Voronov: `Am not skating for myself, but for the memory of Denis Ten'

TAHbKA

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Anastasia Panina's interview with Sergey Voronov `Am not skating for myself so much, but for the memory of Denis Ten' for matchtv.ru

It's weird and awkward calling an athlete who jumps the quads and wins the GP medals `a veteran'. Even if he is 31y.o. Hence Sergey Voronov is not a veteran, but the most experienced currently competing skater, not just in Russia, but in the world.

His first Nationals he competed with Pluschenko, Klimkin and Dobrin and became 6th. In 2006, before the new scoring system.
13 years had passed. The Russian men team changed completely, except for Voronov. He became twice a national champion, took silver and bronze at the Europeans, bronze in the GPF and has many GP medals.
The 2018/9 season Voronov competed in the GP events, but was unable to participate the Nationals because of an injury.


AP: Sergey, I was looking forward to seeing you at the nationals in Saransk. Yet you didn't come to the practice and later the news about the injury came. What happened?
SV: Straight to the most painful stuff. I had a successful first part of the season, I had the flight tickets to Saransk - was supposed to fly at 23:00, in the later flight, since there were no more tickets for Aeroflot.
The morning practice went fine, in the evening I decided just to skate. I came to the warm up and landed badly from a jump. My knee hurts from time to time - a result of an old injury, which I have to be careful with. Guess I was overworked and my body didn't take it. One wrong movement and back we went. A shame. But there are no `what if', otherwise I probably could had done more this season. On the other hand, guess it's the way it was supposed to be. The time heals. I look forward. I want to keep skating, I have more things to do.

AP: So you are back on the ice now?
SV: Absolutely. There was nothing bad either, just that my body needed a break to recover. Theoretically I could have taken a chance and skate in Saransk, but what would be the consequences? It could have turned out bad. I now practice and work on the new programmes. There are some ideas. Am optimistic about the next season and have a will to skate. I think in my current status and state the will and the freshness is the most important.

AP: What does a person who gets injured right before the nationals and finishes the season there feel?
SV: A void. The whole season your are building for it and then stumble at the important moments. I lacked just a little bit. It was within the reach of my hand and it's gone. A disappointment. All the stages are done, the GPF is done and now I finally get to skate in front of the home crowd who always accepts me so well. I love skating in Russia. But it didn't happen. Thank god I overcame it. I needed time. There are falls - it happens to the athletes. Most important is to get up.

AP: Would you agree the ability to get up is a mental know how that you gain with the age? Not something you are born with?
SV: An interesting question. I think it's 50/50. Either you have it or not, the rest is experience.
For example: you do love your job, right? I.e. you get up every morning and go to the office willingly. So my job, or, rather, the way of life is not an easy one. It just seems it's all nice and smooth. No, sports is a hard work and the sports of the high achievements is a crazily hard work that comes along with a number of problems which you have to solve and live with. But if you peel all that the main thing remains. And that's the main thing: either you love it and thrive on it or it's just a means for gaining other things.
I would never remained in the sports till such an age, would never compete in so many competitions and would not live through all I lived had I not loved the process of skating and jumping. If I didn't love the whole package, starting with the draining practices and the stress of the competitions.

AP: Would you discuss the new programmes now?
SV: I always supported the approach of first show the programme and then talk. I can only say that I love the music that we picked. Now I have to do the programme. If all will work out I'll be discussing it.

AP: You were landing a 4loop in the competitions this season. If I understand correctly the physics of the jump it's from the spot -with no toe take off or a swing. How can you jump so high that you complete 4 revolutions? What does a person need for that?
SV: Every skater has a jump they like and hate. The loop is the former for me. I was comfortable doing the 3loop, which was the reason I decided to try learning the quad.
Frankly there are jumps that am not easy with and adding another revolution wouldn't make sense. The loop was possible, something I could have done.
Indeed the loop is not a toe jump, the take off is from the edge. But there is a swing with the left leg. You can help yourself with a push up with the thigh. For many the fact the loop entrance is backward is an additional hardship. Am comfortable with it.

