"Nobody understands figure skating better than the Russians "
Interview with the Olympic champion of Salt Lake City - 2002 Gvendal Pejzera(GP) by the correspondent of the Russian Language publication "Gazeta" Nikolay Sadovsy (NS) printed on March 21, 2005.
The Olympic ice-dance champion of Salt Lake City, Gvendal Pejzera, arrived in Moscow without his partner - Maria Anisina. He arrived at the world championship as a journalist. The Frenchman works for the television channel "Eurosport.” The primary goal of the former champion is to interview the present champions. Although Pejzera does not forget to root for his friends. Each day of the competition he is in the stands, closely watching the performances of the representatives of France. He gave special attention to the performance of Natali Peshala and Faben Burza. It is no wonder - right after the pair came up to the seats, Gvendal very gently communicated with Natali. They sat down separately from the others (unfortunately there were a lot of free spaces at the sports arena "Luzniki" ) and not concerned with their surrounding, exchanged kisses.
NS- Gvendal, it is great that you arrived in Moscow. What are your impressions of the world championship? GP - The first thing that amazed me at this tournament was the public! Certainly, everything that is related to the championship was very well organized at the highest level, but it is impossible to organize the public! And especially the Moscow public. Russians perfectly understand figure skating. Better than anybody in the world. It is no wonder. You have tremendous traditions. Your public immediately realizes when to support the skaters, whether it is for the difficult moment in the program or on the contrary - when an emotionally positive splash is needed by the figure skaters. There and then they provide applause, shouts, and other noises. And it is not important who is on ice at the present, Russians or representatives of other countries, and yes, even if they are direct competitors of the Russians, the public is favorable to all. And it is magnificent! You should only recollect how the spectators supported Lambeil in the short program!
NS- Stefan was even surprised - he was wondering if the tournament was happening in Switzerland. GP- Me too! The representative of any country felt at home on Moscow ice. It is for the sake of it that figure skaters come out to the rink. So that those who came to watch the competitions would get pleasure from their skating. I like such an atmosphere.
NS- And meanwhile, tickets for the world championship are not the cheapest, especially considering the size of salaries in our country. Very few people could afford to visit all the days of the tournament. And even for one evening not everyone could find the sum of about 100 dollars - considering the cost of the tickets, transportation and the souvenirs at the arena. GP- This is a problem not only for Moscow. We bump into it all over the world. Figure skating is a popular and expensive kind of sport. The prices are going up from one year to the other. I trust that the organizers thought long and hard about the price policy and made as much as possible of a convenient decision. We shall not forget that the public could attend practices for free. Yes, the practice is not the competition, but at times practices are more interesting. For those who can not afford to come to the evening program itself, it is an opportunity to look at the favorites. And believe me, there were people in the stands. It meant that move was justified. As well as the price policy. In fact in most cases the Palace of sports was two-thirds full.
NS- Let’s get back to competition. Certainly the question will be about the performances of the dancers. You agree that Tatyana Navka and Roman Kostomarov are now the unconditional leaders? GP - Certainly. Especially at this tournament. They had a brilliant season and were rightfully winning. Without questions. A nique exception, perhaps, was the NHK Trophy. In Japan they did not win. They won the rest with a good distance ahead of other contenders. Another matter is how things will go in the Olympic season - in fact it will be a completely different story. There will be enough contenders for first place, and no one will want to give the Russians first place without a struggle. There will be a competition - I promise you.
NS- And what about the judicial subjectivity in dance? One has to wait their turn. GP- Yes and no. Yes, because one still should wait. In fact, you move ahead step by step. All dancers work a lot, and nobody would concede their position simply for nothing. Everyone wants to win. And if at present someone is in a strong position, sooner or later they will leave and will make the way for those below them and those will get closer to the medals. And no, because there can be those who instead of one step will be capable to make two - and to appear among the leaders. In fact, what are all sportsmen doing it for? For the sake of victories. The new system of refereeing enables to do two steps instead of one and more quickly to achieve the planned purposes. Thus, in general the answer to your question: yes, and no.
NS- For each sportsman the overall objective is the Olympic Games. You have already won "gold" three years ago. What did you feel then? How is it to feel that you were the Olympic champion? GP- I was proud. Very proud, that we managed to win Olympic "gold". We were finishing our careers irrespective of results, but we would like to finish it so beautifully, becoming Olympic champions. And we made it. And I was very proud for France, in fact until then, our country did not have gold Olympic medals in dances on ice.
NS- In this victory there is also a Russian participation: your partner - Marina Anisina. GP- Certainly. And we continue to skate together. Marina is fine, and I shall meet with her right after the world championship. We are going to the USA where up to the end of April we will take part in ice shows.
NS- The following season is the Olympics in Turin. I can not miss this opportunity to ask your opinion on what we should expect from dancers in February of 2006. GP- Well, certainly the favorites will be all the same and the main contenders for gold medals will remain Navka and Kostomarov. But I hope very, very much, that there will not be such obvious favorites as in this season, or in fact, it will simply kill the tournament and all of the intrigue. And it will be very bad for figure skating as a whole. Also it will be certainly insulting, if the American duet of Belbin and Agosto would not go to the Olympic Games. The world championship has shown that they are a very strong pair, capable of achieving the greatest heights. Well, and certainly those who are in the places from the third and up to the seventh-eighth, can and should progress, and from them it is possible to expect surprises.
NS- You arrived in Moscow as a journalist. And in fact it was not so long ago that you did not take, but rather gave interviews. Which is easier? GP- Well, you reminded me of how it feels to give an interview. Thanks! And in general, I should tell you that to give an interview is much easier. Firstly, it was rare that the questions were distinguished by a great variety, especially during tournaments, secondly - to answer is always easier than to ask, because you at once are given a theme for conversation, thirdly... I do not know, what is thirdly, but it is easier to answer. And to take interview - for me it is a novelty, it is like appearing on other side of the barricades. But it is interesting. I learn from my own mistakes and it seems to me that it turns out not bad. But on the ice I look better then with a microphone in my hand! The microphone at the present time is not yet my forte!
The Tarasova Touch The famous coach is ready to return to Russia. But it seems that she is not wanted there.
