Answers provided by Tamara Moskvina
A: Such characteristics of the Soviet system: obligatory high education of Russian coaches (4 years college), obligatory education of the skaters. The coach was a manager, coach, agent, promoter, teacher, mother-father, and so on for the skaters. The coach planns the career of the skaters, fulfills it, controlls it. As the society was closed from other countries, the people were busy with education, reading, art, sport, and competed to be the best in the country to have the possibility of travelling. Free sport activity for everyone, etc. I can give 2-4 hours lecture on this topic.
Q: We frequently hear reference to the St. Petersburg style of skating. How would you define this style?
A: St. Petersburg style--composition of sport and art. In St. Petersburg, with its cultural and artistic traditions, skaters are brought up in this atmosphere.
Q: Many Russian coaches and athletes have moved to the West. Despite the hardships of living and training in Russia, you and your students persevere to remain in Russia for most of the year. What makes you continue coaching in Russia?
A: We like to stay home, we feel happy here and we do not want to leave our families, relatives, and friends. We arrange more or less comfortable conditions to live and train in. We have the freedom to choose and the strength to choose where we feel ourselves better.
Q: What do you think are the biggest obstacles as a coach and for the skaters training in Russia? How do you prepare your student to deal with the obstacles?
A: Everything can become a big obstacle for the coach and for the skaters. I teach them to avoid obstacles, to replace them with something else, do not bring them close to your heart to suffer, try to make progress on strong sides. Methods of preparing skaters: give a good example, comparison with bigger problems, persuading, not paying attention to obstacles, preparing mentally and physically to fight any obstacle to do skating perfect to please the public.
Q: What does the Russian Federation do to help the skaters and coaches? Do you think that skaters based in St. Petersburg are treated equally with the skaters from Moscow? Is there any rivalry?
A: Now the Federation does almost nothing. Our skaters are treated the same as there are not so many skaters from Moscow. The Federation has to accept the fact that we are the strongest pair team school. There is so rivalry as all Moscow pair teams have split up, turned pro, or disappeared.
Q: Are there Junior level Russian skaters to replace the elite level Russian skaters?
A: In pairs, yes. But overall there are not so many because ice rinks are closed and not so many skaters can skate.
Q: Did Natalia and Artur break up on good terms?
A: Natasha, Artur, and I broke up in a friendly way. We discussed everything and made the decision together. Natasha gave some costumes to Oksana. She came to see some practices of Oksana and Artur.
Q: Is Elena Bereznaya still in school? If so, how does she balance school with training and travel?
A: She is still in school, but she passes exams and takes additional lessons when she is home. Really her studies suffer.
In October of 1995 at the Skate America competition, Oksana, Artur and Tamara made the time to meet with their fan club members. Here is a brief write up of the meeting that was published in the newsletter.
About nine fan club members were able to make the trip to Detroit. We met October 27th, immediately after one of Oksana and Artur's practice sessions. Oksana and Tamara emerged first after changing clothes; Artur had not yet finished. We walked to a place with tables and chairs to talk, but Tamara said one of our members should stay behind at the designated meeting place to tell Artur where we had gone to. Hilary offered to. Tamara then asked Hilary if she would recognize him. Hilary cracked up at this question, as she is a devoted fan who has seen Artur's performances with Natalia on tape countless times. She was able to recognize him and they found the area we were sitting at. Artur received applause when, after shaking all our hands, he kissed Tamara's hand.
Tamara was very helpful in answering all of our questions. Oksana seemed shy and was not secure in her ability to speak English, though she seemed to understand much of what was being said. Tamara translated for her. We asked Oksana if she felt the pressure having to replace Natalia. She said she did not. Tamara added that she does not see Oksana as "replacing" Natalia, but rather sees Oksana and Artur as forming a new pair.
Artur told us he felt glad to be competing again, and we said that we were happy to see him back on the skating scene. They told us they appreciate our support and thanked us for choosing them. All three were very kind and friendly.
Tamara also asked us for suggestions of what music to skate to. I encourage everyone to send their suggestions to me (Marianne Merola.)
Autographs were signed and group photos taken. Tamara took some of the pictures herself and demonstrated once again her command of English by asking us to say "cheese" and asking for "6.0" smiles.
Getting to meet the trio was a thrill for me, and the fact that Oksana and Artur's long program on the 28th had mistakes did not dim the lustre of this event one bit. Getting to see first hand how nice they are has made me even more of a devoted fan and I will never forget this wonderful experience.
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