Vaytskhovskaya's interview with Platov

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Evgeni Platov for rt.com

EV: Do you only coach the amateurs now?
EP: I coach whoever comes to the rink. Not long ago a UK dance team came. They used to work with Dean in Colorado Springs, then moved to Florida and came to me. But I am not the head coach anymore. I don't want that.

EV: Do you coach because you love it or because you need the money?
EP: Just because I love it. My wife and I have our business for the money. We have several restaurants and cafes. It's quiet popular in Florida since it's hot and everyone craves and icecream. My wife is running the business, I help her. The ice rink... apparently I can't live without it. I tried to stay away for a couple of months and couldn't. Nothing gives me as much pleasure as seeing the result of my coaching work. My mom worked in the school her whole life, guess I inherited her ability to communicate with the kids.

EV: How much do you follow the figure skating now?
EP: I do of course. I enjoyed watching the Europeans, was in awe with Valieva, how much Stepanova/Bukin improved. I haven't recognized them, frankly. The programmes are so good, the softness of their gliding. I think they are a real competition to Sinitsina/Katsalapov this season. I don't know what happened to him though. Heard he was injured and he spent a lot of time off the ice. Guess it influenced their skate in Tallinn - they were shaky. But I think Nikita is a really talented athlete. Think in Beijing they will be a true competition to the French.

EV: 8 years ago before the Olympics in Sochi you were saying the Olympic programme has to be outstanding. I think that's what Stepanova/Bukin's programme is.
EP: Absolutely agree. Sinitsina/Katsalapov's programems are good, just don't seem polished enough for me. But they still have a chance to clean it and make the impression stronger.

EV: What can you say about the French duo?
EP: Papadakis/Cizeron are unique in their gliding. They enchant the viewer like a snake it's victim. Enchant with their soft, flowing absolute magnetism. They sit so low and so soft on their knees it's really hard to compete against them in the gliding. It's a unique technique. When I coach the ice dancers I often use a phrase: let's do it like the French do.

EV: I.e. the ability to glide is something you can coach?
EP: As a professional I can say sitting that low on the knees is almost impossible. I don't even understand how do Papadakis and Cizeron do it: how strong their legs must be and how soft thanks to that the gliding is. If you run on the ice on the straight legs you can never achieve that - it will not work. Speaking of which, Bukin began gliding really softly and I like it. But the French are not comparable to anyone.

EV: Do you reckon anyone else will be competing with the French and the Russians?
EP: I have a feeling the judges will support the US Hubbell/Donohue. The 2nd American team looks a bit weaker. At any rate, I didn't really like their programme, unlike last season when Chock/Bates were doing a Egyptian dance. But think the fight for the first 2 places will be between the French and Sinitsina/Katsalapov. As for the 3rd - there will be many contenders.

EV: Do you think the Montreuil school ruling the ice dance is beginning to hurt the ice dance in general? Does it become boring?
EP: There is that. There are a lot of teams in Montreuil who haven't changed their style in years. All is slow, flowing, beautiful, but all and all everyone's music and programmes are the same. I don't think any of the current Montreuil teams can take a rock-n-roll and skate it. That's why I loved last year's Chock/Bates' programme so much - they were so different and stood out from the rest.

EV: I would say standing out becomes a unique quality in figure skating. More often you hear the wailing the sport is killed by the rules too strict, that they all have to do the same things, that there is no place to be different. But even in these boundaries there are programmes where you miss the elements are even there
EP: It is indeed very hard to create a programme that would look like a masterpiece within the current rules. But it was always the case. If we go back 30 years the pairs skating was the same: speed up, jump, speed up, lift. And then Mishkutenok/Dmitriev came and their programmes were more dancy than sportive. It was the highest art which we are talking about now. Though I can't say much about the current pairs skating - I haven't really followed it this season.

EV: And the singles?
EP: Slightly more. I liked Kondratuk, as said, liked Valieva - she is unique. Especially her presentation of her SP.

EV: I thought you'd mention `Bolero'
EP: I like the SP better. After all you have to mature to skate to `Bolero' and it's a bit early for a 15y.o. girl. Kostner took `Bolero' when she was all grown up. Valieva shows some very mature emotions in her skating, but the `Bolero', I think, should be interpreted more calmly. You can't just run around on the ice, you have to spell magic on the crowd and it's not just by the jumps. But her talent, is, of course, immense. I think Kamila should win these Olympics.

