Hi, my devoted fans! The season is over, and I think you’d be interested to know how my life goes after switching to another coach.
First of all I’d like to say that I’m happy that the season ended the way it did. Because even I couldn’t have imagined that I would place 4th at Worlds – and not simply 4th, but almost 3rd! Then, I’d like to thank all the fans who were supporting me during the competitions, because it was you who encouragd and heartened me on the both days. I had never thought that it could actually be so easy to perform on the home ice. And finally, I can’t wait to tell you about my first practices under the guidance of Nikolai Morozov.
I came to Moscow the next day after the gala in St. Petersburg. Immediately on arriving I smoothly passed a medical examination (only, I spent about ten minutes looking for the station I needed on the metro map :) ), then paid a visit to the office of the Vorobyevy Gory sports club where I was to sign a pile of papers and fill in a couple of applications (including the US visa application form), and finally went to a friend of mine to stay at her place for a while. I had arranged with Nikolai Alexandrovich Morozov that I would move to Novogorsk a day later.
I met with him in the training center’s dining room, settled all the queries and appointed the time of my practice. I was happy to learn that I could start practicing as soon as three hours later. Of course, I came 45 minutes earlier, limbered up thoroughly and began to lace up my skates. When the last bow was tied I decided to waste no time and came to the ice. The ice at the new sports center is wonderful, just like the one we skated on during the Worlds at the Khodynka (Megasport). The ice there was made by the same technology that is used in Novogorsk. The sports center is very well equipped for the traing for Olympics. There are two skating rinks, a huge gym hall, a lot of cosy locker rooms... In a word, everything is top grade.
Meanwhile, Nikolai Aleksandrovich came to the ice holding a laptop under his arm, attached it to a loud speaker and turned on some music. Then he asked me what kind of music I like the best. Of course, I told him I like upbeat tunes. ‘You’ve already skated by such music quite a lot, so I’d like you to try another, more lyrical style’, he said, and I agreed with him at once. Then Nikolai Aleksandrovich turned on some ordinary music and started showing me some seemingly simple steps. I began to copy them and got so enthusiastic about it that very nearly tumbled. As it turned out later, there was no need to be overzealous. If you don’t try too hard, everything happenes of itsef. But I, as usual, started making every effort, straining myself and tensing my muscles. As a result, the day after that one-hour practice spent doing different steps and transitions I was aching all over. But the pain was so pleasant that I even didn’t get upset in the least: well, I told myself, sometimes it happens. On the whole, the first practice with Morozov made a very vivid impression on me. Hope, my coach wasn’t too much disappointed, too )
Photo by Vladimir Pesnya
Next day we also had a steps-and-sliding practice. This time it turned out that even when I was just trying to gather speed I was doing it in a wrong way. So, I was taught to do it, too. The whole practice was dedicated to improving my skating skills. Besides me, there was Sergey Voronov on the ice. That day’s second practice was the one I’d been looking forward to, because we were to begin choreographing a new program, i.e. my new exhibition number. Since it could be seen at my official YouTube channel, I will tell you how the program was created. Nikolai Aleksandrovich picked out the tune very quickly, having listened to just two or three tracks. To tell the truth, I was stunned to see how devotedly he puts his heart to his work, right from the starting position on! It’s not a common thing even for athletes to go all out like that in competitions! I wonder where he finds enough strength to work this way with all his skaters, assuming that he spends whole days on ice. And sometimes he works all night through!
The latter is worth being enlightened in more detail. One day my coach called me on the phone and said: ‘Alena, I’ll be busy today, so take a rest now and come to skate at night. We’ll finish choreographing the program, because tomorrow I’ll leave for America’. I was so surprised that I was momentarily unable to speak and thought that I’d misheard him. Then I said: ‘But you’ve let me go to a concert with my friend tonight, haven’t you?’ ‘It’s OK’, the answer was, ‘You’ll return from the concert and come to the practice with positive emotions’. At that moment I could only think: ‘I just hope I won’t have to jump...’
By the way, the concert we went to that night was Neschastniy Sluchay’s (which translates as Accident) show. I liked the band very much. They are jolly jockers, but their lyrics are great, too. The show ended at about one o’clock in the night, and we were driven to Novogorsk by Artem, whom I’ve already mentioned once in the previous blog entry (he is a reporter with Championat.ru). You might not believe me, but we somehow managed to get stuck in a traffic jam at 2 a.m. As a result, we got to Novogorsk at about three o’clock.
