Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Thursday, April 28, 2005



Article by the President of the Figure Skating Federation of Saint Petersburg, Mr. Oled Onilov, printed in the Russian language publication "The Neva Sports" on April 26, 2005.

The results of the world championship in synchronized skating that took place in the Swedish city of Geteborg from April, 21 till April, 24th, 2005, threatened a real scandal. The winner of the gold medal was a team from Sweden, the second and third places were taken teams from Finland. The Russian team skated cleanly in the short and free programs but came in only 9th.

We, unfortunately, got used a long time ago to the fact that quite often Russian sportsmen are condemned to unfair judging at international competitions. Tamara Moskvina's famous phrase, that for victory “it is necessary for a Russian sportsmen to be two heads above the others," became a motto at the time of preparation for future international competitions. But the world championship of synchronized figure skating 2005 unpleasantly surprised even the worldly-wise trainers. The Russian team in Geteborg, "Paradise,” which showed the highest class of skating, was placed by the judges in 9th place.

The results of the Championship offered good news and bad news. Firstly, the president of the International Union of Skaters (ISU) closely observed the World championship in Geteborg. He watched all the performances and, at the press conference before the start of the competition, declared, that synchronized skating - already an established kind of sport, is worthy to enter into the program of Olympic Games. He will use his best efforts to advance that initiative at the next international congresses of the Olympic committee. Therefore it is possible that at the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, Canada, synchronized skating will be presented as an Olympic discipline.

Secondly, this year, the new judicial system was tested, and tested for the first time without any additional qualifying competitions. Already, at the beginning of the championship, it became clear that there was an active struggle for places. For the Russian team, which was surrounded by such traditionally leading countries as the USA, Canada, Sweden, Finland and Germany, it was difficult to change the existing state of affairs for several reasons.

Rules of the competition are created by people from the technical committee of the ISU, who represent the so-called leader-countries. These countries have concepts according to which the rules are "customized" for them. For example, in the USA and Canada, there are thousands of skating rinks on which thousands of skaters practice. Certainly, to keep interest up in synchronized skating, Olympic prospects are necessary. Thus it is necessary to win, or the interest in this kind of sports will die away. It is necessary "to urge on" skating mothers who give their daughters to synchronized figure skating. If you look at the figures of the majority of the overseas synchronized skaters, they are far from the standards accepted in figure skating. Girls look at the not so skinny sportswomen and think: " If she can do it, so can I!" This is not bad.

Except that it turns out that by the new rules, Russia lags behind "modern" ideas of synchronized figure skating - which are absolutely not clear. Why, for example, it is impossible to jump even 1.5-2 turn jumps? The answer of the leader-countries: "It is dangerous." But in fact, lifts are allowed. In Geteborg, one of the American skaters was dropped on her head on the ice from a lift! Nevertheless, despite having rougher transitions and even the fall, Swedish and American skaters were put above Russians, whose skating was clean.

All of us shall remain in our positions, we shall fight and participate in more world competitions. Despite the psychological attacks, we are not going to shut the door behind us, we intend to review carefully each incident and to analyze all similar cases. From now on, we shall receive results from each referee and for each element - and we will try to prove our correctness to the ISU. We shall actively discuss and argue until we all understand that the system has not ripened to a necessary level.

Nevertheless, at this world championship we reached our objective! The team "Paradise" with strengthened energy will advance synchronized figure skating. It will prepare special programs with a set of complex elements. And it will be our answer to the new rules, an original variant of discussion, which Russia will conduct on the ice and in the technical committee of the ISU. It is difficult. But if we succeed, the Russian team will be a head above all of the other countries. We should not try to be like the weakest teams, we should not simplify figure skating to please the majority because it is a question of an Olympic kind of sports!

To attract the masses, there are synchronized skating shows during hockey game breaks in the USA and Canada. Let there be two kinds of synchronized skating! One like a kind of show - then thousands can participate in it, any child, each willing girl. But the Olympic kind of sport should be technical, entertaining and should necessarily include complex elements. Today's rules of refereeing are sufficient only for a good show, but not for a high-grade kind of sport (especially Olympic) like figure skating.

