Translation of an article printed in Russian Language on-line publication Autonet.Ru on October 16,2007
Former figure skater and now beautiful actress and singer Anna Semenovich had long ago become a person that the nation is proud of.
People do not only admire, but adore her, especially the male half of Russia, while the women are quietly jealous of her.
And the reason for that is not only her perfect bust line, which is often mentioned in the press, but that Anna Semenovich is an outstanding person, who overcame great difficulties and moved to the height of her glory regardless of all obstacles in her way.
The story that Anna in her youth was very seriously involved in sports and even was one of the best figure skaters of her time, was considered by many as a joke. But it was not a joke. The beautiful singer of the group “The Shining” was a professional figure skater, who had shown with her talent that she was really the best in her time.
If it was not for a trauma, due to which she had to leave the sport, she would win many more competitions.
But the occasion that took her away from her beloved sport did not push her down into the abyss that many former sportspeople fall into after leaving sports. Due to her persistence, perseverance and endurance, she became not just well known, but very popular in show business.
Says Anna: “I am very active. I can not sit in one place for long. It is as if a motor inside me pushes me all the time – go forward, overcome, conquer”.
Anna was born on the first day of spring in Moscow. She was a late and long-awaited child of her not too well off parents. When she was 2 years old she became sick and her parents took her to sports. In the 80s, sports and arts clubs were free and she was taking music and singing classes as well. She never had a free moment to be slacking.
Says Anna: “The deficiencies that I had to overcome in my youth made the foundation of my character, made me resistant and strong. It really helps me now.
Today Anna Semenovich is a bright personality, who likes to be the best firstly for herself and as a result of it, for outsiders. Her admirers are expressing their love in different ways, for example by writing messages to her on the windshield of her car.
Says Anna: “I did like to read messages stating that I was the most beautiful and adorable, especially if they were left on the dusty windshield, but when they were scratched on the car, it was too much”.
But Anna is not getting upset, and is periodically taking her car to a body shop for a paint job.
In general the singer likes cars very much. She is a good driver with a number of years of driving experience. Anna got her first driver's license during skating practice in the USA and at the age of 21 she bought her first typical American car - Ford Taurus, which she drove for 2 years and she was very happy with the vehicle.
Anna is very meticulous in selecting her cars and she thinks that everything has its time limit. That is why the cars are not staying for too long in her garage. When at 23 Anna returned to Russia, she quickly switched to a gray Peugeot 206. And on her 25th birthday she presented herself with a brand new Toyota RAV4 which she enjoyed for 2 years as well. In general Anna likes Jeeps and thinks that they are the most comfortable cars.
In the past Anna was driving her cars herself, but lately, with a very tight schedule of endless concerts and tours, she hired a driver, who also serves as a body guard.
Says Anna: “Despite the fact that I like driving very much, nowdays I gave this task to a professional and I climb in the back, coil up and take a nap while he is driving”.
These days the beautiful actress and singer is being driven in a beige Porsche Cayenne which meets all of the requirements of its starry owner.
Looking at the dynamics with which Anna is changing her “horses” it is hard to imagine how many cars she will have in her life. Today she is dreaming about a strong and noble Infinity.
Anna Semenovich is a shining example of a person who became famous due to her optimism and hard work. And naturally, no one would argue that fate was favorable to her.
Translation of an article by Irina Stepantseva and Asia Alimova published in the Russian Language Publication “Moskovsky Komsomolets” on October 24, 2007.
Today a famous coach of figure skaters marks his seventieth birthday.
He is some kind of an unusual genius coach. He never talks about his achievements; he does not look down on people. He never needles his colleagues. It is only work and results for him. He is very talented and modestly charming.
One would be surprised, but THE unique Ludmila Pachomova began her career with him as a singles skater. In his first group, he had also the first male singles champion Sergey Volkov. He also coached the pair of Smirnova-Surajkin.
There are a lot of famous and talented pupils of Victor Kudrjavtsev. He generously guided them into the sports life, sometimes not even getting any credit for their successes. He taught Kira Ivanova to jump, but she reached the Olympic pedestal with a Kovalev.
Ilja Kulik won with Kudrjavtsev the European Championship, but won the Olympics at Nagano with Tarasova.
Maria Butirskaya went to conquer the world with Chaikovskaja.
How does one count the medals of this coach? He counted them 108 - received at the Championships of Russia, Europe, World and Olympics. Any one could challenge that count if they want to, but who would dare? He is a technical genius – it is a well know fact.
Some felt pity for him, some felt that he had bad karma – as soon as he would bring up a student who would feel the strong “wings”, they would replace Kudrjavtsev as a coach. Why would the students leave him after he helped them to discover figure skating? May be it was because he treated everyone equal and some felt that he did not give them special attention? Or maybe because greatness is better seen from afar and it is much harder to go back than to keep moving forward.
Victor used to say: “What can one do, I do not like diplomacy. I always had some strong pupils in my groups and if I would pay more attention to one, the others would be upset”.
It was not really that important why the pupils would go away – he never panicked. If the talent went to someone else, what could he do? Of course no one likes treachery, but he always had more pupils to work with. He even defends the ones who left him saying that they had their right to choose. He likes to work with novices – with the raw material, and to be patient.