EV: What did you like about Kondratuyk?
EP: I liked that I have never heard that name before. I looked him up - he never won a junior competition, never shown. And then wham! The first time he participates the Europeans and wins it and with a clean skate. Frankly, I was shocked. I'm not used to see a new comer who is not failing his elements. It was very decent.

EV: The usual question which I ask everyone: Hanuy or Chen?
EP: If it was up to me I would present them 2 gold medals, I respect them both and a fan of their talents. Seriously. I think I felt the same only in 2002 when Yagudin and Pluschenko were competing.

EV: You don't think Hanuy's time had passed?
EP: Should he skate his programmes like he could in the past I think it will be a real competition. But then again, we haven't really seen Hanuy this season. I did see Chen at the Nationals, where he was skating unique as far as the blade control goes. I thought then he should have changed the costume: it doesn't look serious when a 3 times world champion skates in some tshirt that he bought almost in a sports department sale. He looked as if he was in the practice. That I didn't like.

EV: If it wasn't for the costume accident for Papadakis in Korea I think Papadakis/Cizeron would have won. 4 years after these games the French have probably lived with the thought they have no right to lose in Beijing. You have been in their shoes before. How does it feel?
EP: You can't describe that feeling. Because you have no chance for a smallest mistake. You understand it clear: if you make a smallest error - you lose. You wait for the Games for 4 years and you work to make sure it doesn't happen. It's not a mountain of responsibility, but a planet or a universe. And you have to deal with all that pressure no matter what. In Nagano Oksana and I made it, but mentally it was really hard. I can't compare these feelings with anything else I went through in my life. A lot fight for the medals, come to the Olympics and settle for the 2-3rd place. But here you are eaten alive by a thought: if you will become 2nd you pretty much lost your whole life.

EV: Oksana and you became the Olympic champions before and you wouldn't have lost that title even if you lost in 1998.
EP: No, no, and again no.
EV: Why?
EP: Because the Olympic champion is am ark that you are marked with the whole time you keep competing. And if you lose a title - you are a loser, the person who was not able to hold to the most important thing in life. After the victory in Lillehammer no one could beat Grischuk and I. And that victorious stream created such a stress you can't explain with just the words
I recall in Nagano not long before our skate there was an earthquake. Everything was shaking: the rink, the Olympic village, the earth. I was absolutely sure it were my nerves. In order to calm down I took a very long walk in the park though I have never done it before in the competitions. If you ask me what was the hardest thing in my career I'll reply: to go to the FD in Nagano and not make a single mistake.

EV: It should be easier for Papadakis/Cizeron though: they lost in Korea, they lost the Europeans 2020, and it frees from the champion stress
EP: Agree. But they will still have to deal with the immense pressure within themselves and outside.

EV: Are you sorry during the Olympics that you are not coaching?
EP: I admire our great coaches - Tarasova, Moskvina, Mishin and those who spent so many years near the border. I only coached on a serious level from 2002 to 2014 but the time came when I decided it was too hard mentally. I was so worried about my teams that my health was not enough. I decided to change my life. My wife and I moved to Florida, we live on an island. And I have gold. I used to play before, but we were living in New Jersey and one winter we had 13 serious snow falls. I realized I won't be able to play before April if not May. And then I told my wife to start packing.

EV: I.e. the reason for your move to Florida was your golfing?
EP: so it seems. Though have I decided to go on working in figure skating on the highest level and aim for the 4cc, world and Olympic medals I wouldn't have left. I had a unique working conditions in New Jersey. I had my own ice time that the rink gave me from the very early morning till 3-4pm, had a good team. There is a good ice rink in West Palm beach, but it's only one ice. Everyone is skating together - the kids, the adults, the grannies, the higher level skaters. There are no special groups. But I mainly work with the kids, so I like it.

< there is a part about him golfing and about golf which am skipping>

EV: Will you be following the Olympics?
EP: You bet! I can't wait to see who will win the dance, the men. It's easier with the ladies - it's already quite obvious. And I have to see the pairs once this season! Perhaps I will even put some money. If only in my thoughts...
 