Interview with Tatiana Tarasova (TT) by a correspondent of Russian Language on-line publication Express Gazeta Mr. Sergey Dadygin (SD) published on March, 2nd 2005 It was not the first time that she was expelled from the Palace of Sports. In her native land. In the city where she was born and grew up. Outstanding coach Tatyana TARASOVA, whose pupils brought the USSR and Russia seven gold Olympic medals, cannot find a permanent job in Moscow. When she comes from the USA to our capital each time she guesses: will she be allowed to have the ice or not? Tatiana Tarasova is distressed.
TT - I do not understand why in my own country I should go begging with a stretched hand. It is humiliating. In December I and my pupil, Andrjusha Grjazev, were accepted by Elena Vodorezova at the Ice Palace of CASC. (The Central Army Sports Club -GS) It is a remarkable place, but all the ice is scheduled for a long time in advance. I was allocated only 2.5 hours per day. For one figure skater it is normal, but I still have the pair of Kulikova - Novikov. What would they do? I made an agreement with Ilya Averbuhom, who works at the other skating rink - "Central", and went with the dancers there. But for me, who in February turned 58 years old, it was difficult to rush back and forth every day. It would be nice to find a skating rink where I could coach all of my students in one place. Once we arrived with Sveta and Vitalik at "Central,” we were not allowed to enter the rink. The director has forbidden it... It appeared that the Federation of figure skating did not solve the problem with payment. We were told rigidly: either pay money, or get out. It was necessary to search for another place.
SD- Did the Federation not stand up for you? TT- In general, Valentine Piseev (the President of Federation. - S.D.) has officially suggested that I return to Russia and coach at the stadium of Young pioneers. I would love to do that, but in this stadium it is impossible to work normally, it needs repairs. While in the USA, in the state of New Jersey, where I am working for the last ten years, all of the conditions are created for me. It is not necessary to go anywhere, there everything is nearby. But it is difficult for me there, it is a different country. I want to go home. And all the same, I shall return.
SD- Some sports functionaries reproach that you began to work for our competitors - you made Shizuka Arakava of Japan the World Champion, and before that you trained American Sasha Cohen and dancers from Italy. TT- I am a coach. It is my trade. If talented figure skaters ask me for help and I know that I can help them, why I should refuse? By the way, other coaches work with the foreigners as well, only the results are not at all similar. I would like to remand that in the last two Olympics my pupils won three gold medals for Russia. After that how it is possible to say that I do not work to Russia? Really, is it only Mishin with Evgeny Pljushchenko that work for it?
SD- You are coaching again the Israeli dancers Galit Chait and Sergey Sahnovsky. I have an impression that this pair tosses and turns and does not know how to regain their former confidence. TT- Yes, they left me once, but in a difficult time for them, they asked me to take them back. And I have taken them. I feel this pair, I love them, they are terrible workaholics. I am never bored with these figure skaters at the practice.
At the world championship of 2002, Chait - Sahnovsky won third place. They literally snatched the bronze from the Lithuanian figure skaters Margarita Drobjazko and Povilos Vanagas by a whisker. Then the press made a terrible noise - it was charged that a judicial conspiracy took place. The Lithuanians performed better, but they were moved to fourth place. Since then, the Israeli duet, no matter how they perform and notwithstanding that Drobjazko and Vanagas already left the sport, cannot rise to a victory podium.
SD- Tatyana Anatolevna, does it not seem to you that after the scandal the judges are afraid to give high marks to Galya and Sergey?
TT- Yes, I think, that Chait and Sahnovsky are now paying for that championship. In my opinion, Rita and Povilas were stronger, but Serezha with Galya had nothing directly to do with the judicial mistake. Issues with the judges are solved not by figure skaters, but by other people. If anything, they should live through it. And they lived through it and became stronger and better. It seems to me, I have helped them with this.
SD - Do you regret, that your best pupil, Alexey Jagudin, became a professional? TT- It does not make sense to regret. So it turned out that way. Lesha was compelled to live with a trauma which did not allow him to carry out too complex elements. For example an axel. But all the same he performs a quad! Lesha is the best performer at the ice show "Stars on ice,” he wins almost all the professional tournaments. When he was leaving amateur sports the spectators were crying. They stood in passages and sang songs. I am proud of Lesha. He is a very clever and nice guy.
SD - Do you think that he could become a coach? TT - By all means. When he has a few days off, he comes on the ice at six o'clock in the morning. He adores figure skating. And it is very important for a coach to love the work.
SD - I heard somewhere that Jagudin in the USA taught you to drive. TT - No, I was taught by Ilya Kulik. In the mornings we went to the old stadium and while he ran, I turned the wheel and pushed the pedals. Kulik was not afraid to sit down with me and to become for a while my driving instructor. The first time I was terribly nervous. I understood that I drove with the future Olympic champion - if anything would happen, I would never forgive myself. But we went on a deserted country road and I was very cautious. Besides, a long time ago, about 20 years ago, I already had a driver’s license. In general, everything went well. And now I receive a real pleasure from driving.
SD - Why did Maja Usova, the former world champion, leave your group? TT - Maja told me that she wanted to be in Malboro - where her house was. Her mother, whom she cannot leave alone for a long time, also lives there. Initially Maja worked with me during the week, and on the weekends she went home. Now Maja will be coaching children. I hope that she will establish herself.
SD - It was said that you had a conflict with her. TT - Said by whom? I did not see any strangers around us when we made our decision.
SD - Do you approve of the new system of refereeing which will be applied in the world championship in Moscow? TT- It is not ideal. But this system has forced us, the coaches, to move forward. For the last half a year enormous progress in the fields of sliding, rotations and jumps was made. Now it is clearly visible who is virtuous on skates and who should work and work. However, in dance, the technical innovations are still less visible. However both in the old, and in the new system of refereeing, all depends on people. On the professionalism and honesty of the judges. I do not think that the opportunities for conspiracy were completely removed.
Article by Sergey Dadygin printed in the Russian Language on-line publication "Express Gazeta" on March, 16th 2005.
A solemn opening of the world championship in figure skating took place in Moscow. The last time such a tournament happened in our country was over 100 years ago in St. Petersburg in 1903.
The Russian Federation of Figure Skating decided to make a broad gesture. It invited, at the expense of the organizing committee, to Moscow all our figure skaters who were also former world champions.
Legendary masters of pair figure skating Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov arrived from Switzerland, where they’d emigrated in the 1970s.