What he can not justify is the gossip about him and his students. But if the coaches to whom his pupils would go would respect him, and would ask him for advice, he would be happy to help. He helped Tarasova work with Kulik. Victor likes talented people, not the ones who would waste their talent, but the ones who work to grow their talent. He always felt that if the skaters would not follow his instructions, it was a waste of his time and he was not going to hold their hands. They had to work hard by themselves as to improve their performance. His job is to give them the skating skills. In his view, a champion is a sports person who has some specific qualities – physical, psychological and moral. A champion should be able to make the right decision without a coach. It is impossible to teach a person to compete. He either has this quality or not. And one should not exaggerate the role of the coach at this stage.
It was always hard to be a coach. The parents were always difficult to deal with, but these days the main thing that they think about is not the sports or art, but the pocket book. This is one thing that Victor would cut down immediately – the interference of the parents in the practice. Many think that if they pay for the training, they can do anything.
Kudrjavtsev is not complaining because he has the most important thing for a coach – his private ice that he works on. It is unusual even for such a famous coach as Kudrjavtsev.
He has groups that he coaches for money and the others are just for sports. He has a staff of coaches who work under his supervision and by his methods. He can teach people to jump as no one can. He consults and teaches other coaches. He continues to coach the members of the National Team. And that is how he meets his seventieth birthday.
If you ask him about his age he would tell you that there are many people older than he who like to talk and have something interesting to talk about. He would not want to make himself as an example; he would rather concentrate on his work.
Clash of titans – Alex Zhulin versus Ilja Averbuch.
Translation of an interview by V. Peskova (VP) a correspondent of a Russian language publication “Sem40.ru” with Alex Zhulin (AZ) and Ilja Averbuch (IA) published on October 16, 2007.
The competition of the participants of the show “Ice Age” is more intriguing due to the fact that two coaches of the show, Alex Zhulin and Ilja Averbuch, are also competing with each other. But this is mostly for the show. In real life, they are very peaceful toward each other.
VP – Alex, this year you are participating as a coach rather than a performer. What is simpler – to be a performer or a coach?
AZ – No comparison – a performer – it is less responsibility.
VP – Are you missing Ingeborge Dupkunite with whom you danced last year?
AZ – Of course I am missing her and I am using this opportunity to send my greetings to her. I hope to see her soon. She is taking part in a movie where I will choreograph a dance on the floor for her. We keep in touch, talk about our work. We are very good friends.
VP – Ilja, in the show “Dances on Ice,” Alex Zhulin was your pupil and now he is a real competitor of yours. Which one did you have better relations with?
IA – Our relations did not change. They have always been of mutual respect. Maybe even more than that. Also, I can not call Alex my pupil. I just assisted him in his work with Ingeborge Dupkunite. The same way as I would help all others. Alex is about 10 years older than I am and he has tremendous experience as a coach. In his time he coached Olympic Champions. I never coached sportspeople. I was just helping them by choreographing their dances. We are very respectful of each other.
VP – Do you consider your competition only as a show, or do you want your team to win?
AZ – I see it as a show. There is some spirit of competition, of course, but I can not consider it a serious competition. I want to make sure that each pair has its image and its style and everything would look 100% real.
IA – Of course some ardor appears and there is nervousness. There is the additional weight of responsibility and some intrigue. But with all that I do not forget that it is just a show. These are not sportspeople who were trained for years. Everything is done in a very short period of time. Everyone got a sportsperson who can do something at this juncture. So, our competition is more in ideas and composition of the numbers than it is a real struggle for me. I want my team to win in this struggle.
VP – How did you initially split the participants and decide who would work with whom?
IA – Initially I was coaching all the participants of the project. Three weeks before starting taping, Alex joined me. We looked at all of the participants, realized their potential and divided them into equal groups according to their abilities to skate. We assembled the teams together and they seem to be equal. My team was initially skating weaker than the other, but it was emotionally stronger.
VP – Alex, I read that you feel sorry that you do not coach Chulpan Khamatova?
AZ – I said that it was a pity that she is not skating in my team. I feel that she would be an ace in my team.
VP – Ilja, did you think about switching wives for the project – you would coach Tatiana Navka and Alex would coach Irina Lobacheva?
IA – There was a thought to do that, but then some complications arrived and each of us works with his wife.
VP – Alex, I assume that at home you are discussing the project with Tatiana.
AZ – Yes, of course. I always try to support and calm her down. She is a person who used to be always a leader, and if something is not going her way, she is getting restless. I have to help her to calm down and to assure her that everything will be Ok.
VP – Teachers at schools have their favorite pupils. You must also have some favorite pairs.
IA – No, I do not have favorites and I am not lying. I love every one of them when I see how much work they put in the project. I like to work with each individual. Each pair creates the image that I expect of them.
AZ – I also can say that I do not have favorites. I try to be warm and loving with each pair.
VP – Who of the members of the teams should work harder?
IA – I would love to have more time with Mikhail Galustian, but we have to work around his tight schedule.
AZ – I agree that it is sometimes hard to work around people’s schedule.
VP – In the process of your work together do you discuss your work or share professional secrets?
AZ – We do discuss some issues but not much.
IA –According to the rules of the project, which I designed as an executive producer, we coach our teams on separate rinks. Up to the last minute we do not know the programs of each team. We meet only on the day of the show when we bring our teams together. So, we do not share our experience and it is a real competition of the teams.
Translation of an interview with Evgeny Pluschchenko (EP) by Sergey Vladimirov (SV) a correspondent of the Russian language newspaper “Komsomolskaja Pravda” printed on October 11, 2007
Introduction: When this famous skater was elected to the Legislative Council of the City of St. Petersburg, many people were skeptical of his intentions. But for Evgeny, it turned out to be very serious. He thinks that politics may become the main task of his life. At the same time, he is not finished with the big sports yet. He is planning his return as an amateur and he has big plans for the TV shows that he is involved with.