AP: What is more needed for the 4loop - a faster revolution or a higher jump?
SV: Every quad demands a fast revolution. I'm more gifted with the ability to jump high, and I try to use it. Who else is doing a 4loop now? Only Hanyu?

AP: There is a young Italian skater Daniel Grassl
SV: Yes, but he is young. The young guys land stuff today, but go figure what will they do tomorrow. Speaking of the adult skaters -it's only Hanyu. But even his 4loop is not consistent. It's a mean jump. Hence it's 3rd highest in the marks.

AP: Your LP was choreographed by Denis Ten and was dedicated to him. Tell me about working on it and what do you feel when performing it.
SV: I was in a dead end - i.e. I had to decide on my LP fast. I spoke to some well known choreographers, but some were busy, some didn't want to work with me. I had to make a decision - either I find a choreographer and get a programme or it will be postponed till the beginning of the off season practice. I didn't want to postpone - there is enough work after the vacation as it is. It's easier be ready with the programme by then.
The decision was spontaneous - I was flipping through the instagram and saw Denis' stories and it just became clear in my head. I've known him for a long time, we are in good terms, he is such a knowledgeable guy not in the sports but in the life itself. He is just nice to talk to.
I wrote him directly `Denis, do you choreograph?'. He said no. I asked `Do you want to try?' `Yeah, for whom?'. He was surprised to learn it was for me. He hesitated `What if I ruin it?'. But I was certain he would not. Anyone, but Denis. Denis was getting ready for the show in Kazakhstan, but he found some time in his busy schedule. We worked in two cities - Alma Ata and Astana.
Frankly, it was probably the nicest programme choreographing process in my career. Denis was so interested. He got into the smallest details. It might sound pretentious , but I'll say it anyway: they say the genius people always hesitate. Denis was hesitating.
Not long before his death he wrote me and asked `Sergey, do you still skate that programme, do you like it? Have you changed it?'. He cared. We still had some work on the programme we needed to finish, we meant to meet over the summer. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance.
I made a decision no one will touch that programme. I don't know whether it's the right or a wrong decision, but it was the only possible for me. The respect to a person who is gone.
Skating that programme was a huge responsibility. Starting with the open skates in Hodynka I understood I was not only skating for myself, but in Denis' memory. I would live with the critique towards myself, but I wanted to show his work. For his work to be well accepted. He was not only a great athlete but a professional choreographer. I hope I didn't disappoint him.
The programme was hard, of course. Mentally first of all. I was getting into the starting pose and that weight that was on my shoulders. I was cheering myself with a thought I have to skate as well as possible. To leave all I have on the ice.
Am glad I was able to skate that programme around the world: in Japan, in Europe, in Canada in the USA. I hope Denis was watching me from up there and he was not ashamed.

AP: Did you discuss the costume idea with Denis as well or it came after his death?
SV: I always do the costumes with my team and there are always discussions and misunderstandings. Its' the only way to the truth. This time was no acception.
I liked the costume. I read various points of views, but it's my word is that the deciding one.
Denis explained me the programme, the character, the idea. He gave a nice comparison `Serg, the Wolverine is immortal. In figure skating terms you are sort of immortal as well', and he laughed. We were sitting in a cafe in the centre of Alma Ata, and even before we started working on the ice I though Denis is a seriously creative dude. He cane see and feel more than I do, more than many people. Am so grateful I had a chance no only meet him as a competitor on the ice, but for having some of his experience.