Translated by G. Sivorinovsky
Web Translations in Real Time
Thursday, April 14, 2005



Interview by Nuraj MUKADES (NM) a correspondent of the Russian Language Newspaper "Karavan', printed on April 8, 2005.

My colleagues/journalists stated that to take an interview from Natalia Dubova was very difficult. That means that we managed to achieve the impossible. Our conversation started just by itself, easy. We talked about the work of a trainer outside Russia and the development of Kazakh figure skating.

During the training session by Dubova of her Chinese duet Fang Young and Chongbo Gao - we approached Natalia Dubova and her pupils and simply wished them good luck. She glanced at our accreditations and, seeing a flag of Kazakhstan, begun the conversation herself:

ND - It is a pity that this year nobody was representing Kazakhstan at the world championship. The problem was that your Federation of figure skating and the Olympic committee decided to present only Kazakh sportsmen. It is insulting, because we prepared a wonderful pair which we hoped to present in Moscow, but they did not skate. And before that, for many years, we had the talented pair of Elizabeta Stekolnikova and Dmitry Kazarlyga, who represented your country. They actively participated in the worlds and Asian championships and won gold medals. We hoped that we would have a new Kazakh pair, but - alas, it was not to be.

NM- Do you consider it a normal phenomenon when representatives of other countries compete for this or that country?
ND - Yes, it is normal. In the past many leading trainers tried to help the development of figure skating in other republics of the former USSR. There were cases when Russians who did not get on the Russian national team, performed for this or that republic. It served as a good stimulus to develop national sports and to bring other figure skaters up to the level of leaders. It helps not only federations, but also the Asian competitions. In fact, seeing significant growth of the general condition of sports, the ISU granted some subsidies.

NM- If earlier Asian sportsmen seemed on ice as inharmonious, now they compete as equals with the European stars. Does the Chinese pair feel the influence of the Russian school?
ND - Yes, it is quite possible. Russian speaking trainers are present practically in all the world teams. Our Chinese pair took much from the Soviet-Russian school. They look perfect!

NM- Tell me, do you train foreigners and Russians with the same spirit?
ND- Yes. I absolutely do not have this division, because for a long time I have been engaged with figure skaters from foreign countries. Let's remember a doctor when a patient comes to him, is he interested in the patient’s nationality for establishing diagnosis? Same here, professionals should always be professionals. It is another question if it seriously disturbs you. Then it is not necessary to undertake to work with foreign sportsmen. But if you started it, be kind and finish the work.

NM- How fast have you and your family managed to learn the English language?
ND- We have lived in America for 12 years now, learning the language came slowly. Our son studied English when was still just a small child. Therefore to him it was easier in the new environment. He studied English in a special school in Moscow. Then simply life forced us to speak English.

NM- How fast was your adaptation in America?
ND- What does the concept of "adaptation" mean? We learn to live, we pass through mistakes. But every year the number of these mistakes becomes lesser and lesser. Recently there was a very curious exhibition in New York’s Central Park under the name "The Gates" where two designers exposed (hundreds of orange) flags and called it art. But the essence was something else. Being among people, I realized, that after September 11th, it was the first day of consolidation of people. I came back home and understood, that it probably was an adaptation - when the ups and downs of a country are perceived by you as your own.

Translated by G. Sivorinovsky
Web Translations in Real Time
Wednesday, April 13, 2005


Sara Katherine Ward won the 1993 U.S. Novice Pairs title with J. Paul Binnebose. In 1994, the duo placed third at the US Junior level and 9th at the World Junior Championship.

Sara and her next partner, Lance Travis, were 5th at the 1996 U.S. Championship, which allowed them to compete internationally at several events, including Skate America.

Sara’s favorite memories of her skating career are “from when I took from Irina Rodnina and Elena Tcherkasskaia in Lake Arrowhead, CA. They were always making me laugh but also teaching me important lessons about life and working hard, which I still think about every day. Irina and Elena would show my partner and I a pair element or position they wanted to be done. At the same time they were teaching us difficult things, they would joke around. Elena would pose and say, "I'm the girl and Irina is the boy." Then they would fight over who was the girl or the boy. Having a sense of humor is key in an intense sport. Irina used to tell me that in life no will help you -- you have to be strong for yourself. She taught me a lot about having a strong sense of character and being self-motivated. It helped me place 5th at Nationals in Senior Pairs that year.”

