TAMARA MOSKVINA (TM) : " I am a translator, press-secretary, advertising agent, and researcher... "
Interview by Alexander Vishnevsky, (AV) a special correspondent of the Russian Language Newspaper " Novaya Gazeta" published on December 20, 2004.
Introduction: The middle of the Winter Olympic cycle rapidly approaches. In two years in Turin the hopes of the Russian fans, as always, will be focused on figure skating. Those who wait for medals, and those who wait for scandals.
Tamara Moskvina, a coach who brought up several World and Olympic champions, talks about the prospects of future developments in figure skating.
Tamara Nikolaevna rushes through the Petersburg Palace of sports "Jubilejny" with the speed of light.
Interview? Yes-yes, certainly! To tell you the truth, I am completely out of time, but we can talk now.
Ms. Moskvina rushes between the ice, the coach's room and the gym, performing a lot of tasks on the run and also having time for jokes. Rushing by children's carriages, she mentions: - See who they already bring in as pupils!
The time shortage is not a problem for Moskvina. During our conversation she successfully passes other traffic in her Volkswagen.
AV - Tamara Nikolaevna, how would you explain the weakness of Russia's position in pair figure skating? The competition among the Russian pairs, apparently, leaves much to be desired.
TM - But why? Our leading pair is Totmjanina & Marinin, they are the world champions! Petrova and Tikhonov are competing with them rather seriously.
AV - But before, in any international tournaments, the Russian pairs competed exclusively with each other for "gold" and "silver".
TM - Correct. Now, the Chinese pairs are representing big competition for us, they even somewhere pushed ahead of us. It is a fact for any business. Something new is born at all times, it develops, and the situation changes.
AV- But in fact this is related not only to the rise of competitors, but also with not the best situation in Russia. Serious figure skating develops only in Moscow and Petersburg...
TM- It is possible to say that there are two strong schools: Petersburg and Moscow. The Petersburg school has good pairs and men's singles. The women's and men's singles are successfully developed in Moscow. But now, as well as everywhere - in economy and in policy, - we observe the return to everything as it was before. Many cities build skating rinks and begin to revive figure skating. Therefore it is not necessary to see everything as a pessimistic situation, everything comes in waves.
AV- Than are you pleased with the development of figure skating in Russia?
TM- It is natural. Certainly, when my students won gold Olympic medals, the work was especially pleasant and interesting for me. Now I do not have such students, but it is not an occasion for sadness. E verything flows, everything changes and develops.
AV- And figure skating developed always due to progress in technique. Do you believe that the limit of human abilities in it has already been achieved?
TM- I do not think so. It was considered earlier, that the triple jump was inaccessible. And now everyone is doing triples - even the small children. We always are afraid to glance beyond the limits of human abilities, although sportsmen in other kinds of sports show such results that earlier were unthinkable. But even if we shall reach the technical ceiling, in fact the artistic opportunities are boundless.
AV- The Summer Olympics have shown, that in other subjective kinds of sports - regular and rhythmic gymnastics, the new developments depend on the technical part, rather than creative, artistic. Is that a trend?
TM- There is a mutual development of the technical and artistic parts. It was so during the development of figure skating. For example, Belousova and Protopopov introduced the artistic, creative part of figure skating. And then Rodnina and Zaitsev lifted the technical part. There is parallel development. We should not position one against the because these are complementary components.
AV- What is your opinion on the new system of judging?
TM- It is difficult for me to draw any conclusions at this time - for this purpose it is necessary to monitor at least two competitions with the new system and to learn whether the results will correspond to my impressions about final places. But in principal, it is a rational system, in particular for judging the complexity of executed elements. It is clear that not all the criteria has been validated, but the criteria were made more objective.
AV- How in general it is possible to fight with subjectivity in figure skating?
TM- There is no way! It is a sport with a subjective way of measuring the results. It is built into the system of judging.
AV-Figure skating in the last few years became the kind of sport which bring most of all squabbles, scandals. Why is it?
TM- What are squabbles and scandals? They are a part of human activity. And in each area of human activity there are levels of mutual relations, communications by people, communications by the organizations, competitions of people and the organizations. The positive forms of competitions are the sports competitions, and the negative forms of competitions are squabbles and scandals. When my opinion is expressed in a civil way, then it is a position. Expressed in another way it will be a scandal. And then… who pays, that one orders the music. It is quite natural in any country and in any organization.
AV- Especially at the Salt Lake City Olympics when the gold medals were awarded not only to your students Bereznaja and Sikharulidze, but also to the Canadian pair. Were you surprised by the enormous support for the Canadian pair on the part of the western public and all of the western societies and mass-media?
TM- Certainly, I was not surprised at all. In each business, in each trade, in each country, each person wants to be the first. For example, your newspaper wants to be the most objective or to have the most opposing views, or tohave the largest distribution. Is this correct? It is also inherent in any other field of activity. Let's assume that in the past the newspaper "Pravda" was the most-most-most read newspaper. And everybody was trying to bring that newspaper down. The same was with the Canadians. If for many years, decades, many of my Russian students always won the pairs, that certainly caused strong irritation to the other side. Naturally, this other side would try all means against us. Especially when the advantage from the other side was not so great. And the press has huge influence in forming public opinion. Anticipating a victory for the Canadians, the western press convinced public opinion and the judges that Canadians were better.
AV- One year prior to the Salt Lake City Olympics you left for America - was it for the sake of best preparation for the Olympics?
