Daniil Gleikhengauz interview with Sport24

Anna Shcherbakova of Russia has a word with her coach Daniil Gleikhengauz during the 2021 Grand Prix of Italy. (Photo by Joosep Martinson/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

After another successful outing in the International Skating Union (ISU) Grand Prix series this season for Eteri Tutberidze’s coaching staff – a third consecutive gold medal by either one of the team’s figure skaters – choreographer Daniil Gleikhengauz spoke to a Sport24 reporter about Team Tutberidze’s star performers and how the Olympic season is shaping up.

Daniil Gleikhengauz’s translated interview with Sport24’s Konstantin Lesik:

– Anna and Maiia did great quads. What are you unhappy with then?

– Of course, Anna’s short program. Her form at this competition was already better, and the way she trained here on both the first day and on the day of the short program did not portend such a mistake (speaking of the triple Lutz-triple loop combination turned into a triple Lutz-double toe loop combination), so it was necessary to figure it out.

Knowing her nature and the number of competitions held at a higher level than the Grand Prix series, I understand that she is unlikely to get nervous. We’ll figure it out. It is clear that the Lutz-loop combination is an element different from any other combination, since there is no time for recollection [between jumps].

For example, when you jump a combination with a toe loop, or with a Euler and Salchow, you can always align yourself after landing and even correct the situation with the second jump. It doesn’t work that way with a loop. You either pick it up right away, or you get such a hitch. Of course, I would like [in case of an unsuccessful landing on the Lutz] she would add a triple toe loop, not a double.

– Anna said that in the free program she wanted to jump a quad Lutz in addition to the flip, but the coaches dissuaded her.

– She showed the Lutz here in training and in the warm-up, and it was very good. But to the music of the free skate program, we haven’t jumped the Lutz and flip yet.

Accordingly, I decided that it was not worth the risk because the flip being a second quad is more difficult than as the first element. The second quad requires more strength, the odds of completion could fall. If she did the first quad Lutz and failed the flip, then the rest of the program could fall apart. I told Anna that I believe in the flip more. It had to be done for the pluses, and then skate the rest of the program. In these competitions, it was more important to do so.

– How many quads can Anna go in optimal shape?

– You yourself saw that here she trained two quads. We can never guess how the preparation will go between tournaments, what will happen tomorrow. Now we are planning to try to show the Lutz and flip at the next stage. How it will be – no one knows.

– But for the Russian National Championships, probably, a third quad is necessary?

– Let’s see.

– About Anna’s neck injury. What did her patch mean in Budapest?

– As you can see, there was no plaster [in Turin]. Nothing worries her. Muscle injuries that athletes have in any parts of the body are taped. Therefore, if we pay great attention to any tape – it would be possible to write that every athlete is injured every week.

– Alexandra Trusova will miss the stage in Japan due to a leg injury.

– Sasha’s leg hurts. Unfortunately, I was not in Moscow for two weeks, so Sergei Viktorovich [Dudakov] can answer more accurately. We are in touch but I can not say anything more specifically on her leg.

– You can’t specify whether she has a stress fracture, a fracture of some sort, or in general something is wrong?

– This should be the responsibility of a physician who can provide a professional assessment of the injury.

– But the doctor should get approval for comment?

– This is also true. The last time I saw her on video was from the United States where she performed great and took first place. That’s all I can say about Sasha now.

– Alena Kostornaia…

– Our beloved.

– How do you assess, judging by how she did the triple axel, her future potential? What is she working on now?

– By all the other jumps. (laughs)

– Can you elaborate?

– Alena posted a very kind, sincere post, where she thanked us for working with her. If it were more, let’s say, laid out in gratitude not on Instagram but in the training process… We do not need gratitude from her, our task is to help her reach her maximum. And when we succeed, she will show herself in all her glory. At the moment, this is not her maximum. I think everyone understands this.

– What is wrong with Alena’s training process?

– The number of performances does not correspond to the rest of the athletes in the group.

– Hack job? Why is this happening?

– Alena herself will answer this, I cannot get into her head.

– But does she come to all training sessions?

– Thank God, yes. Practically.

– So Alena has problems with motivation?

– It’s hard to say that this is motivation. She needs to understand herself. People are all different, not all of us can do the same thing every day and turn off our emotions, work for repetition.

Doing the same thing, the same thing – this is the complexity of our sport. To go to the competition in a beautiful dress, please the audience and skate it once – this is a holiday for them. But doing it every day in training is the hardest part.

– Is there a problem with Alena’s communication with the coaching staff?

– No, there is no problem with communication. We are discussing this, she understands it perfectly. The question is how to help her with this, in this routine. So that she can squeeze the maximum out of herself every day. Because when she goes to the competition every day, she always does more than she shows in training.

– Is the result in Canada – third place – natural and logical?

– It is natural and logical but that’s not what we want. Because we talked to her about the need to do two axels in the free skate, and not rely on one.

– Alena’s components sagged. What is the reason?

– Her components sagged due to the fact that she does not finish the choreography and so on to the end. She does not do all this in full force because she understands that she cannot spend more energy on it in order to reach the end of the program and make all the jumps.

⁃ How does Kamila Valieva feel? Does she have a feeling that if she does everything, she will become the best everywhere and always?

⁃ I hope no. We returned from Canada in a good mood. As soon as the luggage with skates returned, she immediately went out on the ice and trained. Skates the programs, prepares for the next stage of the Grand Prix in Sochi.

⁃ Did you wait three days for your luggage?

⁃ My luggage flew to me here [to Turin] two days later – on a short day, half an hour before the start. I finally changed. The girls’, it seems, were brought in the next day. I just flew away, I didn’t need luggage in Moscow, so I asked to bring it here. As a result, my suitcase flew from Vancouver to Toronto, from Toronto to Paris, from Paris to Moscow, from Moscow for some reason to Milan, from Milan to Frankfurt, and already from Frankfurt to Turin, was brought directly to the rink. The suitcase travels more than me.

⁃ Kamila quite rightly gets dozens in components, although many critics disagree. What do you think?

⁃ I spoke with those professionals with whom we intersect at competitions, and not with those who are giving interviews somewhere. Everyone always comes up and congratulates our girls. When girls perform well, they say it was a great performance. Just like it happened with Kamila in Canada. It was a great program, a great performance, so the marks it received are absolutely natural.

⁃ There is still plenty of time before the Olympic Games, but the training plan is usually scheduled until February. Are there any plans to gather outside of Moscow, or will all the work be at Khrustalny?

⁃ The entire national team, which will be selected for the Olympics, will have training camps. Until this moment, nothing more is planned, we will work at our skating rink.

⁃ One of your students, Evgenia Medvedeva, performs in the Ice Age show with Danya Milokhin. Do you manage to watch her performances in your free time?

⁃ I only see photos, small pieces of performances. Both Zhenya and Alina. Now the schedule is so tight with programs, permutations and indicative numbers that there is not enough time for this. I wish Zhenya victory in the Ice Age. Alina has already won everything, is hosting the show, you cannot win there. Or Yagudin. (laughs)

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