SV – Evgeny, how do you manage to combine your active life style with the sports?
EP- By careful scheduling. If I am not on tour, I do politics. I am trying to be active and to not miss too many of the sessions of the Legislative Council. Thank God they stopped checking on me if I was in my office or not.
SV – Did they check on you before?
EP – There were a lot of them checking on me if I was there.
SV – There were probably a lot of gossips about your political ambitions.
EP – Oh yes, there was a lot of speculations. I do not even want to remember most of them. Some were saying that I would not participate in the work of the Legislative Council, some said that it was just a PR stunt as to fool my constituents, and that after the election I would transfer my mandate to someone else, and also that I have done it for the money. All of that was very unpleasant, but I did not pay any attention to it. I have a tremendous amount of real fans, who love me for my creativity and as a person. My main goal now is not to sue anyone or argue in the press, but to work in politics for my constituents and in sports for my fans. I want to be close to my fans and to promote the shows and the figure skating.
SV – So, are you saying that all of the talk about your political work was unfair? Were you invited to participate in the election just as a familiar face?
EP – To be honest with you, the role of a politician is very interesting for me. That was why I agreed to participate in the elections and that was why I joined the Central Committee of the Fair Russia Party.
SV – Politics are of interest to many people, but not many actually go into it, especially if they distinguished themselves in some other areas, as you did.
EP – Let me make it clear that I went in to politics intentionally because I started thinking about the future. I always wanted to be able to influence our sport and to be able to help those who left the sport, like I did. Many of them have tragic fates. I have tremendous sports experience – 20 years, it is not a joke. I think that my opinion may be very useful to others. At some point I would not be able to skate any more. One has to think about the future in advance and to make sure that the future would be good.
SV – It is clear that sports are important to you, but politics is much broader than just sports problems.
EP – It is true. Politics appear to be much more complicated than I thought. It has its nuances that I am not familiar with. But I am thankful to my friends who are helping me in this new activity; they show me how the system works and explain everything to me. And besides, my mother likes what I am doing. When I joined the Fair Russia party she was very happy, although she was always suspicious of the political parties and of politics in general.
SV – What are your personal plans concerning sports? Will your old injuries prevent you from coming back?
EP – My wounds are my paybacks for the past 20 years in big sports. It happened that I came to figure skating as a child and I lifted high my professional level at a very early age by conducting complex three and four turn jumps. But I am not finished with sports. After such a long break it would be very difficult to come back. To come back is usually ten times more difficult that just to begin. The main thing is that I would like to try my strengths. But I will never be content with second place, for me it will be a real defeat. I used to be a leader, defending the honor of my country. I started practicing. Last summer I had an operation. Now I am practicing double and triple jumps and I am preparing a new program.
SV – What are your plans beside sports?
EP – I am working on new programs. It is not that simple. I want to surprise and to amaze everyone. When I select the music, I will start looking for choreographers. It is possible that I will invite someone from Broadway, or I will select some of the great Russian ballet masters. I am catastrophically short of time, but nevertheless I do not want to drop either the figure skating, nor the Legislative Council.
SV – Will you write about your political career in the second part of your autobiography?
EP – The idea about writing my autobiography was hatching for a long time. I wanted to write for the young people, who were also in a difficult situation as I was. I hope that no one would be able to say that Pluschenko had everything easy. So far I released the first part, because I could not write about many things like my TV shows, due to contract limitations. It is natural that my political work at the Fair Russia party became an important part of my life and I will write about it in the second part of my book.
Ekaterina Gordeeva is coming back on ice in Russia.
Translation of an interview by a correspondent of Russian Language newspaper “Trud” Nadezhda Shulga (NS) with Ekaterina Gordeeva (EG) printed on October 18, 2007
Two time Olympic Pair Champion Ekaterina Gordeeva is coming out on ice in Russia. She did not perform in Russia for 13 years, but she is being remembered and loved here. Her new home is America for a long time now, while in Russia, separate from her, lives on its own a legend of an out-of-this-world tragic love between Ekaterina and Sergey. Even at a recent ceremony of presenting awards in figure skating, she was awarded a “Legend” award.
Her life is like a book which consists of two chapters – the first one is the story of a great love, sadness and loneliness with Sergey Grinkov. This part is beloved and rememebered by heart by her Russian admirers. The second one is the story of the family and happiness with Ilja Kulik, which some in Russia do not even know about, while others categorically do not want to know. The book about Sergey has been written and closed long ago. Sometimes Ekaterina would take it out, would leaf through its pages and would put it back on the far away shelf. She does not want to talk about that part of her life. Now she is writing her new story of love with a wonderful person who brought her back to real life and who gave her a wonderful daughter Lisa and a warm family. Ekaterina is happy with Olympic Champion Ilja Kulik.
We met with Ekaterina before her first performance in Russia in many years. She was extremely nervous backstage at the ice arena “Luzniki." She was very concerned if the spectators remembered her and how she would be accepted now as a single skater.
NS – Ekaterina, lately the various ice shows are very popular in Russia. Did you receive any offers to participate in these projects?
EG – Yes, there were offers from Channel 2 TV. Unfortunately our family could not reorganize as we could accept the invitation to participate in “Dances on Ice”. Recently we moved to a new place in California. My youngest daughter Lisa went to the first grade and the oldest Dasha went to the ninth grade. In the States the grades nine thorough twelve are considered high school and these are the most important years in the school. It is hard for me to leave my girls. I am very used to being with them. That meant that for the duration of the project we all would have to move to Russia. Maybe next year we will be able to do it, if we will be invited again.