AP: I checked your competitions protocols up till 2007/8. Back then such legends as Joubert, Lambiel, Takahashi were skating. Most of the GOE in the protocols were below +3, the components hardly scratching 9. Now the top 6 in the world and top 3 at the Europeans get close to the maximum marks. Had the skaters improved so much, or the judges are no longer holding back?
SV: It's hard for me to answer - as a competing athlete I can't really talk about the judging. If only abstractly.
Indeed back then there were a lot of great skaters, but the marks are different now. Back then +3 was the top, now it's an average. Is it right? May be. The men land more quads. We progress. There are phenomenal new skaters such as Nathan. He is different from everyone else. An unusual guy, so talented.
Where will it lead? I don't think there will be a lot of Chens. Chen, Hanyu, Uno are unique, but they are not so many. Hence it's obvious their marks are very high.
Even if their jumps are not the best they will sill be marked higher than the rest. Even if they fight for the jump they will be marked high for that fight. It's a genius mark, if you want to put it that way. Whether it is right? We know even the extraordinary skaters make mistakes. When they skate clean they absolutely deserve their marks.
I think the ISU people are not stupid. And it's easier to judge from the side. They try and discuss and make the decision, trying to get the path that will be beneficial for figure skating.
Everyone make mistakes, even the presidents and professors. In order to accept the mistake a time is needed. Whether it's a step forward or backward making the GOE higher we'll learn later. The ISU is probably doing what is best and trying to develop our sport.

AP: Who made the biggest impression on you at the Worlds?
SV: Certainly Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu. I would have awarded two gold medals for the LP. Hanyu haven't skated like that even at the Olympics. So sharp, with such a `yes, I made a mistake but I will fight'. It was in his gaze. I had goosebumps when he was skating.
Nathan was no less cool. He saw some of Hanyu's skate and was waiting for the ice to be cleared of the toys. He was so mad with that. He went out and like a real man showed what he is worth.
Nathan is a very modest guy - he had a full right to show a finger after a skate - that he is number 1. It would be well deserved - he done his programme so easily. Don't forget who coaches him. Am thrilled for Rafael Vladimirovich for having a pupil who can win absolutely everything.

AP: I had an impression Arutyunian was even happier with the victory than Nathan.
SV: At the time when Rafael Vladimirovich was coaching in Russia he was set back. He was not allowed to work full force. Now things have changed and things became more open. I guess the USA training conditions suit him better. He proved he is a fantastic coach.

AP: You worked with him for several years. How would you define him?
SV: It's easy - a true fan. He is not interested in anything else. Either you have to love your work, give it all or look for something else.

AP: In one of the interviews you said starting the age of 10 your parents sent you alone to the rink. It was 1997, the middle of the wild 90s. What was your route and was there anything dangerous?
SV: The route took about 1.5 hours. I could have taken a metro, but I always preferred the ground transportation and tried taking a bus or a service taxi at least part of the way. Now am thinking fondly of these times. I was full of adrenaline- I was alone in the big city! I didn't even think there were dangers on the way. Nothing major happened. I would read and do my homework in route. It was a great time, despite all hardships.

AP: Is there a rink in Moscow where you feel home?
SV: I haven't been there recently, but my forever home is the Sokolniki ice palace. I think it's under construction now. Either it will be taken down or rebuilt.
If I get there and step on the ice I almost tear up. So much time had passed, but I still remember that smell of the childhood, of the dress rooms. There used to be those small stands where they sold the sweet pastry. Those memories take me back into the fun, though hard times. Am not coming from a very well off family. I had everything I needed, but I understood mom and grandmother give me all they can. My father died when I was 2.
Am thrilled I was able to partly pay back. It's not even about the money, but the work. You can't buy happiness anyway.

AP: I think such a serious way of thinking of your career is true for the athletes who were born in the 80s. Those who were skating during the wild 90s. To name some: Pluschenko, Yagudin, Totmianina, Slutskaya and some others.
SV: My grandmother used to say the talent has to be hungry. I understand what she meant. Not literally hungry, but when not in the best conditions the person will thrive for better. At least that's the way it works in Russia. Perhaps in the USA and Japan the mentality and the way of life are different.
Am sure there are athletes who would prove me wrong. But they are an exception and not a rule. Not thanks to, but despite.

AP: Many parents of the young skaters think you need an additional lessons in order to get to the really high level. How did it work in the 90s?
SV: We did additional lessons, but less. I recall going sometimes when my parents were able to pay. As for being able to go without it depends on the group, the coach, the kid's will and his talent, which you also have to take into an account. It's a lot of conditions. If the puzzle pieces fall into the places things will work out with or without the additional lessons. If something always go wrong guess it's not the additional lessons only that are lacking. Perhaps there is not enough will and work. Kids are rarely hard working, one has to teach them being ones. I was taught that at a pretty late age by my coach. Am very grateful for that. She pushed me to the results I was unable to reach, even though I was quite close.
I had many coaches. Not always people part their ways because one of them is bad. There are many reasons. All my teachers were great specialists, which gave me what they could and think that's my main strength. I had so many approaches during my career. Sometimes you can watch a person on the ice for one minute and you see who is his coach.

