“We communicate with Uno through images”
- How many wards visited you at the Grand Prix stage in Moscow?
- I work with three skaters: Denis Vasiliev, Syoma Uno and Young Shiraiva.
- What can you say about cooperation with Uno?
- After the French Grand Prix stage, he came to me because he did not want to go to Japan, and settled not far from my ice rink. Then we came here. We have many years of experience of cooperation, accumulated during a large number of speeches. I was his choreographer, and in a number of exhibition numbers I was even a partner. We had a good relationship with him, which is why I offered him my services.
- That is, it was not a surprise for you when he turned to you for help?
- Syoma came to my school for several days back in September. He knows my methods, and I think he really likes the atmosphere in my groups, so this has become quite a comfortable option for him.
- Uno does not speak English. How do you communicate with him, find a common language?
- We work a lot at the level of images, and I try to show the necessary movements myself. In addition, he knows some words, for example, terms indicating directions. Therefore, he understands my instructions like “left” or “right”. So we communicate - with the help of a small set of words, but mainly through various kinds of visualization, through images.
- Few are given the opportunity to work with the owner of Olympic silver. Is it possible to say that it is a special honor for you to supervise this completely newcomer athlete?
- I like coaching in any form. I am driven by a passion for figure skating. If my wards share it, then no matter what their initial level is.
- Over the years, you have been more known as a choreographer. And now they’ve become a coach. Is there a big difference between these activities? Which one is closer to you?
- These are two very different activities. The responsibility of the choreographer is very short-term: you practice with the skater for about a week, develop a program for him, after which he returns to his usual routine and continues to prepare with a mentor who realizes long-term goals. I have been engaged in coaching for more than five years and enjoy the process immensely. I like to develop plans and share my values with the wards, team, colleagues, with whom we try to provide everything necessary for the emergence of a new champion.
- Why are you training so few skaters so far?
- I have just as many wards as I need for a comfortable life. Enough work.
- Who in the coaching field is an example for you? Who would you turn to for advice?
- A lot of coaches support me. These are those with whom I myself have worked: Mie Hamada, Gislen Briand, Brian Orser, a ballet and modern dance teacher, a Pilates trainer, as well as specialists involved in off-ice training. I like to surround myself with people who have deep knowledge in special areas, which I can draw from them, so that then I can create for my skaters the most optimal conditions for development.
“I am a staunch supporter of evolution”
- You yourself continue to speak. When do you have time to train?
- Usually every day I set aside one hour for myself and spend it not only on ice, but also in the hall. Indeed, it is possible to improve - including psychologically - within the framework of active off-ice training, practicing the movements that you then perform on the rink.
- How do you feel about current trends in figure skating? Four jumps were rare in your time.
- But they were still performed. I remember, back in 2002, the Olympic Salt Lake City medalist Timothy Gable included three quadruple jumps in his programs. So this practice has existed for a long time. Figure skating is undergoing remarkable progress. I am a staunch supporter of evolution. And I myself want to conquer new frontiers, work to the limit. Therefore, I admire every skater who strives for the same.
But I do not think quadruple jumps are so unique. I remember the Czechoslovak skater Josef Sabowczyk performed them back in the 80s. And Brian Orser, too. Therefore, this is not at all something new ... But it’s just pretty old already ( Laughs ). Yes, it looks very impressive. But besides the quadruple rotations in the air, there are many other ways of interpretation.
- For example?
- Through music, through the main character of the production. For me, figure skating is like art ... Like the book you are going to write. When you ride, you write a certain story for which you yourself are responsible. And if in your narrative you want to focus on the quadruples - well, so be it. But skaters need to create a full-fledged story, where every detail, every little shade is worked out. In this sport I am attracted by its excellent aesthetics. Yes, progress is important, but you can go to it in many different ways.
- What do you think of the quadruple jumps in women? Is this a great advantage for those who play them?
“With fair judging, they should not play such a big role.” And even if this is really a kind of advantage, if you get quadruple jumps, transitions, and everything else, what's wrong with that? I would not push progress into such a tight framework.
- Could you name your favorite skaters? Who has the most balanced programs now?
- There are many of those. The other day I saw Mariah Bell training. She rode as if speaking in the rays of a searchlight. A bewitching sight. It seemed that every cell of her body in its place. Her skating looks both dynamic and natural. I watched the American lesson with great pleasure and got a lot of impressions. In her case, we can talk about various technical and artistic elements. In general, I love the combination of precision - including technically - and grace. Many skaters have it.
“I admire the Russian school of figure skating”
- In 2015, in an interview with one of the TV channels, you said that you were going to learn Russian.
- Yes, from time to time I ask Denis Vasiliev to teach me one way or another, but at my age it is quite difficult, because I am not already 20 years old. In addition, workloads interfere with full-time activities.
- What do you associate Moscow? Perhaps with your victory in the 2005 championship?
- Perhaps with figure skating. I admire the Russian school of figure skating. And every time I come to Moscow, I have associations with this particular style.
- Do you have favorite places in Moscow?
- Yes, and there are a lot of them. For example, I really like to visit my best friends - Tatyana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov, who, unfortunately, are now in Canada. I like to spend time with my Russian friends.
- Is your school open to Russian skaters?
- Of course! I have already worked with Mikhail Kolyada, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, Alexander Petrov. Alexei Mishin helped me train skaters. I respect him with great respect. He is a wonderful person and a great master of figure skating.