Yuri

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Elena Vaytsekhovskaya's interview with Evgeni Platov for rt.com

EV: Are you sorry during the Olympics that you are not coaching?
EP: I admire our great coaches - Tarasova, Moskvina, Mishin and those who spent so many years near the border. I only coached on a serious level from 2002 to 2014 but the time came when I decided it was too hard mentally. I was so worried about my teams that my health was not enough. I decided to change my life. My wife and I moved to Florida, we live on an island. And I have gold. I used to play before, but we were living in New Jersey and one winter we had 13 serious snow falls. I realized I won't be able to play before April if not May. And then I told my wife to start packing.

EV: I.e. the reason for your move to Florida was your golfing?
EP: so it seems. Though have I decided to go on working in figure skating on the highest level and aim for the 4cc, world and Olympic medals I wouldn't have left. I had a unique working conditions in New Jersey. I had my own ice time that the rink gave me from the very early morning till 3-4pm, had a good team. There is a good ice rink in West Palm
< there is a part about him golfing and about golf which am skipping>
And I was here for Evgeny's golf game! He was asked if he now considers himself to be a pro golfer, and Evgeny responded that he's quite close as his 3.3 handicap is near the 2.5 level where golfers can try out for the US Open. In figure skating terms, Evgeny said his golf game is like having all his triple jumps but now he needs his quads to truly compete!

Thanks for the translation of this excellent interview. I noticed that Evgeny was too humble to take any credit for American ladies sensation Isabeau Lovito, even though he works with her on occasion in both New Jersey (on his golf visits) and Florida. Isabeau does list Evgeny among her 5-6 member coaching team on her USFS bio.
 

SLIVER

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I find it hilarious that ppl say IAM produces programmes that are the same, whereas I always think how the hell do they manage to choreograph soo many different styles!? They are constantly producing different and interesting RD and FD's, year in year out and none of their couples 'look' the same or are packaged the same. It's actually quite mind boggling. It's such a lazy comment that has crossed over from older generations when Dubova, Linichuk, Tarassova and Shpilband's couples all looked very similar. Hate them or love them, you can certainly never say everything they do is the same…

Back to Evegeni, I was never a fan of pretty much anything he and Grishuk skated to, it’s funny how some skaters touch people so much and others are left totally indifferent by them. I did think he was an amazing technician though, so solid on his feet, especially in the compulsories (more in the earlier days 94-96).
I did love the Libertango OD and enjoyed the free from 97 and 98. Hated all of free progs 94-96.
 
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VGThuy

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I actually thought Dubova had nice variety but maybe that was because I felt Klimova/Ponomarenko; Usova/Zhulin; and Grishuk/Platov under her were wildly different teams. I heard she had a choreographer at the time that was mostly responsible for their programs.
 

SLIVER

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Yes certainly after 91 they all became very different but I think in the early days people berated K/P (and Dubova) for being way too conservative, esp in the FD's
 

Taso

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Yes certainly after 91 they all became very different but I think in the early days people berated K/P (and Dubova) for being way too conservative, esp in the FD's
Honestly that plus Tarasova's politiks seems like how the lost to B&B. I like B&B a lot (and I like K&P a lot) I see a lot more good qualities in them that I think often are overlooked, but this super conservative FD theming really hurt them in the era immediately after T&D - B&B continued that direction.
 

VGThuy

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Yes certainly after 91 they all became very different but I think in the early days people berated K/P (and Dubova) for being way too conservative, esp in the FD's
I agree that K/P had "conservative" programs before 1991, but they still looked different from Usova/Zhulin's routines. For some reason, U/Z seemed to have programs that were less..."ballroom" for lack of a better word. That said, I preferred K/P when they had conservative programs. They really showed off their intricacy, complexity, timing, unison, and footwork with those programs. Too bad the audience weren't into it though to be fair when you had the Duchesnay's Missing, it's fair to see how the audiences overlooked certain things for that sort of emotional hit.
 