TM- We were solving several problems, including mercantile, as they say. We both (with Igor Borisovich Moskvin. - AV.) were already at the retirement age. We were offered a lucrative enough contract, which provided also free-of-charge preparation of Bereznaja and Siharulidze for the Olympics. To prepare them using other people's money, not asking anything from the country and then not accusing anybody, was very logical, and we took advantage of the offer.
AV- In one of your interviews right after the Olympics, it was possible to read the words which do not correspond to what you are saying now. Let's say that after what has taken place at the Olympics, you did not expect any moral support from the Russian officials.
TM- No, I did not say that! I never abuse authority. Because if I shall start to abuse the boss, being his employee, he would throw me out tomorrow. Besides, that authority - the sports committee, was chosen by us. Therefore it is silly to accuse them of anything. These officials are in charge of developing all the sports in the entire country, representation in the international organizations and so on. But my objectives is the preparation of sportsmen. I am engaged in other matters. Why should I accuse someone if I was the one who could not prepare a pair so that they would be head and shoulders above the competitors and nobody could even compare them?
AV- It is enough to observe your work for a short time as to understand that a huge number of functions is assigned to you, those far from being only a coach.
TM- It is possible to try to list them. I coach, I supervise, I make plans, I am the representative and the agent for the sportsmen, I am also the translator, I work with the press, I am engaged in the advertising of sportsmen, defending their interests in the international organizations and notifying the international magazines. Earlier I wrote textbooks, worked in the institute. Somehow it turns out that way.
ASV- It is all fantastic! But is it correct for the coach to get involved in management functions? Would it not be better to concentrate on the main task entirely?
TM- I am not the head coach, I am just a coach. I am engaged only with two Russian pairs (and one Japanese. - AV.). And as the coach, I take care that the sportsmen are not only well prepared, but also participate only in those activities (including commercial) which would not harm their sports perfection. The agent will be mainly interested in the commissions and so there can be a conflict of interests between the coach and the agent. As long as I combine these functions, a problem is avoided. I know the language, the sources, the necessary people as I am engaged in it for a very long time.
AV- You are known as the master of inventing original situations. For example, changes of costumes directly before performance by the pair, which makes a special impression.
TM- Is necessary to think of something original as to stand out!
AV- Is it your principle only in figure skating or in life in general?
TM- Only in figure skating. To be original in everything, there is no time.
For a chance to win free copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice" please visit www.AlinaAdams.com .
Translated by: Genrikh Sivorinovsky, Ph.D. Ignel Associates, GSivorinov@aol.com, "Russian-English Translations and Web Site Content Service in Real Time
INTERVIEW WITH MARIA PETROVA AND ALEXEY TIKHONOV
by Marina Semenova of Russian Language Newspaper "Novie Isvestia" ("NI") (www.newizv.ru) published on November 12, 2004.
Maria Petrova and Alexey Tikhonov have been permanent members of the Russian National team for the last 6 years. They have a great number of fans, no less that any other world class pair, (with the exemption of Chinese - due to demographic reasons). And all of those fans are happy that Maria and Alexey were the first Russian winners of the current season at NHK Trophy in Japan. "Novie Izvestia" talked to the famous figure skaters.
MS - The next Grand Prix Championship - the Cup of Russia - is going to take place soon, but you are not participating in this event.
MP- We are really eager to compete in our motherland. Usually we write down our wishes where we want to skate. This year we selected Japan because we like it there, France, because we have never been there, and Russia. We got most of our wishes with the exception of the last one.
AT - It is a rule that at home, the right to participate in the Cup of Russia competition is given to the first pair of the country. Thus, not everything depends on us. (The world Champions Tatiana Tomjanina and Maxim Marinin were supposed to participate in the Cup of Russia, but withdraw due to the lady's trauma).
MS - Where do you like to skate most?
AT- Of course at home - in Petersburg or Moscow. We are skating there for our spectators. And also, as Masha said - in Japan - it is our lucky country. Counting the last tournament, we have won there three times. Personall,y I like it very much in Canada. Canadian spectators are very much like ours. They deeply understand figure skating, and even at the practices, there are a lots of people present there. Whatever we would do on the ice, even if we are just skating in circles, they applaud us. Last year we had a good reception in America. And in general, it is great everywhere, but it takes too long to fly to some places. We do not always want to fly far.
MS- Please tell us about your programs, especially the free one. Why did you decide not to develop a new program, but stayed with the old one- "The Princess of the Circus"?
MP- At first about the short program. It is a new one based on the tango. The free program - in reality it is almost new. We made a lot of changes in it. It was designed to meet the new judging rules. Besides, we had never skated 100% of the "Princess" last year. That was why we decided to keep it for some time longer.
MS- Who was the choreographer of your short program?
AT- Sergey Petuchov. It is extremely interesting to work with him. He is a professional dancer, and to make sure that we understood the program "from inside,” he was telling us a lot about it. This was the special way that he prepared us for the performance.
MP- It is one thing to just skate the program, and another when you understand what exactly you are doing. The feelings are completely different.
MS - As long as you touched on the topic of judges, it would be the right time to talk about them. Let's start with a simple question -what do you think about (the new rules)?
MP- I am sorry that there is no more old system. I was always hoping to get a 6.0 mark.
