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Post: America is not abroad: how Russian coaches beat foreign champions


At the beginning of 2023, it was learned that the silver medalist of the last European Championship, Italian Daniel Grassl, came to Moscow to start working with the honored coach of Russia, Eteri Tutberidze. So far, there is no information on whether the cooperation between Tutberidze and Grassl has been formalized and will be fully developed. If this happens, this will not be the first case of Russian coaches working with foreign skaters. The most famous stories are in the material of RIA Novosti Sport.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, a wave of coaches flocked abroad to make money, adding to the glory of domestic figure skating. Counting as a whole, there will be more than a hundred such experts. Many famous coaches stayed abroad to live and thus became foreign coaches. The most striking examples are Rafael Harutyunyan, Natalya Dubova, Natalya Linichuk. There are also star coaches who later returned to Russia. But they worked not only with foreigners, but also with masters who had never been abroad.

For example, Alexey Mishin, in the most difficult times, returned to his homeland, St. Petersburg to train. But when such an opportunity arose, he began to regularly travel with students to foreign training camps. And there, many foreign athletes joined his group. Among the most famous is Stéphane Lambiel, a two-time world champion from Switzerland. This figure skater earned her titles, among other things, for mastering the quadruped sheepskin coat under the guidance of Mishin. True, the triple axel Lambiel never learned to jump normally – the domestic specialist probably decided to leave the arsenal of his student Evgeni Plushenko as a limited opponent.

World champion Carolina Kostner from Italy is another product created using the knowledge of the Russian Professor. Repeated training sessions with Mishin followed by St. Constant work in his group in St. Petersburg (in 2016-2017 and after the 2018 Games) helped him win 11 European championship medals, five of which are gold, six world championship awards (among them). they are one – the highest honor) and the bronze medalist of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi. “Mishin reinvented the figure skating world for me,” said Carolina about working with an outstanding mentor who was at the end of her career. And the Professor has repeatedly called Costner his most hardworking student.

Elena Chaikovskaya said in an interview: “There was a period when all the coaches left, and only me and Mishin remained in Russia.” As a matter of fact, Elena Anatolyevna, who led ice dancers Elena Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkova, Natalia Linichuk and Gennady Karponosova to the title of Olympic champion in the Soviet era, never went on long business trips abroad, even in difficult times she stayed at home.

Still, Chaikovskaya is known for her work with foreign figure skaters. First of all, this is the Lithuanian dance duet Margarita Drobiazko / Povilas Vanagas. Led by Chaikovskaya, these athletes won bronze medals at the European and World Championships, an incredible feat for a country far from being representative in figure skating like Lithuania. None of the experts doubted that Drobyazko and Vanagas, speaking on behalf of one of the leading forces in this sport, would amass a much larger collection of awards. And it is not in vain that the skaters received Lithuania’s highest state awards (however, they were deprived for participating in a show in Russia in the summer of 2022).

In the late 90s and early 2000s, Chaikovskaya also collaborated with the Belarusian Figure Skating Federation. One of its most famous students, representing the flag of a neighboring country, was Sergey Davydov, now one of the leading coaches of the CSKA school. In addition, European and World Championships medalist Yulia Soldatova, who trained for a time under the guidance of Tchaikovsky, played for Belarus.

Tatyana Tarasova, who once trained with Tchaikovskaya, went to the USA in the mid-90s, as she repeatedly explained due to the lack of normal training conditions in Moscow. She continued to work abroad with the Russians and in 1998 led Ilya Kulik and dance duet Oksana Grischuk / Evgeny Platov to victory at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, and in 2002 his student Alexei Yagudin won a gold medal at the Salt Lake City Olympics. But all this time, Tarasova also collaborated with foreign athletes and many others. So, Italian dancers Barbara Fusar-Poli / Maurizio Margallo, world champion in 2001 and bronze medalist of the 2002 Games, teamed up with Israeli Galit Khait / Sergey Sakhnovsky, medalist of the 2002 World Championships.

No less famous are the achievements of foreign single skaters with whom Tarasova worked. So, Shizuka Arakawa, a Japanese woman who was once an Olympic champion in 2006, trained with him. After Tarasova returned to Russia in 2005, three-time world champion Mao Asada came to Moscow from the Land of the Rising Sun to work with an outstanding coach. Among Tatyana Anatolyevna’s students are American Sasha Cohen and Johnny Weir, Kazakhstani Denis Ten and many lesser-known figure skaters.