AP: Which part of the figure skating is yours: coaching, show, administration? Perhaps a rink manager?
SV: We all want to be a manager, a president and a big boss. It's the money and the power.
On a more serious note managing a rink is a lot of responsibility. You have to build it all - the team, and be a specialist in many things. Talking to the municipality etc. You must have some managing skills, you can't really waltz in and manage a rink.
Skating in the shows is always interesting. I recently participated Ilya Averbukh's show. The audience and all were really nice. But the competition give you the adrenaline you can't replace. You feel the audience during the show, you exchange the energy and get the positive emotions. The competitions... it's a drug.

AP: One skater told me you ca compare the athletes to an adrenaline junkies. You can't imagine a sane person who would willingly put so much stress on his body, then the mental stress which are the competitions.
SV: That's right. Mentally you are different in a competition. In real life you can be calm, relaxed, serious - all normal. In the competition you pass the point of no return. Once you are in the K&C you are no longer that person you were for 3-4 minutes of the skate. It's like some different hormones work there.
How can you explain it? I don't know, perhaps being in space, controlling a Boeing plane, being a combat pilot? Something that goes with a constant risk
Am afraid to think what will I replace it with once I retire. Hiking the mountains? Jumping with a parachute? Perhaps. But like a junkie - you always look for that dose that will give you the same amount of excitement as the competition.
If you leave it as is you'll become a grumpy man.

AP: Curious. Normally a person is trying to stay away from the pain, stress and be comfortable. The athlete create the extreme situations for their bodies and minds on a constant level.
SV: And when you overcome it it's the biggest reward. The medals and the price money are just a consequence. It's the satisfaction of being able and overcoming that comes first.

AP: Was there an athlete who shocked you with their will, stubbornness and ability to take pain?
SV: There are many. Almost every Olympic medallist is one.
Take Aljona Savchenko. I take my heat off. The patience, the belief in herself and the new partner, the new team she must had had to complete that journey.
Evgeni Pluschenko is another example. Elena Isinbaieva, Husein Bolt, Rolandu. No matter how famous he is he works so hard at the practices. How wealthy is he? He could have just stopped - he has everything as it is. But he not just remains in the sports in papers, but keeps working.
The coach I already mentioned today used to say: the way you work is the way you eat. A funny phrase, but it's the true in sports.

AP: Thinking of which programme makes your heart go faster?
SV: There are so many, it's hard to choose. You live with the programme a season and then you let it go. Think it would be the LP of this season. Not the programme itself, but the tragedy behind it.

AP: I would pick your Muse Exogenesis programme.
SV: There was a skater Adian Pitkeev. Zhulin choreographed a programme to that music for him. I recall hearing it and that music was taking me apart, I wanted to skate it so badly. It's so cool when the music makes you fly. That was the case with Muse.
Music is one of the greatest human inventions, but it's especially important for me. I hardly ever skate in silence.

AP: Before the 2010 Olympics you were still skating in St. Petersburg and you said Canada seems an ideal place for life and work. Would you say the same today?
SV: Of course not. I was just over 20y.o and just loved everything NA: from Starbucks till the way of life.
Canada is a great country to visit and even spend a couple of months. I like Moscow better. All that chaos, the amount of people. The training conditions in Moscow today are great. Think they are equally great in St. Petesrburg now as well. I love Vancouver and Toronto, but I'd rather live in my country. I am proud to represent Russia. Our country bears the great sports traditions.

AP: What are you dreaming about?
SV: It's rather silly saying the sports. If I were 15y.o I would say I want to become an Olympic champion, but I'll keep my sport dreams to myself now.
In general I love what I do and the way I live right now so much I don't dream of anything else. Though recently I really want to learn biking. All my relatives are strongly against, but I want it so badly! Perhaps because I haven't competed for a while and miss the emotions. I would also love to fly on a combat plane. It's a risky thing and would never happen, but whatever.
 
