Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Thursday, June 28, 2007


“Stars on Ice” show is like the first love, which one does not want to repeat

Interview with Ilja Averbuch (IA) by Maxim Falileev (MF) printed in a Russian language Internet publication on June 19, 2007.


Ilja Averbuch is a very smart and busy person. Also he is a perfectionist. Hearing his name one almost immediately imagines ice, spectators and ovations. His show “Ice Symphony” where many stars on ice had participated, was seen in more than 60 Russian cities, and his television show “Stars on Ice” became a major hit last year.

MF – Did your mother bring you to figure skating under the influence of the performances by Irina Rodnina?

IA – Not quite. At that time it was not only Irina Ridnina that was popular, but it was all of figure skating. Our generation was brought up on the wave of successes by Belousova and Protopopov, Pachomova and Gorshkov, Rodnina and Zaitsev. And I hope that the children who their mothers are bringing to the skating rinks these days, would say that they were influenced by our performances.

MF – Who are your parents? Are they sports people?

IA – No, they are not. My mother worked as a music teacher in kindergarten, she also provided accompaniment on the piano, although by training she was a microbiologist. She went to work in the kindergarten as to be near me. My father is an engineer/mathematician. Only now, becoming a parent myself, I can understand the parental exploits that were performed by our mothers and fathers.

MF – If I am not mistaken, you met your future partner and wife Irina at that rink when you were 6 years old.

IA – Yes, it is true. Initially, until we were 10 years old, we skated singles separately. Later our sports roads went separate ways – I went into ice dancing and Irina continued skating solo. We met again when I was 18, when I came to the group of Natalia Linichuk with my then partner Marina Anisina. Together with Marina we won twice the World Junior Championships, while Irina had troubles with her partner. She even considered dropping out of sport. We did not even think at that time about the possibility of skating together. Our work together came later.

MF – The first channel TV is offering you to do a sequel of the “Stars on Ice” show. You said that “unfortunately” you would do a second season of it. What did you mean “unfortunately”?

IA – “Stars on Ice” is for me like a first love, which I do not really want to repeat. We are all vain and we all want to be a bright spot in history. I consider this project not only as a means of bringing up my rating, but as my baby. It should be one and only one. I do not like watching sequels to movies with a number in the title. Although it happens sometimes that the third or fourth parts may be better than the original. Sometimes I calm myself down with this thought. I feel much stronger not about the fact that it will be “Stars on Ice –2," but about the exploitation of the theme of a celebrity in something. I am sure that we will find new angles and new stories to develop a fresh show and to have our project stand out.

MF – Some time ago you told me that your biggest nightmare was a possibility that the ice would thaw, the show would have to be canceled and you would have to explain to the spectators what happened. Do you really worry about your project in your sleep?

IA – This work takes all of my time and all my strength, but I do not complain. I am happy that I have this work, that I have whom to call, where to go and what to do with myself. It is much better than to wake up in the morning with a question of “what to do with myself today?” “Stars on Ice” is my life now. I am always in motion and my inner anxiety is always with me. I get more joy from waiting for something to happen – for a new show or for a vacation. As the saying goes, for me the happiness is not in the fact itself, but it is anticipation.

MF – When you were planning to end your sports career, did you know what would you be doing?

IA – I had some intentions, but I did not think that in just three and a half years I would be so successful in what I was planning to do. When Irina and I went back to Russia after living in the US for 10 years, we did not quite know where we were going. We visited Russia once in a while for a few months for a vacation. But vacations are different from work. And the fact that we could establish ourselves in Moscow meant a great deal to us. Irina opened her figure skating schools in Moscow and other cities in Russia and Belarus. Altogether they have about 500 students. I am sure that her work will bring great results, because I see how involved she is in her coaching.

MF – In a TV serial “The Cruel Time” you played a reporter. He was killed in the fifth part, while in the screenplay it should have happened in the tenth part. Someone said that the director could not stand your acting any more. Was it true and what really happened?

IA – It was a joke. The production just had no money to pay me. But the main outcome of this was that I decided that I would never become a real actor. I mean a true character actor in the theater. Anyone who could speak could take part in a serial. Each one of us has their own charisma and each is interesting in their own way. Theater is a lot of work and really talented people should work there. I decided that I will never work in the theater or in the movies – it is not my calling.

MF – Did your acting experience help you in dealing with stars of your show and with the press?

IA – Of course. That was the time when I was searching for my way in life. Switching from figure skating to acting opened and widened my understanding of life. It was nice to develop self-assurance, but real assurance was always coming to me when I was skating on the ice, and everything else was quite slippery.

MF – Was it difficult to meet the schedule of the show? You must have been on your feet for long hours.

IA – This project took over all of me and I never watched the clock or observed hours. When there is a lot of creativity, one does not feel tired. It is a wonderful feeling when you have an inspiration and you do what you love. From outside it all seems so complex, and it is complex, but it all depends on what you are capable of doing. I was enjoying what I was doing and everything went my way. For example, I could drive for 15 hours, but some people can not drive even for 3 hours.

MF – Was it tiresome to work with the stars?