When it came to ending her competative skating career, Sara recalls, “I didn't really retire. I went to Drew University in 1998, double majored in French and Political Science and graduated four years later in 2002 with a B.A. School took precedence at the time and I finally wanted to be on the same schedule as everyone else. I later discovered that no one was on the same schedule, so I didn't miss out on much during my skating career. I recommend that every skater continue their education and get their degree, so that not only will they have something to fall back on, but they will expand their mind. Going to college is also a time for social growth more than anything. I truly believe in the Greek ideal of a "Strong mind in a strong body." After I finished school, I decided to get my Gold dance tests this past year and Senior Freestyle, so that I have all the Gold Tests. I am also planning on competing in Pairs again this year because I am healthy, and happy, and why not!”

In addition to training, Sara explains, “I have been working full-time as a paralegal at Bressler, Amery & Ross, P.C. in Florham Park, NJ and I have been teaching at Mennen Arena in Morristown, New Jersey. I have learned a lot of research skills at my paralegal job and teaching skating is very rewarding for me. I am also working with a Special Olympic Pair team, Kristen Clark and Michael Ferriaoli, and that has been extremely rewarding to work with such hard working people who really share my joy for the ice. Being a part of a sport that requires hard work and dedication to succeed has led me to lead a life that requires the same. I set my goals high, and I am very motivated and determined to do everything I have ever dreamed.”
Friday, April 08, 2005


"If I return, I will have no competitors!"

Interview with Surya Bonaly (SB) by a correspondent of the Russian language newspaper "Gazeta," Nikolay Sadovsky (NS) printed on March 30, 2005.

Observing the women’s competition at the recent world championship, I, for some reason, started missing very much the performances on ice by Surya Bonaly. It was possible to go mad over her skating! She was unique, although she could not win the world championship or the Olympics. But five times, she defeated everybody in Europe. Having finished her career, Surya left France, and chose America, where she now lives in the city of casinos - Las Vegas. To talk with Ms. Bonaly we were helped by our champion Maria Butyrskaja, who keeps in touch with Surya.

NS - Perhaps the main question now is what are you doing and where can you be seen?
SB- Perhaps, you will be surprised, but I am still skating, and I take pleasure at how it turns out. As before, I tour across Europe - Lithuania, Switzerland, Germany, Finland... I began it in October and only just finished. There was also an American part which ended three days ago. But even today, when you called, I again was on the ice training. I cannot live off the ice.

NS- When can we see you again in Russia?
SB- Oh, any time! As soon as you ask me, I will come. I adore your country. I love Moscow very much. And I would like to mention: the public in Russia is special, like nowhere in the world.

NS- You are ten timesthe champion of France, five times champion of Europe...
SB-... Three times silver prize-winner of the world championships...

NS- Yes, I simply had no time to say it. And so, how did you manage to achieve such tremendous results?
SB- In general, I am very happy with my amateur career. Many could only dream of such results, but I achieved them. Certainly, I very much would like to add to this collection of awards the rank champion of the world and of the Olympic Games...

NS- But you do have the rank of world champion - among juniors.
SB - Yes, you said it right - among juniors. I wish I won the adult world championship. When I performed among amateurs, figure skating only gained strength in technical complexity. It was difficult, and it was not at all as it is now. Figure skating did not move forward a step since I left it! If I would return now the world championship would be mine. I would win easily, do not doubt of that.

NS - So come back!
SB - I would with pleasure, but it would mean a transition to a new level of complexity. What I do now in female figure skating, nobody does. They are afraid of me at the ISU and do not want to see me on the ice. In general, if they are afraid of me, it means that they respect me, isn't that a fact? But to return and win would be great. Unfortunately, my dream of a world gold medal will probably remain a dream.

NS- What is your opinion about modern female figure skating?
SB- Well, certainly, now it is different than it was during my (day). You do not need to jump out of your skin to see '6.0, 6.0, 6.0'... Everything changes. Now it is absolutely a different style of skating. By the way, it is more suitable for me. I can jump well, I have excellent spins, everything is all right with the choreography. In present day single skating it is not necessity to jump quads - what for?! You can easily win with triples. Judges do not demand from you super complex elements. They are not executed by the competition, so for a victory is enough a simple set of elements.

