Occasionally, I will also post here my reviews of the shows I've seen live. Those entries will have "PTICHKA REVIEW" in the title.
P.S. I have now had to disable anonymous comments due to extreme number of spam messages received.
Excerpts from a recent Piseev interview, clearly illustrating why no one likes him
[Should Russian coaches be forced to fire their foreign students? Weren't Pechalat - Bourzat good "sparring partners" for our teams?]
Everything should make sense. We shouldn’t get too extreme. It’s not a question of firing or not firing. We should consider each case individually. Foreigners can stay and train if it helps our athletes. If it contradicts our interests, things should change.
I agree that the French [ice dancers] were a good example for Ilinykh – Katsalapov; perhaps now another team could take on that role, Canadian or American may be. In such partnership, the principal will be that our Russian coaches should train our athletes. Anything else is complimentary to that work.
How does that go together with the work of Marina Zueva and Igor Shpilband? It’s hard to imagine them making their work with Canadians and Americans secondary for the sake of Russian Yana Khokhlova – Fedor Andreev.
With Zueva, we have great hopes for the team of Khokhlova – Andreev. In this case, though, one shouldn’t discount the fact that Fedor is Zueva’s son. So, money and work aside, there will surely be times where Marina will be paying more attention to this team.
Aren’t you afraid that, pushed against the wall, Zhulin and Morozov will just take their students and move abroad?
I think they want to work with Russian athletes. For example, we won’t mind if Miki Ando or Floran Amodio who train with Nikolai Morozov will stay. We should think about his other students, let me repeat, based on our interests.
As to Alexander Zhulin, he needs to decide if he’s in sport or in art. His athletes train for four hours a day without a break, whereas everyone else has long moved to twice-a-day schedule. Sasha is very talented, and we deserve to count on such a coach. Zhulin needs to decide. I hope to have a serious talk with him soon.
What can you say about the organization of Moscow Worlds?
[…] I won’t even talk about our hospitality. No one can host the way Russia can. Abroad, they always try to save money, but it just wouldn't do for us to look insolvent.
TALKING TO Elena Vaitsekhovskaya
Tatiana VOLOSOZAR and Maxim TRANKOV
IT TOOK US FIVE YEARS TO COME TOGETHER
Winning silver pair skating medals after skating together for only a year made Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov the heroes of Moscow World championships. They came to the interview with royal precisions, exactly on the dot.
We only had half an hour, so I had to give up on my original idea of talking to each of the partners separately.
OF LOST OPPORTUNITIES
Tatiana, you’re often compared to the two time World champion Aliona Savchenko. You’re both from Ukraine, you’ve both skated with Stanislav Morozov, you’ve both first trained with Galina Khuhar and then with Ingo Steuer. Now you most represent foreign countries. Could you recall what you thought when Savchenko left to skate for Germany?
I couldn’t. At the time, I skated in Dnepropetrovsk with Petya Kharchenko, and, honestly, all we thought about was finding a way to move to Kiev. There were at least some basic training conditions there. Overall, though, things were so difficult in Ukraine, everyone was just happy for Aliona and her good results.
Maxim, is it true that you had a chance to skate with Tanya five years ago, back in 2006?
Ludmila and Nikolai Velikovs, who trained me and Maria Mukhortova, really wanted me to partner up with Volosozhar. It so happened, though, that following the Calgary Worlds, Masha and I left the Velikovs for Tamara Moskvina. Soon thereafter our pair temporarily broke up. Moskvina asked me to consider whom I’d like to skate with and suggested I stop later to discuss it. We met and talked, as I recall, in Tamara Nikolayevna’s car, where I said I’d like to skate with Volosozhar. At the time, though, everyone thought Tanya would never leave Stas Morozov given their personal relationship.
Later on, it turned out no one ever discussed this with Tatiana. Last year, when we started training together, I asked Morozov directly how he’d have reacted to such a turn of events five years ago. Stas said that if he saw a partner who could bring Tanya better results than he could, he’d have let her go.
Tanya, would you have agreed to such proposal back in 206?