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skatesindreams

Well-Known Member
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30,533
AP: Your LP was choreographed by Dennis Ten and was dedicated to him. Tell me about working on it and what do you feel when performing it.
SV: I was in a dead end - i.e. I had to decide on my LP fast. I spoke to some well known choreographers, but some were busy, some didn't want to work with me. I had to make a decision - either I find a choreographer and get a programme or it will be postponed till the beginning of the off season practice. I didn't want to postpone - there is enough work after the vacation as it is. It's easier be ready with the programme by then.
The decision was spontaneous - I was flipping through the instagram and saw Dennis' stories and it just became clear in my head. I've known him for a long time, we are in good terms, he is such a knowledgeable guy not in the sports but in the life itself. He is just nice to talk to.
I wrote him directly `Dennis, do you choreograph?'. He said no. I asked `Do you want to try?' `Yeah, for whom?'. He was surprised to learn it was for me. He hesitated `What if I ruin it?'. But I was certain he would not. Anyone, but Dennis. Dennis was getting ready for the show in Kazakhstan, but he found some time in his busy schedule. We worked in two cities - Alma Ata and Astana.
Frankly, it was probably the nicest programme choreographing process in my career. Dennis was so interested. He got into the smallest details. It might sound pretentious , but I'll say it anyway: they say the genius people always hesitate. Dennis was hesitating.
Not long before his death he wrote me and asked `Sergey, do you still skate that programme, do you like it? Have you changed it?'. He cared. We still had some work on the programme we needed to finish, we meant to meet over the summer. Unfortunately, we didn't get a chance.
I made a decision no one will touch that programme. I don't know whether it's the right or a wrong decision, but it was the only possible for me. The respect to a person who is gone.
Skating that programme was a huge responsibility. Starting with the open skates in Hodynka I understood I was not only skating for myself, but in Dennis' memory. I would live with the critique towards myself, but I wanted to show his work. For his work to be well accepted. He was not only a great athlete but a professional choreographer. I hope I didn't disappoint him.
The programme was hard, of course. Mentally first of all. I was getting into the starting pose and that weight that was on my shoulders. I was cheering myself with a thought I have to skate as well as possible. To leave all I have on the ice.
Am glad I was able to skate that programme around the world: in Japan, in Europe, in Canada in the USA. I hope Dennis was watching me from up there and he was not ashamed.
I'm sure he was pleased and honored.
What a meaningful tribute!
 

zebraswan

Well-Known Member
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1,171
Weird. Denis didn't need anybody to skate for him.

Maybe you wouldn't find it "weird" if you actually read the interview and the quote in context. He was talking about the program Denis choreographed for him. But why even bother explaining things to the illiterate (or simply lazy, take your pick)...
 

bardtoob

Clichy Competitive Audition Protocol Auditor
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13,888
Maybe you wouldn't find it "weird" if you actually read the interview and the quote in context. He was talking about the program Denis choreographed for him. But why even bother explaining things to the illiterate (or simply lazy, take your pick)...

Which or, inclusive or exclusive? :D
 

Tinami Amori

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Messages
19,605
Weird. Denis didn't need anybody to skate for him.
I get it, i think, where you're going with this... But in Vornov's defense want to say that "skating in memory of Denis Ten" is not the same as "skating for Denis Ten". Voronov explains that Denis choreographed his programme, and if he skates it, it will in fact be a "continuation" of Denis' involvement in skating and his contribution that lives on regardless... like art and music lives when the creators pass away.
 

Japanfan

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23,792
I get it, i think, where you're going with this... But in Vornov's defense want to say that "skating in memory of Denis Ten" is not the same as "skating for Denis Ten". Voronov explains that Denis choreographed his programme, and if he skates it, it will in fact be a "continuation" of Denis' involvement in skating and his contribution that lives on regardless... like art and music lives when the creators pass away.

'Skating for' can easily mean 'skating in memory of'.
 

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