Translation of an article printed in the Russian Language publication “Sovsport.ru” on March 15, 2008.
The publishing house “Astrel” has published a book – “Beauty and the Beast," which consists of autobiographical stories of coach and consultant to the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Tatiana Tarasova. In the book, Ms. Tarasova frankly talks about her unique family and her outstanding pupils.
One day my phone rang. Evgeny Platov is calling from America, which was a complete surprise for me. He said a traditional phrase: “Tatiana Anatolievna, we are lost. We are in the same group as Ovsannikov and Krilova. Lininchuk is giving them all of her attention and does not see us." I did not like to hear this and asked him why he called me. He said – “We do not have a choice. Our coach tells us that we should quit, but we still want to compete. We have a good original program, but it is incomplete and has some flaws. We missed a lot of competitions and people lost faith in us. We would like to participate in the Olympics. Please take us."
They were told that it was time for them to become professionals. But they did not want to become professionals, they wanted to compete two more years in the World Championships and they wanted to win a second Olympic Games. There were no dancers until then that had won a second Olympics, even the legendary Pachomova. Twenty minutes later, Grishcuk called and asked me to take them. She told me that she would listen to me, even though she had a bad temper, but she would try. She begged for me to take them so they would be able to continue in sports, since Lininchuk favored another couple.
A terrible Olympic year began. Grischuk was constantly yelling and screaming. The whole rink was under tremendous tension every day. I can not even explain now how we prepared the program. It was a miracle that I can not understand. A half an hour before her entrance on to the ice, I would take a relaxant pill as I would be able to work with her without trying to tear off her ears or pull her teeth one at a time. Throughout all of her hooliganism and rudeness, she always brought me flowers and left me notes where she told me that she loved me and called me mother.
She developed a terrible psychosis. She tried out in Hollywood and was told that she needed to change her name. At that time, Oxana wanted to be called Pasha. Evgeny could not understand why she wanted that, but I agreed to go along with the game. The new name came out of the English word “passion," In real life, she was crying, hitting Evgeny, insulting him, was knocking him in his weak knees with her skate and diminishing his dignity. I did not want to go with them to the Olympics.
When she was begging me to take them in, she told me that they would pay me as it was customary. Feeling bad for them and out of the goodness of my heart, I did not sign any contract with them, which was a terrible mistake and I hate myself for that weakness. I should have signed the contract with her then, when she was standing in front of me on her knees and begging to take them in. At that time, normal coaches would put on the table a contract where she would agree to pay for each day of my work with them and would pay me the balance at the completion of the work. Practice takes away my life. I am only paid for my work and I have no other income. I still keep the check which shows that for all of the Olympic season I received from Oxana/Pasha Grishchuk just a few thousand dollars- for the whole season! For this money I should have just brought her music to the rink.
Finally we got to the Olympics. They were perfect at the practice, no one had any questions. All of a sudden in the first compulsory dance, she began to be nervous. She fails the turn, the one that she could do with her eyes closed. She was actually very good at turns. And that was in the very first compulsory dance! But Grishchuk and Platov stayed in first place since their competitors, Krilova and Ovsannikov, also made a mistake in the turn.
Before going out on ice, Evgeny kept saying his mantra – I am ready, I am ready, I am ready. I was concerned that he overexcited himself before the start and began praying. I was standing at the edge and saw that he almost stopped breathing, so nervous he was. I thought that I had to take him out of that condition. I had a bottle of mineral water in my hand and I poured water on him 15 minutes before the start. He looked at me in horror and said: “I pressed the shirt all day!" Oxana burst in tears. I told her that he was ready and sent them out on the ice. And from the first bars of music, I knew that they would win. I never cried so much after the performance of my students than I cried then. I was crying because they could do it and I could! About Yagudin.