I would have certainly considered it. Of course, Russia had plenty of strong teams at the time – Masha Petrova and Alexei Tikhonov, Yulya Obertas and Sergei Slavnov…
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5 DAYS TO WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Nikolai MOROZOV: “IN JAPAN, THE FIRST THREE DAYS WERE NOT SCARY.”
Everyone in figure skating is used to seeing Nikolai Morozov at the boards far more any most of his colleagues. Moscow Worlds will be no different – Russian coach will accompany the 2007 World champion Japanese Miki Ando, European champion Frenchman Florent Amodio, Spain’s national champion Javier Fernandez, as well as Italian dancers Anna Cappellini/ Luca Lanotte. In addition, we should mention the Georgian singles skater Elene Gedevanishvili and Estonia’s Elena Glebova – Nikolai has already worked a lot with them this season. Also, Russian pair champion Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov owe their programs to that same Morozov.
Morozov brought his skaters to Novogorsk well ahead of time to allow the athletes to get fully acclimatized before Worlds. That’s where we met a few days ago. Nikolai, like always, was on the ice, showing various steps to young boys, whereas Russian skating patriarch Victor Kudryavtsev was observing from the coaches’ bench.
The famous coach’s eyes shone with so much enthusiasm, I decided to join him.
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Two days to World Championships
On Monday, World championships will start in Moscow with men’s qualifying round. This competition may be the last one (for a while at least) when our coaches will train foreign skaters.
Every time figure skating Worlds come up, fans and newspapers alike discuss how many foreign stars owe their success to Russian specialists. Indeed, it’s hard to avoid the subject given the sheer number of such examples.
At one time or another, Tatiana Tarasova coached or at least conducted master classes for: Sasha Cohen, Shizuka Arakawa, Michelle Kwan, Jonny Weir, Brian Joubert, Mao Asada, ice dancers Isabelle Delobel/ Olivier Schoenfelder, Barbara Fusar-Poli/ Maurizio Margaglio and others. Nikolai Morozov preprared Arakawa and Daisuke Takahashi, Miki Ando and Nobinario Oda, as well as Floran Amodio. It’s impressive, isn’t it?
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I know. I was greatly surprised to see you work with her again. It seemed that after the Vancouver Games, you did not intend to continue working with her.
That was my intention, that’s true. Then, though, I got two letters from Kyoko, Mao’s mom. And… In short, having read the letters, I realized it is completely wrong to put your own ambitions above professional growth of a uniquely talented person who needs your help. I said they could come.
The problem is that I only had three days to put together and choreograph two exhibitions programs and a short. I took my time preparing for those three days. I was very nervous. Lena Vodorezova even said she’s never seen my like that. I took my former student Ira Nikolaeva as an assistant. With her, I talked through every single step Mao had to take on the ice. After I was done with the programs, Lena Kustarova spent two full days going over them as well. I really wanted to work with her because I could see that over the last few years Lena has grown into a real master. After all this, we all knew in detail what exactly we would do when Asada finally did come to Moscow. On the first day, we put together the whole short program, from the first to the last move, with consideration for all new rules and regulations. Moreover, we had three versions for each element so we could easily choose the ones that fit best. I was very happy with the work we managed to do in those three days.
Do you regret parting ways with this athlete in spring?
I never have any regrets. The problem is not with Asada. The problem is that I cannot dedicate my life to her fully. My mom and my husband are very sick. I cannot afford to come to the ice ten times a week, and another ten times to off-ice training. Without this commitment, it won’t work. I only come to the rink when I’m asked to. I know I can give someone the necessary push, point out their mistakes, or perhaps choreograph a program or a footwork sequence. I don’t just do it for the athletes; I do it for myself as I want to keep a hold on my coaching profession.
Asada and her mom were very happy with the work we did in Moscow. However, as they were leaving for Japan, I insisted they look for a Japanese coach.
I think Japanese skaters should work on the basics with Japanese coaches. Languages barrier prevents a coach from imparting certain nuances on the athlete. Training often demands a special eye-to-eye contact. Japanese culture is very different from ours, as are their views on many things. There are things you’ll never be able to explain unless you grew up in that culture as well. No interpreter will do the trick. Perhaps I’m talking like a coach of a previous generation, but that’s my opinion.