AT- Initially I thought that it would be great. For example, in theory, an unknown skater who skates well and who includes in the program the corresponding elements, may compete as an equal with the world famous champions. With those who would get marked up for in the old system. But now, I am afraid that everything will stay the same. The judges, as in the past, do anything they want. It seems to me that nothing has changed. The only thing is that in the past the process was better for spectators. They were expecting the marks that they were used to - were waiting for the "sixes". But now they are just getting the final total result - one skater got a mark of 156, and the other - 155.
MN- And the spectators do not understand what the marks were given for. It is not always clear to the sportsmen, as well.
MS- But the International Skaters Union (ISU) hopes that the new system would make figure skating cleaner and better.
AT- I do not think that this is a recipe for cleanness. Moreover, I think that in time, figure skating will go back to the old system. Not soon, but it will come back. Although I do not want to be so categorical, let's first see how it all developes. But there are a lot of problems. On the one hand, it seems there are moves toward the introduction of new elements, and this is a good trend sometimes. But, on the other hand, there is a list of existing elements. And it is tempting not to invent anything better, because, as it often happens, there is no time, no strength. And it does not make sense because the new idea may be not appreciated.
MS- The programs of all of the skaters will become similar.
MP- Exactly. People will look at each other, see the elements of someone that gained the highest marks from the judges, and do the same.
AT - In the past, there was an unwritten rule: if you came up with an element, it was yours and for others to steal it was a bad tone. But now, the skaters would not see any other way, but to repeat what the others are doing. And what happens in the ice dancing?
In the past, the sportsmen selected the music, interpreted it and than selected elements to the music. Now it is the other way around. The main thing is to get the highest marks, rather than to do something interesting and beautiful - there is no time for it.
MS- Does the thought that beauty will be appreciated by the spectators if not by the judges, keep your soul warm?
MP- It does, but one would not get higher marks for it.
AT- I read somewhere an old Chinese wisdom: if one person wanted to wish the other one something bad, he would say- "I wish that you lived at the time of changes". It seems to me that the situation in figure skating matches that definition very well.
MS - But would you agree that there should have been some reaction by the ISU to the constant scandals?
AT - Yes, it should have reacted. They wanted to make the system more objective and spent two million dollars. May be in time they would say that everything was done correctly, but personally I do not see any improvement yet.
MS- OK, we will leave that final decision to the historians. Let's talk now about some personal issues. You are skating together for six years now. Is it good for your pair or are you bored already with each other?
AT - Absolutely not! Now, after six years, I finally feel at the subconscious level that we are really a pair. We do not need to say anything to each other and we understand each other just by looking at each other. All our parallel elements are performed practically on "autopilot" .
MP- It was much more difficult earlier. We had to constantly position ourselves toward each other. But now, everything is practiced to such a level, that the elements become parallel without us seeing each other.
AT- And of course, it is easier to express our emotions during the performance of the program. For example, I felt that the short program at the last Worlds Championship, was the best skating in my life.
MS- Tell me what qualities of each other you value most?
AT- Masha is a real fighter. Even when she is bothered by a trauma, she would go on the ice and would fight to the last moment. There are many examples - at the World Championship her hand bothered her; a year ago in Japan she had a food poisoning. But nevertheless she skated under these conditions, and skated well. I have to confess that I do not have this quality. Sometimes it shows, but not often.
MP- I trust Alexey. He is a strong and self-confident person. I like to be next to him and it helps me to get mobilized.
MS- Let me ask you a very personal question. As it is well known, the world of figure skating is full of gossips, and one rumor was that in the summer you were planning to get married….
MP- So far we have not gotten married. But in the future, we certainly will do it sometimes.
MS- Please specify- will you marry each other or each of you would marry someone else?
AT- I understand that our fans want to know if we are a couple in our life as well. My answer is – yes, we are a couple. At this time I can not tell you anything about marriage. When we will finish skating, we will see.
MS- But will you stay amateurs until the next Olympics?
AT- I can not promise anything. But we hope to skate there.
MS- And what about after that? Do you plan to stay in figure skating?
AT- Yes, for now. I hope that by the time we leave the big sport, there will be an Academy of Figure Skating in Petersburg. If it would be possible, Masha and I would like to work there. And occasionally we would like to perform at the exhibition shows, if we would be invited there.
Over a period of almost fifteen years, 1990 World Team Member, Doug Williams, laughs that he “had my share of partners. My first partner was Lori Koshi. She and I were Pacific Coast Novice Pair Champions in 1981. That was back in the day when Novice Pairs were not included at Nationals. We competed Junior Pairs in ’82 & 83. In 1984, I skated Junior Pairs with Kelly Burtnett. That was a short stint that just didn’t work out. The best thing that happened during that time was having the opportunity to work with Mark Militano. He has a lot to offer and I loved my lessons with him. 1985 & 86, Senior Pairs was with Kristin Kriwanek. 1987 – 1991 with Sharon Carz. 1992-94 with Tracey Damigella.”
Doug had a hard time picking a favorite competition memory but admitted, “If I had to choose, it would be the Long Program at 1990 Worlds in Halifax. Sharon and I skated a perfect program. It was a thrill to go out at Worlds and skate a perfect program. I still remember watching Sharon come down from a huge throw Double Axel and being amazed that she was able to land it. My other favorite competition memory is my first International event. Kristin and I went to France for Criterium du Sucre. I still remember everything about that event. It was a great experience with a team of Scott Kurtilla, Christopher Bowman, Debbie Walls, Leif Erickson & Karen Kniriem.”