Also arriving was the former partner of well-known skater Irina Rodnina, Mr. Alexey Ulanov, who is currently residing in the USA. In the past it was said that Irina had some tender feelings for Alexey, but he chose as his wife another figure skater, Lyudmila Smirnova (for more on that relationship, please see our update on Irina Rodnina)…. Alexey was invited to Moscow, but not Lyudmila - she is not a world champion.
Three time World Champions Marina Klimova and Sergey Ponomarenko have also settled in America. While Sergey Shahraj, who performed in a pair with Marina Cherkasova, went very far from his partner - to Australia.
Oksana Bajul, the Ukrainian World and Olympic Champion, called the Russian Federation and asked whether it would be possible for her to come to Moscow. The answer to Oksana was yes. But Ms. Bajul suddenly informed the organizing committee that her manager and one more accompanying person would travel with her. Here, our officials lost their patience and rejected the demands of the star who lost her modesty. The answer this time was, if Ms. Bajul would like to go to Moscow, she would have to do it at her own expense, and not of the expense of the organizing committee.
* * *
Interview by a correspondent of the Russian language newspaper" Utro" Andrey VINNITSA (AV), printed on Tuesday, March, 22.
Oksana Bajul (OB) was only 16 when glory fell down on her: at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer unexpectedly for many, the young Ukrainian figure skater won Olympic gold. She was the idol of millions. She received letters by the bag. Oksana left for America in a search of "a beautiful life,” but there she was plagued with troubles. Problems with alcohol and the law cost the figure skater her career. For several years Oksana did not perform, but now she is coming back to the ice. Soon she will be seen in our country: Bajul plans to perform in 30 Russian cities with her exhibition program. Below are revelations from the figure skater in an exclusive interview to "Utro."
OB: I really had problems with alcohol, but already for the last couple of years I do not drink spirits. As to the law, it is true that my driving license was suspended for driving in a state of intoxication. But all this is in the past. Now I am happy with the life which I conduct. I returned to figure skating, I am engaged in business with the help of my friend: I have my own line of clothes for figure skaters. I plan to go with my show though the cities of Russia.
AV: It was said that your business initially did not take. O.B.: Really, the first time when I opened the business I lost everything. It became for me an unpleasant shock, because in fact I have a persevering character and I try to achieve everything that I want. By the way, my problems with alcohol have been connected with it. I broke down. But now with the help of my common law husband, I have an opportunity to be engaged in my favorite business.
AV: It was written up that you were caught at the wheel of the car with a certain Armenian... O.B.: And you have believed what I, Oksana Bajul, could date an Armenian?
AV: Well, you were too far away to ask you directly. O.B.: I did not date any Armenian. And in the car I was with my present boyfriend.
AV: What kind of a person is he? O.B.: He is a businessman. In general I would tell you that for me men in figure skating do not exist. I like people from the business world who are rich and self-assured. We met each other at a party. And for the first two hours, we argued terribly. He did not know at all who I was. It looked like he never heard about the Olympic Games, or about figure skating.
AV: You work on a line of clothes for figure skaters. What labels do you prefer to wear yourself? O.B.: I love those designers who give me clothes free of charge. And I manage to receive rather expensive and successful labels.
AV: Everyone already got used to the idea that you have left figure skating. And nevertheless you have returned to professional sports. Was it difficult for you? O.B.: Certainly. I did not skate for two years. Forgotten everything - how those or other figures are done. The only thing that was demanded of me until this time was to carry out certain figures in bed. In figure skating, I had to begin practically from zero. But I was persistent and in couple of months could return to the ice. However, I would not call professional figure skating a sport. It is more show business, though it has its world championships. But the marks there depend not on the performance, but rather on the basis of which sportsmen the public loves more.
AV: And how would you consider the "amateur" world championship in Moscow? Can you estimate the level of the participants from a professional point of view? O.B.: Figure skating does not change much. I would not tell you that on the ice there were such sportswomen that I could not beat. But I do not look at anybody as an expert. I applaud all of them. I know how difficult is the life of figure skaters. I know what they had to go through to perform in the world championship. And I do not want to discuss them.
AV: Well than, what do you think of the new system of calculation of points? O.B.: I simply do not understand it.
AV: Whom do you now feel yourself - an American or Ukrainian? O.B.: I have a Ukrainian passport and a residence permit in the USA. America is my home.
Translated by G. Sivorinovsky Web Translations in Real Time GSivorinov@aol.com
For a chance to win copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice," please visit www.AlinaAdams.com.
Interview by a correspondent of Russian language newspaper Moskovsky Komsomolet,s Irina Stepantseva with the first Russian World champion in ladies single figure skating Maria Butirskaya, printed in the Sunday issue on March 20, 2005
“When I was four years old, my daddy brought me to the stadium of Young Pioneers to enroll me in figure skating. The trainer nodded and, showing the line of already enrolled children told me, “Go there.”
“Would you support her at her first time,” asked my daddy.
“Can she absolutely not skate?” Asked the strict coach with suspicion, estimating my tiny height, even for a four year old.
"No, I mean morally,” laughed my father.
All of figure skating is based on a moral will-to-win basis. Who forces kids to come to practice training, hardly having woken up? Yes, initially it is mom. But then - only will. Where does it come from? One either has it or does not. I was simply bursting into my life. In fact, it is possible to see (this nature) already in children - if there is a thirst for life or not.
At six o'clock n the morning, it was necessary to go to practice in the darkness during winter. There is no subway in Strogin. I had to reach the rink by using three trams where one stands, waits and thinks of nothing. At seven years old, sometimes our grandmothers met us, or sometimes they saw us off to the tram stop. But at eight it was all over. Time for full self-sufficiency and self-management.
Figure skating is not the most traumatic kind of sports. Or so it was always considered. But take apart any figure skater of high calibre and (ask)… why do they need that?
(Because) it is their trade, chosen since childhood, confirmed by years of practice, frequently paying back with tears, but then rewarding. Everyone has their own stimulus to go out on the ice. Some do not hide that they cannot do anything else; the ice provides stable earnings. Some cannot function without a muscular workout. Some simply live a full life only on the ice. And the rest are all insignificant.
Translated by G. Sivorinovsky Web Translations in Real Time GSivorinov@aol.com
For a chance to win copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice," please visit www.AlinaAdams.com.