NS – Would you come over as the guests of honor?
EG – Yes, we will. Ilja and I will come over and will skate at the final Gala concert.
NS – The current (gymnastics) Champion of the US is Anastasia Lukin (her father Valery Lukin was a Soviet Olympic Champion, who left for USA); Andrey Bikov (son of two time Olympic hockey Champion Viacheslav Bikov) plays under the colors of the Swiss national hockey team. Is it possible that the new Champion of the USA in figure skating will be Dasha Gordeeva or Lisa Kulik?
EG – Dasha would hardly be able to do it. She skated till she was 14 and now at 15 she stopped skating. Now she is playing volleyball at her school and she likes it very much. Lisa is six now and so far she likes skating very much. We will see what will happen with her. We are not going to force her to become a figure skater. Weather she will be a champion will not depend on her parents, or on what they can give her. She has to have a strong character, will to win and to work hard.
NS – Six year old Sasha Zhulina, daughter of Tatiana Navka and Alex Zhulin, was skating in an exhibition performance at this year’s ceremony of awarding the first figure skating prize. Your Lisa could have skated with her.
EG – Two/three years ago Dasha skated with the son of Arthur Dmitriev in a similar show in St. Petersburg. At that time everyone was asking them if they were planning to skate as a pair. I do not want to push my girls anywhere. If they have talent and if they practice, they will make it on their own.
NS – Our tennis player Maria Sharapova is often reproached for being more American than Russian. When you left for the Stated, did anyone reproach you for it?
EG – No, we were not reproached. They stopped writing about us. It was a time of declining interest in figure skating in Russia. I was very upset. It seemed that figure skating was forgotten. Seven years ago I came to Russia and did not even find a place to skate. The rinks were in decay.
NS – But it seemed that you separated yourself from the Russian press.
EG – Yes, maybe it was that way. At a difficult time in my life help came from America. There I was invited to participate in shows, under my and Sergey’s name they opened a skating rink. It seemed that no one was waiting for me in Russia.
NS – Were you not coming back to Russia for the last 13 years?
EG – No, I was here every summer and sometimes for the New Year. I did not come out to perform on ice in Russia for 13 years. We are coming here to the summer house of my parents in the Tver region. My daughters know what Russian summer house (dacha) means.
For those still debating the 2002 Olympic Pair skating result, here comes a chance to continue the conflict.
Imagine Olympics 2026: Jesse Pelletier, son of Canada's Jaime Sale and David Pelletier, versus Trystan Cousins, son of Russia's Elena Bereznaia and Great Britain's Steven Cousins.
Here is a Russian television video of the latter bringing their little guy home from the hospital. A translation is below:
Announcer: For the first time together under the sun, shy Elena, like a fairy tale character, who covers herself up with flowers; Steven with a stunned smile and Trystan in the car-seat. Elena’s mother, who flew in from Nevinnomisk, is walking behind the new parents as not to interfere.
There were only 100 steps from the door of the hospital to their car. Those were like 100 steps into the new life.
Elena: It is hard to believe that it really happened, that it is mine, and that I am a mom. But everything is going well. It is the third day now and we got acquainted and became friends with my son.
Announcer: The newborn is making faces in his sleep. Elena is reciting the usual news of the newborns: – “ the weight – 5.9 pounds; 18.1 inch tall; I will be breast feeding; I have prepared a million pants and shirts, as a result of nine months of shopping."
Steven: Elena wanted that we should give birth together. I was standing there thinking that I can bear it and she would bear it too. The doctors were very concerned, but they did not know her.
Announcer: The doctors knew about her terrible head trauma and they did not even consider to offer the general anesthesia. They know that once Elena has already forced herself to restart her life from the very beginning. In 1996 in synchronized rotation, her partner hit her in the temple with his skate. The doctors were convinced that she would not even be able to talk. At that time she was saved by Anton Sikharulidze. He told her: “Let’s go girl, you have to skate!” In two month she was able to come out on ice, and in a year she became the European Champion.
The world triumph came in 2002 in Salt Lake City. Elena and Anton became the most beautiful pair in the world and the winners of Olympic Gold medals. And it was also a time for their first scandal – the quote from the American newspapers – “The judges gave them more favorable marks. There should be another set of medals issued”.
She was saved this time by Steven Cousins. Elena would lose her mind if she would not fell madly in love with the young British figure skater.
Says Cousins: I was about to lose my mind as well. She was the best and it was her gold medal, she could do everything, even to be with me.
Announcer: Elena says, smiling: Yes I can start another new life, this time with Tristan when I will teach him to speak two languages and to skate while we will learn to live together with Trystan in Moscow and wait for papa Steven there.
Elena: We are going to stay here for another month and a half and then we will go back to Moscow after Trystan would grow a little and become stronger. Back to work.
Announcer: In six weeks she is planning to come out on the ice. She says: “I can do it. Now I have another man in my life - Trystan who can save me”.
Ed note: If young Trystan does decide to take up competitive skating, he will have a very similar namesake. Tristan Cousins, nephew of 1980 Olympic Champion Robin Cousins, is a national and international competitor.
Translation of an article by Mikhail Gasparov printed on October 11,2007 in the Russian language publication Utro.ru
Figure skater Anastasia Gorshkova, who lived for 2 years with the Olympic Champion Alexey Yagudin told the press about the reason for her break up with Yagudin.