IA – Not at all. I do not want to single out anyone – it will be not pedagogical. I am happy that I was able to create a creative environment at the project and was able to match the partners really well.

MF – Did you just create the numbers or the costumes as well?

IA – Both. I was always deeply involved in all aspects of figure skating. That was one of the reasons Irina and I decided to finish our sports career so early. We wanted to widen the areas of our participation. Some people asked us why did we not use our creativity when we were dancing in the Olympics. One should understand that then we had different goals. In the competitions the main thing is to perform complex technical elements at the maximum speed and with a high precision. I always wanted to expand the borders, to do something different, but in sports it is almost impossible. These days the young sports people are asking me to help them to design and produce a new program. I think that soon I will start doing it seriously.

MF – While you are occupied by the "Ice Symphony" and Irina is actively coaching in her skating school, who is taking care of your son, Martin?

IA – Of course I would like to give more attention to our son. He is growing up as a very communicable, open and positive lad, and he travels a lot with us. He traveled with us to Turin where we were carrying the Olympic flame, he was with me in Nizny Novgorod recently. No one can say that he is homeless, and besides, he likes the life that we give him and he does not feel any lack of attention from us.

MF – Did you try to put him on skates?

IA – We did, but he did not like it. May be we will try again when he is four.

MF – Are you planning a second child?

IA – We are all in God’s hands and it is impossible to plan everything in life. We will rely on higher forces.

MF – Have you started building your own house?

IA – At the moment we are in the process of moving from one apartment to another. We do want to build a house near Moscow very much.

MF – What do you consider your main achievement?

IA – It is the fact that in 3 years after I completed my sports career, I was able to find myself. I can not complain about my fate, it was nice to me. And a chance to participate in “Stars on Ice” was like winning a lottery ticket.

MF – Usually when people answer this question they refer to their children…

IA – Yes, I know, but I will talk about that when Martin will be 18 and will grow to be a nice, normal person. It is more important for the parents to bring up a child, then to just give a birth to a child.
Wednesday, June 27, 2007


Lev Grossman muses in this week's TIME Magazine:

Writing about rich white people is no way to make it as a novelist anymore. You're just one Fitzgerald among many. Rich black people, though --now there's a subject you can build a brand on.

I found the observation particularly amusing as, just last week, I turned in the copy-edited manuscript of my next Figure Skating Mystery, Skate Crime (available in bookstores everywhere December 2007).

Skate Crime is a little different in format from my previous four skating mysteries in that, in addition to the murder at its center, the book also features in-depth looks, complete with flashbacks, into all of the suspects.

One of them is Antonia Wright (first introduced in On Thin Ice), a character loosely based on the legendary Mabel Fairbanks.

In Toni's flashback, we learn of the difficulties the African-American (then 'colored') young woman had breaking into the top echelons of United States Figure Skating, despite being a very wealthy Harlem debutante.

It's a segment of Black history and society that doesn't get nearly as much play -- in either fiction or non-fiction -- as the less savory aspects. Or so I thought. According to Lev Grossman, though, it's the latest trend!

Meanwhile, what do you all think of my latest cover?
Monday, June 18, 2007


Where are they now?

In Canada.

Under arrest

Okay, between Lloyd Eisler leaving his pregnant wife for a once-upon-a-time starlet (who also proceeded to get pregnant) then getting tossed out of Canadian skating for alleged inappropriate e-mails to a minor, this saga now has Made-for-TV movie written all over it. (E! maybe, WE, or even Lifetime).

Kristy Swanson will presumably want to play herself (though wouldn't it be hilarious if her Buffy successor, Sarah Michelle Geller, who also claims a skating past were to get the part). But who to get for Lloyd?

The actor would need to be able to fake at least some skating, plus convey the inner life of a man who seems to sabotage himself at every turn... while wearing a perennially goofy facial expression.

Sounds like a job for Will Ferrell to me!
Wednesday, June 13, 2007


Oleg Ovsannikov came back from the USA and became a chief coach of the Russian National Synchronized Skating Team.

Article in Russian language Internet publication published on May 30, 2007


The president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Mr. Valentin Piseev, announced that the famous Russian figure skater, 37 year old Oleg Ovsannikv, who in pair with Angelica Krilova won European and World Championships and became a silver medallist of the 1998 Olympics in dances on ice, returned from the States and became the chief coach of the Russian national Synchronized Skating team.

Russian fans remember Mr. Ovsannikov very well. In pair with Angelica he was twice the Champion of Russia (1998, 1999); five times European medallist (1995 - bronze, 1996- 1998 - silver, 1999- gold); four time World medallist (1996 and 1997 - silver, 1998 and 1999 - gold); silver medallist of Grand Prix competitions in 1996 and 1997 and gold medallist in 1999; silver medallist at the Olympics at Nagano. After completing his amateur career in 2000 due to the trauma of his partner, he became a professional skater and went on to participate in shows on ice in the USA and then became a coach.

At this time he decided to come back to Russia to support the figure skating sport there. The Russian Federation is interested in such people as Oleg - experienced, but still young. He was appointed chief coach of synchronized skating - a spectacular sport that is gaining more popularity in the world. Russia can not boast of a real success in this field. Up till now there was no National Team and Russia was represented at the international competitions and even at the World Championships by representatives of different clubs.

