A few weeks before the dissolution of the Soviet Union in December 1991, Tamara Moskvina, the world’s most famous doubles figure skating coach, met with American reporters at a competition in Albertville, France, which was to be held. 1992 Winter Olympics.
At the very least, those who investigate are meant to be reporters. Moskvina found that all of their logins were related to the same news organization, USA Today. The passes had been made by mistake, but such bland uniform identification led to suspicions that Moskvina was talking to the spy and not the sports writer.
“CIA?” she asked.
Now 80, Moskvina is looking to coach her fifth pair of Olympic gold medalists, in five decades, at the Beijing Olympics with her mischievous humor and ability to innovate.
Decades ago, she became an early proponent of sports psychology. She also enlisted choreographers from the Mariinsky Ballet to help improve the lyrical style of skating that developed in her hometown, St. Petersburg, Russia, and signed up her pairs for acrobatic classes.
If the latest training equipment isn’t available in the Soviet era, says Moskvina, who holds a Ph. in the science of education, her own improvisation. Her skaters mimicked high-altitude training by wearing a breathing tube while running, looking to increase their oxygen carrying capacity for a grueling, longer four-minute routine. much more than the average hockey track 45 seconds.
Perhaps Moskvina’s greatest strength is her ability to adapt to change in the face of despair and grief. She survived the Nazi siege of Leningrad, now St. Petersburg, during the Second World War. And she stood firm against the fall of the Soviet Union, as many rinks converted into shopping centers and car dealerships amid the backdrop of economic turmoil.
She has also maintained her professional reputation almost two decades later an alleged fix by a crowd of Russians skating and dancing on the ice at the 2002 Salt Lake City Games. Moskvina pair Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze narrowly won over Canadians Jamie Salé and David Pelletier in a dispute results. In the end, gold medals were awarded to both pairs. Moskvina was not involved in the scandal and has long denied any involvement.
In one documentary currently airing on Peacock, the NBC streaming service, a former Canadian figure skater and Canadian journalist has hinted, without proof, that Moskvina must have known of any fix. No fault because she’s an operator of the sport. But Sally-Anne Stapleford, a powerful international official at the time, called Moskvina the person with “the highest integrity” in the documentary, saying, “I never knew she was involved. involved in any dealings or corruption.”
In a video interview from St.Petersburg, Moskvina said she was not bothered by the incident.
“Our skaters have become very popular, Tamara has become very popular,” she said.
Moskvina went to Beijing with two possible medal matches, including Anastasia Mishina and Alexander Galliamov, came in third after Friday’s short show. A victory would mark the 14th time a Soviet or Russian doubles have won a gold medal in the 16 Winter Olympics held since 1964.
“No matter what age Tamara is, she is full of energy and crazy new ideas,” says Oleg Vasiliev, who was coached by Moskvina to win her first Olympic doubles gold medal in 1984.
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Even as an October student, Moskvina skated. Until the coronavirus pandemic, she regularly paired with Bruno Marcotte, a top Canadian coach, when they met at competitions. Take the stone, he will lift her above his head.
“I think it’s her way to stay young and stylish,” says Marcotte, “and to show her kids, ‘Don’t let my age fool you, I’m stronger than you.’
It was a strength beyond muscle, a strength forged from desperate survival.
Four days before Moskvina was born on June 26, 1941, Germany attacked the Soviet Union. Quickly, the Nazis blockaded Leningrad in a siege that lasted nearly 900 days. By some estimates, more than a million people have died. Frozen bodies lie on the sidewalk. The starving man ate cats, dogs, sawdust, and wood glue. The most hopeless is resorting to cannibalism, chopping off the ass of the dead.
Moskvina was evacuated to a village in the Urals where her mother’s family lived. Moskvina says food servings are limited to 100 grams of bread per day, which equates to 265 calories. Today, the food shortage is evident in her height, 4 feet 10 inches. Once, she said, she discovered her cousin’s bread supply and, being so hungry, “I stole it.”