Interview with Victor Kudryavtsev, coach of Sergey Volkov, the USSR’s first World figure skating champion, by Elena Vaitcehovskaya printed in Russian language publication Sport- Express on March 14, 2005
In each kind of sport, from time to time appear extremely purposeful and hardworking people who at first sight have no chance to ever achieve a rather large victory. For many years, Sergey Volkov was considered such a person. He made the national team in 1968, at 19-years of age, and went to his first European Championship, where he took 12th place. Even by the standards of those times, the result could not be considered in any way impressive.
Except for his personal coach, Victor Kudryavtsev, this did not excite anybody.
At his second European Championship, he was seventh, and the next year, fifth. But almost no one wrote about him. The country rooted for another sportsman - Sergey Chetveruhin, who became the first Soviet medallist at the Championship of Europe in 1969. Right at the beginning of the 1970s, Chetveruhin already battled for European and World gold with the legendary Czech Ondrej Nepela, while Volkov continued to remain in the shadows. Fans paid attention rather to Sergey’s appearance: even to people far from figure skating it was difficult not to notice him – he was so pale, even his eyebrows and eyelashes were white. Experts marked another feature - his fantastic, almost silent gliding. But who is excited with gliding, if it does not help to gain medals?
On the side of Chetveruhin, there was one more advantage - his coach. The great Stanislav Zhuk. The magic of his name was so great, that it involuntarily extended to everyone who worked under the direction of this well-known maestro. In his limelight was even overshadowed Igor Moskvin, who quite successfully worked with Jury Ovchinnikov. And there was also Elena Chajkovskaja, with her Vladimir Kovalev and her huge, important influence behind the scenes of figure skating.
Volkov was one of the first pupils of Kudryavtsev. In 1957, the young coach had only just begun independent work after his graduation, and he inherited Volkov as though by right of succession - from skilled, but already advanced in years Peter Petrovich Tikhonov who was going to retire. Sergey was only eight years old.
He was practicing at Tikhonov's in a preparatory group, and very much stood out among other children, Kudryavtsev recollected. He was so soft, that sometimes his movements recalled that of a cat, and had by nature phenomenally elastic knees and foot joints. He would make a push and would almost fly on the ice. To develop joints up to such a degree is impossible by any practice.
“I liked to work with him. Sergey's parents had no relations to sports and plainly were not engaged in their son's life, there were too busy. To the skating rink, he was brought by his grandmother. Later I began to notice how she strongly influenced the formation of Sergey's character. He grew very correct and in some sense old-fashioned. Serious, silent. He was respected by everyone who crossed his path. Volkov possessed a high feeling of validity. Any lie instantly put him beside himself.
“Sergey was distinguished with one more quality - tremendous working capacity. In those days it was essentially important: compulsory figures that demanded from the sportsman huge patience, persistence and meticulous mobilization. It was necessary to practice "the school" at least two and a half hours daily. I am sure, that Volkov, with his skills to analyze and come to conclusions, could become a very good coach. Though jumps were extremely hard for him.”
The wife of Kudryavtsev (and at those years - his pupil) Marina told us: “I remember how Volkov practiced the double Axel. He made a push, did a beautiful flight over the ice, very tehnichnically carried out the rotation - and fell down. Because the knee ligaments were too soft, the joints simply could not maintain the load at the landing. Sergey was terribly angry, he remained at the skating rink after practice and tried the jump again and again. To make it less boring for him, I remained on the ice too, and he began to teach me in parallel. So, together, we mastered this jump.”
Even having started to win medals at national championships and having gotten on the National team, Volkov left the impression of an extremely introverted person. His manly power on the ice bewitched, but at the same time his skating turned out too dry and academic. To make a free spirited gesture in any program similarly to Ovchinnikov or Kovalev for Volkov was as impossible as for a member of the Political Bureau - to dance the kazatsky dance before the presidium at the party congress. One of the journalists who wrote in the 70s about figure skating stated that Volkov, because of his isolation and not being a talkative person, never made friends within the national team. It was not so. Sergey simply was friends with those who, as well as he, never especially tried to be in the spotlight. With Alexey Surajkin, Alexander Gorshkov. For the journalists there was more interestingly another character - Kovalev whose uncontrollability became a legend: for disciplinary reasons, this figure skater was twice stripped of his rank of distinguished master of sports, and he had to earn it anew twice.
If it was not for the silver medal that Volkov won at the European championship of 1974 in Zagreb, I am sure that nobody would learn that the figure skater performed there with the broken toe, and did not consider it an exploit at all. It was an effect of his grandmother's influence: a man should be able to suffer pain and has no right to show in public his weakness.
One and a half months later, Volkov won one more silver - in the world championship in Munich. These medals became his reward for all the years of failures. In fact at one time, Volkov was even close leaving figure skating in general. He had a specific goal - to be admitted to the pilot's school in Rostov-on-Don. In this city the figure skaters on a regular basis spent their spring training, and for two years on end, secretly from Kudryavtsev, Sergey applied to the admission committee. He was rejected both times. Again returning the documents to an absolutely healthy guy, the chairman of the medical board categorically told him: "After the first parachute jump you will loose your legs."
At the same time, this period of his life was one of the most serene. Volkov was happily married to figure skater Lyudmila Olehov, they spent most of their time together, as the most of the year was spent at training camps (Mila was skating in pair with her twin brother, Andrey, with whom Sergey was always friendly). The only thing that slightly upset the young woman, were his more and more frequent departures to large competitions and the growing attention to him from the young girl fans - she herself was four years older than Sergey.
But in a year the curve of luck again fell down: in the championship of Europe 1975, Sergey took only fourth place. It was the first championship of the continent in which the gold in men's singles was won by a Soviet sportsman - Kovalev. And he went to Colorado Springs as a favorite for the Worlds.
During his first practice on American ice, Volkov fell down and broke the ligaments of his knee joint.
“We arrived in Colorado 20 days prior to the beginning of the championship as to better acclimatize,” explained Kudryavtsev. “After the fall, Sergey was immediately brought to a clinic (at Colorado Springs there is the world famous center of a sports trauma - E.V.) where much heavier damage was found, than it seemed at the first sight. Sergey stayed in clinic for 14 days. Everyone perfectly understood that he could not perform. Before making the final decision, there were four practice sessions. He did not even try to jump just did figures. And Volkov said that he will perform just that kind of the program."