I have to admit that Yagudin was thrown out of a tour twice. The first time, the whole company was dining in a restaurant in New York. It was a tradition – after the show they went to a restaurant. I told him not to go. But he went. In the restaurant, at a nearby table, there was sitting a pretty woman, African-American as they are called now. The “n” word that we were taught in our schools from “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” is considered an insult in America. Passing by her table in a very good mood, he said “How are you doing, “n”?” and even slapped her on the back. Furthermore, going back he said the same thing again and was surprised why she did not reply. This woman happened to be an anchor of some television network. She called Tom Collins and told him that he has a racist in his show. Alexey could not get to her to apologize. He had to do it to continue with the tour, since Tom did not want any problems on the tour. Everyone knew that Yagudin was a good-natured man and was not a racist. But the language of a nineteen years old boy, an absence of tact and the feeling of danger, played a bad joke with him. Finally he was able to get through to that anchorwoman and explain to her what was the problem. She accepted his explanation and called Collins that she was satisfied with his explanation. But of course, Tom could not forgive such stupidity of anyone.
Any one of our boys, a sportsmen or not, can have a drink. I do not know of a single skater who would not have a drink at the end of the season. Alexey is not better or worse than the others, but simpler. Being an initiator, if anyone would get caught, he would be the one. There is one other deficiency in him – he says what he thinks. Initially, in the first days of the tour, his passport was stolen. He had to go back to Moscow to get a new passport and visa. He missed a couple of performances, but finally he got a new passport. I am sitting in Hanover, drinking tea in the morning and watching the TV. Suddenly, I see Alexey skating at the World Championship. I was happy to see him, but the announcer told us that he was dropped from the tour for drinking.
For a long time, I was investigating this incident. I respect Tom Collins, but my pupils are embellishing his tours very much. Alexey was sent home based on the law that in America people before 21 years of age should not drink alcohol. It may be right because by 21 a person knows better how much and where he can drink. Alexey came in the bar where some of his friends who were 21 were drinking. He took a sip from someone’s glass and the barmen caught it and called the police. Tom did not want to cover up the incident with the police and sent Alexey home. It seemed that Tom sent him back only for a few shows, but when Alexey came home he was told that he was banned from the tour for good. Like a child, Alexey stayed upset for a long time, thinking that he was deceived by Tom who told him that he was going back just for a few shows.
Memoirs of the great coach Tatiana Tarasova – “For Ilja I could kill!”
Translation of an article printed in the Russian Language publication “Sovsport.ru” on March 15, 2008.
The publishing house “Astrel” has published a book – “Beauty and the Beast," which consists of autobiographical stories of coach and consultant to the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Tatiana Tarasova. In the book, Ms. Tarasova frankly talks about her unique family and her outstanding pupils.
About the father, the famous hockey coach.
Father was always writing something. I do not remember him without a notebook or a huge amount of notes on his desk. Every day beginning at 5 am, he was writing. He never gave me this list of exercises that he was developing all of his life. He thought that I was not worthy of that list since I have not done much in my life. In that list, he had thousands of exercises for different groups of muscles. He was not just a professor, but rather an academician of sport. He would not start his day until he would think of at least 10 new exercises. Every day.
It was interesting to observe him working on the tactics of hockey. Sine there were no metal boxes where the figures could move on magnets, he would make the figures of the players out of the cardboard with a round base and would work with these figures for hours.
About Ilja Kulik.
We were flying to America. We selected a brand new airline. I do not remember what it was called, but remember that the tickets there were less expensive than on Aeroflot. But as soon as we arrived in New York, the company went bankrupt. We were holding worthless return tickets. That was our economy flight. Together with us on the plane there was another figure skater – Nikolay Morozov, a friend of Ilja who was skating with Tatiana Navka. At some point during the flight, Ilja went to see Nikolay and had a few drinks. When Ilja came back to his seat it was obvious that he could not hold the drinks and needed to have his stomach pumped. I made him drink as much water as he could to cleanse his stomach. It was an unpleasant but necessary session of shock therapy.
Ilja was getting ready for the World Championship in a normal way, without any twists. The Championship was held in Switzerland. We went there well in advance as to get acclimatized. Ilja jumped very easily and nothing indicated the upcoming disaster. Three days before the “qualification” skate, he was practicing at the main rink. Many interested people – the judges, coaches and participants came to see him practice. Ilja performed a great jump but at the landing his foot twisted and he fell on the ice dropping on his hands with a scream of pain. I expected that he broke his leg. But he was getting up and seeing that I was about to faint, he yelled – it's the skate! Apparently his skate broke upon landing, but he was fine. In the best case scenario the new skate could be delivered the day after next and he will have to spend time to sharpen it. He remembered that he had a spare set of skates in Moscow and we were able to get the new skate the next day. But it need to be sharpened.
