Yelena Chaykovskaya: “Zagitova ranked 25th? It doesn’t matter”

The great coach about the Kazan figure skating school, a talk with Minnikhanov and why the youth unwillingly become coaches

Yelena Chaykovskaya: “Zagitova ranked 25th? It doesn’t matter” Photo: tatarstan.ru

One of the greatest coaches in Soviet and world figure skating Yelena Chaykovskaya arrived in Kazan for the fourth stage of the Russian Cup. She talked with the Tatarstan president about the development of her favourite sport in the region, watched the competition in ice dance and said how she was preparing for her 80th birthday. More is in Realnoe Vremya’s exclusive interview.

“You have a very talented people, with its own identity

Mrs Chaykovskaya, we are pleased to see you in Kazan, though it seemed to me that you wholeheartedly threw yourself into preparing for the jubilee.

It seemed to be in vain. The jubilee doesn’t exclude my visit, I also go to this competition, as it is one of the most important competitions in Russia. There are five stages [of the Russian Cup] in total — in Moscow, Sochi, Syzran, Saransk and here, in Kazan. But, besides, I’ve had a meeting with President of Tatarstan Rustam Minnikhanov today at which we discussed the development of our sport. I had already known that your president was a sportsman, did sport and played hockey. And when the leader of the region knows that it is necessary to develop sport, that it is a necessary component of our life, you feel confident when talking with such a person. He immediately paid attention to what is needed to develop figure skating, which is cultivated on 20 out of 45 ice rinks existing in the republic. And we’ve had a very substantive talk after which I understood that everything will be fine here.

Moreover, you have a very talented people, with its own identity, and I would like the national team of Russia to be replenished with local pupils like same Yevgenia Tarasova as part of our junior team. Here “material” is prepared — perhaps it isn’t very correct to call it this way, but we do have such a term. And it is not only promising athletes but also good and educated people. Moreover, next year the Russian Cup stage in Russia (Editor’s Note: dedicated to famous coach Gennady Tarasov this year), which used to be called Idel, will celebrate its 50th jubilee. Once this competition was even international.

Photo: tatarstan.ru
We’ve had a very substantive talk after which I understood that everything will be fine here

I would like to clarify: did you discuss the development of figure skating in general or pairs in particular? (Editor’s Note: the case is that it was said about plans to develop precisely pairs in Tatarstan that Nina Mozer was to supervise).

No, we talked about the development of our sport globally.

I clarify it because now Tatarstan purposefully develops pairs, three girls and a boy from the Kazan school train in the federal centre in Perm only.

You know, here it isn’t the case of pairs as such. Your school has good basics or, more precisely singles, which is the foundation for general state and pairs and ice dance. People who know how to skate graduate from here. Perhaps, they didn’t manage to learn some complicated elements, which would have allowed them to skate in the singles, but basic skating, gliding, speed, rotation speed, ice mobility — all this is laid down here and then comes in handy in pairs. This is why there isn’t any talk about pairs or other disciplines, it is the case of fundamentals science if you like.

“It doesn’t matter which place the kid occupied, it is important to see, develop the talent”

Fundamental coaches should promote fundamental science, and it seems to me that we have problems here.

While I think you have good coaches. They appeared on new ice rinks, not far from Kazan, I noticed two good boys there. Several people went to Aleksey Mishin’s school, a kind of masterclass. It seems to me that here probably there is a necessity to appoint a highly qualified coach to supervise the general process, but you already have coaches to give the basic knowledge here. There it is a matter of energy distribution, training load, amount of ice and so on. From my point of view, the most important thing is not to lose a ы talented child. Selection is needed to look for these talents.

Photo: vk.com/eteritutberidze
I even wouldn’t be talking about achievements of figure skaters that are tried to be equalised with world records. We don’t have them because today you will be a judge, tomorrow it will be me, and I will evaluate the same athlete’s performance by 10 points more. So what?

As for the talent… Everybody has recently surprisingly considered the fact that yesterday’s junior Alyona Kostornaya won Olympic champion Alina Zagitova at the Grand Prix of France. Though Alina’s history of performances shows that Russia has 65 figure skaters who could say they have won Zagitova.