When I came to the rink, I found Morozov busy choreographing the final part of Polina Shelepen’s program. I asked him if I may put on my skates already, and he told me to wait for another hour and a half. So, I drank a cup of coffee and went to watch TV in my room. Incidentally, I wasn’t feeling too sleepy by then. I came to the ice at 4.30 a. m. We finished choreographing the gala number in a mere hour, and I went off to sleep with a peaceful conscience.
On awaking I realized that from that day on I would train on my own, because Nikolai Aleksandrovich had already left for New York. That day I was going to continue with my ‘entertainment program’. Together with Katya Rubleva and Artem I went to the show of Katya’s townsmen Torba-na-Krooche (or The Bag End in English). I liked their show very much, too, the more so that after it I was introduced to the musicians. At first I felt a bit shy, but they turned out to be very friendly and cheerful guys. The show was taking place in a night club, and after it was over a DJ turned on Latin music, to which I and Katya were dancing our shoes off for another hour or so. In a word, we mixed busyness with pleasure: on the one hand we acquired new positive emotions, and on the other hand took off the effects of mental weariness which had built up by the end of the season. One just cannot be cooped up in Novogorsk all the time.
The more so, that it was exactly what was in store for me when everybody finally left for the USA. I had to stay in Novogorsk, skate all alone and wait for an invitation for an interview from the US embassy. I cannot live solely on practices, I need some communication! So, I managed to stand it for a couple of days and then began to whine that I wanted to go home. Thank God, the man who was dealing with my papers permitted me to leave. I immediately bought a plane ticket and flew to St. Petersburg. The man who drove me to the airport was Ivan Shefer, who lives close by Novogorsk.
By the way, I nearly forgot to tell you that on one of my day-offs I visited Ivan and his beautiful wife Sasha. Of course, I didn’t miss the opportunity to get acquainted with a tiny but serious minded man, Konstantin Ivanovich Shefer :) You can tell he’s a son of a skater – even when he creeps it looks like a progressive run.
What a wonderful family they are!
But I digressed. The plane landed in St. Petersburg at 1 a.m. I was met by my dear mammy and daddy. We were incredibly happy to see each other! I had only a few days to work in the FS Academy, because it was to be closed on the 27 of May. What a pleasure it was to skate on the familiar ice in my beloved native city! At last they phoned me from Moscow and said that the Americans had made an appointment for June, 3. There was about a week left before I would have to leave, and I was to do so many things by then – in particular, to meet with some of my relatives and friends whom I hadn’t seen for such a long time.
Besides that, on the 1st of June I had an opportunity to become a coach for a while. Sonya arranged my master class on the ice of the Grand Canyon arena. When she told me about it, I immediately calculated that the event would take place after four days spent without ice practices. So after the 27 of May I began strenuously jogging in a park in order not to lose shape. Yes, sometimes even when you have a well-earned opportunity to take a rest you find that you just cannot sit and do nothing. I must tell you that I liked my first coaching experience very much. Everybody was listening to me, trying to fulfill the tasks I was giving them, though my students were on quite different skill levels. Among them were both tiny girls who go in for figure skating, and adult amateurs anxious to take a couple of pieces of advice from me. At the master class I utterly surprised myself: I hadn’t skated for quite a while but after a short warm-up could jump my favourite 3-3 combination. After that I had nothing to be afraid of. I also skated two exhibition numbers, the one by Dima Bilan in the beginning, and my new exhibition program choreographed by Morozov in the very end. It was this number’s unveiling. Everything went off with a bang, everybody was glad and happy. As for me, I wouldn’d mind getting together once again.
There was another nice event that day. A friend of ours, a dog breeder, gave me a present – a dog! It is a chihuahua, her name is Kiki. What a wonderful creature she is! Our dog Axel doesn’t get along well with her, but I hope it’s a temporary thing. Anyway, I’m going to take Kiki to Moscow when I finally settle there, so that I wouldn’t feel bored.
Next day was the day of my departure, and I spent it packing up. I went to Moscow by the evening Sapsan (a high-speed train), because the interview in the embassy was appointed at 8 o’clock in the morning. I was met at the station by Artem, as custom has it :) I didn’t have enough time to have a good night’s sleep, but I did my best to look as bright as a button. The whole procedure took a long time, about two hours in all. But the main thing was that I was given my one year visa.
Meanwhile, I’m not trifling away my time in Moscow. I’ve met with two excellent photographers and hope that we’ll see the outcome soon. So, as you see, I don’t miss any opportunity to relax and gain positive emotions.
In the end I’d like to tell you that I just can’t wait to start practicing again, and I look forward to the summer camp in the USA where I will finally join my new team. I think I’ll write to you from New York. And I wish all of you warm, sunny and happy summer!