The most beautiful figure skater: Life on Ice.Translation of an interview by Diana Khachaturjan (DK) with Marina Butirskaya printed in the Russian Language publication “Novie Izvestia” on February 3, 2009.
Maria Butirskaya (MB) is one of the most beautiful and talented bright stars of figure skating. Recently she started a new career, as a coach of future Olympic champions. In her family, she plays the role of wife to hockey player Vadim Khomitsky and mother to an 18 months old son, Vladislav.
DK – Maria, you just came back from practice. Do you have any time for your home chores?
MB – Practices take place every day from the very morning. At night I come home and start doing my housework. Even if I have a helper, I am still getting very tired, and not just physically, but psychologically as well. I give my all to my pupils at practice – I want them to get results. But I also want to be a good wife and mother.
DK – Did you ever think of dropping all of that and doing something different, not related to figure skating?
MB – I like to be a coach and I love what I do. I know figure skating very well and that was the reason why I opened my own school of figure skating. I do not think that I would be that professional in another line of work. I put my knowledge and experience into my students. Sometimes I raise my voice, but it is for their own good. The girls are becoming more responsive to my requests. In general, I am happy with the results of my work.
DK – Is it possible to learn in advance if the child will be successful at figure skating? When a child is brought to you what do you look for?
MB – Character. Even at 5 years of age, it is possible to figure out if the child will be successful at figure skating or not. After working with a child for some time it becomes clear if the child is trainable, how he reacts to explanations or if she is ready to fight for her success. I went through a lot of that myself in figure skating and know how important it is.
DK – What about the physical conditions?
MB- Of course I am considering flexibility, stretch and jumping abilities. But it is very important that physical conditions would go together with a fighting spirit. I am working as a couch now for 3 years. During this time I saw a lot of children. Sometimes I see a child who is physically very adept, talented and trying very hard, but does not have the right character. Those are dropping out very soon.
DK – What qualities you are trying to cultivate in your girls?
MB – The ability to focus, to concentrate, to get ready for a performance. Young athletes sometimes are lose their nerve at the most important moment and then they forget everything that they learned in the months of practices. I had an episode like that at the beginning of my career. Sportspeople should learn to control their nerves since competition involves not only a physical, but also a nervous struggle.
DK – Sometimes the other competitors may try to get you out of your equilibrium. Did you have situations like that?
MB – Yes I did. Once, a day before competition, I came to the practice, opened my locker and found out that my skates were missing – someone hid them. It was terrible to lose the skates before the start. In sports, one has to be ready for all eventualities.
DK – Is your son interested in figure skating?
MB – Not really. Sometimes he comes with me to the rink, but he does not pay attention to the ice. I would not want him to be a figure skater. If he would go on the ice, he would follow in the footsteps of my husband – he will play hockey. We are not going to force him, but he already has a uniform and a stick, so we will see.