“As a person who has remained very active in the world of Figure Skating, there are many titles that I have held and which I am very proud of. I started working at my judging career in 1986. In 1994, when I just had no desire to compete any longer, I was a Senior Competition level judge and ready to start working at becoming a National and International judge. I was very involved in my career and enjoyed it thoroughly. I made no effort to skate professionally until I got a phone call from Scott Williams asking if I would like to audition for the Torvill and Dean 'FACE the MUSIC’ tour. I thought I would give it shot. It all fell into place and I spent the next two years touring with Torvill and Dean. It was one of the best times of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My professional career, though short-lived, was more than I ever dreamed of."
"I am currently President of All Year Figure Skating Club. That is a position I have held a few times. I was President of the 2002 U.S. Figure Skating Championships which were hosted by All Year FSC in Los Angeles. I have been Chief Referee of many figure skating events, including the 2003 U.S. Junior Championships in Scottsdale, AZ. I was an athlete member of the US Figure Skatings Executive Committee. I am a National and International judge and a National Referee.”
“Because I was very fortunate to have many wonderful people around me during my competitive years, I feel very committed to being there and helping today’s competitor as much as possible. Whether it be as a friend, club president, judge, referee or just as a fellow skater, I strive to give back the joy I have for skating to those who are learning and competing today and tomorrow.”
“Skating, by far, has been a huge asset to my life. The determination and drive associated with setting goals has been a part of my life always. The work I do is very project driven. I work in the Film and Television Industry. I am able to set timelines and goals and achieve those items and complete projects as required. I have also found that my employers have been impressed by my skating accomplishments as well as appreciating the focus that a driven competitor brings to the work place."
For a chance to win free copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice," visit www.AlinaAdams.com !
An excerpt from an article by Arsenij Detochkin published on November 7th, 2004 in the Russian language newspaper Pravda. (www.pravda.ru)
The Ice Mysteries of Figure Skaters.
It is well known that for a long time in figure skating, almost every pair was a couple of husband and wife. The current generation of figure skaters continues this tradition. The best known spouses are Elena Grushina and Ruslan Goncharov of Ukraine, Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas of Lithuania, and the famous Russian dancers Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbuch. Even when they stop competing, the pairs rarely break up.
It is not always necessary for them to participate in the sport at the same time. It happens that students seduce young coaches and marry them. In this way, the world ice-dance champion Tatiana Navka become the wife of her mentor, Mr. Alex Zulin. Sometimes it happens the other way around, as in the case of the Romanian figure skater George Chiper and his Swiss coach, Sandra Sher.
The sad tears of eternal love.
"Only death can separate us" - that can be often said about figure skaters. When they started their climb to stardom and to Olympic glory at the end of the 1980's, sympathetic and charming youngsters Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergey Grinkov won the hearts of the public. The girls were chasing Sergey - a very handsome guy, but he shied away from easy love and was getting tired of the excessive attention. Katya never showed that she was interested in Grinkov as more than just a skating partner. Sometimes they would show up in public together, but at the first sight there was no romance between them. No one thought that some day they would become husband and wife. Sergey gave in to Katya's charms and they got married in April of 1991.
Soon after that, they become professionals and went America. There, in September of 1992, their daughter was born.
Almost immediately after giving birth, Katya went back on ice. Then, the spouses decided to do something that was unthinkable before - to convert back from being professionals to amateurs. They dreamed of winning one more Olympics. And they achieved their dream in 1994 in Lillehammer! A year later, Sergey was gone. He died on ice during practice. It was said that a culprit in his death was a hidden heart disease, but for Katya it did not matter. Her life was colored in black colors.
Three years old Dasha lost her father, and her mother, to keep herself from thinking about her fate, wrote a book about her life in America and continued to participate in professional shows.
Greedy American producers decided to capitalize on the image of the grief-stricken young widow and presented Gordeeva as such for a long time.
Her life changed later, when she married another Olympic Champion, whom she helped for some time to prepare for the shows.
Gordeeva is a few years older than her current husband, but it does not interfere with their family's happiness. They live in the USA, participate in professional tours, raise their daughter Leeza, and …remember Sergey.
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Article by Yoram Shpipkin in Global on-line publication www.jewish.ru
December 13, 2004
The advantages of a new system of computation of the marks, recently introduced by the International Figure Skating Federation, has been felt by the pair of Galit Chait and Sergey Sakhanovsky.
After their second place at the "Skate America" competition that took place last October in Pittsburgh, the Israeli couple earned bronze at the "Skate Canada" event in Halifax. Galit even jumped when she saw technical marks that were higher than the ones they received for the "silver" skating in Pittsburgh. Galit Chait thinks that the new system is more objective: "We know what we need to do. If we would follow the rules, we will get the high marks. Otherwise we will not get any marks. Skaiting by the new system means that one can move forward not because someone leaves, but based exclusively on someone's abilities."
The International Federation decided to change the computation of marks after many years of arguing, which culminated in a scandal at 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, when a Canadian pair initially lost and later shared the Gold Medals with the Russian skaters.
Presently Chait and Sakhanovsky are training in Simsbury, Connecticut with a Russian coach, Tatiana Tarasova.
In Halifax, they successfully performed the free program, and because of that success, they moved up from fourth place to the third one, earning a score of 200.97, while the best score that they got in Pittsburgh (204.32) was not enough to pass the French pair.