Here an important role was played by another coach, Valentin Nikolaev, a Ukrainian coach who had a sharpening stand. Even though Mr. Nikolaev was the coach of Ilja’s competitor – Mr. Zagorodnuk, he immediately gave the stand to Ilja. Not every coach would do that in a similar situation. Ilja worked on the stand for hours, sharpened a replacement skate and missed a second day of practice.
That night, the ice was scheduled for the dance couple of Grischuk and Platov and we asked the organizational committee to allow Ilja to practice on ice simultaneously with the dancers to see how he could stand on the new skate. The time for really feeling the new skate was very short and the next day he skated at the “qualifications” in a state of shock, but even then he managed to jump a quad. Actually he put all of his efforts on the one leg with an old skate, since he was not sure about the feel of the new skate. Psychologically it was a very difficult test. A new skate feels differently from the old one especially for a high class skater. But Ilja holds up and ends up in the third place after Urmanov and Eldredge. Stojko comes in fourth.
The night of the competition he came out on the ice as usual. I was standing at the edge of the rink and was advising him not to do the quad on the new skate and to skate a clean program. As usual, he drew the first staring number, but he was very anxious to begin his program. I suggested to him to calm down, to stay at the edge with me for a little longer, to drop the tension, that he had two minutes after his name was announced, but the moment his name was called, he rushed on ice even though he did not completely recover form his accident.
I did not realize what a nightmare was unfolding around me, what a deceit was being prepared for me. I saw some unusual activity around me, but being preoccupied with his performance, I did not pay attention to it. As I expected, his morning practice took too much of his energy and he missed his opening jump and the rest of the program went downhill from there. He lost too much energy and was completing his program with a lot of mistakes. He needed just a few seconds to recover, but the program was so dense going without pauses and in one rhythm, that he did not have those few seconds.
But let’s go back to those minutes when I saw in the corridor that our doctor was rushing somewhere, that Mishin (coach of Urmanov) and Piseev (President of Russian Figure Skating Federation) were taking Urmanov somewhere. I understood that something was happening, but I did not want to get involved. I asked someone what was going on, but was told that everything was fine. Urmanov came out on the ice for practice and I could see how he was jumping. After Kulik had his unfortunate performance, Urmanov announced that he was not going to compete. Nobody told us about that. The foreign skaters knew that Urmanov was quitting and changed their programs with the knowledge that the main competitor was out of the race. The foreigners knew, and we were the only ones who did not know. Only we - the fellow compatriots -- did not know. I consider it such treason that I could never understand it and never forgive it.
Apparently Piseev knew early in the morning that Urmanov was quitting the competition, and he should have, even must have, told me about it. If Ilja would know that, he would not try to jump the quad and would not make all of the following mistakes. It was obvious to everyone. Everybody knew that he had a broken skate three days before the competition but did not do anything to help him. What does it say about the Russian National Team after that? To hide such a development from a teammate was highly unprofessional and bordered on the behavior of gangsters. They just wanted to punish me, to put me on my knees. It was their attitude toward me that reflected in Ilya losing a year of his life and work. I was so mad that I wanted to hit someone in the National team management. For Ilja, I was ready to kill! Especially after such a baseness.
Yagudin, the second pupil of Mishin, did not look great as well, but the judges were already rooting for him and he bypassed Ilja and came in third. Eldridg fell, but stayed in second place. Stoiko skated cleanly and won. It is not known what place he would be in if Kulik would have a clean performance. It is not known how that Championship would go if our geriatric management would not have a goal: anyone, but Kulik! Just to punish me for daring to coach singles.
Translation of an article by Yaroslav Korbatov (YK) printed on March 22 in the Russian Language publication Komsomolskaja Pravda.
Today is the last day at the World championship where the men are competing for the last set of medals. Russia is represented by the young Sergey Voronov and today he has to answer the question if he could become the heir of the great Pluschenko.
Incidentally, the shadow of Pluschenko, who announced that he was coming back to big sports, was hovering inside the walls of the “Scandinavium” and finally it materialized in the figure of Pluschenko’s agent Mr. Ari Zakharjan (AZ). We met during a break in the women’s free program, where Mr. Zakharjan explained his appearance at the World’s Championship as a scout for Mr. Pluschenko.