He skated figures as he never skated in his life. Probably, the trauma forced him to control very carefully his physical condition, not leaving time for thinking of results or to be nervous. His advantage over other contenders was enormous. The high marks also played into the conviction of the judges that the sportsman will be removed from the competition after that part of the program. They did not see it necessity to hold the marks down just in case.
“To tell the truth I did not believe that Volkov could win,“ Kudryavtsev continued. “To be the third, the second - yes. But not the first. In 1974, beside the silver he received a "small" gold - for the best result in compulsory exercises. In any free program he differed from contenders in his techniques of gliding, in the speed, in skating at the blade's edge, in fine rotating and in well done steps. But the second (artistic) mark was always lower. Nature did not make him an actor. Plus he was falling too often - because of his legs. And the same Kovalev, with a rather mediocre technique, always managed to land the most improbable jumps. A considerable role was played also by the attitude of public. Ovchinnikov, for example, never was the champion of the World or Europe, but his authority and popularity in the country (and so with the judges) were higher than that of Volkov.”
Volkov categorically refused to be removed from the competition after the compulsory figures.
He executed the free program ideally, as well. He landed all three triple jumps (then standard set man's single skating), and it was impossible to catch on to him.
Someone stated then, that Volkov won at Colorado Springs only because the others fell. On one hand, it was the truth. On the other, the distance between Sergey and his contenders before the final performance was such that even if Kovalev or Karri received for execution of their programs the mark of 5,9, all of of them would still remain behind.
Volkov began his 1976 season with Stanislav Zhuk. Parting with Kudryavtsev passed easily, although nobody could understand the reason for the transition. According to the coach, Volkov who already reached the age of 26, admitted that there remained not so much time for active performances – a couple of years, two or three -- and it would be desirable to try a new direction. However, people close to Kudryavtsev insisted that the decision to change coaches belonged not at all to Sergey, but to his wife, Mila. Volkov was simply too tired to resist and submitted to the pressure.
Zhuk accepted the sportsman at once. At that moment in his group there was a relative vacuum: after the Olympic games of 1972, Chetveruhin left figure skating, and the duet well-known to the whole world - Irina Rodnina - Alexey Ulanov broke up. Zuk created a new pair, having replaced Ulanov with Alexander Zajtsev, but these figure skaters, having won straight off the championship of Europe in Cologne and the world championship in Bratislava, went away to Tatyana Tarasova.
Ulanov, with new partner Lyudmila Smirnova, appeared at Kudryavtsev's. It was simple to assume such turn of events. Ulanov decided to separate from Rodnina even before Olympic Games in Sapporo and did not hide it. He used each opportunity to pull out from Moscow and for a day or two go to Smirnova in Petersburg. After the break with Rodnina, Ulanov and Smirnova got married and began to skate together.
It was said that Zhuk was much angered by what happened, and that Ulanov did not leave sports for good. When Volkov came to him, his coaches of the past and present sometimes collided at a competition, Zuk, addressing Kudryavtsev, said a strange phrase: "I have taken Volkov with one purpose. That you on your own skin feel how painful and unpleasant it is when a sportsman leaves you."
This transition became for Sergey the beginning of the end of his career. In 1976, he was fifth in the championship of the Europe and Olympic Games. He did not go to the world championship, and in a year the figure skater was absolutely dismissed. In 1978, he finished his sport’s career.
He was sent off at Luzniki , at the then-popular international tournament Nouvelle de Moscu. When Volkov took the microphone to thank the fans, he was not able say a word and dissolved into tears.
He worked for some time with the junior national team, being engaged basically in the analysis of performances of sportsmen and in the preparation of various recommendations for coaches, but soon decided that the practical work to him was much more interesting, and created his own group. There were at once two "stars" which soon began to shine on the junior level - Sasha Abt and Tanja Rachkova.
In the middle of the 1980s, Volkov began to complain of his health. Doctors assumed a stomach ulcer, and they named also the most probable reason - nerves. For a long time it was known that an ulcer first of all falls upon those who experiences shocks and failures inside of themselves, not allowing emotions to be expressed outside.
And stress sufficed. Home life was not very good. Volkov had his own views about life at home, and they did not always coincide with reality. His son, with whom they looked like two peas in a pod, grew up, but even he could not keep Sergey in his marriage wows. He created a new family in which there were new children - twins Katya and Nastja. But, t was necessary to earn money, and in February of 1990, having transferred his students to other coaches, Volkov accepted an offer to leave for Austria. Before flying away, he once again passed a course of treatment. Although he knew already the terrible diagnosis, he refused the operation that doctors recommended, motivating by his trust in folk medicine, and hid the truth from the figure skaters.
The last aggravation of his illness happened abroad. In June of 1990, Volkov was brought from Austria to Moscow, but to operate was already senseless: the cancer had spread too far...
“Sergey was in such a condition that he could not to communicate with anybody,” said Kudryavtsev. In August, by special plane of the Red Cross, he was sent to Kharkov to an expert in the field of unconventional medicine. There was some improvement, but it appeared too short-lived. He died near Kharkov on August, 31st.
Kudryatsev said, “According to Oksana, the second wife of Sergey, before death he had time to tell her that if the girls would be engaged in figure skating, they should be coached by me. As if he was sorry for leaving me in 1975... “
Translated by G. Sivorinovsky Web Translation in Real Time GSivorinov@aol.com
For a chance to win free copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice," please visit www.AlinaAdams.com !
An article by Matvej Volodin and Alexey Georgiev published in the Russian Language on-line publication " Megapolis Express" (ME) on March 11, 2005.
People for a long time dreamed of combining art with sports. They achieved that purpose on ice. Figure skating is the name for this sport-creativity. However it became more difficult for sports. In any case, for the arbitrators, who are eternally accused of bias and subjectivity. But by what scale to measure those emotions without which it is impossible to win in this kind of sport?
Besides, in figure skating, the man and the woman are supposed to represent a single whole. And the way to awards, whether they like it or not, lays through love. Are the people on ice happy in love?
Love forever, passionate but in public not shown at all, because the public, in one moment, was up in arms against them for their infinite series of victories. They were and remain Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov. Together, they emigrated to Switzerland. Together, they continue to perform to this day (though Oleg is 72 years old)! (To read an interview with the couple, click here).
