Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Monday, January 17, 2005


The silver prize-winner of the 2002 European Championship Alexander Abt: - I am a champion of traumas!

After a prolonged treatment, the Russian skater nevertheless has decided to leave amateur sport.

Interview with Alexander Abt (AA) by a correspondent of the Russian Language publication "SovSport" Ms. Darya Srebnitski (DS), published on January 13, 2005

The silver prize-winner of the 2002 European Championship, Alexander Abt, has been compelled to skip last year's European and World Championships due to the traumas. We hoped that in a new season he would return to the National team. However, as the sportsman explained to a correspondent from "SovSport", problems with his health have not allowed him to participate in further amateur competitions.

AA- I pulled my groin muscle, which is unfortunately an incurable condition. Incidentally, because of precisely the same trauma, Alexey Urmanov finished his skating career ahead of schedule (in 1999). I tried for a long time to treat my condition and have resorted to injections and physical exercises. But my system could not take any more of the enormous load which is present in big sports. I can perform the triples, except for the axel, but for a victory I think I would have to perform three quads. And now my body refuses to work on such a quantity of revolutions because it is severely wounded by time. In fact I am the champion of traumas. (Sadly smiles). Never, for example, shall I forget the terrible fall in the summer of 1996 at an exhibition performances in Mexico - I had bumped into a rink sidewall, having torn the muscles of my right hip by the edge of the skate. I Thought, that after that trauma, I would stay an invalid for good.

DS - Was it hard to make the decision to leave the amateur sport?

AA - Quite the opposite, I had a sigh of relief - less responsibility, nobody demands results. And, at the same time, I stayed in figure skating! I still practice in New Jersey under the guidance of my last coach, Alexander Zhulin. I am engaged in professional business: I perform in shows across America, Japan and Europe. The schedule of performances is very tight - 80 performances a year just in Japan. And recently I went on tour in Hong Kong, England, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, France and Russia…. It seems to me that now I am even more popular than when I performed as an amateur.

DS - Do you agree to participate in any show?

AA- My choice depends on the fees. I admit that for good money I am ready to skate anywhere.

DS - Even in the American "Disney on Ice,” a recognized second-grade revue?

AA- Well, they pay peanuts there. Besides there is one requirement which is hard to accept for self-esteem reasons: they require that we perform in the masks of Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and other Disney characters. On the other hand, it is this show, and not the prestigious shows like "Champions on ice" and "Stars on ice ", that packs the eight-thousand seat halls these days. All of the other shows incur losses! Even Oksana Grishuk performed there. Although, as far as I know, she was invited on exclusive conditions - not as Mickey Mouse, but as the great Grishuk. She herself is interesting to the public.

DS- Do you get any special conditions?

AA- I get a personal locker room in Japan. These are tiny rooms with a shower in the style of minimalism, loved by Japanese. With my height of 1 m and 80 sm (about 6 feet- GS), not much room is left to turn around. But it is not because I am so important, it is just their custom. There are always signs on the doors such as "Katarina Witt" or "Brian Boitano" or "Alexander Abt.”

DS- Alexander, what prevented you from realizing your unique talents as a figure skater?

AA- I think, that I did realize my talents. I am a champion of Russia! For me it is a very high title. For eleven years, which I spent in the big arena, I competed with all stars: Olympic Champions Urmanov, Ilya Kulik, Alexey Yagudin and with many times world champion Evgeny Plushenko. I understand that we skated at a different levels, but as long as I won the National Championship (in 2003- DS), I could achieve even more.

DS- You could have been awarded a victory at the Championship of Europe - 2002 in Lusanne. Was it insulting that the gold was given to Yagudin?

AA- I could win the World Championship as well. But, you understand, I am not a politician, only a sportsman. I was engaged in figure skating and tried to do it the best I could. Besides, certainly I realized that in the presence of Yagudin and Plushenko, I was doomed for a loss. And it turned out that way. I do not bear a malice. I did not push for my rights. I understood, in fact, that it was not only politics, but also that I missed my time. While those guys perfected their quads, I was staying in the hospitals. And for myself I have always remained a champion. The champion of all! It is my motivation. When I step on ice, I am the best.

DS - Have famous coaches invited you (to train with them)?

AA- I did not get direct invitations. However, for a short time, I was coached by Elena Anatolevna Chaikovskaya. We won the championship of Russia. But for the previous eleven years, I was coached by Rafael Vladimirovich Arutyunyan. And when I intuitively felt that it was my time to develop further, I went to Zhulin.

DS- For quite some time now, Mr. Arutyunyan has been coaching World Champion Michelle Kwan. Would you think the American has made a good choice?

AA- As long as Ms. Kwan is an ingenious sportswoman and Mr. Arutyunyan is the ingenious coach, I hope that everything will be fine there. And I do not exaggerate at all the importance of my former coach, who seems not to achieve outstanding results. His trouble, if you want to know, was that he was one of those coaches who had lost their way in time. And me too - as the sportsman. We have been too much in a hurry and were ahead of our time. We should have been performing right now. I think that we would not have equal to us. In fact, ten years ago, we were the proponents of the new system of refereeing that has been introduced right now; we were developing the steps, rotations, turns and our style of skating for it. But, at our time, most of the accent went to jumps. Especially within the last five/six years with the arrival of Yagudin and Plushenko, who have started to perform such jumps, that all the other elements at once faded into the background.

DS- Relations between Yagudin and Plushenko were, to put it mildly, not friendly. On whose side were you?

AA- On my side! I am such a person that I do not admit intrigues and more so, I do not participate in them. I have normal relations with both. Though I spend more time with Evgeny, we are friends.

DS - How quickly did you get used to the American way of life?

AA- I do not have time to get used to it - I spend most of my time on the road. Actually, it is only three years since I have left. One year has been spent in California, two - in New Jersey. To me and my wife (former figure skater Elena Pavlova -DS) it is pleasant. We rent the top floor of a house, three rooms with kitchen, from a policeman. Thus we are under constant protection. We live in Russian-speaking quarters. Friends, figure skaters are nearby. On Sundays, I play soccer with Zhulin, Kostomarov and the well-known Olympic champion Arthur Dmitriev. Lena, on the sly, trains small kids at one skating rink with Zhulin. Our 4 year old son Makar is going to a Russian kindergarten, speaking equally well in his native, and the English languages.

DS - Who thought of such a rare name for your son?

AA- He was named in honor of my grandfather. He was not a sportsman. I was born in a non-sports family. So I have been directed toward figure skating as, I joke, for a bag of rice. Actually, I grew as a sick child, and my parents hoped that sports would temper me.

DS - Is America your final choice?

AA- While I perform in shows, I will not leave the States. I think that my professional career will be prolonged for about five more years. After that, we will see where I will work, whom I will coach: Americans, Japanese or Russians. Probably, I will come back to Russia. By the way, I recently bought an apartment in Moscow, in one building with Irina Lobacheva and Ilya Averbuh (2002 World Champions - DS). Gennady Andreevich Zyuganov has helped me with it.

DS- Do you somehow belong to the Communist Party?

AA- No, just by some chance I was received by him in his office. I have told him about my problems. In Russia I had very difficult living conditions. Five families of my relatives live in a one, three-room apartment - the total of 185 persons as I joke. And so Zyuganov closely listened to me and assisted in the purchase of a government priced apartment.

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Translated by Genrikh Sivorinovsky, Ph.D. Ignel Associates
"Translations and web site content services in real time"


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