Galit and Sergey are both 29 years old and they have skated together since 1994. Ms. Chait was born in Israel, and raised and educated in the US. She started figure skating when she was 9, falling in love with this sport when her parents took her to a rink in New York. Skating initially as a single, she met a famous coach, Ms. Natalia Dubova. It happened during a trip to Russia, where her father had opened a training center for figure skaters. Ms. Dubova suggested that Galit would try out ice dancing. This way, Galit began her training with the Russian figure skater Maxim Sevostjanov, with whom she participated in the US Championship in 1994. "We skated for the US and in our first season we were in sixth place. But Sevostjanov did not want to continue, while I wanted to participate in the next two Olympics (1998 and 2002). I had to make a decision." Galit went back to Israel and at the Canadian center in Metulla she met Mr. Sakhanovsky.
She remembers: "We prepared for our first World Championship in three months. Unfortunately, when we passed all of the qualifications in Birmingham, we learned that we could not compete, because Sergey in that year was skating for Russia at the European Championship and the rules forbid anyone to skate for two different countries in the same year".
To forget their disappointment, the pair started a period of prolonged and heavy training. By 1998 they were 14th at the Olympics and the World Championships, and twelfth at the European Championship. Continuation of this progress was fifth place at the 2000 World Championship. They become the first Israeli figure skaters to win bronze medals at the 2002 World Championship. In the same year, they were sixth at the Olympics.
Mr. Sakhanovsky emigrated from Moscow to Israel just a month before he met Galit.
He tells his story: "I was an ice dancer in Russia, and I represented Russia when I won the World Junior Skating Competition in 1993. But my partner - Ekaterina Sivirina, did not want to go to Israel with me. The time of my departure was not the best time for Russian Jews, but I think that my parents and grandparents were living in much worse conditions".
Sergey admits that he came to Israel without intending to continue to figure skate, but when he was asked to try out with Galit, he tried out and now he skatess with her for the last 10 years. They plan to skate at least till the 2006 Olympics and by that time they hope to win gold medals at the series of Grand Prix competitions and at the World Championships.
Boris Khait, the father of Galit and the president of the Israel Federation of Figure Skating, answering the question of why the Israeli pair is training in Connecticut was extremely honest: "If one wants to achieve anything, you need coaches. You can see that the Canadians are being trained in France. The figure skaters are going where there are other figure skaters and good coaches. We do not have good coaches or figure skaters of high qualification. There are only 25 (eligible) skaters in all of Israel".
Boris Khait mentioned that the rink in Metulla is overloaded with amateur skaters among other things. "A part of our problem is that we are told that the rink should make money. Government does not support figure skating and that is why we do not have sufficient resources to support this sport."
While skating for Israel, Sergey and Galit practically do not feel any pressure. "Nobody whistles at us, and we never felt negative reaction to our skating due to the Middle East conflict. We represent our country. And it is our honor."
To win free copies of "Murder on Ice: A Figure Skating Mystery" and "On Thin Ice: A Figure Skating Mystery," please visit wwww.AlinaAdams.com ! Translation by Genrikh Sivorinovsky
Lately Moscow spectators are spoiled by shows of the stars of figure skating
Interview of Ilya Averbuch (IA) by Olga Kravchenko, (OK) a correspondent of the Newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolets published on December 11, 2004
Introduction: Recently the top world figure skaters participated in the final stage of the Grand Prix in Moscow. Another tide of stars is expected in Moscow in March at the World Championship.
But between these two competitions there is a surprise from the most beloved ice dance pair. On December 26 in the Moscow Sport Arena "Luzniki" there will be farewell ice show by Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbuch called "Together and forever".
Two years ago, after the Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake City, Irina and Ilya announced that they were leaving figure skating and would never come back. It is fortunate that they exaggerated what they meant. They did not leave the sport, but rather became the World, European and Grand Prix Champions. It seemed that the pair was in the top sport form, why leave? But this time Ira and Ilya again decided to leave the amateur sport after the Worlds Championship in Washington DC.
They were not allowed to leave the sport as winners - out of 14 judges, nine gave them the first place, but by some "miracle" and after a long computer computation, the pair from Canada got the gold.
Nevertheless Lobacheva and Averbuch left figure skating as they were very tired of constant practice and travel.
The dancing and family pair wanted to come back to Moscow from "terrible America", to settle in a new apartment, to find their place in normal life and most of all to have the child that they wanted for many years.
But as it was in the past, reporters and fans of Irina and Ilya could not believe that the beloved pair would quit. When people are talking about them they use words like "probably", "possibly", "most definitely come back". Could it be true? There is an upcoming World Championship in Moscow and could it be that the pair would decide to participate within their native walls?
IA- Unfortunately not, we are leaving the amateur sport for good. It was not easy to make this decision, but sooner or later we had to do that. While we were away from the sport, we got used to a life without the terrible sport regiment. We had a long and painful way and we can boast that we reached certain achievements in regular life. We do not want to loose them.
OK- Did the birth of your son influence your choice?
IA - Yes, when Martin came along, our life changed substantially. We are three now, and thus, when we think about our careers, we have to think about his interests.
OK - But could it be that he is not against figure skating?
IA - Martin recently turned 9 months, he is about to start walking. Incidentally Ira does not want him to become a figure skater, that is why it is all not so simple. When I was a child, I wanted to be a tennis or football player, and maybe my son would realize my dreams. Martin is a fast moving and energetic toddler, but it is too early to talk about his preferences.