Tamara Moskvina, like Tarasova, spent a certain period of her life in America – although not for long: she worked overseas for four years. Moskvina’s departure to the United States in 1999 had a deeper meaning than her desire to find more comfortable conditions: there she prepared for the Olympics in Salt Lake City, the future champions of these Games, Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze, and gradually became the American. introduced. open to skaters. As a subtle strategist, Moskvina saw this work as an essential part of her future success, and in the end she was right.

But in parallel, the famous specialist, together with her husband Igor Moskvin, worked with the American couple Kyoko Ina / John Zimmerman, winning them three gold medals at the national championship and bronze at the 2001/2002 World Championships. But Moscow’s most famous foreign student is, of course, the Japanese Yuko Kawaguchi. Under the guidance of Tamara Nikolaevna, she began to study in America, representing Japan with Alexander Markuntsov. Then Kawaguchi had two American partners, and Moskvina at that time, together with the whole group, went to St. She had returned to Petersburg. And finally, since 2006, Kawaguchi began playing for Russia, paired with Alexander Smirnov.

Many trainers of the new wave that followed the Soviet generation of experts also began to work in the USA. One of its most prominent representatives is Alexander Zhulin, who spent the last, heyday, years of his sports career working on American ice. In a duet with Maya Usova, who trained with Dubova, she won bronze and silver at the Olympic Games in 1992 and 1994, and gold at the 1993 World Championships, respectively. After the end of his sports career, Zhulin remained in the United States and began coaching. At that time, while he was still abroad, he began working with future Olympic champions Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov.

In the mid-2000s, Zhulin returned to Russia, and with him came foreign skaters who had achieved remarkable success. And these were not just dancers: for example, in Moscow, Japanese single skater Fumie Suguri studied with Zhulin. But the main achievement of the Russian coach in working with foreigners was the gold medal of the 2011 European Championship in ice dancing by Natalie Pechalat and Fabian Bourza. True, then the French left Zhulin’s group, as they say, because of their dissatisfaction with their success in the Russian Figure Skating Federation. Since then, Zhulin did not train direct competitors to Russian athletes, although he had such interesting foreign students as Ukrainian dancers Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin.

Nikolai Morozov also started his career abroad. At first she worked as Tarasova’s assistant. And then, roaring as the choreographer of Alexei Yagudin’s famous program “Winter”, Morozov began to appear more and more in the “corners of tears and kisses” as a coach. The list of foreign students is extensive. Among those with whom Nikolai Alexandrovich has achieved notable success are Canadian dancers Shae-Lynn Burn and 2003 world champion Victor Kraatz, Japanese Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa, two-time world champion Japanese Miki Ando, ​​another figure skater. Japan, Daisuke Takahashi was with Morozov, the silver medalist of the 2007 World Championships.

At the end of 2010, Morozov accepted the invitation of FFKKR and returned to Russia. Some of his foreign students also came with him. Thus, the Frenchman Florent Amodio became the 2011 European champion under the guidance of a Russian coach. Future two-time world champion Spaniard Javier Fernandez trained with Morozov in Moscow, and Italian dancers Anna Cappellini and Luca Lanotte, who won the 2010 World Championships no longer under his leadership, also trained with him.

Finally, Tutberidze, who is the most successful Russian coach of recent years, especially in women’s single skating, even before potential collaboration with Grassl led to the success of foreign skaters. Thus, Elisabeth Tursynbayeva, playing for Kazakhstan, won a silver medal at the 2019 World Championships, becoming the first adult figure skater in history to perform a quad salchow at official competitions. Maurice Kvitelashvili, who played for Russia at a young age and has represented Georgia since 2016, trained with Tutberidze throughout his career until recently and won the bronze medal at the 2020 European Championships. There was a moment when the winner of the 2018 and 2022 Olympic Games, Japanese Sema Uno, consulted with the Russian coach – but this did not translate into a full-fledged collaboration.

But Tutberidze’s work with Grassl – if carried out consistently – will have a special connotation due to the current political situation and logistical difficulties. It will be more interesting to see what result it will bring.

Source: Ria

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