Vaitsekhovskaya talks to Nina Mozer about her work with the Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov
I worked hard on carefully choosing the words for my first question – it doesn’t often happen that skaters who are seen as potential champions start working with a coach specializing in juniors. Suddenly, she let out a genial laugh, “Go ahead and ask it already! I’ve heard it many times already – ‘Who is this Nina Mozer?’”
While there’s been talk about it even before the Vancouver Olympics, it was in early April that we officially learned that three time European medalists Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov would no longer skate together, and that Maxim would continue his career with a Ukrainian skater Tatiana Volosozhar. Most observers believed the skaters would train in Germany with the 1997 World champion Ingo Steuer. He did, after all, train Volosozhar and Stanislav Morozov during their last two seasons. The rumors said Ingo did not mind making Morozov an assistant coach of the new team, and even started searching for potential partners for Tatiana.
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SAYING FAREWELL TO A GREAT WOMAN
Tatiana Tarasova called me Sunday night. “Mom is no more”, she said curtly.
Nina Grigorievna, the widow of the great Anatoly Tarasov, passed away at the age of 92. “She lived to old age”, someone could say indifferently. Me, I still can’t take it in.
She was always very young inside. She was so at 70, at 80, and even at 90. She was always tight, active and beautiful. It never took much imagination to see how men could lose their heads over such a woman, or how Anatoly Tarasov adored her over all of their 55 years together.
History often shows us how next to a great man there is always an equally great woman. Having observed the Tarasov family over many years, I’ve often seen how Nina Grigorievna was its real heart. She was very wise, very demanding and very loyal. With such a woman behind him, a man can have courage for any decision. Moreover, he goes through everything for her sake.
Tarasovs’ oldest daughter Galina told me a few years ago, “Dad always felt responsible for everything. For example, he never to his dying day knew that Tanya and I smoked. We hid it because we knew his temperament – he could throw us out of the house. At the same time, he never raised his hand at us. He could get very angry at us. God forbid we ever upset mom! On our father’s eyes, that was the worst sin. He was very protective of her.”
People still remember fondly the Army hockey “Women’s council” that Nina Grigorievna put together when her husband managed the club. Tarasova was very adept at balancing the impulsive and explosive character of her spouse. While he led the team on the ice, she was putting together the hockey family. Everyone could share his problems with her and find understanding and support. Nina Grigorievna herself was from a small town of Epifan where her father was a head doctor of the hospital. Perhaps, this was why she so especially attentive to those who moved to Moscow from the provinces.
“Imagine”, Tatiana Tarasova told me a couple of years ago. “Mom is already 90, but she gets me up every morning with her ‘Movement is life. Tanya, get up, let’s go for a walk’. She still follows sport, reads all the newspapers, and discusses it all with us”.
I often witnessed Nina Grigorievna’s desire to be in the know. About five years ago, I published an interview where a rather mediocre hockey player from Tarasov’s days mentioned the coach’s name in a negative context. Nina Grigorievna immediately called me to complain – why publish a lie? This man knows exactly why he was sanctioned! Does he think no one remembers anymore?!
Even a decade after her spouse’s death, Nina Grigorievna still came to his defense.
She was equally demanding of her daughters. To her, the concept of “family honor” had a very real meaning.
When doctors discovered Galina had an advanced stage of cancer, the family decided not to tell the mother. Both daughters well understood that Nina Grigorievna wouldn’t live through that. Last December, though, Galina passed away.
Having buried her oldest daughter next to her husband on the Vagankovo cemetery, Tarasova started withering away. She still took good care of herself and asked that people read to her as she couldn’t do it herself because of loss of vision. You could still her steal character behind it all. According to Tatiana Anatolievna, it was her mom who helped her go on a very strict diet and keep it diligently over several months.
When I heard it from Tatiana Tarasova back in late August, I thought for the first time that she didn’t take after her father in terms of character. Rather, she inherited Anatoly Vladimirovich’s creativity and ability to “see” the athlete and lead him to victory. It was her mother who gave her that unbending steal core.
Rest in peace, Tatiana Griorievna!