According to her, he did not satisfy her in the bed.
She said: “He was not a super lover. Unfortunately he was not as good in bed, as he was on the ice. I would not say that sex with him was bad, but it could be much better. It was not that he lacked strength or imagination, but it was missing something. We always stayed in the classical missionary position . We did not do anything extreme so as not to get another trauma. We both had our share of dislocations and fractures."
The pair broke up just before the start of the show “Ice Age." The couple was looking for an apartment in Moscow where they would stay during the taping of the show, but Yagudin again upset Anastasia and she slapped him in the face and left him for St. Petersburg for good.
There she learned about the intrigue between Alexey and his new partner – the young singer Victoria Daineko, but she was skeptical about the potential of the new couple.
According to Anastasia, Yagudin is “not made” for family life – he is a “pathological bachelor”.
(Please see the article below, where he more or less agrees with her assesment).
Alexey Yagudin – I am making more than Pluschenko!
Translation of an interview with Alexey Yagudin (AY) by a correspondent of the Russian Language publication Express Gazeta Sergey Dadigin (SD) printed on October 5, 2007.
Introduction: The sensational decision to return to amateur sports by Alexey Yagudin, five years after his victory at the Salt Lake City Olympics, created a lot of buzz. But it is not that simple. As per our information this season, the spectators will not see the great skater in major competitions. On July 5, Alexey had a serious operation in the USA for replacement of the hip joint. Doctors prohibited Alexey to get on ice for 3 weeks. He stayed off ice only for 2 weeks. And he was horrified that he could not control his leg.
SD – Alexey, why did you not listen to your doctors?
AY – I thought that they were overly cautious. I was eager to check my new leg out. And when it did not work, I was so terrified that I was almost crying. Fortunately everything worked out and in 3 days I was back on ice.
SD – Could you explain why did you decided to undergo such an unusual operation?
AY – I had troubles with my leg since birth. I could walk on the street and just fall down. My back and spine were treated, but nothing helped. All my life I suffered from pain, I just got used to it. After the 2002 Olympics the pain got worse, I was very depressed. Tatiana Tarasova helped me with her wisdom. She told me that I was lucky that the severe pain happened after I won the Olympics and that I should just enjoy life rather than be depressed. It is great that medicine progressed so far. 5 years ago people could not get titanium joints.
SD – Were you afraid of the operation? They had to insert a foreign object into your body.
AY – Before the operation, my doctor gave me a brochure that described the operation in detail, as well as what I could and could not do after the operation. It even included positions in which I could have sex. I understood then the seriousness of my decision, but I could not go back. I was immobilized for 2 days after the operation. On the third day I was able to get to the toilet. For a few days I could not sit on a chair, I was just lying down. I was getting used to my new condition.
SD – Why do you want to come back to sports? Being 4 time World Champion and the Winner of the Olympic titles is not enough?
AY – It is the lack of adrenaline. I want to test myself again. I reached almost all of my goals. The main drawback is that I am out of sport for 5 years and I am not getting younger. My nervous system is not as it used to be either. I did not set a goal to win the Vancouver Olympics. If I would be one of the three winners, I would be happy.
SD – Did you know that in the next World Championship Russia will be represented only by one male single skater?
AY – Yes, I was told about that. It is terrible. We always had at least three spots there. But I am not planning to compete in the World’s. This current season will be an introductory, gradually coming back season for me. Earlier then next spring I will not participate in any competition.
SD – Did you send an application to the ISU to restore your amateur status?
AY – Not yet. To write the letter is not a big deal. First I want to be able to jump a quad. To check out how my hip would behave under pressure.
SD – Will Tatiana Trasova be your coach again?
AY – No, now I will work with Nikolay Morozov. He better understood the new trends in figure skating and in the new system of judging. Morozov made a young Japanese girl the new World Champion. Tarasova is a unique person, but she still creates programs from her heart, more on emotions. These days the coach of figure skating should be a mathematician and to calculate in advance on a calculator how many points each element would bring. Also, Ms. Tarasova has her own family problems now. I will involve her as a consultant.
SD – In the “Ice Age” show on the first channel of Russian TV you are skating with a young singer, Victoria Dajneko. How did you end up with her?
AY – Initially I was supposed to skate with Angelica Warum, but she changed her mind. I am happy to skate with such a partner as Victoria. She wants to learn new things and she is always smiling.
SD – Your former partner, TV anchor Oxana Pushkina, did not smile at all?
AY – That was not it. She tried to produce the programs by herself, without Averbuch. And she tried to direct me, as if she knew anything in figure skating. But finally we worked out.
SD – In your pair with Pushkina you did not get any prizes. Can you win some with Victoria?
AY – Why not? We will try. Although at the last taping Victoria told me that she did not think that she could skate as good as Chulpan Chamatova did. It was true, that Chulpan skated better, and she was doing it for a long time now. She was coached by Averbuch back in 2006 at Turin Olympics. In general I was very impressed how the non skaters skate at the show. It will be an interesting competition.
SD – In parallel with this show, the TV channel Russia produces another ice show – “Dances on Ice”. Have you ever seen that show?
AY – Very briefly. I did not even see the opening. I was invited to go there, but decided not to go. There are the older figure skaters, not of my age group. That was why I selected channel 1. It is more comfortable here.
SD – Did Victoria have a car accident?
AY – Nothing serious, just a scratch on the car.
SD – Evgeny Pluschenco is going to release a book soon about himself. Would you be interested to read it?
