Interview with Andrei Griazev

"I'm a funny guy"

By Magdalena Osborne


Photo © Magdalena Osborne

It's two weeks before Christmas, but there's no snow in Malmö. Arriving for the Junior Grand Prix Final (Dec 12 - 14 2003) is Andrei Griazev of Russia with his coach, Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin. Andrei has already won two Grand Prix events during the fall and qualified for the final with maximum 30 points. After the gala on Sunday afternoon I catch up with Andrei. At first he's worried about being interviewed in English but I assure him we'll be all right and apart from a few moments of confusion we are.

Q. You won silver after a fantastic free skate. And you had the audience with you more than any other skater, how did that feel?
A. It was great. The audience clapping and cheering gave me energy!

Q. All that screaming doesn't make you nervous?
A. No, I love it! The audience really helped! It was a good competition! I wasn't so happy with my short program, but I had a very good free skate!

Q. You sure did! But Evan Lysacek was good too and he won. Was it fair?
A. Yes, Evan was better so it was fair.

Q. You are leaving tomorrow, where will you go from here?
A. Back to the States for a little while and then to Russia for the Russian Nationals.

Q. And then the European championship?
A. I hope so, the federation will tell me, they decide. I want to go, it's in Budapest.

Q. And what about Worlds in Dortmund?
A. Same, the federation will decide. But I will compete in Junior Worlds.

Q. And there you will go up against Evan again...
A. Yes, but this time I will win! That is my goal, to win Junior Worlds!

Q. How much do you skate in a week?
A. I skate 3 hours a day, in two sessions.

Q. You have a beautiful triple axel; do you also have a quad?
A. Yes, since summer. I hope to put it in my long program soon, maybe for Russian Nationals, we will see.

Q. Besides adding the quad, what are you working on the most?
A. I want more foot work, I work hard on that. With the new judging system figure skating is not only jumps, foot work is important.

Q. A year ago you were being compared to Kulik...
A. Kulik, Plushenko, Urmanov...

Q. But now people say you are all Yagudin!
A. (Laughs) Yeah!
(I think he means that's not such a bad thing!)

Q. You were a Mishin student...
A. Yes, I came to Mishin when I was 11 years old and stayed until I was 17.

Q. And now you train with Tarasova in the USA (Simsbury, CT,)
A. I stay at her house, she has a really huge house, you know!

Q. Mishin and Tarasova, tell me what they have done for your skating?
A. Mishin taught me to jump, I got a great double axel. When I was 14 years old I learned the triple axel and just after that I put it in a program and won a competition! But I also learned much from my first
coach Kislukhin.


Photo © Cristian Hillbom
www.dansportalen.se

Q. And what has Tarasova added to this?
A. She gives me good choreography, she did my programs. We work on everything, presentation... She will go with me to St. Petersburg for the Russian Nationals.

Q. Because her assistant coach Alexei Yagudin will be touring with Stars On Ice?
A. Yes, he is a very, very busy man!

Q. Who is your figure skating role model?
A. Alexei Urmanov. He is a great skater and helps me a lot.

Q. Do you have a favorite lady skater?
A. (Thinks hard.) No.

Q. In the ISU profile you are listed as a student. Do you go to school?
A. Not right now. But I will later, I plan to study per correspondence.

Q. Are you learning English?
A. No, I take no classes. I listen and read a little but it's hard. My coaches are Russian and I don't have to use much English. Only like "thank you" when we go places! But I should learn more...

Q. Figure skating is an expensive sport. How do you finance your training?
A. Tatiana and Alexei help me, and I help with teaching little kids.

Q. So you do some coaching?
A. Yes, but only with children.

Q. You're very young, 18 years old, and you're a long way away from your family. That must be hard!
A. Sometimes it is very hard. But you know I have been away 7 years from them. I'm from a town you haven't heard of and I was in St. Petersburg to train with Mishin from 11 years old. But I will go to Russia soon and see my parents and my brother...it'll be good!

Q. What do you like to do when you're not skating?
A. I like computers...

Q. Games?
A. Yes and to surf. And I like to watch movies and DVDs. I also like to read books, I have many books.

Q. In English?
A. No, I can't read much English, it's too hard, my books are in Russian.

Q. If you were to describe yourself, what would you say? You're a skater and...?
A. Yes, I'm a skater. And a funny guy!


His remark makes me smile. After having watched him in practice and competition and off the ice for several days I have to agree; he is a funny guy! He also appears a little shy which I think mainly comes from not always understanding what people are saying and possibly for still mostly standing in the shadow of his famous and attention-stealing coach. But he's charming and ready to take on the role as the new star and heartthrob of figure skating. He has my vote already!


Photo © Cristian Hillbom
www.dansportalen.se

*** Previously published by Europe on Ice






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