Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Tuesday, February 22, 2005


The coach of sport pairs Tamara Moskvina : "I will not return to America!"
Interview by Darya Srebnitskaya (DS), a correspondent of the Russian language publication "Sovsport" printed on February 16, 2005

Students of Tamara Moskvina (TM)- Julia Obertas and Sergey Slavnov -- have sensationally performed in the January Championship of Europe in Turin, having won silver medals in a struggle against very strong contenders. But their well-known Petersburg mentor still considers her pair only number three on the national team.

TM - I am not a magician that can move things. Obertas and Slavnov do not have such titles or rankings that Tatyana Totmjaninova and Maxim Marinin, Maria Petrova and Alexey Tikhonov have. And, in contrast to their Russian colleagues, they did not beat the strongest pairs from China. So it is rather early to talk about their leadership.

DS - Tamara, how is it for you, a coach who used to lead the champions to the ice rink, to feel yourself as a coach, as a matter of fact, for a pair of beginners?

TM - You know, I live in the present and I understand that achievement of results takes time. First of all, Julia and Sergey should learn to perceive what I am telling them. I, in turn, should find an approach to them because one, for example, needs to hear the explanation of a problem repeated 150 times, while another wants to "digest" the problem on their own. And they are new people for me and, although I am with them for a second year, I cannot warranty that we have achieved the mutual understanding. Then, we are always pleased not with a place, but with a process of perfection. You can see progress for yourself. To tell you the truth, these sportsmen came to me not at ground zero, they were skating for a month as a pair with Lyudmila Velikova. But there were big gaps in their skating. And the prestigious places were already occupied by the three Chinese and two Russian pairs. So, am I a magician that could move obstacles apart and place the beginners on the pedestal? Even Moskvina can not do everything! But still they should be developed.

DS - Did you teach Julia and Sergey the unique fourfold turn which twenty years ago was carried out by Ekaterina Gordeyeva and Sergey Grinkov, but on the ground, instead of on the ice?

TM - The guys told me that they have tried earlier to do this element with other partners. I have grasped at this opportunity. During the summer, in a training camp in Germany, they worked a lot on that turn with my husband Igor Moskvin (the coach of the pairs - Tamara Moskvina - Alexey Mishin, Lyudmila Belousova - Oleg Protopopov, of the single skater - Igor Bobrin and other well-known figure skaters.) Unfortunately, judges do not honor our trademark yet. They initially give the bid an extra mark - 2 points, but then take it away by the tenths, ostensibly for some minor deficiencies.

DS - For participation in the Championship of Europe they could gather only 13 pairs. Would you agree that it was a disturbing signal? How would you solve this crisis?

TM - Personally I would suggest to the International Skaters Union (ISU) to remove the requirement that the sportsman, wishing to skate for another country, haa to pass a year of "quarantine" and 12 more months of naturalization. Or at least to reduce this term for a pair figure skating because there are a million singles in the world and not enough pairs. For example, there is a good male skater in some country. He would love to skate, but he does not have a partner. And, in another country it is the other way around with a girl. Let them decide which country they will be skating for. It would increase the quantity of pairs. Let's assume that in Germany there is that "German" girl Alena Savchenko - from Ukraine (The pair of Alena Savchenko - Robin Sholkovy took fourth place in the Championship of Europe). Obertas is also from Ukraine - from Dnepropetrovsk. She came to Saint Petersburg to meet her partner (then Alexey Sokolov), not because she aspired to be in Russia. And, by the way, she was undergoing the process of naturalization even longer than it was necessary, because nobody has guessed that it was necessary to register her. Furthermore, in the past the ISU conducted seminars for the "weak" countries with participation of the American, Canadian and Russian experts. Now these seminars are no longer conducted due to the shortage of money. Each pair arranges their own practice with the experts: Japanese - with Moskvina, Latvian - with Velikova. And this is a correct way. I do not see any other way, because it is silly to lower the requirements. Here, at the Championship of Europe, I was watching closely the Bulgarian pair - Rumiana Spasova and Stanimir Todorov. They skated poorly - clearly those were their first steps. But I liked this pair. I think it needs to be assisted. If they would ask for help, we will help.

DS - Would you be interesting to work, for example, with two time World Champions Chinese Sjue Shen and Honbo Chzhao?

TM - I do not know them at all, and it will take time to figure them out. Well, if they have asked, options could be possible. I remember that during Soviet time many foreign pairs wanted me to coach them, for example, Americans Jill Watson - Peter Oppegard (bronze winners of 1988 Olympics). But we could not meet because of "Iron Curtain", while cooperation with Germans Mendy Wetsel and Ingo Shtojer (world champions of 1997) did not happen for other reasons - I have been tied up by obligations to the Russian students.

DS- Many stars have refused to perform in a series "Grand prix"-2004/05 because of reduction of fees. Will this tendency continue?

TM - Mark my word - the "refuseniks" will return the following season. Their protest can be understood: for a victory over a stage of "Grand prix" instead of 30 thousand dollars now the pay is 18 thousand. Especially revolted are the Americans, because of taxes. In fact in the USA the taxes are 30 or even 33 percent, in Germany - 28%, in Japan - 20%. Plus deduction for the national federations of 10 percent, payments to the coach, the choreographer, for the costumiers, etc. Therefore sportsmen from this sum will have only a small part left. But when they realize that it is as they say, a fact of life, and there is no other place to make more money and participation in this series for them is a professional work, they will think: it is better to participate and receive something, rather than nothing. Moreover, the ISU has blocked the "oxygen" to leaders by forbidding them to participate in commercial shows during the stages of the "Grand Prix". And if all prize-winning payments have gone down and opportunities to earn have decreased, what now - to tear off one’s hair? Or to leave for coaches work? In Russia it is a way to poverty. For example, Oksana Kazakova , who has come to our group as a coach, had only one pair signed up. The salary of this Olympic Champion, it is a shame to tell, is less than 1000 rubles (about 33 dollars-GS). Now, it is said that in Moscow the coaches are offering private tutoring "sub skating" - the coach rents the ice and gives private lessons for 10, 20, 40 dollars an hour. But this is for the children of rich parents, rather than of sportsmen. And in Petersburg, for example, the private practice is not accepted at all.

DS- ISU reduced the winning prize money because of a break in the contracts with the American broadcasting companies, which are not in favor of broadcasting the competitions of figure skaters in full. What it is it related to?

TM - About four years ago, when the baseball and basketball players had not signed the contract with TV, the "grid" was filled with figure skating. It was running on all channels. And people were saturated. As in the movie " the White sun of desert " the hero, who had overeaten the black caviar, pensively says: " I wish I had some bread". Basically, in many respects, the interest in figure skating was "warmed up" by the scandals with Oksana Bajul and Nancy Kerrigan (the first was treated for an alcoholism, the second was wounded by the husband of her competitor Tania Harding). Then scandals have ended... And now these new rules of refereeing. Nobody can understand anything anymore.

DS- You worked with Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Siharulidze both in Russia and in America. Do you consider to return to the USA again with Obertas and Slavnov?

TM- Nobody invites me there with them. It is necessary to carry out there again the prospecting work and to find a skating rink which would accept us. To equip the pair, to teach them English. And then - what to leave for? At our a skating rink "Jubilee" we have normal conditions. By the way, Bereznaya and Siharulidze have returned to Russia and they go to the US only for participation in shows.

Translation by G. Sivorinovsky


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