AY – Not really. If I catch it I may look through it. Incidentally, I am also writing a book and will finish and release it soon. I am not writing it by myself, I have a literature editor. I think that my book will be no less interesting that Pluschenko’s.
SD – It was told that Evgeny was planning to participate in the “Ice Age” show as well, but he changed his mind because of the disagreements with Averbuch.
AY – I really do not care why he did or did not participate in the show. Actually, he was considering the ice shows on 3 different TV channels, but at the end he was nowhere. By the way, initially Averbuch proposed to me to become a commentator at the show together with Irina Slutskaya, but then I ended up skating with Victoria and Irina is working with Marat Basharov.
SD – When you were signing a contract at the show did you check how much was offered to Pluschenko? Did you set a condition to be paid more than him?
AY – You know, when I become an Olympic Champion in addition to my prize I was given just a voucher for 200 pounds of black chocolate. Four years later the winners, including Pluschenko, were getting cars and apartments. Ms. Tarasova helped me to get an apartment as well. If not for her I would not have one. But after my victory I left for the US. Pluschenko stayed back in Russia. He was a freshly minted champion and TV channels were competing for him and offered him big money. Someone even mentioned the sum of $700K, which was nonsense, figure skaters were not paid that kind of money. In the USA, I am making more than Pluschenko any way.
SD – If you run into Pluschenko at the taping of your show, what would you do?
AY – I would say hello, and move on.
SD – Would you talk to him? You have similar problems now, you and he are coming back on ice and both had operations.
AY – You know, I congratulated him with his victory in Turin by sending him a text message, but he never replied. When his son was born, I called him and we had a normal conversation. I respect him as an outstanding sportsman, but I would not be a judge of his character. Let someone else do that.
SD – Pluschenko was younger than you, but he already was married, had a child and got divorced. Are you going to be single for the rest of your life?
AY – I remember that when I was 19 or 20 years old, I was looking with a great interest at a girl. My mother asked me why I was looking at her like that and I replied that I was looking at the potential mother of my children. My mother told me that I was too young to think about that. At that time I wanted to get married, but then I decided that my freedom was very dear to me and I did not want to give it up. Who needs all of the problems of marriage, divorces, division of the property? Why not live together and if it would not work out, just split?
SD – Does it mean that you are not going to get married?
AY – Not in the next few years.
SD – Than what about Nastia Gorshkova? The papers were talking about the imminent wedding.
AY – We are not going to get married. I honestly explained my philosophy to Nastia. And I do not want children now. It is easy to make a kid, but who would bring him up? I do not have time for kids now.
SD – Are you completely occupied by figure skating?
AY – Not quite. I am also occupied by running my own transportation company that I recently acquired. It is a lot of work to get involved in the operation of the company, but one has to do it as not to be ripped off. In the Sates, together with my friend Mikhail Goldin, we have a small construction-development company. Also, recently I was invited to play a role in a television serial on the first channel. The screenplay is still being worked on, but it will be about figure skating. Masha Petrova and Roman Kostomarov will also participate in it. At this time I am working with an acting tutor. So, my life is pretty busy, but I like it that way.
SD - But if you really want to come back to amateur sports you will have to drop all of that at least till March of 2010.
AY - Yes I know, and I can be patient for two and a half years.
Translation of an interview with Averbukh and Zjulin published in a Russian Language Internet Publication “Sem40.Ru” (S40) on September 4, 2007
Two coaches of the new show “Ice Age” Ilya Averbukh (IA) and Alexander Zjulin (AZ) are very different - like fire and water, poems and prose, but they are united by the ice.
S40 – What is the most difficult part of coaching the participants in the “Ice Age” show?
AZ – To combine coaching of my pupils in the big sports and the stars on ice. I work with my pupils 5 hours a day and the rest of the day, including nights, I work with the stars. It is a very tight schedule, but I hope that the quality of my work does not suffer.
IA – There are a lot of difficulties. It is a new format – now there are two coaches. Also, the current stars participating in the project want to be better than the ones that participated in the previous one.
S40 – How much time do you spend on working with each pair?
AZ – If the pair is promising I work with them 45 minutes or an hour. Sometimes more. Recently I was working on a number for Victoria Daineco and Alexey Yagudin and it turned out that Victoria, a soloist with the group “Fabrika”, had to go on tour and we had to work till 3 am as to complete the number.
IA – Each pair takes about 2 hours. It could be more, depending on if we are just choreographing a new one, or rehearsing an existing dance.
S40 – Do you have any talismans when you go on ice?
AZ – When I coached Navka and Kostomarov, I was always holding their jackets when they went on the ice. They would put them on the border, but I would always take them in my hands. But lately I believe in talismans less and less. When I would see a church I would cross myself, but it is different.
IA – Not lately. Before I always wanted to put my skate guards next to each other, or give it my coach tohold. Now I do not believe in that because I am not skating myself any more. I produce the show, it is my baby and there are a lot of superstitions related to it, but I decided to be stronger than them.
S40 – Do you follow a special diet to stay in form?
AZ- I eat breakfasts and like to have a nice dinner. If I take on some extra pounds, I limit myself in sweets – eat smaller portions.
IA – Unfortunately not, usually I eat two times a day - I like breakfasts and good dinners.
S40 – How do you relax in your free time?
AZ – I like soccer, tennis, horseback riding or swimming with the family. Unfortunately for the next 2-4 months I will have to forget about these things and about my child. I will just remember my wife, since I am her coach as well.