NS- You have started talking about quads, and in fact you were the first woman who performed a quad. (Alina's note: The quads Surya attempted were not ratified)
SB- Yes, now, if I am not mistaken, there is only one Japanese figure skater who jumps four turns, and that only in practice. While I made it a long time ago and people still cannot jump quads now. (Alina's note: Japan’s Miki Ando landed a Quadruple Salchow at the Jr. Grand Prix Final this season, which was officially ratified as the first Quad done by a woman).

NS- And what do you feel, when you execute such a complex element?
SB- Yes, it is such a rush of energy! I am simply charging myself. I love very much the ultra complex elements, especially quads. Each time, conquering the next height, you understand that you’ve lived to the fullest. It is unimportant, whether it was a quad or a complex rotation. Overcoming any difficulties, you rise to a new step. You change. I like to change and to overcome difficulties. I am 31 years old, and I look on the ice better than many young girls do and up till now I am jumping quads! I feel with my skin that it gets to the spectators. I love these sensations!

NS- Is it possible that the new judicial system means that there is no need to take such a risk and complicate the program?
SB - Certainly. You do not need to strain for the sake of one mark of '6.0'. You are getting a combined mark that considers many elements and therefore there is no need to jump and jump. It is possible to win without it. Rotations and choreography may be enough. But would it be interesting to the spectators? Here is the main question.

NS- In general, if I am not mistaken, judges somewhat disliked your skating. And you decided to say “farewell" to them in an original way: you did not land many triples at the Olympics in Nagano and, having lost all chances for a medal, you directly in front of the judges suddenly made a somersault in your free program...
SB - You answered your own question. First, figure skating is a conservative kind of sports which hardly changes. I was the innovator. I do not understand why the back-flip till now is forbidden: probably, because of fear that the sportsman can be traumatized. But I consider that this question is necessary to resolve - let the sportsmen choose if it is necessary for them or not. In general, judges did not love me for innovation. And that story at Nagano, here you in fact remember this moment, which means that I was right, having decided to include it in the program. So, spontaneously, I included and did it. Yes, I was punished for it. I took tenth or eleventh place. But it is unimportant, what is important is the memory of the spectators, rather than of the judges. Who now will remember those judges? But I am still remembered and loved.

NS- I was surprised, seeing among people with whom you worked, the name of Tatyana Tarasova. It was written that she choreographed your program, but you never talked about it.
SB - Tarasova is certainly the ingenious trainer. It is silly to argue that point. But she is a real Russian person, with all of the minuses. She told me: "Surya, I want to work with you, I want to help you!" But in fact she did not help. I worked on ice every day, every single one! But she did not come. When I saw her, she said: "Oh, Surya, everything is fine, I will help, but I am busy today, lets do it tomorrow." And tomorrow she would say again: let's do it tomorrow. I waited for a whole year! Probably, she wanted to work with me, but she did not work. Probably, she really wanted to help me, but she did not help. My mom helped me. It is a pity, that it turned out that way, in fact I consider till now Tarasova as the strongest trainer on a planet. She is delightful, she is a real professional, but in my destiny she did not play any role and I remember her only by a phrase: "Surya, today I am busy, let's do it tomorrow." Perhaps she simply did not want to work with me, she changed her mind at the last minute, but did not know how to tell me that.

NS- Would you like to work as a trainer?
SB- Yes. I like this work, and it is impossible to exclude anything. I like to learn and to share my experience.

NS- Not so long ago in Moscow there was the world championship. Did you watch the competitions?
SB - Yes, but I can not say that I followed it very closely. From time to time.

NS- Did anything of what you saw make an impression on you?
SB - Of course, the men's single skating. It was a catastrophic show, I was so disappointed: it was not worthy of the world championship! The level was so low, that I did not believe my eyes! The level of men's skating was awful, except for the Swiss who won. The rest all looked... I do not even know... Ugly. Perhaps, this is the most suitable word. In the past, the world championships were the battlefields, and it was interesting to watch them. And what did we see here? Everyone fell, all of them! At least those who I saw, all fell! Nobody landed or tried to jump quads, except for the winner. It is logical, that he won. Also he has very good spins. And the others... I do not know. By techniques they were more like female programs, rather than men’s.