Taso

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I agree that K/P had "conservative" programs before 1991, but they still looked different from Usova/Zhulin's routines. For some reason, U/Z seemed to have programs that were less..."ballroom" for lack of a better word. That said, I preferred K/P when they had conservative programs. They really showed off their intricacy, complexity, timing, unison, and footwork with those programs. Too bad the audience weren't into it though to be fair when you had the Duchesnay's Missing, it's fair to see how the audiences overlooked certain things for that sort of emotional hit.
Ironically I like 'My Fair Lady' the best of all those conservative FDs. They had asked Dubova for years for more edgy material and resented Dubova's obvious favoritism by for U&Z who got to experiment with more interesting styles.

I loved K&P for all the reasons you shared in those older programs, too. But the programs lacked highlight moves and tended to be emotionally one dimensional, which is insane because they were capable of a large expressive range and memorable highlight mores
 

VGThuy

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Ironically I like 'My Fair Lady' the best of all those conservative FDs. They had asked Dubova for years for more edgy material and resented Dubova's obvious favoritism by for U&Z who got to experiment with more interesting styles.

I loved K&P for all the reasons you shared in those older programs, too. But the programs lacked highlight moves and tended to be emotionally one dimensional, which is insane because they were capable of a large expressive range and memorable highlight mores
That’s true that there was a lack of an emotional core to their conservative programs. If they had that from 85-90, things may have worked differently for them. I think their Beatles FD in 1988 had a that core but it was also a bit simpler and slower than their FDs before and after. Still one of my faves though.
 

Taso

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That’s true that there was a lack of an emotional core to their conservative programs. If they had that from 85-90, things may have worked differently for them. I think their Beatles FD in 1988 had a that core but it was also a bit simpler and slower than their FDs before and after. Still one of my faves though.
I feel the same way about the Beatles FD. Also had some easier to recall highlight moves as well (the first lift I can picture now and I'm sure I haven't watched this program in over a decade)
 

SLIVER

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It also really depends on the time and era. Dubova put emphasis on the old school type of utter perfection and polish, more than any other aspect. K/P and U/Z were just sublime when they skated under her. The unison, the extension and just the finesse of everything was off the charts. By 91 with Lawrence of Arabia, some of that was gone and certainly when they had their biggest triumph in 92 (with Tarassova) they were so much rougher around the edges. The free dance from Lausanne Euros 92 was so scratchy by their standards, yet people were totally captivated by the emotion and feel of the progs and remember those more than the Dubova material. By contrast U/Z, still with Dubova, were peaking to perfection with 4 Seasons, almost abnormal finesse and uncanny unison and finish. I saw them live in 92, it's like they were literally floating on the ice.
What G/P presented with Linichuk was more dynamic but certainly it was a different era of faster, bolder but with less polish. That was the main reason I never got into G/P. For that time it wasn’t ‘tidy’ enough. Even the look of the couple, when they won 94 Olympics, they just didn’t have the finished, packaged, ‘classy’ look, that I had gotten accustomed to with K/P and U/Z (who were my favourites by far). By the time Linichuk took over it had changed dramatically to much faster, open programmes with much more dynamism but less precision while undoubtedly delivering impressive content.
 
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VGThuy

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Agreed. That said Grishuk/Platov’s 1992 FD was a great mix of content that they were known for with Linichuk but with the Polish expected from Dubova. Not as polished as U/Z but that’s to be expected from a younger, maturing team. Even Chris Dean liked what G/P were giving in his commentary at the 1992 Olympics. Loved G/P’s Blues FD from 1993 too, but I hear Linichuk had no part in choreographing that, which may explain why I loved it, :lol:. Like you, I didn’t like any of G/P’s programs afterward except for their 1995 OD and their 1997 Libertango FD. Their 1994 Rock n Roll FD was actually excellent at Euros. Not sure why it looked so blah at Lillehammer.
 