AZ - From behind the scenes, we need to learn the new order of power in figure skating, who we could expect to be the competition and prepare the ground for Evgeny’s return.
YK - So his return is not just gossip any more?
AZ - Of course not, it is a done deal. That is why I came here. Evgeny could not come since he is getting ready for a show in Eastern Europe. On March 27, he is performing in Kiev and then he is going to Prague. They are so exited there. All tickets to his performance were sold out within 24 hours.
YK - Does his leg bother him after the operation?
AZ – There were some complications. We thought a lot about a second operation in Germany, but in the end rejected that idea. We will come back to fighting form gradually. See what happened to Maxim Shabalin. In January, he had an operation on his meniscus and he immediately went to the European Championship. He won the gold but then the complications started. As a result he not only his participation in the World Championship, but there is a risk that he may drop out of sports altogether. His story taught us a good lesson.
YK – How will Evgeny get back his old form?
AZ – Currently he is completing his show tour – “The Golden Ice of Stradivarius” and beginning in July he will start serious practice. As soon as the program for the new season will be ready, we will show it to the public as to see how it will be accepted. Of course we will show it to the specialist, then we will do our homework to correct the mistakes and then we will start participating in the different stages of the Grand Prix.
Tatiana Tarasova is going to be inducted in the International Figure Skaters Hall of Fame.
Translation of an article printed in the Russian language publication Rian.ru on March 12, 2008.
Famous Russian figure skating coach will be inducted into the International Figure Skating Hall of Fame located in the American City of Colorado Springs.
The official ceremony dedicated to that event will take place in Goetheborg, Sweden, on March 20, where the World Figure Skating Championship will take place.
The list of her famous pupils includes Olympic Champions single skaters - Alexey Yagudin and Ilja Kulik, pairs – Irina Rodniba and Alexander Zaitsev and dancers – Marina Klimova and Sergey Ponomarenko.
During Turin Olympics in 2006, Tarasova assisted Japanese skater Shizuka Arakawa and American Skater Sasha Cohen who became Gold and Silver medalists correspondingly.
Biography of Tatiana Tarasova.
Tatiana Tarasova was born February 13, 1947 in Moscow in the family of a famous hockey coach, Anatoly Tarasov, and a school PE teacher Nina Tarasova.
Tarasova started skating when she was 5 years old. She was in a group together with Ludmila Pachomova who later became a famous figure skater. In pair with Gregory Proskurov, she won the World Students Games Competition. At 18 years old she got a trauma that precluded her from figure skating.
In 1964 she was admitted and in 1969 she graduated from the Central Institute of Physical Culture.
Beginning from 1967, Tatiana Tarasova is working as a coach. Since that time she cultivated 11 Olympic Champions; her pupils won in aggregate 38 gold, 15 silver and 5 bronze medals at the highest level competitions, including 7 Olympic Gold medals.
Irina Rodnina and Alexander Zaitsev; Irina Moiseeva and Andrey Minnenkov; Natalia Bestemianova and Andrey Bukin;Marina Klimova and Sergey Ponomarenko; Oxana Grischuk and Evgeny Platov; Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergey Grinkov; Ilja Kulik and Alexey Yagudin are among her famous students.
She set a record not only in the number of medals won by her pupils, but also she was able to create her own style in a very conservative sport like figure skating, where ice dances consist of only seven elements. Her style is followed by most of the ice dancers in the world.
In the middle of the 80s, Tatiana Tarasova together with Elena Tchaikovskya created an ice theater “All Stars”, the cast of which consisted on many famous figure skaters. The theater stayed open for 14 years. Tarasova was a coach, a choreographer and a director in this theater. They traveled the whole world with their performances.
Tarasova worked with skaters from all over the world. Among her pupils were Barbara Fusar-Poli and Mauricio Morgalio from Italy; Shae-Lynn Bourne and Victor Kraatz from Canada; Galit Khait and Sergey Sakhnovsky from Israel; Nakako Tsuzuki and Rinat Farhutdinov from Japan; Alissa DiCarbonel and Alexandr Malkov from Belarus.
In 2005, Tatiana Tarasova was appointed a coach-consultant for the Russian Figure Skating Federation.