Yesterday, a new president was chosen for Federation of Figure Skating of Russia (FFSR). The post will be occupied by the chairman of the ISU technical committee for ice dancing, a director of international relations of the Russian Olympic committee, Olympic champion in figure skating Alexander Gorshkov. Simultaneously, General Director for RFSF was voted in. This seat, new in RFSF structure, will be occupied by the veteran federation president Valentine Piseev.
MEN PAIR SKATING
The voting for the top position started with a withdrawal of the chairman of National Russian Duma’s committee of physical education and sport, an Olympic figure skating champion Anton Sikhuralidze. Just a few minutes after the press was asked to leave the conference room, Sikhuralidze came out to speak to the journalists.
“Unfortunately, we only saw the new rules this morning,” he began. “The new rules spell out the federation president’s powers, and, to my great surprise, they are of nothing more than a figurehead. While my goal was to develop the federation, the new rules do not grant such powers to the president. I am a young, energetic and fairly busy man. I don’t have time to carry around the briefcase for the general director. This is why I had to withdraw from this race.”
Following Sikhuralidze, ice dancing champion Oksana Gritschuk fell out of the race. To begin with, the skater was told she only had two minutes to spell out her program. When she went passed this time, she started being “applauded away” (which was erroneously taken by Oksana as a sign of general interest and support). After she stopped speaking, she was informed that she had no right to run for the seat being a private individual.
Correspondingly, Gorshkov was left a sole candidate, voted in unanimously by all 66 members. After that, all of them with one exception voted to make Piseev the general director (essentially, the top person of FFSR). In a word, it all happened exactly as was predicted backstage. All that’s left is bitterness over the lack of abilities of those who seriously wanted to challenge the “old guard”.
Actually, the crashing defeat of Russian Olympians in Vancouver and the subsequent sorting out by the top people of the nation was for the best – it made many people associated with the sport start moving. In that sense, Piseev keeping his powers is not a tragedy or even stagnation = today, FFSR general director is more interested than anyone in making sure rinks are being built, coaches get all the support they need, and skaters regain their former victorious positions.
Tatiana Tarasova is right in pointing out that federation, headed by Piseev, has finally in the last few months, without any ado, gotten around to making many targeted and very necessary decisions. In particular, this is true about creation of new teams.
The conference also talked about some changes that have already been made in the federal program of sport development. For example, over the next two years new rinks should be built in Perm and Samara; those cities regularly supply the national team with skaters, but have absolutely atrocious working conditions.
Selection of Gorshkov for the top post of FFSR led to a minor problem – as a president of a national federation, he has to vacate his post of the chairman of the ISU technical committee of ice dancing. It’s not legitimate, though, to consider this a real problem, as FFSR plans (as was found out way before yesterday) to nominate to Gorshkov’s former post the most knowledgeable, powerful and respected of Russian judges – Alla Shekhovtseva, Piseev’s spouse. In addition to the aforementioned qualities, Shekhovtseva has a good command of English language, and her opinion is deferred to at the elite level.
In short, there was no point in barring the journalists from the final and most important part of the conference. We would’ve even applauded.
Today, [I went to the elections for FFKR] in Novogorsk. Honestly, I really enjoyed myself. Why? Because I had the right approach, that’s why. So many people, by the way, left the conference room all depressed, saying, “hell, a whole day lost”…
My, though, I came to see a vaudeville. I didn’t fail to entertain me. The acting was great.
There was such a variety! There was “the lover”, who was also the “unrecognized genius”. A comic hag. The main secondary part, a gray cardinal… I would’ve given them all Oscars without a second thought! As for the director of this… I don’t even know what prize to make up for him. It was pure genius, really.
So, what do we have at the end of the day?
President (a figurehead) Alexander Gorshkov. General director with all rights and absolute power – Valentin Piseev. If anyone is interested who’ll be nominated to replace Gorshkov as a leader of the ISU ice dancing technical committee – have no fear, it’s going to be the unparalleled master Alla Shakhovtseva. She only has one drawback – she’s Piseev’s wife.
Then again, it was only in yesteryear that it would’ve been considered bad to be a wife of the disgraced president…