No, no, no. I wouldn’t say so. No machines but people are the judges who have their own subjective view. This is why every specific competition has its own specific history. If it were a personal meeting, we could be talking about a personal victory, like “she won her” and so on. But in general such comparisons don’t work. Every competition is new incomparable conditions. I even wouldn’t be talking about achievements of figure skaters that are tried to be equalised with world records. We don’t have them because today you will be a judge, tomorrow it will be me, and I will evaluate the same athlete’s performance by 10 points more. So what?

… I would like to mention that Zagitova climbed the summit from the 25th place in the Russian championship...

So what? And my pupil Aleksandr Gorshkov (Editor’s Note: the president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation) never was in the junior national team. Moreover, he heard an opinion that his skating was pointless. These judgements say nothing in general, everything depends on a smart training process, the commitment of the coaching staff and athletes, the compatibility of their characters and the coincidence of their goals. Back to Gorshkov, in the end, he became both an Olympic champion and a nine-time world champion. This is why one shouldn’t look at the place you came from to the victory…

… It is what I am talking about. I will finish your thought that no talented child should be missed, moreover, there is an example of Alina Zagitova.

Yes, it doesn’t matter which place the kid occupied, it is important to see it, develop the talent and inspire faith in success.

Photo: kuda-kazan.ru
There are a lot of opportunities in ice ballet, different shows and so on now. But we need committed coaches who couldn’t live outside our profession

“Only idiots hand out comments before competition”

We began talking about the jubilee, moreover, it is such a big one, moreover, amid the buzz before New Year… (Editor’s Note: Chaykovskaya celebrates her birthday on 30 December)

No way. I have tried to go somewhere in the last years. I will try to disappear from the horizon on, for instance, 27 December because it is a very tedious event. I felt it when I celebrated my 60th birthday on a large scale. I decided after that I would never do that again (laughing).

As for this jubilee, it will be a big film that will be on TV screens on 23 December. And there will be a recording with my favourite Maksim Galkin when we will gather at a round table, and the programme itself will be shown in late December. So we will meet with you again, though via TV screens.

By the way, you are right in the middle between two great birthday people of this year in figure skating. Igor Moskvin celebrates his 90th jubilee, Irina Rodnina did her 70th birthday. You created the greatness of Soviet figure skating among many others and you have managed to conserve it nowadays. Why do you think it has become possible?

We have managed to conserve traditions of victories and, most importantly, our training methods, this Soviet groundwork prepared by several generations. They included both a lot of coaches and amazing scientific teams who worked in the national team of the country when specialists calculated selection principles, the level of training load. It was a big team, and I think that we’ve lost nothing. Moreover, at this age, I mean Aleksey Mishin and Tamara Moskvina who will be 80 years soon, still at the helm of today’s figure skating. To tell the truth, we would be glad to give the reins to the youth, but the youth in general don’t want to become coaches. There are a lot of opportunities in ice ballet, different shows and so on now. But we need committed coaches who couldn’t live outside our profession. Then the next victorious general we are waiting for will come.

Photo: vk.com/eteritutberidze
It doesn’t matter. In general I think that only idiots can hand out comments, while I am not an idiot

I noticed that the world and Russian elite have enough coaches who couldn’t boast about their own high sports accomplishments: “American” Arutyunyan, our Tutberidze, Goncharenko, Tsaryova, Chebotaryova.

So what? One doesn’t necessarily have to have a big career. I remember how Oleg Protopopov tried to work as a coach in our country but nothing worked. And it didn’t work because he worked like he trained, while the “material”, I have already said this word, was completely different. The thing is that all people are different.

In general I think that a coach should look for an answer to the question “How can I win?” every low season. To skate like everyone without making up anything? Okay, you will perform everything, so what? Everyone does it, but zest immediately allows to stand out. You will be noticed then right away.

The Grand Prix stage in Russia kicked off on Friday. Could you share your impressions of the four previous stages?

No, I am not sharing any impressions while the competition is still held. The selection hasn’t ended until there is a fight, what should I talk about here?

For instance, about Anna Shcherbakova who has already gone through two stages and made it to the final beforehand.

It doesn’t matter. In general I think that only idiots can hand out comments, while I am not an idiot (laughing).

By Dzhaudat Abdullin