Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Volchkova (Butsaeva)

TAHbKA

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Viktoria Volchkova (Butsaeva) for rt.com

EV: Your coaching career began at once - with working with an adult well established skater Sergey Dobrin. Were you afraid you might not live up to his expectations? That perhaps he will not give you the needed respect as a coach?
VV: No. Besides I didn't have time to think about it. Sergey was totally out of it yet it was just 2 months before the 2009 Nationals. Hence we simply started working. We were dripping sweat by the end of each practice - me as a coach and him as a skater. Of course Dobrin did not look up to me like the little kids to, besides am just 4 years his senior, but he tried to get as much information of me as possible, to use all my skating experience and did not argue. At that moment it meant a lot to me.

EV: How long did you need to get used to your life after the competitive career?
VV: None. First I wanted to become a coach since I was a kid and never thought of a different profession.

EV: Were there any other options?
VV: I was offered to become a journalist, to join the TV, there were some sports projects, but I was not really interested. I retired at 2007. Became either 5th or 6th at the nationals and it was a hint am not longer needed as an athlete in my country. And the knee injury which I killed during hte practices. Of course it was possible to continue skating, to put all my effort in rehabilitation, but I understood very well I did not have the federation support. There were younger girls and they got the support. Thanks to Ilya Averbukh who took me to his show. I toured with him for 2 months and had enough. Then Viktor Kudriavtsev offered me to work in his group. So in one day I stopped being an athlete and became a coach.

EV: Did you injure your knee by the end of your career?
VV: I first injured the ligament in the USA when I came to practice with Vasiliev in Chicago. Then we were able to heal and the injury hardly bothered me. The worst that demanded a surgery happened later when I was training with Marina Kudriavtseva. But it's not anyone's fault. It was an Olympic season and indeed we were working a lot.

EV: I recall your interview where you quoted Elena Tchaikovskaya who said skating through the pain is the normal.
VV: Each coach works differently. Many forbid the athletes mention the pain. I think it's better treat the problem and let the athlete stop and heal. All these small injuries when left untreated can later become more serious and cause the athlete to retire.

EV: I.e. you don't think the price does not matter
VV: No.

EV: Looking at your team it seems you are more comfortable working with the boys?
VV: It just happened that for the 3rd season in a row we mainly get boys in the try outs. Though when Konstantinova joined after the new year's the guys' reaction was interesting: `Please accept her, so we have at least one girl in the group'. Though in the kids' groups I have quite a lot of girls.

EV: What made you accept Konstantinova?
VV: She is an adult athlete who understands what does she want. Besides she is a very interesting person. And her skating is gorgeous. When a skater can skate so beautifully the younger skaters can learn so much from them by just looking at them. Besides I want to give her a chance to prolong her skating career so she will not be sorry one day understanding she did not give all she could.

EV: Seeing the level of the ladies' skating what is the place for her? For an adult skater?
VV: There aren't many, unfortunately. Even the odds to participate the GP events are low - the younger girls will get these spots.

EV: Hence the question.
VV: I'm not thinking right now to which level we might rise. First I would love to get Konstantinova to the same level of the elements execution she used to be at her best. Then we'll see. If Stanislava is able to fight for a spot in the national team it would be a good achievement for her.

EV: Do you reckon the age limit will be raised after 2022 Olympics?
VV: There are talks about it for several years, but our girls got the world used to the competition in the ladies and it's interesting to follow. And the quads. So let's assume the age will be risen. But will the audience get bored? On the other hand we do want to prolong the skating careers for as long as possible. Take Valieva or Usacheva - soon they will feel the pressure from the younger girls just like they put pressure now on Scherbakova. Their destiny will be the same. It's a circle where you can't tell what is right and what is wrong.

EV: I know you are trying to figure the competitions for Konstantinova to participate. Why not use that time for the new programmers and elements?
VV: I'll explain. Stanislava has a problem competing: the stress slows her down and she can't show all she is capable of. I spoke about it to both Aleksandr Volkov and Valentina Chebotareva. Hence am interested to feel her competing. Even if the first competitions will go bad - it's important to go through it now and understand how should we work later. It's important for me that Konstantinova does not sit out and takes a break from the competitions from December till September.

EV:In the summer you started working with Aleksey Erokhov who came from Tutberidze's group. Did his groups switch go smoothly?
VV: Aleksey was off the ice for almost 4 months because of the quаrаntine. But all and all he joined the working progress quite fast. He was not always able to control the emotions, but we overcame that as well.

EV: Do I understand right you do not encourage the athletes showing the emotions?
VV: I was taught that at the time by Vasiliev. He explained what happens in person's head when they work hysterically, what might happen. I remembered that conversation really well. Hence now when I coach evne though most of my group are the adult guys there is no shouting and no tantrums.