IA – I also like soccer and tennis. I like to travel and discover new places. We walk in the park with my family, but at present time I would like to sleep more.
S40 – What do you do when people recognize you in the streets?
AZ – In general it is nice, but sometimes when I would sit and eat, someone would come over and would say that they recognized me and would like to take a picture with me, that bothers me. Once three guys came over to me, asked for an autograph and when they were leaving they thanked me and called me Roman – they mixed me up with Roman Kostomarov.
IA – As a rule I never refuse the autograph or a picture. Usually men would come over, would shake my hand and would tell me that I was good. Women usually take a picture and ask for an autograph. If people would behave badly, I just walk away.
S40 – What feature dominates your character?
AZ – Probably it is my sense of humor. But lately I am not smiling, more grumbling. I looked at many things positively before, but now it seems that I accumulated more problems. Also, I am a very responsible person and I take everything too close to heart. I would like to change it, but it seems that I took it after my mother and will not be able to change myself.
IA – Patience.
S40 – What are your main virtue and shortcoming?
AZ - Virtue – persistence in achieving my goals, love and loyalty to people. If I like a person I give all of myself, if not, than I would stay away. My shortcomings – irritability and short-temperedness. But I try to control myself.
IA – I think that my main virtue is goal orientation. My shortcoming – I want to have everything at once. If I do not get it, I may lose interest.
S40 – What kind of a child were you?
AZ –Reasonable, calm, inventive. I listened to my parents, but acted as I felt to be right.
IA – Bullying, temperamental, could not stay in one place. I was skipping classes and would not tell my parents about problems in school.
S40 – What kind of a student were you?
AZ – Up to 4th grade I was an all “A” student. When I started sports I liked only PE and history. I graduated with average marks.
IA – Up till 6th grade I was a solid “B” student. After that I was just hanging in there in school as to graduate. By the end of school I was already a Junior Champion and I got good grades just for that, not for my knowledge.
S40- Do you have a lot of friends?
AZ – Not too many close friends – 2-3 people.
IA – Not too many close friends – 2-3 people.
S40 – How would you like to meet your golden years?
Translation of an article published in Russian Language Internet publication “Novosti Sporta” on October 4, 2007
Champion of 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City is considering to participate in a TV show serial and to release his book.
Yagudin stated that sooner or later a sports career is over and one has to think about moving forward and building the foundation for the future. At this time he was going to do something new – to try himself on TV as an actor. So far there were several auditions, meetings with the director and as soon as the contract is signed, the taping would start.
He also stated that in 2-3 weeks his book will be released in Moscow. It was released in Japan 4 years ago and he had to edit it and add some chapters for the Russian release.
Today he was meeting with the editor to select the title of the book. So far he had 3 promising drafts of the title.
Yagudin also added that he continues to skate in TV ice shows. In July he underwent a complex operation and the doctors forbid him to go on ice for the following 3 months, but the healing was going very well and he decided to start working in the ice shows. He stated that it was less difficult than the practice of a professional sportsperson.
Irina Slutskaya: I would never come on stage looking inept.
Translation of an interview by Elena Koladina (EK) of a Russian language publication “Sojus. Belarus-Rossija” published on September 27, 2007
We met on September 1, a very symbolic day when children start school all over Russia. I did not want to think about Irina Slutskaya (IS) as just a unique figure, who was the first in Russian figure skating to win seven European Championships, two World Championships, to participate in 3 Olympics and to become a prize winner in two of them. I wanted to think of her as a person who was able to reach the highest sports levels while overcoming seemingly insurmountable health problems.
EK - Irina, did you heart skip a beat seeing the first graders going to school with their moms?
IS – Of course. But it is too early to think about it. I am happy with my current condition. I do not want to look forward. I have been through so much in my life that I am skeptical about planning too far ahead. I live today, one day at a time.
EK – You put on skates at 4, at 12 you became a member of the Russian National figure skating team and at 16 you become the first in Russian history to become European Champion. Did it affect your studies at school?
IS – Not at all. Up to the 6th grade I was a good student. After that I had solid “B’s” and later I graduated from the Physical Education College.
EK – You said earlier that you do not like to look into the future. But you could not succeed in sports without clear goals. Did you expect that life itself would dictate the order?
IS – From the very early days, I divided my life inside and outside of sports. In sports it is all absolutely clear – you set the goals and gradually move toward them. If you try to do the same in your personal life you may lose your mind. If I fell down on the ice, I know exactly why it happened. In life there are too many surprises.
EK – Figuratively speaking, one would say that one could not reach heights in sports without falling a few times. And what about life?
IS – In life to me not to fall down means to be a good human being no matter what happens in your life. One should be always in control of themselves.
EK – What does that mean?
IS – The main thing to me is to be fair with people, not to insult people close to me. Also it is important to keep learning new things. Even in my current condition I can not stop moving forward, I want to be in constant movement.
EK – What are you moving toward now?
IS – I am trying to learn acting. Read a lot.
EK – Do you have a large library?
IS – When I moved out from my parents home I did not have any books. Now I have a lot of books and I am not ashamed that now, at about 30, I am reading a lot of high school program level books.
EK – How did you like to study at the Ostankino TV school?
IS – Well, actually I did not study there as a regular student. I was sick for some time, I wanted to do something and went to the studio. I was there for 2.5 months and then decided to go to the World Championship and dropped the class. But while there, I retained some knowledge. It was very interesting, but not for me at that time.
EK – Did you like yourself in the “Stars on Ice” show?