OK - Often former figure skaters, after completing their sports career, limit themselves and become coaches. Have you decided to follow a different path?
IA - At this time I would like to try myself in something else. I like journalism, television. We would like for as long as possible to produce our own ice shows. No matter what, figure skating was a part of our life. We opened our school based at the new rink on Talalichin street.
OK- Some times ago Irina received an offer to be a coach at the rink "Moskvich", where she would work on ice with your first coach Natalia Dubinskaya.
IA- Yes, it is true, we have very good relations with "Moskvich". We are in a very warm, relation with Natalia Petrovna. But unfortunately at this time, they do not have the resources to create a group of ice dancing pairs. Incidentally, Ms. Dubinskaya had passed on to us a couple of her best students - Nikita Kosolapov and Denis Lunin.
OK - But after all your main business is the Ice Shows?
IA - Yes, but we do not limit ourselves to the Moscow and Russian regions. In the future we would like to produce shows in Hungary, Poland and, in general throughout Europe.
OK - Prior to the Moscow show you will have a tour of road shows in Novosibirsk, Chelabinsk and Khabarovsk. How would the show in Moscow differ?
IA - The Moscow show will have an exclusive cast of figure skaters. Evgeny Plushchenko, Irina Slutskaya and Elena Sokolova will not participate in the Novosibirsk or in the Khabarovsk shows. And our official farewell to our amateur career will take place particularly in Moscow. We think that our fans would not want to miss the "last word" of Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbuch, Elena Bereznaja and Anton Sicharulidze and Alexandr Abt. This kind of show will happen only once and will never be repeated.
OK- Your birthday will be at the time of the tour. How will you celebrate it?
IA - It is unfortunate but I will not be able to mark that day. On December 18th we will arrive in Khabarovsk. The best birthday present for me will be the full houses of spectators in each city. Especially in Moscow in "Luzniki".
OK - What present do you expect from Irina?
IA - Mmmmm. I am not sure (laughing). I did not ask for anything specifically. It seems that I have everything.
OK- It is hard to count how may years you are together. At home and at work. How do you keep your relations so nice?
IA - There is no secret, we feel very comfortable with each other.
Translated by Genrikh Sivorinovsky
Jennifer Ito reflects, “When I first retired from amateur skating and was asked (my favorite) skating title, I would answer 1992 US World Team Member. As the years passed and many lessons learned, a title didn't seem important to me. (Not to mention it's been over ten years, I mean how long must one person hold on to a "title" unless its an Olympic one, really?). To me, my most important title is Mrs.”
When it came to retirement from amateur skating, Jennifer shrugs. “I didn't really decide to retire. It kind of decided for me. It was just time. I was 22, getting a little "old" for competition and my parents were struggling. My parents suggested I try shows for a while and well, the rest is history! I really didn't have any expectations. I just went with the flow of things and before I knew it, 10 years passed. Bottom line is I really love to skate. I loved, over the years, how much more skating could be from "amateur" skating. I only knew "rules and regulations" when I retired, but as a pro I discovered a world without them. Do what ever you want, move however you want and on top of it get paid! How cool is that? Even in bad times I don't think I could ever say that skating has hindered my life. I think I've grown up just like everyone else, as normal as possible. Without skating I would have never met all the people that I have associated with, made friends and most importantly, my husband. I thank my lucky stars that my folks fertilized a seed that was already within me to perform oh so many years ago.”
Irina Rodnina: Would You Call it a Jubilee?
(Once Stung by the Sport, Stays Stung)
Intreview By Irina Stepantseva (IS) of the Russian Language newspaper "Moskovsky Komsomolets"
Introduction: It is a strange situation…With every passing year, with every Olympic Games, we get more and more champions. We love someone, we applaud someone, but we sort of stay withdrawn. But there are also some like Rodnina. Our love for her is endless.
Irina Rodnina, (IR) three times Olympic champion, famous figure skater, is a small woman in a big sport. Take one letter out of her name and it becomes the name of the motherland (Rodina), a very symbolic name for this neglected sport’s case. Today is Irina's (she does not like to be called by her full name and patronymic - Irina Konstantinovna) jubilee. Although she is denying it.
IR - I do not consider it a jubilee.
IS- No? Wait a minute, aren't you going to celebrate anything?
IR- My birthday is only once a year, why would I miss it. But I do not consider it a jubilee…
IS- Than what is it? Maybe you do not like any important days in your life? Do you not consider that any big days should be celebrated?
IR - I like the round anniversaries to celebrate, the ones that have the numbers with zeroes. The one today is a semi-anniversary. Five years ago, we had a big celebration. Although it was a surprise for me. To tell you the truth, it was Oksana (Pushkina) who arranged that surprise for me. Of course there were my friends and relatives. But also there were a lot of people whom I was very glad to see, but probably I would not have ever invited myself.
IS - Do you have a lot of friends?
IR - No, just a few. There are people with whom I have good relations, but I am not too close to them. It is probably the way it should be. Everyone can not be as close as a brother, everyone could not do the same thing.