She was awarded the titles of the Distinguished Coach of the Russian Federation in 1972 and of the USSR in 1975. She was awarded a variety of orders and medals of Russia.
Husband of Tatiana Tarasova is a famous pianist Vladimir Krajnev, professors at the Hanover Conservatory of Music.
The last performance of figure skater Katarina Witt took place in Germany.
Translation of an article by Miron Goychman printed in Russian Language publication “Gazeta” on March 7, 2008.
On Tuesday, March 4th, the famous German figure skater came out on the ice for the last time. Her performance in Hanover was the last part of her farewell tour where the famous 42 year old figure skater was saying goodbye to her fans. It goes without saying that in Germany, which adores her, the tour created a lot of interest and in Hanover, more that 10 thousand fans came to her performance.
The tour started in her birthplace – the small city of Hemnitz, where 37 years ago, while it was still a part of Karl Marxshtadt, Katarina for the first time came out on the ice under the instructions of famous coach Ms. Uta Muller.
At 16, Witt became the German national champion, and 2 years later - the European and World Champion. Two times in 1984 and 1988 she became an Olympic Champion. In the DDR she was called the most beautiful face of Socialism. In difference from other East German sportspeople, she was able to become the symbol and beloved person of the new unified Germany. And not only of Germany, but of the whole world!
When she became a professional figure skater, she conquered America and became the first German athlete who received the prestigious Jim Thorpe Pro Sports Award. She made a quick transition from sports star to successful show business woman. Pictures of naked Katarina in Playboy magazine caused record sales of this magazine and books of her biography became bestsellers. Whatever endeavor she would start – from jewelry collections to movies and ice reviews, she would always create a lot of interest and commercial success. The list of shows in which she participated took a few pages in the last tour’s play bill.
The farewell show became a holiday for her fans, especially considering that her friends such as Brian Boitano, Ekaterina Gordeeva, Steven Cousins and many other famous skaters took part in her show. It is a pity that many other fans of Katarina could not see the show in other countries. It was especially of interest because it had some historic tapes of very young Katarina and her best performances in the Calgary, Sarajevo and Lillehammer Olympics. But that was on the screen. On ice, spectators could see again her unforgettable Carmen – the program that for many years had become the calling card of the skater. The dance that she performed in Lillehammer 14 years ago still brought joy to the spectators. (Ed. note: Katarina skated to Carmen in Calgary, in the Battle of the Carmens with Debi Thomas. In Lillehamer she performed her Long Program to Where Have All the Flowers Gone?)
There were of course farewell speeches, which Katarina never really learned to deliver. She said that she thought for a long time of what to say and prepared a speech, but she completely forgot all of the words and she just wanted to say – Thank You Very Much.
These were the last words of Katarina at the completion of the show.
I started looking for another coach who could replace Mishin. I considered some coaches, but they were working with other first class skaters and I was concerned that I may create a conflict. Finally I heard that Ilya Kulik was leaving Tatiana Tarasova. Known as a “polisher of talents,” Tatiana Tarsova had a reputation as the “number one” coach in the world. In the 60s she was skating in pairs herself and was competing against Mishin, who was the partner of Tamara Moskvina. When I called Tarasova she asked me to send her a list of my performances in the last year and briefly describe how I was preparing for them. A few days later she told me that she would agree to coach me.
My financial arrangements with her were the same as I had with Mishin. I would get a free apartment, meals, skating sessions, costumes and ice time until I start making money. It was also expected that by the end of a season I will pay the coach one third of my earnings. I always considered myself a jumper and up until I started working with Tarasova, I did not understand that figure skating was something bigger that just moving from one element to another. My performance was supposed to become an artistic production, where everything was important – the posture, the skating and the feel of music. Sometimes I thought that she was overdoing on the artistic values, but I followed all of her instructions without a word.
But the jumps were my domain – even if she wanted to change them, I would not give in. The strength of Tarasova was in her great creative abilities. My strength was in my jumps. And even if I would change the approach to the jumps, I would perform the jumps as I was taught by my two previous coaches.
The night before leaving Italy, Mauricio and his friends asked me out. For the first time in a month I did not have to skate the next morning and decided to have a good time. We had a great time and I came back to the hotel after midnight. The plane to St. Petersburg was leaving early in the morning and I had no more then 2 hours for sleep. I missed the wake up call. An hour later, Tarasova banged on my door until I woke up. She pushed me in the shower and started packing my suitcase. She made me take a cup of tea and called a taxi. When we left the hotel she told me that from now on I was supposed to be in the place where I needed to be at all times. And she was not joking.