IS – Oh no. I like to speak for myself but there Evgeny Pluschenko and I were told all the time in our earpieces what to say. I could not get used to it. Thanks to my actor friends it worked out.
EK – I know that the show toured many cities in Russia and abroad. It was also in Minsk.
IS – I was in Minsk before this show with a theater of Ice Miniatures of Igor Bobrin. I liked the train that we traveled on – it was so clean and cozy.
EK – Did you show any inclination to acting while working in the shows? After the Olympic Games in Turin, one of the great actors – Oleg Yankovsky expressed interest in working with you on stage.
IS – Oh, I would do it with a great pleasure, but I would never come on stage with a professional while I would look inept. It is not my style – to do something, as just to do it.
EK – But all of your skating numbers are small performances. Just look at your Carmen!
IS – If I was asked to play Carmen on stage, it would be a different story. I would have to study the character a lot. On ice I do not want to be compared to anyone – I want to be myself, but even for my number on ice I read 3 books by Merime.
EK – Every person, not just the sportsperson, faces sometimes a new starting point in life. What would be your psychological advice to a person at a starting point in life?
IS – I could only repeat what our team doctor was telling us: “If you are shaking and nervous, it is good. Everything will be all right. But if you are too calm, you may step on something and stumble”. Nervousness, excitement should be always present. But it should be also to a degree while you can control yourself. Adrenalin rush is good!
EK – How did you overcome your failure in 1999? When after winning the European title, your own Russian judges put you in the undeserved 4th place at the Championship of Russia, thus preventing you from all future high level competitions?
IS – I do not want to talk about it. Only recently I found out that my failure was “ordered” by some people.
EK – Did you want to drop figure skating at that time?
IS – Yes, I did. But then I decided to get married. I remember that my mom asked me what I would be doing and I told her that I was going to marry my boyfriend, Sergey. And I did marry him.
EK – Who was he?
IS - My husband is a PE teacher. We met in a sports camp – it was nothing special. He gives me the wisdom that I lack. He does not rush me. Remember that in 1999 I came out from the competition very upset. He took me in his car and was driving me around while I got myself together.
EK – When you learned about the reasons for your failure in 99, did you want to react somehow to those people?
IS – Why bother? I believe that in this life what goes around comes around. I was always a fair competitor and never fought off ice. I always believed that if you want to prove something, come out on the ice and do it.
EK – Did you want to be better than someone or you wanted to be the best you could be?
IS – I always compete with myself. I am performing some elements that no one in the world can do. When after all of my illnesses in 2005 I wanted to be included in the World Championship competition in Dortmund, I was asked if I realized that I would not be able to win, I replied that I definitely knew it.
EK – I presume that your 9th place there was more important than all other gold places.
IS – I could hardly move my legs, but I completed the number. Toward the middle of my performance the spectators stood up and at the end I was crying very hard.
EK – Because you overcame the disease?
IS – Because, even with my disease, I still could skate.
EK – Were you not afraid of your disease?
IS – But of course. I am a normal person. And I am very thankful to all the people who were helping me and did not lock me up in a hospital. I am sorry to say, but I betrayed them. When my attending physician would let me go home, I would promise that I would not skate, but as soon as I could put on the skates, I would go on the ice.
EK – How did you start your sports career?
IS – I was sick often in my childhood, and as with many others, my parents wanted to make me stronger and put me on skates. I was trying to escape, but my mother pushed me on ice. I was supposed to participate in the ice show and got sick and was kicked out from the show. That did it. I was determined to skate and went to another skating rink.
EK – You went to the coach Zhanna Gromova to whom you kept unique loyalty throughout your career.
IS – It was more than unique. Imagine that she brought me up from ground zero to all of the heights. She could work with me and with my stubborn character. She always knew what to do – if it was necessary, she would push me. She was a great coach and a great teacher. She deserves a monument.
EK- In the nineties when you were becoming a great skater, many of your colleagues went to the USA complaining that they did not have the right conditions at their motherland.
IS – I did not go. What did I forget in USA? Also, many skaters changed coaches, went for the name and left Ms. Gromova. Many of them lately dropped out of figure skating altogether. Treason is always punished. Now, when I left, I wish that Ms. Gromova had some one else to continue her work.
EK – Did you say that you left sport? I heard our higher up sport bosses saying that it was too early to write you off the amateur sports.
IS – Well, anything is possible. The main thing is to have a goal.
EK – Do you do any physical exercises?
IS – No, not now, but I am taking a lot of tests, moving a lot. I am involved in the show the “Ice Age” and working on one other project, which is secret for now.
EK – But I know that you will tell me how many medals you have. It is not a simple question. I know that you began skating due to your love of medals.
IS – I think that I have about 40 medals. In the past they were all hanging on the palm tree that Sergey brought to me. The palm was protected by a huge (about my size) stuffed elephant. I like toys. Always bring them and than donate to children in the orphanages.
EK – Do you remember your first medal?
IS – Of course I do. It was 1987. Some kind of competition. The medal was made of aluminum. It has a picture of a skate and a girl.
EK – And what about your first gold medal?
IS – I bit it right away to check if the tooth mark would show.
EK – Did it?
IS – Yes it did. And than I wanted more medals like that.
EK – And then?
IS – Then the main event began. I wanted to be the best that I could be for myself. I never minded my illnesses, went on the ice and did my best.
EK – What is the most important thing in your life?
IS - After leaving the big sport, after all of the heights there was emptiness. I was even scared that I would lose myself. But I was lucky, the ice projects came along. But the most important thing is what is growing in me now.