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.