Accusations of homosexuality.
Once I was sharing a room in a hotel with Oleg Ovsannikov. He was older and used to smoke a lot, while I did not tolerate the smoke. At that time I was friends with Tara Lipinski, while she was a friend of Rudy Galindo. Rudy was staying alone in a double room and suggested that I move in with him. I gladly accepted his invitation. Rudy, a US Champion, was one of the kindest men that I knew. He was a great guy and I was very surprised when a few weeks later the gossip about our relationship started circulating. I knew that he was gay; he never concealed his sexual orientation. We set the boundaries of our relations from the very beginning and never had problems. When I told Tarasova that I was staying in the room with Rudy she was terrified and asked me if I knew what I was doing. She liked Rudy but she had a better understanding about the environment in which we lived and she realized how this situation could be turned against me. I told her that I would move out immediately. But I realized that she was right when people started talking behind my back. This situation bothered me a lot. Rudy did not get upset when I told him that I was moving out. Up until the end of the tour I shared a room with Anton Sikharulidze. Unfortunately my move did not help me. For a few more years I was considered gay. There were even some correspondents who were investigating my relationships with other skaters. I was very upset and wanted to quit sports.
Tarasova found me after I left the hotel and told me that if I was tired and wanted to quit sports it was fine, but she suggested trying for one last time to go to the Olympics. If it would work out, we would end up with at least a silver medal. Being a genius coach she realized that she did not have to push me, but she had to give me time to work out my problems. She even suggested I see a shrink. I agreed. Rudolf Zagainov was a well known sports psychologist. He was working for many years with the skaters of Stanislav Zhuk, and with chess masters, who were becoming world champions. My communications with him turned out to be very pleasant and somehow I told him about all of my problems. I told him that I lost myself. We talked about everything. He gave me written recommendations of how to behave in different situations and I always had them with me. A few days before the Olympics, Dr. Zagainov gave me a piece of paper where there was only one sentence: “Who if not you, and when if not now?” Up till now I had some of his notes and when I feel bad, I'd read them. I restarted my practice. My jumps became more stable. I worked with Zagainov and every day I felt better and better. In Salt Lake City, I demanded that Zagainov would be with me at all the practice sessions, because I could not be with Tarasova before the competitions – she was very nervous.
The time came when I was called on the ice. At that moment something happened inside me. I was floating in the air above reality. I was surprisingly calm and balanced. In this condition I stared my program, “Winter." The stands fell silent while I was preparing my first cascade with a quad jump. I looked back at my left as to check the distance to the edge and came up against the sharp glance of Mishin, my former coach. He was standing at the edge where he knew that I would definitely see him, and was looking at me with his piercing eyes. I knew very well this was a tactical move to get me off balance. I told myself that he would not succeed this time and made my jump. At the completion of the program, I jumped in exactly the same corner where he stood and gave him a wide smile.
After my program, I changed and continued to watch the competitions on TV. Todd and Elvis did not skate well, but the others mostly skated OK. Finally Evgeny came out on the ice and I held my breath. When he fell down, I jumped and cried out – yes, yes! I knew that this behavior did not become me, but there was too much riding on his performance and I could not and did not want to hide my happiness at getting so close to Olympic gold. At that moment I knew that I would be a Champion.
When everything was over, I dropped on my knees and kissed the ice. Than I got up and bowed to the spectators. A minute later the fact that I became the Olympic champion finally reached my conscience, and I started jumping up and down. I turned around and saw that Tarasova was crying and I rushed to her. I dropped to my knees in front of her in a sign of my gratitude, my respect and my love for her. She helped me to reach my treasured goal, and the gold medal belonged to her as much as it belonged to me.
About trauma and return to sports.
Haven’t you heard this? I am coming back into the big sport! I want to participate in the Vancouver Olympics and win a gold medal! I was surprised when that news reached me. I did not make any such statements. Yes, now it seems realistic, but what will happen next?
