addition what I said about the singles skating - the jumps must be compact, not too energy consuming, the same with the throws. Note that no one has mastered the consistent throw quads yet.
.
One question occurred to me when he was discussing Zhuk vs. Moskvina - aside from G&G, did Zhuk have any other successful pairs? His comment about two foot skating for speed made me wonder. I think G&G's basic skating skills were impeccable and their basic pair elements (ie. how they moved in lifts, death spirals, spins, etc.) are unmatched but were they just a one off? Were no other successful pairs from the Zhuk school?
 

Amy L

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Were no other successful pairs from the Zhuk school?
Gordeeva/Grinkov were actually one of his last successful ones. He was on the coaching team for the Protopopovs early on. He was the most successful in the late 70s/early 80s with Cherkasova/Shakhrai (Oly silver, World gold) and Pestova/Leonovich (Worlds silver and bronze). Then of course Leonovich retired and became G&G's main coach during their senior years.
 

Guinevere

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Ah thanks. So it seems then that the Zhuk style was going out of favour for Moskvina's style then.
 

TAHbKA

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Wasn’t Zhuk coaching Rodnina as well? She sounds like ‘fast,turn, fast, jump...’
 

Doggygirl

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Fabulous interview!!!! Thank you so much!!! As a no-teknic non skater, these technical details are so interesting! (as I'm sitting on my sofa along with @Guinevere LOL!)

Best of luck to Artur on his quest to land the first 4A in competition!
 

Vash01

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I remember from Katia’s Book that she and Sergei did not like Zhuk.
 

Guinevere

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I remember from Katia’s Book that she and Sergei did not like Zhuk.
Oh yes she did, and I think she said Sergei hated him. But in another recent interview, she did say Zhuk taught them excellent basics and drilled home technical proficiency. I think she is able to separate how she personally felt about him from what she now realizes he had taught them. His training methods were tough but they helped make her and Sergei perfectly in sync and smooth and seamless. For 23 years, I've looked for that in current pairs and I still haven't seen it.

And of course I am in no way saying just because he produced great skaters that what he was accused of doing should be overlooked at all.
 
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canbelto

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Oh yes she did, and I think she said Sergei hated him. But in another recent interview, she did say Zhuk taught them excellent basics and drilled home technical proficiency. I think she is able to separate how she personally felt about him from what she now realizes he had taught them. His training methods were tough but they helped make her and Sergei perfectly in sync and smooth and seamless. For 23 years, I've looked for that in current pairs and I still haven't seen it.

And of course I am in no way saying just because he produced great skaters that what he was accused of doing should be overlooked at all.
In the book she mentioned that Zhuk had some issues with sexual harassment and made her and other pairs uncomfortable. I don't think she had an issue with his training style but she did mention that Sergei did, because Sergei was an older teen who had other interests beyond being on the ice 24/7. In a recent TSL interview (before TSL was taken down) she actually speaks rather fondly (???) of Zhuk and acknowledges what a great technical coach he was. And she doesn't mention that sexual harassment at all.

Rodnina and her partners were coached by Zhuk. She did have problems with Zhuk and was vocal about it.

As for the interview with Dmitriev I'm iffy on the "too much height = bad" observation because at least when I think of great FEMALE jumpers all of them have gotten huge height and distance on their jumps. I'm thinking Midori Ito, Tonya Harding, Yuna Kim, etc.
 

Tinami Amori

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One question occurred to me when he was discussing Zhuk vs. Moskvina - aside from G&G, did Zhuk have any other successful pairs?
- Pestova/Leonovich (3x Russian champions, WC/EC medalists in the mid 1970's)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SGqlzcXumz0
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQevYcXRWq4

- Rodnina/Ulanov (later Zaytzev)

- Zhuk/Gorelik (Silver/Oly/1968)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cORGJmSt-us

- Cherkasova/Shakhray (Silver/Oly/1980 and world and euro medals)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Hrwi2oMq7C4
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6OInB6DYemw

- Pershina/Akhbarov (first Russian jr. World Gold + various sr. intl. medals).
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LXqXHj8-86Q
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nf6IrdgUcM

Joint exhibition number - synco by 3 Zhuk's teams.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEqXwB3xaWk
 
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TAHbKA

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observation because at least when I think of great FEMALE jumpers all of them have gotten huge height and distance on their jumps. I'm thinking Midori Ito, Tonya Harding, Yuna Kim, etc.
Kim didnt have huge jumps, you should add Sebestyen and Volchkova to that list. However, none of the above were doing qyads. Now think of those who landed quads - Cohen, Trusova, Scherbakova - their jumps are tiny. Ando is rather exceptional, but then again, her jumps were not as huge as Sebestyen’s or Volchkova’s
 

whiteskates

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Thanks a lot for translating! A very interesting read. Dmitriev used to be my absolute favourite pairs skater with great charisma and musicality and I think he will make a great coach if he - as he puts it - finds "the right material".
 

bardtoob

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As for the interview with Dmitriev I'm iffy on the "too much height = bad" observation because at least when I think of great FEMALE jumpers all of them have gotten huge height and distance on their jumps. I'm thinking Midori Ito, Tonya Harding, Yuna Kim, etc.
He was talking about MALE skaters, who can generate height to spare.

The fact of the matter is that doubles were often higher than triples when the double was supposed to be a featured jump, and jumps in triple-triple or higher combinations are more successful with distance on the first jump then height on the second jump.
 

Tinami Amori

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Thanks a lot for translating! A very interesting read. Dmitriev used to be my absolute favourite pairs skater with great charisma and musicality and I think he will make a great coach if he - as he puts it - finds "the right material".
A. Dmitriev Sr. has been a coach for quite a while, and had the right material.. one of them was Julia Antipova.. whom he put on a "special diet"..
https://www.sovsport.ru/figure/articles/778762-ja-ne-samoubijca-chtoby-vernutsja-k-etomu-treneru-i-etomu-partneru-julija-antipova-o-tom-chto-privelo-ee-k-anoreksii
 

starrynight

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This reminds me of what Duhamel has said about the quad throws she does. They are more assisted jumps rather than full throws because that way injury is much less likely.
 

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