Were there quarrels, and at times, scandals in the family and at practice? Yes, it happened. Lyudmila and Oleg admit that. However it never reached the level of physical abuse or hatred.
Warm feelings were between (Irina) Rodnina and her partners. But the first of them, Alexey Ulanov, was a famous womanizer. Once in a hotel room in Japan, he was been noticed by the employees with a lady. And it was definitely not a business appointment. That lady, with her partner, were the main competitors of Rodnina and Ulanov. A law in Japan prohibits a man and woman who are not related to be in the same hotel room. Expulsion from the country and an international scandal were hushed up by assuring the Japanese that Alexey Ulanov and Lyudmila Smirnova would get married right after 1972 Olympics in Sapporo.
And it happened. Rodnina and Ulanov won the Games. Lyudmila Smirnova and Andrey Surajkin, the silver. Then the wedding of Ljuda and Alexey took place, after which two new pairs appeared: Rodnina and Zaitsev and Smirnova and Ulanov.
With Zaitsev, Irina became the Olympic champion twice more. She married him. She was happy. Now she is (twice) divorced. She has two children. And feels perfectly happy.
"They must love each other eternally!” skating fans once insisted. But probably only one, Alexander Gorshkov, knows what excessive pressures this requirement puts on a mere mortal, even if he was an Olympic champion. His marriage to Ludmila Pahomova ended tragically - Lyudmila died of incurable illness.
Time passed, life prevailed, though not always pleasing -- there were difficulties with his daughter, it was difficult to adjust to life outside the ice, and yes, it was difficult to be alone. There was a remarkable woman near by, but Alexander Georgievich was stopped from considering a new marriage by hearing:" How could he betray the memory of Lyudmila Pahomova?!"
Nevertheless, Alexander Gorshkov eventually got remarried. And it is difficult to forget how pleasure lit the faces of the both spouses, when, about seven years ago, ME asked them to tell our readers something about the difficulties involved with constructing a summer residence. As you understand, their joy was not in the summer residence, but rather in the realization that someone from press (read – the people) recognized their right to be treated as normal people.
Ekaterina Gordeya and Sergey Grinkov were the ideal pair in everything, obtaining energy for their victories from their love. Having begun their path to glory at the end of the 1980s, these charming children quickly won the affection of the public. Girls were running in herds after the handsome Grinkov, but he avoided easy love and quickly grew tired of the excessive attention. Tiny Katya did not show at all that she was interested in Sergey. They appeared in public, but it looked as if there was no romance between them. But in April of 1991, already Olympic champions, they got married. And, becoming professionals, they went to conquer America, where their daughter, Daria, was born.
Returning from the professional ranks, they won the Olympic Games once again, in Lillehammer in 1994. A year later, Sergey died on the ice during practice of heart disease.Katya wrote and published a book about her life. Then life prevailed, and she married Ilya Kulik, the (1998) Olympic champion whom she helped prepare for performances. The was no public gossips in their case. Today Katya and Ilya are pleasing spectators and performing as singles in ice shows.
Magnificent Irina Lobachova and Ilya Averbuh knew each other since childhood, when they trained in one sports school. But, they practiced differently. Ira devoted herself to figure skating. Ilya did not intend to devote himself to anything, as the boy was extremely lazy.
Working with different coaches separated them. But, despite Irina's diligence, ice skating was not working for her. At the same time, Ilya was performing in a pair with future Olympic Champion Marina Anisina. Together, they won two junior world championships.
But once Irina and Ilya met again at sports camp, they grew fond of each other. For the sake of Ira, Ilya left his partner and began not only to perform with Lobacheva, but also to live with her. (However, officially, they got married just recently and without any celebrations - they just dropped in at the registry office, signed papers, and ran off to practice.)
At first, they could not split sports from their private life in any way. Disputes and quarrels from the practice transferred to their home. ”It was awful,” says Irina. “But after three years of living together, we learned to separate work from life. At once, it became simpler and easier. Disputes about the programs remained on ice. We always solved everyday problems peacefully.” T
The Averbuchs had their share of difficult times. The dance world decided to get rid of them and push them aside as, for the first time in the Russian history, they left the country without medals at the world championship. A lot of dirt was poured on them. They were on the verge of leaving the sport for good. They were rescued only by their love.
"That was a great pain, but it became our common pain. During that time we became even closer to each other," recollected Irina.
And then they won silver at the Olympic Games, gold at the Worlds and the European Championship. “The main thing was that we gave birth to our son, Martin,” they insist.
On mom's assurance, Martin will never become a figure skater. But now mom works as a coach. And the daddy is the director of an Ice school...
Translated by G. Sivorinovsky Web Translations in Real Time GSivorinov@aol.com
For a chance to win copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice," please visit, www.AlinaAdams.com.
It is better to die on the ice, than in a clinic for old people!
Interview with Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov by the correspondent of the Russian Language newspaper "New Isvestia" OKSANA TONKACHEEVA published on March 11, 2005.
For the last 24 years Russia did not see their first Olympic and world champions in figure skating! Ever since 1979, when they didn’t return from a foreign tour. "They have run away,” the official version sounded! Silence absorbed their names so deeply, that in the 1985 directory, "All about the Soviet Olympians,” their names were not mentioned at all. Meanwhile, these " traitors of their native land " have not left the ice. They participate in exhibitions, are not living in misery and are in tremendous form. Before the World Championship in figure skating opens on March, 14th in Moscow, Ludmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov came home as guests of honor.
It was only at the beginning of "perestroika" that their names were mentioned without implied scolding and humiliation. I remember that I became somewhat lost before the first interview with them, having seen on the faces of these "enemies of people" their sincere and benevolent smiles. We spoke about figure skating, about their life in Switzerland, about their preparation for the Winter Olympics of 1998 in Nagano (in which they could not participate as a result of a bureaucratic mix-up ), and about life in general. Only once in the words of Ludmila and Oleg, could I feel the flash of latent insult; when they started talking about Russia. "We cut off our past once and for all. We are very resolute people. Why would we go back there? But two years ago on Vyacheslav Fetisov's invitation (" Such honor was not rendered to us for all of the 48 years of our sports life") we could not refuse.
