''We don't feel free to be happy, we’re afraid to frighten''

Kazan coaches of Evgenia Tarasova about the ‘‘easy-going, flexible and hardworking’’ pupil

On 9 February, pupil of the Kazan figure skating school Evgenia Tarasova together with her partner Vladimir Morozov showed an amazing performance at the Olympics. The couple set its personal record – 80,92 points, 4 points more than the Canadians. Evgenia's first coaches set their alarm clocks at 5 pm to watch her performance in Pyeongchang. Their phones have been bursting with congratulations from their colleagues since then. At the same time, they have to resist attacks of journalists who try to reach out to her mum and grandmum through the Kazan coaches. However, they keep silent – Tatiana Tarasova doesn't watch the daughter's performances either with her own eyes or live on TV.

The Tarasovs: coaches and figure skaters

Tatarstan stays tuned for the Olympics that started in Korea with great interest. Even if it doesn't have the Russian flag but it does have people to support – figure skater Evgenia Tarasova from Kazan has a chance to get an Olympic medal. It's the first case when an athlete representing the capital of Tatarstan achieves such success in this sport. There was another single skater Aleksandr Fadeyev who was 7 th and 4th at 1984 and 1988 Olympics respectively. But he represented Moscow, not TASSR.

''He was forcedly taken at age 16, like it was an order from the top. Though he and his coach were against,'' tells Elena Tarasova, secretary general of the Figure Skating Federation of the Republic of Tatarstan.

Evgenia Tarasova could also be taken to Moscow – the Tatarstan Ministry of Sport managed to win her one year before the Olympics. Of course, the girl has been living and training in the capital for a long time – her representation of Tatarstan was the point.

Our interlocutor Elena Tarasova is also the spouse of Gennady Tarasov – one Evgenia Tarasova's first coaches. They aren't relatives with Evgenia, just namesakes. But the years of training sessions brought them so close that Mrs Tarasova can be considered as the athlete's second mum.

''We also have a daughter with Gennady. When Gennady and Evgenia went to competitions, everybody thought Evgenia was his daughter. ''Where is your dad? Go and call him,'' people said. ''Meanwhile, they didn't deny, it was such a game,'' Elena Tarasova says.

Elena Tarasova can be considered as the athlete's second mum. Photo: vk.com

''She is a good person, kind, responsive. She remembers our school, comes''

Evgenia started to do figure skating at the age of 5 in the group of Vyacheslav Golovlyov in the Regional Figure Skating School. Golovlyov also teaches now, but in Strela Youth Athletic School. ''She is an eager beaver, she achieved everything thanks to her hard work,'' the pupil's first coach tells about her.

''When she was in singles, we had to even stop her. She constantly worked, never spoke on the ice. She is a good person, kind, responsive. She remembers our school, comes, we call each other,'' the coach tells.

Golovlyov's colleagues are calling him today and congratulating on his pupil's success but he hasn't called Evgenia yet. ''I'm afraid to frighten the luck. There is anxiety, tension.''

The events before the Olympics also added the jitters. But as far as her first coach knows her, they won't affect Tarasova.

''She is an equable person with a clear mind. A lot of effort is put there now to impede our athletes, but we need to fight and fight. There will always be misfortunes, Evgenia is morally prepared for them.''

''She is an eager beaver, she achieved everything thanks to her hard working,'' Golovlyov's says about her. Photo@ fskate.ru

She was ''little, easy-going, flexible, hard-working''

There was only one ice palace in Kazan in the late 90s. Evgenia's family lived in Derbyshki settlement. Her mum Tatiana Tarasova had to take her daughter to training every morning. The road from the suburbs to the city centre took 2 hours (citizens of Kazan remember how often public transport circulated). There were morning classes in the sports school, then training sessions. Her mum could take the little athlete only after work. Evgenia had to wait for people to take her in the cloakroom of the ice palace for several hours. These difficulties were the first step towards success.

''Mr Golovlyov saw her and said: 'Why are you sitting here doing nothing? Put your skates on and come.' So she started to work with older guys,'' Elena Tarasova says.

The coach liked Evgenia immediately – she was ''little, easy-going, flexible, hard-working''. Gennady Tarasov prophesied she would have a glowing future.

''Mr Tarasov didn't tell me this story. He forgot it quickly. Tatiana (Evgenia's mum Tatiana Tarasova) told me it later, Evgenia had told it to her. In was in 2005, the world championship was in Moscow. Parents could take a part of the kids to Moscow to watch the competition, while Evgenia's mum couldn't. The kids were back home. Mr Tarasov had a kind of pedagogical approach: he tried to talk with them on other topics before training, so they wouldn't distract during training. All kids were talking, while Evgenia was sitting in silence – she had nothing to tell. He saw it and said: ''Evgenya, don't worry, you will go to the world championship as a participant, not a spectator.''

Gennady Tarasov with his pupils. Photo: sport-in-kazan.ru

Evgenia said: ''All right, later''

''We set our alarm clocks at 5 pm to watch the competition of figure skaters. And when we saw Kolyada (Editor's Note: Mikhail Kolyada had an unsuccessful performance in short programme and finished 8 th), everything collapsed. But Evgenia and Vladimir's performance was the next, and it became clear we still had chances, they did their best,'' Elena Tarasova tells how she supported her pupil. After the amazing performance, her phone started to burst from calls – her colleagues congratulated, journalists tried to find the phone number of Evgenia's mum or grandmum. But Tatiana Tarasova asked not to give her contacts to anyone.

''Tatiana said it was spiritually difficult for her, she frets about her daughter. She hasn't been watching Evgenia either live or in performances since junior competitions. She was always in the foyer when Evgenia was on the ice. And Evgenia also said: ''All right, later'' when talking with her mum,'' Evgenia Tarasova says. ''We don't feel free to be hapy, we're afraid of frightening the luck. Most importantly, all fight is ahead. It's correct they decided not to perform in free routine in teams' competition and prepare for singles. Evgenia is a fighter by nature. Apart from natural capabilities, she has huge diligence. This bravery wasn't seen from the beginning due to her character's modesty. And the technique – her high jumps, throws – is what Mr Tarasov taught her. Now even Tutberidze (Editor's Note: Eteri Tutberidze is a famous Russian coach, Yulia Lipnitskaya, Evgenia Medvedeva, Alina Zagitova are among her pupils) doesn't have such a flight,'' Tarasova is amazed at her spouse's pupil.

Tarasova and Morozov were going to fight for a medal in single short programme on 14 February and free routine on 15 February. Photo: vk.com/tarasova.morozov

''They are in love, they are a couple in real life''

Vladimir Morozov became Evgenia Tarasova's perfect partner. The athletes found each other after working with other partners for 2 years – Morozov was with Ekaterina Krutskikh and Tarasova with Yegor Chudinin. By the way, they found each other on the ice and in life.

''They are in love, they are a couple in real life! They understand each other very well. Vladimir said they easily became a couple because Evgenia was flexible, she wasn't naughty, and it was easy to speak the same language and work,'' Elena Tarasova says.

The Tatarstan Figure Skating Federation follows not only Evgenia Tarasova but also the regional championship in Volga Federal Okrug and Ural Federal Okrug. Saida Zakirova from Vysokaya Gora became the champion of the two okrugs in the young group and Anfisa Ryabova won among older athletes. Hopes are pinned on Maksimillian Yermolin among guys, but Tarasova says Eteri Tutberidze already took him to Moscow.

While missing the team competition's free routine, Tarasova and Morozov were going to fight for a medal in short programme on 14 February and free routine on 15 February.

By Daria Turtseva