Today I am an owner of a transportation company in St. Petersburg. I perform in the “Ice period” show. I am being pulled back to sports because I did not compete enough in my time. I would like to have again the sharp feelings that I had before. There are not enough competitions or adrenalin rushes, and without that I am bored. Maybe it is all because I left sport too early at the age of 23 and not of my free will, but because of a trauma.
Beginning in 2000, I lived initially with periodic and later with constant pain in the right hip. No one knows what torments I lived through. Any physical activity caused pain. I took handfulls of pain killers; otherwise I could not finish my performances. In public I tried to walk straight and not to show my pain, but as soon as I would get behind the curtains, I would limp badly.
When my doctor and I were getting ready for the operation, we discussed at length what prosthesis to use. There were a lot of different options – ceramic, plastic or metal. Since I decided to stay in sports, the titanium prosthesis was the best. It is the strongest alloy that the bone would grow in easily. A titanium joint head on a rod is inserted in the bone and attached with titanium screws. The rest of the joint is also made of titanium.
The operation took 4 hours. I came to at 12.30 and by 7 pm I was in the regular hospital room. I had catheters and dripping intravenous lines attached to me and I was given a lot of painkillers.
Now I have a special certificate to go through metal detectors at the airports since I trigger them with my metallic hip. When I am asked how I will skate after the operation, I say – “Now I am a Terminator. I will be back!”
Olympic champion Alexey Yagudin: -“Now I am the Terminator” Memoirs of a sports star.
Translation of an article printed in Russian language publication Sovsport.ru on February 28, 2008.
The life of Olympic and four time world champion Alexey Yagugin is full of interesting and sometimes curious events. For example, the winner of the European and World Championships was never a National Champion of Russia. In his autobiography titled “Stopping at Nothing," one of the most talented figure skaters of our time frankly told everything (or almost everything) that happened with him since he started practicing as a figure skater.
How it all started.
I do not remember the very first years of my life when I was not able to stand on skates. Turns, jumps, slides on ice were for me as natural as breathing. Even now I often come to the bridge of Lieutenant Shmidt. My feet bring me here by themselves. Maybe with age I became sentimental. To the left of the bridge, near the water, there was a small church. In its place a skating rink was built for the great Belousova and Protopopov. Now the church is restored in that place. The parents were not allowed at the rink. They could watch their children trough a wide gates of the former church. Up until 12 years of age, I was coached by Alexander Mayorov. Earlier he was a single skater. I do not remember when I performed my first jump, but I recall that by 10 years of age I could jump all double jumps, by 12 - I was jumping triples, and by 13 years of age I landed my first triple Axel.
I was a naughty boy and was punished a lot. My parents divorced. On leaving, my father left a collection of stamps. I tried to continue collecting stamps, but I did not become a philatelist. Although I developed a habit of collecting stuff. Seeing that I am performing better than other pupils in my group, my coach started paying more attention to me. In the past, Mayorov was a student of Alexey Mishin, and when he was offered a job in Sweden, he asked Mishin to take me in his junior group.
At first I did not connect too much with Mishin. He was mostly working with advanced skaters, in particular with Alexey Urmanov, who was supposed to compete in the GoodWill Games in St. Petersburg in September. At the end of August, they left and a few days later I had a phone call from the Federation of Figure Skaters stating that Mishin wanted me in St. Petersburg immediately. I was supposed to replace Alexander Abt. I was really surprised. My sports shape at that time would not allow me to compete for anything even at the children’s level. Mishin knew that, but nevertheless he wanted me there.
I came out on the ice as a nod of nerves and performed the worst program in my life. I was so ashamed that I wanted to disappear into thin air. I was depressed and very angry with Mishin. I considered him to be a cause of my disgrace. I felt like a laughing stock and I knew then that I will never forgive Mishin for that.
After participating in “Skate America,” I won a bronze medal at the Cup of Nations in Germany and silver at the Cup of Russia. The gold medals in all of these places went to Urmanov. Usually the coaches themselves select the competitions for their students. I was trying to understand for a long time why Mishin always sent me to the same competitions as he sent Urmanov. Why would he not give me a chance to come out of the shadow of my older comrade? Finally I understood that Mishin wanted me to lose to Alexey all the time.