In St.Petersburg, where they have gone, having taken their skates with them, their appearance on the ice on a modest training skating rink was met by an ovation which did not abate for some time. They did not perform for the fellow countrymen their exhibition numbers, but simply practiced in their native palace of sports "Jubilee", that was constructed after Oleg's persevering request and under Khruschev's order. They were skating for themselves and for the most devoted fans who once were sending them from all over the country letters with rubles for the construction of this skating rink.
To transfer into words what these seventy-year old Olympic champions did on the ice, is difficult. To take your eye off them - impossible. I can tell now that only when I could see them with my own eyes, I understood at last, how right was one German colleague who suggested that Belousova and Protopopov would become "traitors", if they only remained in the Soviet Union. For then they would be the traitors to the purpose of their life - to "Its Majesty Figure skating". Now I know, why they left.
Today, the Protopopovs say that despite difficult years of oblivion in their native land, they would not change anything in their life: "Our decision to leave was correct and timely because people of our type, people belonging to the world of arts, are possibly more sensitive to that what occurs in the country, to those deep processes which finally led to today's situation. But there were no politics in our departure. We simply understood that we were strangers in our homeland, that we will not be allowed to remain on ice for as long as we wanted and could. In the USSR ,they could do with us anything they like. By the way, Alexander Gavrilov, the bronze prize-winner of the World Championship in pairs with Tatyana Zhuk, was placed in a psychiatric hospital for " freedom statements,” and then forever left figure skating. We would not like to repeat his fate.”
Those who knew them in those years said that the behavior of Belousova and Protopopov really did not keep within habitual norms. They did not allow control of themselves. Probably it was the essence of their conflicts with the Soviet sports bosses. They felt themselves too freely, and nobody reflected then, that this freedom came from the ice - only there they could understand all sense of this word. And this condition transferred to their regular life. Those who wanted that they should go away perfectly understood that their strength was only in that they went on ice every day. If they would lose that, they would lose everything.
Every year they appear in front of the general public in August - in the American city of Lake Placid, where they practice from May till September, and in October in a traditional show of Olympic champions in Boston, the money from which goes to fight against childhood cancer. They are always met with standing ovations. And not only because Belousova and Protopopov are unique Russian 2-time Olympic champions in a pair figure skating who continue to perform till now. But also because till now they execute the elements which none of the modern pairs can reproduce.
They gave the names to unique elements, based on the events that occurred then in the USSR and glorified their fatherland. Their move - “the swallow", well-known in the whole world - when partners slide together, and then Lyudmila is separated and starts to move forward - symbolized the launch of a rocket. "A space spiral " - the first output of cosmonaut Leonov in a free space. "We always lived on ice as in life, and in life as on ice,” they explained. But Lyudmila's sister told us that their well-known move "the swallow" was born in their imagination during that moment when they observed how the coin turned while falling to the floor.
Oleg Alekseevich admits that he feels awkwardness when he hears from the interlocutor: "When do you plan to stop performing?” He immediately replies: "Never." While the interlocutor comes to their senses, he explains: "In our opinion, figure skaters today cannot reach perfection because they are too much in a hurry. You know, how it happens: people are rushing somewhere and only once in a while they stop and reflect - what is it all of this for? Comprehension that it is not necessary to hurry comes later, in the course of time. As the saying goes: "If youth would know and if old age could?” Our strength is in our years. In that condition when we both know, and can. In essence, that is why we remain on the ice till now, and therefore we were going to participate in the Olympic Games in Nagano. We wished to try to connect the past, the present and the future ".
The Protopopovs have admitted that during their last stay in Russia most of all they were asked about the state of their health. Both of them do not like to talk about this subject, but for the " New Isvestia" they have made an exception, having told us in passing about their visit to Petersburg scientist Vladimir Volkov, who is engaged in studies of the prolongation of human life, and about the intentions (quite serious) to skate till they are 100 years old, and may be more. But very few people know that during their blossoming years Lyudmila Belousova and Oleg Protopopov did not shine with health. Having seen in diaries of their stardom period in the column "pulse" a figure 40 for Oleg Alekseevich, I thought that it was a mistake. It appears that it was not a mistake. 40 was actually a good number! Usually his pulse did not rise above 20-30 impacts per minute. Arrhythmia accompanied him throughout his sports career. Later, doctors in Switzerland did not believe that with such a heart condition it was possible for him to win two Olympics. They have established a file named "The Phenomenon of Protopopov,” and it was presented at medical conferences. It they would only know that at the Grenoble Olympics he was competing for the second gold while suffering from a bleeding in kidneys. (There was no way that he would have an operation at that time).
Today on the open skating rink in Grjundenvalde, they practice from two till five o'clock daily. Depending on state of health. And it, as a rule, does not fail them. In the morning, at the house, they perform a small warm-up and stand upside down. Then, already on a skating rink, they have a full warm-up, work, and, having removed skates, spend some more time at the rink. By the way, Lyudmila still can perform the splits. When you ask them whether they are afraid to make a mistake or to fall on an ice, Oleg Alekseevich with a smile, as always, replies: "If in my 70 years I can lift my partner not worse than when I was 30, then what is it to be afraid of? As a matter of fact, we practice so as to feel more confidant on ice.”
Speaking of which, they weigh today almost the same as in the years of their triumph. Lyudmila is 41-42 kg, ( 91-93 pounds) Oleg - 64 kg (142 pounds). It had been said that they recently tried pm the suits in which they shone at the Grenoble Olympics. It is not a torture, but an elementary discipline, - they are convinced. “We like to be always in the best form. Besides, we are always inclined to consider that it is better to die on the ice, than in a clinic for aged. When the organism of the sportsman is young, much is compensated by itself, and a regenerative process after heavy loads goes more quickly. To us - if we want to skate for long, it is only necessary to contain ourselves in the ideal order. That is why we do not torture ourselves with diets, and we simply observe a regiment. We follow system of a separating the food groups. On a regular basis we cleanse our organisms from waste. It has for a long time already became a style and a norm of our life."
Ludmila Evgenevna and Oleg Alekseevich, out of principal, are not engaged in coaching. " Tchaikovsky and Mozart also had no pupils. We protect energy and strength for our own creativity.” They could not also allow themselves to have their own children. " We have been involved in figure skating so deeply, that we did not think at all of it.” But they have left a fine legacy to all of figure skating. As the president of Federation of Figure Skating of Russia Valentine Piseev has told the press: it was that to receive this world championship, Russia needed to win 73 (!) gold medals, and all this history began with Belousova and Protopopov.
