Alexei Mishin's approach to coaching and choreography

    Only with time I realized that a strong skater isn't the one with strong points, but one without weaknesses. If you let a weak spot develop in a skater's preparation at an early age, this gap could reappear later in an extreme situation. There are many examples of that. When I first started working, the most difficult thing for me was to decide what should be emphasized: how many lifts, steps, spins, how much attention to pay to the "cleanliness" of the edges of school figures and how much to the geometrical shapes. Finding a balance is not that simple. 

    If we compare, for example, my and Moskvina's work, at first they seem quite different but, actually, have a lot in common. She has developed her own system of making a program - the organization of elements, and I have mine too. The rules for the short program are such that one can't create something new no matter how much you want to. Even in placement of the elements. There are many factors that should to be taken into consideration when it comes to the physiological possibilities of the human body. You can never leave the most difficult element for the last moment: an athlete probably won't be able to handle it. There are some other rules as well. In the theater an artist never stands in the corner.  He only does so, if there is some special reason. A show always ends in the center of the stage. The intrigues belong to the backstage. 

When a coach says that the main thing for him is to make the most out of the music, it sounds like childish talks to me. It's not what you have to think about. You must think about how to medal and how to beat your competitors. (The desired result should be your main task. In sport there is only one such result -victory. First of all, I think that the program must be technically flawless, then an athlete can win with it. Second, it must be comfortable for a skater, so he would be able perform his best to win. Thirdly, the judges must like the program to give it the highest marks possible, and then my student can win. You must also pay attention to the general trends of the ISU and understand what is being rewarded more and less. Not to mention, how important to make a positive impression on the audience because in figure skating, a lot depends on them as well.

Tarasova and I have different points of view on the figure skating. She puts an emphasis on the dramatic side in a performance and I emphasize the precise movements and sharpness of technique.

    A skater might be developing in two different ways: one - by working on his best and strongest abilities and another - by taking the attention off his weak points and covering them up.

I tell them (students):"There are a few athletes who are universal. Figure skating is a multi-component type of sport. Out there you have to be good-looking, quick, turn well, do footwork, have a well delivered program, distribute your elements across the rink and you have that. Others, something is strong, something is weak. You don't have weak spots. You have a good program and good turns and correct jumps, everything is in its place." So I think the task of an athlete is simply not to let any mistake get by."

Expecting to see somebody on the first place in figure skating is to some degree stupid. There are too many factors involved and everything depends on them. For example, I didn't even have a camera with me when Urmanov won in Lillehammer. I had a feeling that I would take a picture of him standing on the podium but I was always afraid to glance ahead. You can never be sure about a victory. It always catches you off guard. I'm a sober thinker. That means I've never thought that only the first place is worth anything. If an athlete was 10th but became second overall that's already a brilliant result of his own accord.

Sources: Sport-Express, International Figure Skating Magazine, Sovetskyi Sport