EV: Why didn't Vasilieve interfere when there was a conflict in his group which eventually made you return to Russia?
VV: Back at the time he was coaching Totmianina/Marinin who were his priority as they were aiming for the Olympic gold in Turino. Back then in the USA there were lots of competitions and every 2-3 weeks Vasilieve and I flew to a competition. Among other things for me it was an option to earn some money. Hence I was taking the coach's attention all the time. Interestingly later when I was skating in Marina Kudriavtseva's group with Ivan Righini the situation was quite similar: she accepted a junior girl and would spend a lot of time not her. We were so mad at the coach despite her not putting us on the same ice time with the girl

EV: Is there a coach in the world you would pay for an opportunity to learn from?
VV: Of course. In general when I come to the competitions I try to be near the leading specialists - Tutberidze, Mishin and see how do they work, how do they treat their pupils. I am not ashamed talking about the 3A with Arthur Gachinski, who used to have an amazing technique or to learn something about programmes choreographing from Daniil Gleikhengauze. I think it's a normal thing and helps the coach to develop.

EV: Do you choreograph your skaters' programmes yourself?
VV: Not anymore, though at the time Polina Korobeinikova went to the Europeans with my programme and soe did Sofia Birukova when she won the University games. Now we are on a level when I can't cover everything myself. Hence I need the specialists who would help with the steps, with the spins, with the programmes...

EV: Who do you prefer - Orser or Arutyunian?
VV: I don't know Orser, so have nothing to say. I grew up with Arutyunian when I was competing myself. He used to coach Aleksandr Abt and we spent a lot of years side by side in the national team. I noticed back then that Arutyunian is a person with a completely different jumping technique.

EV: In what way?
VV: All is broken to the details. If there are 2 crossovers before the jump you can't do 3. During the jump every part of your body takes it's spot. Most of the coaches adopt the technique to the athlete. Rafael adopts the skaters to the technique. And it works.

EV: The best programmes right now are the ones by Bourne. What does she do that the others don't? What does she have that made her the best choreographer last year?
VV: When you have a diamond to work with....

EV: It's not just a stone?
VV: In a way. A lot depends on who you are working with. It's one thing collaborating with everyone and another working with such athletes like Kolyada, Zagitova, Medvedeva, Radionova. As for the style I would call Bourne's style a North American.

EV: Explain
VV: Less stiff skating that what we are used to. It's easier to create a programme in such style when you don't need to integrate the quads and 3A in that. But creating a programme that is comfortable for the athlete to skate and include several quads in that is a hard task. Bourne makes it. In that way each choreographer has their own `hand writing'. Take Gleikhengauze - when he creates his programmes he always achieves the goal - to make it look the way he and Tutberidze see it.

EV: The thing about the contemporary programmes is that they are not build from the elements but the blocks of moves. In a way it's a necessity because of the current rules, but sometimes you get a deja vu - it seems the same programme done for a different music.
VV: It's right, and you called it right - necessity. The programmers the top level girls are skating now are so technically complicated that it's hard to make things differently. Hence you have to stick up to the certain blocks that you take from one programme to the other. And you put the rest on the top of it.

EV: Who are you most interested in among the Russian ladies at the worlds? Tuktamysheva, Trusova or Scherbakova?
VV: Each of them is interesting in her own way and I don't want to pick one. Though Tuktamysheva gets an extra attention and respect. I think it's more than one generation of the skaters between her and the others.

EV: I think more. When she first started competing internationally more or less came and retired Sotnikova, Medvedeva, Radionova, Pogorilaya, Zagitova.
VV: Hence I really want Tuktamysheva to show all she can in Stockholm. I like Scherbakova. I don't really know Trusova, but Anna and I attended the same competitions many times, we were together in the junior festival in Sarajevo where I went with Ilya Yablokov. Despite being so hard on the ice outside the ice Anna is very kind, intelligent and a soft person. So are her parents - they are always nice to talk to.

EV: When you were competing the parents were not taking such a big part right?
VV: Wrong. I still recall the `army' in Jubileiny where the parents were sitting - Zoya - Aleksey Yagudin's mom, Evgeni Pluschenko's mom and my mom. They were all very strict with us. You do a thing wrong and off you go to an additional training. I recall it was the same in Moscow with Elena Sokolova's, Yulia Soltadova's parents. The only one who never needed any parental supervision was Ilya Kulik - we would come to the rink and he was already there working, we would leave and he was still there working. Irina Slutskaya had her mom with her all the time. I had my grandfather - he would look into the dressing room and show the watch - it's time to go to the warm up! or to the ice. Or to do the homework. Such a shadow that hovers above you all the time. Yablokov has such a grandmother Larisa, who never lets a smallest detail slip. I respect her a lot. Though sometimes there are some crazy parents that the coaches are a bit afraid of.

EV: What do you do about it?
VV: Well, you try to make the relationship work, do some conversations. Now because of the quаrаntinе the parents are not allowed on the rink at all, so in a way we can all breath.

EV: Did you ever have to kick someone from the rink?
VV: Yes, for taking too much part in the coaching process. Fortunately it does not happen in the older groups, but it did happen in the kids' groups. I had to be very strict. As it turned out, I can be strict when needed.
 

Coco

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Though sometimes there are some crazy parents that the coaches are a bit afraid of.

EV: What do you do about it?
VV: Well, you try to make the relationship work, do some conversations. Now because of the quаrаntinе the parents are not allowed on the rink at all, so in a way we can all breath.
Dying.... hilarious!!
 

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