Also, Ovsannikov will consult with various ice dancers due to his vast experience in this sport.
Wednesday, June 06, 2007


Why would Yagudin want to come back?

Interview with Alexey Yagudin (AY), Oxana Kazakova and Alexey Urmanov by a correspondent of Russian Language newspaper "Nevsky Sport" Elena Yazeva (EY) printed on May 17, 2007.


News about the return of 27 years old Yagudin, the Olympic Champion of 2002 and the four time (1998, 1999, 2000, 2002) World Champion to amateur sports exited all lovers of figure skating. It was so significant because he left the sport in November of 2003. Even the announcement of his return by Pluschenko, who left the sport just a year ago, was met with substantial skepticism.

One could suggest that Alexey keeps himself in top form and is constantly participating in professional competitions and in ice shows. But to anyone who may know anything about amateur sports, it would be obvious that professional sport is not comparable with amateur sport. Different pressures, different nerves. Getting medals and titles is very different from making money. Yagudin can jump quads sometimes in his practice, but will he be able to do it 20 times in practice each day? It is doubtful. One of the reasons for his leaving the sport was serious hip trauma. And it is not clear if the problem will be fixed by the operation that everybody talks about. Not long ago Yagudin participated in a competition in Japan. After he completed his performance, the grimace of pain could be seen on his face. If everything was so simple, he could have gotten an operation back in 2003, miss just one year, and easily come back. But he did not do it because he did not feel that it was necessary. Yagudin reached in sport everything that he wanted. Olympic gold was a logical completion of his brilliant career. There was nothing left for him to reach for. And so now the main question is - why should Yagudin come back to sport? It is not the money, because in commercial shows he makes much more than in sport.

Could it be his need of glory? Maybe. The Olympic gold is shining brightly for the first four years, until another champion takes the title. A skater who is used to being in front of cameras would be upset by losing the spotlight. Yagudin seemed to be content with his new life. But maybe now he wants to get his former glory back. The decisive factor in this story may be the desire of Yagudin to be unique. Now he is considered a high class figure skater, he has his followers, but he is one of many. But if after such a long break he would be able to overcome his problems and come back and reach his former level, then his name would be written in gold letters in the history of sports. It may be the only serious reason for his comeback. But if it is true, then should we expect a comeback from Irina Rodnina, or Belousova and Protopopov? They regularly practice and participate in shows.

The subject of returning to sport was addressed by Mr. Yagudin himself.

EY - Alexey, when should we expect your coming back?

AY - I am sick and tired of the calls that I get on the subject. The more people ask me, the more I think that maybe I should come back.

EY - So will you renew your amateur career or not?

AY - Everything can happen in this life. Given the right circumstances, I may even jump a five turn jump. Never say "never". Nor would I refrain from comments. I like my life now, but I would not predict the future.

When asked about the possibility of Yagudin's coming back to the sport, some of his colleagues told us as follows:

Olympic champion of 1998 Oxana Kazakova: "Such a genius skater as Alex, even with such a long break in his career, could easily come back to sports. The level of men's single skating did not progress that much in these years. Yagudin was always a head above others. All of his competitors are just starting to get now up to his level. If he could perform at the level of his peak performance at the 2002 Olympics, he could compete with anyone. Another question is - if he really needs to do that. He does not have to prove anything to anyone. He showed to everyone that he was the best in the world. May be he is just bored with his life and missing the adrenaline rushes? I know from my own experience that I miss amateur sports while working at the professional shows. At the regular competitions there are different emotions, different level of passions. Maybe that is why Alexey would like to come back. At this time he would skate for pleasure, rather than for medals or prizes. He has to overcome a serious bureaucratic problem though. The International Skaters Union is extremely critical of such returns. Officially it is prohibited. Yagudin will hope to get some favors from the officials. If they allow him to come back, maybe I should think of coming back as an amateur as well? Why not?"

Olympic champion of 1994 Alexey Urmanov: "All this hype about their returning is getting on my nerves. One day they are coming back, the other they are not. It bothers us, the coaches of the younger generation of skaters. I am tired to hear this nonsense. At first it was Pluschenko and now Yagudin. It is a lot of talk. If they are real men, they should stop talking and start acting. If one wants to come back he should start practicing, go on the ice, start making jumps and then make bold statements. There is a lot of smoke and no fire. It is hard to say which form Yagudin is in now. But if he could get back to his previous peak form, I would applaud him."
Monday, June 04, 2007


Victoria Volchkova became a coach

Translation of an article from a Russian Language publication "Tvoj Den" printed on May 26, 2007.

Many time Russian and European Championships prizewinner figure skater Victoria Volchkova announced today that she decided to quit amateur sports and become a professional coach.

"I started working together with my coach Victor Kudrjavtsev," said the 24 years old sportswoman. "I am very pleased that he trusted me and invited me to work in his group. I will be working with promising boys and girls. Now I will have more time for myself, but I am not done with the figure skating. I will participate in exhibition performances and in the ice shows."
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