Volosozhar/Morozov on and off the ice┬á
The World Championships in Torino started without them. And there were people who probably were surprised to notice that Ingo Steuer appeared in the kiss & cry only twice this time; with his Swiss and German students. The Ukrainian pair Volosozhar/Morozov he's been working with for the last two seasons finished their competitive career after the Vancouver Games.
I had a chance to talk to Tatiana and Stanislav during "Art on Ice" in Switzerland, about the past, the present and the future of this couple on and off the ice.
For the last two seasons you have been training with Ingo Steuer. Looking back, do you think this change was good for you?
Tatiana: Yes, of course.
Stanislav: I even think we should have done it much earlier.
What changed, what did you gain from this move?
Stanislav: I think the quality of our skating has improved. Ingo has a very serious attitude towards small things. He would never say: "Well, it doesn't work, never mind, let's continue." We worked on every element more thoroughly, repeated them more times.
Tatiana: I think we became better, more stable. It's clear that we still made some mistakes, but it never happens that everything is suddenly fixed all at once. Those two years gave us a lot. Ingo knows the way to work so you get results in the end. For example, if there is some element we don't succeed to do at practice, we try and try but it doesn't work out, we move on to something else, but at the end of that practice we always go back to this element and try it again.
This season you kept your old long program.
Stanislav: We started to prepare a new one, it was even ready. But then Ingo looked at it and said: "No, this is not it; let's go back to the old one." So we took back the program we had last season, we just changed the steps a bit.
That program is very beautiful and Tatiana wears a beautiful dress for it. Who creates your costumes?
Tatiana: We have some designers in the Ukraine, in Odessa, we've worked with for two years already.
And speaking of costumes; why did you suddenly change your short program costumes in mid season?
Tatiana: We had those costumes made for our first competition in Oberstdorf, but the feedback wasn't good. Some liked it and some didn't, but mostly it was Ingo who said that he envisioned the costumes for this program in a different palette.
Stanislav: The music was a bit abstract, so we wanted to make costumes which would suit it better.
But the colour...
Stanislav: People said it looked very interesting on the ice.
Tatiana: The colour was indeed unusual, especially for us. We were always known for choosing something more classical. This time we had the costumes made in Germany, and Aljona [Savchenko] was designing them with us. She found the material, that was funny, me and Stas were in the Ukraine then and discussed the choice by phone. And of course we discussed the idea with Ingo too.
How would you evaluate this season? Let's start from the Grand Prix.
Stanislav: We had two Grand Prix events, in China and in the States. In China, to tell you the truth, we didn't skate well; we failed to do a few things. But in Skate America we had more confidence and skated pretty well, I think.
Tatiana: But because of our free program in China, in the end we didn't have enough points to make the Grand Prix Final.
What did you think your chances were at Europeans, did you hope to be on the podium?
Tatiana: Yes, of course. And we skated well. But in the short program the judges were not fair to us. You can definitely write exactly that.
Stanislav: It is not clear to me why we lost 6 points to the third place. And we mostly lost them in the second mark.
Tatiana: The mark you can "play with" if you want.
[Maria Mukhortova/ Maxim Trankov were in third place after their short program. They received a total of 73.54 points; 41.02 for technical and 32.52 for components. Tatiana's and Stanislav's total points were 67.60. (39.24 + 28.36)]
Was your long program fairly judged?
Stanislav: I think we got paid what we deserved for our long program, as we made some mistakes. But it was still one of our cleanest skates of a long program.
Tatiana: Yes, I think in the long program they judged us OK, but that margin in the short made all the difference, because both Russian pairs had clean skates.
How was it in Vancouver? You planned to go to the opening ceremony, did you manage to?
Stanislav: No. In Torino we didn't go either. We had the short program the next day and didn't want to stand for 4-5 hours in the stadium and get tired, it takes too much energy. We wanted to go this time, because we had one day off before our competition started. But it didn't work out. And, as we left right after our competition was over, we were not present at the closing ceremony either. There was also some confusion with clothes; the team uniforms were too big for Tania, they just didn't have her size!
Tatiana: And for the ceremonies I needed official clothes, not the sportswear. We also understood that we would need to walk quite a lot. We only had warm boots and the ceremony was indoors, so in the end we just didn't want to go at all.
And what do you think about your results at the Games? I think you should have placed a bit higher.
Tatiana: It doesn't make much difference if it's sixth or eighths place.
Stanislav: Yes, I agree with that. And we've already gotten used to the fact that we are usually under-marked.