The season of 97/98 Urmanov missed because of a trauma and now Mishin put all of his attention on me. Unfortunately it did not last long. He started working with Evgeny Pluschenko, who shortly became his favorite. Mishin liked the character of Pluschenko. Evgeny, in difference to me, never contradicted his coach. As Urmanov, Pluschenko always trusted his coach, never argued with him and never asked additional questions. If Mishin would ask him to jump, he would just ask “how high?”
In the 97/98 season I won the Cup of Finland. Pluschenko was second. That was how our uncompromised competition started and culminated in the 2002 Olympic games. At the World Championship in Milan, I lived in the same hotel room as Pluschenco. In difference to Urmanov, he never talked to me.
The whole podium in Milan was taken by the Russians. I got my first World Gold, Evgeny got silver and Alex Abt got bronze. After that competition I was told that when Mishin was congratulated that his two students got the gold and silver, he was upset that it was me and not Pluschenco who got the gold. I felt that it was time to look for another coach. Our relations did not work out and to continue with him did not make any sense to me. Mishin himself brought up the subject and we decided that I would look for another coach. I thanked him for what he had done for me, promised to pay him his share of winnings for the season, we shook hands and parted our ways. I was upset how cold he was with me, but I felt that it was for the best.
Translation of an interview by Nikolay Dolgopolov (ND) a correspondent of Russian language publication “Rossijskaya Gazeta” printed on February 22, 2008
Evgeny Pluschenko (EP) Olympic Champion and three time winner of A World Championship is seriously getting ready to come back. Evgeny looks great, he is in a very good mood and has a lot of plans.
ND – Evgeny, you lost a lot of weight. Please share with us your secret.
EP – There is only one way – to run a lot. I am running almost every day for about 40 minutes.
ND – Are you practicing?
EP – Regularly. I participated in the shows in different cities in Switzerland. In St. Moritz, I jumped three turns and tried a quad Salhow. Slowly, without forcing myself, I am getting into my form.
ND – Were you traveling with your own show?
EP – Not yet, but it is possible that I will have my own show as well.
ND – How is your leg?
EP – I still have some problems. It never happens that there are not problems, they always are.
ND – This sport season you missed. What will be happening in the next season?
EP - I will start from the very beginning. In September, I will start with some small competitions. I don’t know yet which particular ones. Thrn I will take part in the Grand Prix, than Nationals, European and World Championships. You are looking at me funny. I am not kidding! It is the truth.
ND – Are you still with Mishin?
EP – With whom else? He says that in the summer we will go to practice abroad, in Tallinn.
ND – In the past Mishin would always go to summer training camps in Switzerland.
EP – Not always, sometimes we go to Estonia. The main thing now is to find good music.
ND – Are you looking already?
EP – Yes, but we are not finding anything yet. Everything begins with the music.
ND – I thought that the music was mostly important for the pairs and dancers.
EP – Music is extremely important. If you find the right music, everything will be fine. I was promised some help. Actually I need a lot of help – with costumes, medicines, rehabilitation. I have my hopes on our Federation.
ND – I assume that you are watching current skaters. How do you evaluate this season?
EP – Our couple won the European Championship. I watched the men’s single skating and I would say that Voronov is a great skater. I congratulate him and his coach Alexey Urmanov, who himself was a pupil of Alexey Mishin. If it would go on like now, Voronov will definitely win prizes. It is not as good in woman’s skating. I do not see anyone now. It is not a catastrophe, but we have to catch up a lot. I will come back and if I will be strong enough and will win the Worlds and possibly the 2010 Olympics, than the “Laureas” Academy would recognize me as the best sportsmen of the year, as they did with Federer.
I am an educator with more than 30 years of experience with a global perspective on learning and teaching. I was a Professor, Dean of School of Foreign Languages at Volgograd State Pedagogical University (Russia) for more than 20 years... In Russia, I started as a school teacher and administrator (Vice-principal, responsible for Extra-curricular programs), then I was a University professor, a Ph.D student, Dean of school of Foreign languages, Supervisor of Master's and Ph.D programs.
Ludmila Smirnova the skater was still competing in 1974 (she and Ulanov finished 2nd at Worlds and 3rd at Europeans that year, behind, naturally, Irina Rodnina and her new husband/partner), so it's unlikely she was also getting a PhD at the same time.
Furthermore, in 2007, Ludmila Smirnova was listed as the former coach of the Russian pair Shestakova and Lebedev.