SLIVER

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Agreed. That said Grishuk/Platov’s 1992 FD was a great mix of content that they were known for with Linichuk but with the Polish expected from Dubova. Not as polished as U/Z but that’s to be expected from a younger, maturing team. Even Chris Dean liked what G/P were giving in his commentary at the 1992 Olympics. Loved G/P’s Blues FD from 1993 too, but I hear Linichuk had no part in choreographing that, which may explain why I loved it, :lol:. Like you, I didn’t like any of G/P’s programs afterward except for their 1995 OD and their 1997 Libertango FD. Their 1994 Rock n Roll FD was actually excellent at Euros. Not sure why it looked so blah at Lillehammer.
G/P 93 free dance is by far my favourite and their best work, a masterpiece choreographed by Shanti Rushpal. There was some discussion at the time whether it was born under Dubova or was it totally Linichuk's idea. They skated it pretty badly at Worlds and 6/9 judges got suspended for having them 2nd lol. Low and behold the same crew were back for Olympics to have them 1st.
I was in the arena for Euros 94, the rock n roll was excellent because it was something totally new and as my previous post explained, totally not in the Dubova era. Even during the practices they were creating a massive buzz. By the Olys when you had seen it once and dissected it, you realised it was a lot of running from one spot to the next, with so so many massive separations, it just didn't really work anymore. Anyway the whole G/P 'epiphany' the judges had in 94 was not really that genuine. Piseev had fallen out with Dubova, apparently over her moving to the US and U/Z not coming back at all for any monitoring (Zhulin was injured in late 93). The Russian Fed went all out into getting G/P ahead of U/Z, something so unheard of for back then. Dumping the world champions into 3rd at Euros in the dance discipline was seismic. Of course the fact that U/Z were not ready and saved their worst FD for the biggest event of their lives, made it very easy for the more 'neutral' judges like Germany, France and Canada to give their vote to G/P over U/Z. But make no mistake about it, if the Russian fed wanted U/Z first in 94, they would have done it even if Zhulin had fallen 9 times. The fact that their judge Elena Buriak went for G/P in every portion was a total give away. Zhulin also said recently, he even knows how much the Cze judge was paid in Lillehammer to secure her vote for G/P (apparently it was peanuts)!
 
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VGThuy

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I always wonder where Shanti Rushpaul is these days and wish more teams would go to her but then I have to remind myself that it’s been 30 years since the early 90s and I can’t expect people to just be around when we want them. :lol:
 

SLIVER

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I always wonder where Shanti Rushpaul is these days and wish more teams would go to her but then I have to remind myself that it’s been 30 years since the early 90s and I can’t expect people to just be around when we want them. :lol:
She probably saw the corruption/shenanigans of the pre Olympic season in 94 and said I'm getting the hell out of this world lol. It's also funny when you still expect them to be the same age, she's probably about 65-70 now.
 

sap5

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EP: As a professional I can say sitting that low on the knees is almost impossible. I don't even understand how do Papadakis and Cizeron do it: how strong their legs must be and how soft thanks to that the gliding is.

This was the most interesting part, for me. I think P/C were taught this technique; they don't just both magically have it. I wonder why it is that Platov can't figure out how they do it?
 

VGThuy

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This was the most interesting part, for me. I think P/C were taught this technique; they don't just both magically have it. I wonder why it is that Platov can't figure out how they do it?
Maybe because his own knees were shot during his eligible career and had chronic issues with it from like 1995 while keeping up his winning streak all the way to the 1998 Olympics where he was almost ready to implode.
 

sap5

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Maybe because his own knees were shot during his eligible career and had chronic issues with it from like 1995 while keeping up his winning streak all the way to the 1998 Olympics where he was almost ready to implode.
I don't remember what caused his knee injuries. Do you think it was improper technique?
 

Yuri

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This was the most interesting part, for me. I think P/C were taught this technique; they don't just both magically have it. I wonder why it is that Platov can't figure out how they do it?
In the article, Evgeny does say that he tries to coach his couples to skate with the soft knees of the French so he makes it very clear that he greatly admires the technique of Papadakis & Cizeron. He already had bad knees when he arrived at U Delaware in the summer of 1994 and they only got worse in later seasons, so he wasn't able to skate like the French.
 

Bigbird

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This was the most interesting part, for me. I think P/C were taught this technique; they don't just both magically have it. I wonder why it is that Platov can't figure out how they do it?
Some things are just trade secrets and natural gifts that you work on. Can you teach anyone to dance the tango the way Gabby did and does? Some things cannot be taught.
 

Peepsquick

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In the article, Evgeny does say that he tries to coach his couples to skate with the soft knees of the French so he makes it very clear that he greatly admires the technique of Papadakis & Cizeron. He already had bad knees when he arrived at U Delaware in the summer of 1994 and they only got worse in later seasons, so he wasn't able to skate like the French.
Yes and if it were only technique, all the French skaters would pull it off with the same maestria ...
 

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