Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Thursday, May 24, 2007


Interview with Alexey Mishin by Oxana Tonkacheeva (OT)

Printed in the Russian Language newspaper Novie Izvestia on April 25, 2007


Introduction: On Thursday, April 26 in the Army Theater there will be an official ceremony of awarding the annual sports premium - "Glory." One of the contenders for the title of "Coach of the Year" is famous coach Alexey Mishin (AM) who is well known in figure skating circles as a "professor". Incidentally, Alexey does have a Doctorate Degree and without exaggeration knows everything that there is to know about his beloved sport of figure skating.

OT - Alexey Nikolaevich, are you bored on ice without your champions - Urmanov, Pluschenko?

AM - I hope that the pause will be a short one and within the next four years I will present to the world a new bright figure skater.

OT - Even great sportspeople feel bad without a good coach. How does the coach feel without a great student?

AM - One Oriental philosopher said: If you want to climb the next mountain, you should first get down from the previous one." I came back from the previous mountain, but I did not feel that I got stuck in the swamp.

OT - Is there a new Pluschenko growing up?

AM - It would be my mistake to make a premature announcement. I never do that. My wife and I work with some kids who could bring a surprise. Why don’t I want to point out any one in particular? I never start with an individual sports person, but rather I start with a group. This is my methodology. When kids begin from ground zero, they need a collective. Some time ago I had a group which included Urmanov, Yagudin, Novoseltcev, Tataurov, Shashkin, and then Pluschenko alone. Everyone was bullying him but he struggled, pulled himself up and pushed through. Same is now. My students are quite young and it is hard to say what will come out of them. Each one of them has a bright side. One has great steps, the other makes good turns, the third one is emotional, the fourth one is strong, the fifth one is more psychologically stable. Some of the people in the group accumulate in themselves all of these qualities. And then that one comes to the top by himself. If on the other hand, I would push the athlete up, would attach the sails and would blow into them, it would be my big mistake.

OT - Is Evgeny coming back?

AM - He wants to return very much and if he finds financial support, he will start serious training in July, when all skaters begin their training.

OT - In other words, he needs a sponsor?

AM - One of our Olympic Champions said that to take that route for a second time is an exploit. And true exploits should be correspondingly supported. The president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation mentioned that the members of the National Team were making three to five thousand of rubles (120-200 dollars). It is not a stimuli. Evgeny wants to come back, so help him to continue his career. He will not be able to physically participate in the shows and to run a business any more.

OT - Do you think that it is right that the champions are coming back?

AM - Champions are like crystals. They are examples. They are role models. I think that champions that left the sport, but who still can skate, should come back. Their presence will be good for figure skating. I do believe in our bright future. One has to be up to the task and then we would compete as equals with the current leaders.

OT - Would they allow that? One of them, who went high this season - Brian Joubert said that he did not care if Pluschenko would come back or not.

AM - Joubert has some strong points - the quad jumps, but in everything else he can be beaten. He does not have any interesting routines or poses.

OT - Considering the situation in Russian figure skating in general, Valentin Piseev, the President of the Federation, feels that the problem is that Russia does not have good coaches. Now we are harvesting the results of the mass exodus of our professional coaches out of the country in the previous years. For example, at the last World Championship, out of 24 best dancing pairs, 17 were trained by our coaches.

AM - Yes, our coaches left, but what were they to do? When the whole country went down, figure skating became very expensive. To survive, our coaches had to leave and to use their knowledge, obtained here, to reach a good financial and organizational level. That is why now all of our possibilities could turn into reality if there will be established a good federal program that will support figure skating.

OT - In summary, a good sponsor is needed not only for Pluschenko?

AM - To develop a freestyle program today would cost ten thousand dollars. If you do not have that kind of money, you can develop a program even for three thousand rubles. Take a tutor from a regular school. But then your program would be worth three thousand rubles. My former student, Alexey Urmanov, is a father of three. To support his family and to train his own students, he has to dance in a variety of shows. He has to make money by training kids. He and others have to "sell" their names to the ice shows as to be able to work with their students. Not long ago, I had to call a plumber and he told me that he was making 15 thousand rubles a month (about 600 dollars). I, a decorated coach, make only 14,100 rubles a month. You can make your own conclusions.


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