Calling herself, “stung by the sport,” Rodnina today continues to be a sport’s professional. Sport and children are the main topics she is involved with, as a member of the President's Council. She thinks that "The main problem is that physical education is not the main topic of activities for the people in our country, but rather a hobby". In her case, this hobby is her life. And it is not just because she has a successful career behind her, or because she is so great. She understands that nothing is forever, that everything passes. That is why it is not worth it to think that any person will be remembered for the ages. Of course there will be history books… Otherwise we are all here temporarily. That is why Irina knows that respect for a person should be shown everywhere - even at the physical education classes, which should not be just a part of the school program, but a lesson in our attention to our children and their health as a whole region of human activities. Unfortunately we do not have any working law in this area. All other areas have got established laws, but not the sport…
IS- What is the most important thing that you would like to get out of your life today?
IR- First of all, I would like that all children would be okay. And then, that they would start finally building me a center. That a positive decision would be taken.
IS - We both smiled when you said this: me - because I am hearing it in the emptiest time, you - probably because you are saying it in the emptiest time. Do you still really believe in it?
IR - Hope dies last, and I hope to live long. But of course I wish it would happen sooner.
IS- Do you observe any official movements?
IR- Practically nothing. So far, bureaucracy wins.
IS - And you passively wait?
IR - No, actively. Just wrote a letter to the President. Waiting for a reply.
IS- But you have a possibility to talk to the President: "Vladimir Vladimirovich, I am trying to build in Moscow a House of Ice, and everyone knows about it…"
IR- These issues should be resolves in an official way. Of course I understand that many people are using the situation when they are near the President at some moment. I consider it unethical.
IS- Could I ask you an unethical question? Your tears on the victory podium had become a symbol of patriotism. Did it hurt you afterwards? When people are showing so much of their emotions it gets boring. It may also tighten your hands by implying that you can not handle something.
IR- I can only be proud (of my emotions). And I can praise myself - it just happened that I am being treated very well by many. One can not miss that feeling. And, after all, my tears were correctly understood. Honestly, I saw myself crying about half a year later. Although many people told me that there were such tapes. And regarding the subject that it may become boring, it was sincere, not acting on purpose. That was my life. It did not hurt me later, but rather some things were more complicated for me, than for my colleagues.
Nine years ago Irina Rodnina, while working in US, made an almost impossible thing happen: her Czech pair won the Wold Championship. Rodnina was not the only Russian coach working with foreigners. But when her pair won, she started hearing hissing behind her back. And most people accused her. May be it was because in their mind people related a lot of patriotic symbols with her - such as the Soviet flag, Mother Russia, tears on the pedestal… "It is probably correct that I did not have the moral right to work for a foreign country. Although when one wants to eat, it is no more an issue of morality."
IS - Were you upset?
IR- In general, yes. But I knew where it originated, I knew that it was, for the most part, settling personal scores. Later, I understood that I did not have to defend myself. I had not stolen anything and I did not owe anyone. It was the other way around, they owed me a lot. And the gossips…I was used to them.
In her life, in addition to the brightest victories, there was always something that bothered the society. Her first partner Alexey Ulanov, left their pair and started skating with his wife. Irina appeared on the ice with an unknown, Alexander Zaitsev. They kept winning and winning and later got married, had a son, Sasha, and kept winning. They left the sport together, but lived separately. Then a new marriage, the birth of a daughter, Alenka, and a move to the US. New divorce. "I can not qualify my marriages as failures - I have wonderful kids. And it is never worth it to torture each other. In the US, I ended up without any money, without a husband and without a language. We moved there without the goal to stay permanently. It is important because it is considered a "motivation for an act,” without which it is impossible to live, as the sport taught me. But, under the circumstances, one begins to learn very quickly!” Rodnina learned herself, and than helped Alexander Zaitsev as much as she could. "I was told a lot of unkind things about him. He could not find himself for a long time. He developed alcohol related problems. I knew for sure that it was not a disease, that Shura just needed help. It happened that I had to go back to Russia and at that time everyone started to pull my students to different groups. I felt really sorry for them and I convinced the management that they need Zaitsev at the rink very much.”
IS - Sometime ago I visited Stanioslav Zuk, your coach, and he told me that he sent to you in US an icon. Did you get it?
IS- Is it still with you?
IR - Of course.
IS - How did the toy relate to this present?
IR - It was very strange. I knew Mr. Zuk as a completely different person. I was told that he turned to God later. On the other hand it was probably very timely.
IS- Do you have faith?
IR - Let me explain why I was slow with my answer. I am not a well-educated person in this area. In our time, we have not received from our parents, our society, or our school this kind of education, and I did not want just to run to the church because it was now fashionable. It looks that in my mind I am not ready to accept faith. Maybe because I have too many questions which are left unanswered at this time.
IS- Are you still as busy with your work now as ever? - is the cell phone always ringing, is your car always on the move?
IR- Thank God it is so, and I like it.
IS- Your son just got married. Are you considering that you may have to stay home, for example with you grandchild? Could you imagine it for a second?
IR- I think that even if the grandchildren will come, it should not anchor us to our home. Naturally we need to help each other, but one has to live. I do not like to be settled in one place. And honestly I would wish everyone to be as busy as I am.
IS- And we wish you to be healthy, beautiful and to continue to have the same level of wild energy. And one more thing - that your daughter would finally come to Moscow.
IR- You guessed my wish, but you are late. Alenka arrived 2 weeks ago to Moscow . She came for Sasha's wedding and will be with me at my birthday, it is the first time in many months that we will all be together. It is a pity that she has to leave, but her studies at the University of California begin soon. I have received the most precious and beautiful present.