" No,” said Oleg Alekseevich, “We do not regret anything. What is to regret, when one lived for all these years. We are happy people. The only thing that we want now is to finish the movie about our performances so the people would see it with their own eyes. Because we are sure our creativity predated modern figure skating for many years in advance. Sportsmen still will return to our harmony. You will see.”
Translation by G. Sivorinovsky Web Translations in Real Time GSivorinov@aol.com
Famous Figure Skating Coach, Olympic Champion Oleg Vasiliev, is in Love with his Student.
Interview with Oleg Vasiliev (OV) on February 1, 2005 by a correspondent of the Russian Language On-Line publication "Express Gazeta" - Mr. Sergey Dadygin (SD.
At the European Championship, which came to an end in Turin on Sunday, January 30, thousands of spectators watched the magnificent skating of Russian pair Tatyana TOTMJANINA and Maxim MARININ. It was their debut at the international level after autumn of last year, when, at the US stage of the "Grand Prix," Tatyana fell on the ice and lost consciousness. The diagnosis was unfavorable - a brain concussion.
OV- As soon as possible, I called Tatyana's mom and tried to calm her down. All 20 hours while Tatyana was in the hospital, I was nearby. Her mom wanted to fly from Russia to Pittsburgh, but to receive a visa to the USA in one or two days is impossible. And it did not make a lot of sense. A brain concussion is certainly bad, but it is not fatal. In figure skating, unfortunately, traumas are inevitable.
Oleg Vasilev recollected a unique case. At the end of the 1970s, a Soviet figure skater Irina Vorobeva ( who performed in pair with Igor Lisovsky) received a brain concussion during the World Championship. It occurred at practice before the free program. By all opinions, the pair of Vorobeva - Lisovsky should have been removed from the tournament. However, the next day, contrary to the doctor’s ban, Irina went on the ice. And she and Igor stepped up on a pedestal! It was reported that in all of Irina Vorobeva’s sports career, she had 11 brain concussions. She is still suffering from headaches. Because of a similar trauma,Tatyana Tarasova who has become subsequently a well-known coach, left sports ahead of her time.
At first, physicians told Totmjanina that she should refrain from practice for a month. But Tanja improved quickly, and doctors allowed her to step on the ice two weeks after that fall. However, the skater herself tried to make it much earlier, as soon as she felt better. She was literally drawn to the skating rink. Vasilev, to slow her down and prevent further problems, took her car to the service center. He also asked her friends not hurry her up.
OV - When we returned from Pittsburgh to Chicago, journalists did not let us pass. We went from one television studio to another - and it lasted three whole days. CNN, ABC, NBC - all the leading TV channels of America and local, from Chicago, took our interviews. It was a mad house.
SD - Were you surprised that Tatyana did not remember the moment of falling at all? OV- No, not at all. It is the normal reaction of a healthy organism - to block out what is not necessary to remember.
SD- What does your working day in Chicago consist of? OV - From six to eight o'clock in the morning, I work with American children. Then, around nine, Tanja with Maxim come in. We conduct two practice sessions in succession, with a two-hour break for rest. Approximately at three o'clock in the afternoon, the skaters are free and can engage in their own activities. And I again step on the ice till six in the evening to coach the youngsters.
When Oleg Vasilev left for Chicago, his spouse Valentina remained with their daughter in St. Petersburg. According to Oleg, his wife did not want to sit idle in the States, while in Petersburg she had a business. Valentina did not want to drop her business. The spouses met several times a year, and not only in Chicago or Petersburg, but also, for example, in London. There, four years ago, they marked the birthday of their daughter, Katenka (who turned six), and were on top of the world with happiness.
But a couple of years ago the "marriage at a distance” finally broke up. By the way, the first wife of Vasilev was a well known figure skater, Elena Valova. Together with her, Oleg, in 1984, became the Olympic Champion in a Pairs. Valova now lives in the USA and works as a coach (for an exclusive interview with Elena Valova, please click here.)
At the beginning of January, in a lobby of the Palace of Sports, where the Championship of Russia took place, there was a gossip that Oleg Vasiliev was attracted to his student and it seemed that the figure skater has reciprocated his feelings.It was curious, that to the final banquet in Petersburg, at the restaurant "Kolchida," Vasilev came with Totmjanina, while her partner did not come at all. Every time a young man would invite the champion to dance, Tatyana would look at the coach, as though asking him if he would mind. Vasilev would pretend that it did not bother him, but Tatiana did not dance, all the same. Later, when the table at which the leading figure skaters of the country and their coaches sat became empty, this correspondent found out that there were at the table only two people - Totmjanina and Vasilev. They lovingly cooed about something.
An attempt to clear a situation by asking Tatyana was unsuccessful: "It is my private life, and I do not let anybody in it".
Oleg did not expand on this theme, either. But people close to figure skating talk about the affair of Totmjanina and Vasilev as a fact that came to pass. And why not? They are a very beautiful couple. Oleg is in his forties and looks like a London dandy - he is perfectly dressed and elegant. Tatyana, having let her hair grow, has unequivocally gotten prettier and become even more feminine. There are similar precedents in sports. Alexander Zhulin coaches the dancing pair of Navka - Kostomarov and he is the husband of the figure skater.
SD- Oleg, let's change the theme of our conversation - does Maxim has a girlfriend? OV - It is his private business. Even if he will date three or five girls at once, at the same time he will be good at performances and practices – yes, please, go ahead! I am not against it.
SD - And if he will decide to marry? OV- Then it is an another matter. We shall sit down, we shall talk. The family is sacred, but family relations should not affect work.
SD - Where do your students live? OV - Maxim rents a place in suburb Chicago. Tanja is located in the city center. And in the past year I have bought an apartment in Chicago . On credit.
SD - Does our federation somehow help you? OV - Yes. When there was all this with Tatjana's falling, Valentine Piseev, the president of the federation, called every fifteen minutes. In the shortest time he organized a trip to America by a doctor-psychologist. This expert, Elena Derjabin, has very much helped Tatyana to enter into a normal working channel more quickly.
Translated by Genrikh Sivorinovsky Translations in Real Time GSivorinov@aol.com
For a chance to win copies of "Murder on Ice" and "On Thin Ice," please visit www.AlinaAdams.com