But to finish your career like this?
Stanislav: Actually, after Europeans and those 6 points' difference in short program, everything was already clear. You know, when a country doesn't care about its sportsmen...
Is it true that you had to buy the tickets to go to Worlds 2009 in Los Angeles yourself?
Stanislav: It was not exactly like that. But our federation was late with the arrangements and exactly at that time some journalist asked me about it. So I just answered truthfully; that we didn't have any tickets yet. They wrote it in their article and suddenly our tickets appeared! This season it's been much better; starting from our first competition everything was arranged.
Tatiana: But, you know, before Stas mentioned in that interview that our federation doesn't want or can't help, other skaters just kept silent. And we were fed up with it, we do our job and the federation doesn't. It's not our problem; we shouldn't have to worry about tickets, hotels and such.
Right before Europeans you finally found sponsors who helped you pay your debts to Ingo Steuer.
Stanislav: Yes, they helped us pay for the whole previous season with money we were not able to get from our federation.
Tatiana: My very close friend helped us to find the sponsors. A few years ago she wrote a book and they helped her publish it. And now they helped us too. Their names are Oleg and Lyudmila Golovachuk, they have some business which in a way is related to sport. Thanks to them we've solved all our financial problems now. But more than that, we are good friends with them now. We said "hi" to them in the kiss & cry. And they even went to Vancouver to cheer for us!
Let's talk non-skating issues like who does the cooking in your family?
Tatiana: Stas does. And I think he's a great cook, especially meat. Even my sister now sometime cooks using his recipes.
You are a couple both on and off the ice. What is your advise to people in your situation?
Stanislav: Don't do it! (laughs)
Tatiana: You know, the circle of people around athletes is very small, mostly those they see while training. So obviously some couples meet that way. But I also think it would be really hard for couples where only one of them is a skater; that's mostly long distance relationships and not everybody is able to keep that up for a long time.
But isn't being together 24/7 also tough?
Stanislav: Actually, the kind of relationship you have on or off the ice is different, there are different types of worries and troubles. When it's not about training, what do you need to worry about? Buying food? Going to the cinema?
Tatiana: Of course it's not that simple to leave the rink and just forget everything immediately. But we try.
So your advice would be to leave everything ice related on the ice?
Stanislav: Yes, of course. There is no sense in bringing it home from the rink. You might discuss how practice went, but figure skating is not your whole life.
Tatiana: But still a very big part of it...
If skating were your whole life it would be harder to retire.
Stanislav: You should approach it gradually so you won't suddenly have to ask: "What should I do next?"
Tatiana: You should think about it in advance, everybody knows the limits of his abilities. Everyone knows he can't skate until age seventy.
What will you be doing?
Tatiana: For sure it'll be something connected to the sport.
Stanislav: Yes, probably coaching.
In the Ukraine?
Stanislav: For sure not!
But how about developing the sport in you own country?
Tatiana: If we would have more people interested in helping, then yes. But when you're alone...
Stanislav: Everything fell apart there and everyone went some other place. None of our elite skaters now train at home; they go to Moscow or Germany.
Pity, because the good skaters would be role models for the young people.
Tatiana: Yes. But everything is really in ruins now. There was only one normal rink and now you can't even get to it. Everything is rebuilt for football Euros in 2012.
Stanislav: You can't get to the entrance; you need to jump over holes, it's like a precipice. When people don't need it, everything just falls apart.
In the near future Tatiana and Stanislav plan to participate in the European tour "Kings on ice" with Jevgeny Plushenko, St├ęphane Lambiel, Aljona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy. And for next season Tatiana will be looking for a new partner. There are some rumours as to which country she will represent ┬ľ for sure it won't be the Ukraine - and who the lucky guy will be (Tatiana is considered one of the best pair skaters in the world).
There are rumours about Tatiana teaming up with Maxim Trankov.
That I cannot confirm, because all I know is that Tania is looking for a new partner. We will finish "Art on Ice" and then we'll see. I know Stas feels he is getting older and tired already. But you have to ask them.
Will you be her coach?
I don't know where she is going. I will for sure work with Antoine and Anais [Morand/Dorsaz of Switzerland] and we will decide about Aljona and Robin after the Worlds [on March 25th, after they finished competing in Turin winning silver medal Savchenko/Szolkowy announced that they plan to continue till Sochi 2014]
Tatiana won't confirm the Trankov-rumours either. But whatever she decides and whoever she chooses as her new partner, we wish her luck and a fruitful career in years to come.