Marinin and Totmjanina dancing to "Ava Maria"
(After terrible crash the star couple is shining on ice again)
Interview by Julietta Smirnova (JS) published in the Russian language newspaper Komsomolskaja Pravda (www.kp.ru) on Friday, December 3, 2004
Introduction: What happened to Tomjanina
October 23, 2004. Skate America competition. After the short program, Tomjanina and Marinin are the leaders. The terrible crash happened during the free program that they were skating to the music from the ballet "Shecherezade.” Tanja fell down on the ice from the lift by Max, from the height of more than 2 meters (about 10 feet). She hit her head on the ice. Lost consciousness and came to only in the hospital. Diagnosis - concussion.
While other pairs were fighting over the ice crown, Tatiana and Maxim tried to forget the terrible accident. They renewed their public skating at the Moscow segment of the Grand Prix Competition last Sunday. At the exhibition show in "Luzniki" sport arena they were enthusiastically skating to "Ave Maria".
We interviewed Maxim Marinin (MM) as soon as he took off his skates.
MM - I have to confess that I was very worried. After what happened at Skate America I had to go to a shrink. When things like that happen, one never knows how serious it is.
And when it dawns on you that everything could have ended in just a second, it becomes really scary. I felt guilty, although it was not 100% my fault. I am the strongest part of the pair and my primary concern should be the safety of my partner. Now it is most difficult to forget the whole thing.
JS- Your fall was shown in Russia at the beginning of the news program. If you would just simply win the American segment, you would not have gotten so much attention. Is it not a pity?
MM- When we came back to Chicago, instead of 2 live interviews on American television we had 12! From 6am to midnight we were rushing through the downtown from one TV studio to another. Pity or not pity, I do not want to think about it. As we overcome the difficulties we become more perfect.
JS- How does Tatiana feel now, is she scared at the practice?
MM- No, I envy her. Women handle stress situations differently! Tanja's horoscope is Scorpio. This sign's feature is self-destruction. They rejuvenate through self-destruction and this way they are getting new positive features. When I saw Tanja in the hospital with huge bruises and black eyes, she watched me with just one eye and tried to smile and told me that everything was fine! Those kind of people are great! I always respected her, but now - much more.
JS- Are you lifting her more carefully now?
MM- I do not like to be too careful. When one becomes too careful, one becomes scared. I just pay more attention to what I am doing. If before I could have missed part of what Oleg (Vassilieve; the coach) was saying, now I pay more attention.
JS- We used to see Tanja with dark brown and short hair, but now she is blond and has long hair. Is this change of image for her soul or for the new programs?
MM- I do not know. Women are complex. The main thing is to feel good. I have never seen Tanja with long straight hair, because naturally her hair is curly. But I like it. Other people like it too. I wonder why people say that all men like blondes?
JS - Do you like brunettes?
MM- It is like in the commercial- I like the smart ones! The color of hair does not matter, the main thing is what kind of person she really is.
"It is nice in Russia, but we are not coming back".
JS - Did you come back to your programs with complex elements?
MM - We are doing fine at practice. We will get back into competitions in January, beginning with the Championship of Russia.
JS- You will definitely make the National team - you are the best pair in the country. Does the absence of stiff competition bother you?
MM- We are not lazy. Someone may need competition at the Nationals. But we have our goals and objectives that are defined by our coach. We are also mature enough. We do not need to be prodded.
JS- These days in pair skating, people are winning with the same elements as 20 years ago. The same triple toe-loop was performed by your coach, Oleg Vasiliev, in 1984 in Sarajevo. Single skaters are now performing quads in combination.
MM- Last year we performed in Sarajevo. And there on the screen, a tape of the Olympic program of Valova and Vasiliev was shown. Maxim Stavijski, who represents Bulgaria, mentioned: "Oleg, with such skating you could be easily winning prizes today". I agree that pair skating progresses slowly. Why? But which coach would give up a good single skater to the pairs?
JS- About 2 years ago you said that it was hard to be in America: You were not close to anyone and your parents could not understand your problems. How is it now?
MM- I calm myself down by considering that a human being is a creature that gets used to anything to the good things faster. The first year was the most difficult one, because I was boiling in my own juices. But in time I have gotten to know people, gotten friends. And our life is the same as for a majority of Americans - work is the first thing. We are not planning to go back yet. It is more tranquil (in America).
JS- But the Russian spectators will definitely see you in St. Petersburg at the Nationals and in Moscow at the Averbuch and Lobacheva show in December?
MM- Yes, on December 26th we will skate in "Luzniki". It feels nice to come to Russia. Our base support is there. In US, you just come out and work. The spectators there that are eating popcorn, forget our names after 5 minutes. But when we perform in Russia we feel like heroes! Once in Omsk, after show, we were invited to the dacha (summer home) of the local administration. Max Shabalin and I were walking on the beach. We met a man who was guarding the dacha. He told us everything about relations of Mishin with Tarasova, about Yagudin and who Plushhenko was. I was shocked. People in Russia are hungry for information.
Maxim Marinin was born in 1977 in Volgograd. Now lives in Chicago. Height 187 cm. (6 feet 2 inch). Skates from the age of 4. Initially skated single. Since 1996 skates with Ttiana Tomjanina. They are 2004 World Champions, three times European Champions. Coach - Oleg Vasilie. Translated by Genrikh Sivorinovsky.