NS- Perhaps the participants were affected by the fact that Pljushchenko withdrew from the championship?
SB - Oh no, it is not so. It is simply a result of the new rules. The main thing now is to be an actor on the ice, and it is possible not to be a sportsman. You do not need complex elements - come out on ice and just do not fall. That is it, there is nothing to talk about.

NS - And what do you think of Irina Slutskaya? She returned to the ice after a year of absence because of illness and won.
SB - Yes, by and large I have nothing to say... Yes, she is a professional. Skated well, but no more than that. She did not make mistakes, well done. She is a very good sportsman.

NS- And what do you think of her Olympic chances?
SB- No idea, I can only wish her good luck. The main thing is not to get nervous. She will go on to Olympics as the world champion, and it always helps psychologically. If she will be in a good shape, she will win.

NS - Let's move away from figure skating. If I am not mistaken, you love Russia very much?
SB - Oh yes! I love St. Petersburg, very much, but I love Moscow much more! I come to Russia and I feel myself at home, it is so great! A lot in my memory is connected with your country. I remember many different places and I wish to come back to Russia, again and again.

NS - Do you have friends among the Russians?
SB - Yes, and everyone with whom I am in good relations are figure skaters. Surprising, yes? Let me try to list: Yagudin, Pljushchenko - them I know very well, they are magnificent figure skaters, Maia Usova, Oksana Kazakova - after passing of many years we have wonderful relations, Alexey Urmanov - he is very lovely, Maria Butyrskaja - also very lovely, I like to talk with her.

NS - Do you agree, that the Russian school of figure skating is the strongest in the world?
SB - Certainly. The Russian trainers are the strongest on the planet, many want to work with them. The style of Russian figure skaters is special, it is felt in everything, from the mastering of the skate, up to the program elements. And then, it is necessary not to forget, that in America, for example, figure skating is more like an entertainment: trainings are weakened, and performances areas well. In Europe, in Russia, the trainers are dictators, strong, strong-willed, rigid. And it is all because they know their purpose: to make their student a champion, rather than to be engaged in figure skating for the sake of entertainment! And it is correct. People from Russia know what they are fighting for and what they want to prove. Therefore I love Russian and European systems of preparation. I am glad, that I was born and grew up in Europe because in exactly such a situation my mom and my trainers could instill in me the thought of what I was coming out on the ice for, and owing to it I made myself and achieved what I did. I am not sure that it would turn out that way if I was born in America.

NS- Let's go back to your love for Russia. It is the true, that you speak Russian?
SB -(Answers in Russian.) Yes! Just a little bit.

NS- Just a little bit?
SB- Yes, just a little bit. (Switches to English.) Earlier I spoke better, tried to talk in your language, for example, with Oksana Grishchuk and Evgenie Platov. But I did not practice and forgot the language. I live now in Las Vegas, and here nobody speaks Russian, so forgot Russian.

NS - Do you still live in Las Vegas?
SB - Yes, I like it here very much, it is a beautiful city, festive.

NS- And why did you leave France live in the USA?
SB- I just decided. I do not have any more relations with France and I live in America. I work here, here is my home would be my answer without going into details.

NS - Are Midori Ito and Brian Boitano still your idols?
SB- Certainly! It is like a first love, once and for all.

NS- I know that you had a dream to meet Nelson Mandela...
SB- Yes, and I keep dreaming, it would be interesting for me to communicate with him. Simply the opportunity to visit South Africa did not come up yet.

NS - In conclusion, what would you like to tell your admirers in Russia?
SB - (speaks in Russian again) Say hello to everyone, I love all of them.

NS - Your Russian is very good.
SB- I hope it will be better. I want very much to come back to Russia, maybe to the show of Arthur Dmitriev, maybe to Masha Butyrskaya's show. Tell all of my admirers that I need their love! In fact, the main thing that I remember are the happy faces of spectators. It is tremendous, and for the sake of it I am going out on ice! (again in Russian.) I Love you! Greetings! So long!

Translated by G. Sivorinovsky
Web Translations in Real Time
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