Her family moved back to Leningrad in 1948, and a few years later, Moskvina started skating at the age of 10. Wearing hockey-style skates but without a skate protector, she walked on tiptoe or skimmed through the snow. compression, in about half a mile to the rink. , where she stayed for an hour or two or three, warming herself in a hut with firewood thrown into the kitchen.
She became the Soviet singles champion five times and then, on the advice of her coach, Igor Moskvin, with whom she was married, Moskvina became a double figure skater. She and Alexei Mishin finished fifth at the 1968 Olympics and runner-up at the 1969 world championship. They became the first couple where a man lifted his partner with one hand, Mishin said. These were remarkable achievements, as they practiced sometimes on a makeshift rink inside a church. Like many churches after the Russian Revolution, it was closed and converted into a warehouse.
The iceberg only measures 15 meters by 15 meters, or about 49 meters by 49 meters. It’s so tiny that he and Moskvina sometimes start out skating in a wooden corridor “and run,” said Mishin, who coached three Russian men to individual Olympic gold medals. onto the ice to lift.”
When Moskvina began her coaching career during the Soviet era, some of her former skaters said she used creative but sometimes harsh training tactics. She helps build confidence and consistency by letting skaters sometimes do their routines without warming up, and helps hone their focus by training them to quit. through insults she’ll throw at them like: “You can’t do this. You will fall.”
Sometimes, skaters said, she stabbed the ice with pins if their legs weren’t kept high enough, their backs weren’t arched like that, a tactic that would be considered abusive today. .
“Here you go to jail,” laughs Irina Vorobieva, who coached Moskvina to win doubles gold at the 1981 world championships and is a longtime Colorado Springs coach. “But she wasn’t trying to hurt us, just to pinch us to let us know we had to work better.”
Ms Vorobieva said Moskvina also had a mischievous side, such as forcing her to take the train with a cotton ball under her arm for doctors to analyze her sweat, but later had to admit it was a joke.
Her coaching style is a combination of balletic elements with her own invented lifting and turning movements, all aimed at eliciting emotions from the audience. Her skaters performed for Rachmaninoff and the music from the movie “Rambo”. Their routines are romantic and elegant but also powerful and dramatic, woven with passion and intertwined with the whimsy of Charlie Chaplin’s impersonation.
“Tamara always wanted a standing ovation,” said Natalia Mishkutenok, who won the Olympic pair gold medal in 1992 and the silver medal in 1994.
Mishkutenok skates with Moskvina’s greatest champion, Artur Dmitriev, who has the physique of a street athlete and the grace of a ballet dancer and who, in 1998, became the first man to win a gold medal with different partners. (His life partner in 1998, Oksana Kazakova, sometimes gets euphoric. So at the Olympic Stadium in Nagano, Japan, Moskvina placed a small framed photograph of her husband Kazakova along the plate. plan to calm her down.)
Before the 2002 Olympics, Moskvina moved her coaching team for 4 years to Hackensack, N.J. About 100 top coaches and skaters left Russia during the 1990s amid financial turmoil after when the Soviet Union collapsed. Mishkutenok says the situation has become so chaotic that drivers in Zamboni sometimes trade fuel for vodka and won’t re-enter the rink.
But Moskvina has long since returned to St.Petersburg, where a skating school is named in her honor. And, using a maxim, she has long accepted that political and cultural factors exert a subjective influence on judgment, saying, “Some like priests, others like the priest’s wife and others like the priest’s daughter.”
Gold medal or not, some speculate that this will be Moskvina’s last Olympics, a view she considers premature. She’s not 80 years old, she said with a smile, but rather “20 years before the first 100 years.”
https://www.nytimes.com/2022/02/18/sports/olympics/tamara-moskvina-coach-pairs-figure-skating.html Tamara Moskvina, Russian Skating Coach, Wants Fifth Gold Medal