Brian Orser comments about his students in Graz
Legendary coach Brian Orser managed to make the trip to Graz to coach his pupil, Poland’s Ekaterina Kurakova. Although coming from Canada’s Orser does belong to the European Championships as well, as he has coached Spain’s Javier Fernandez to and through each one of his seven continental crowns.
Tracy Wilson, who coaches with Orser in Toronto, is currently in Greensboro, South Carolina, to coach Jason Brown at the U.S. Nationals. Orser kindly accepted to give an update of each one of the illustrious pupils he and his team are coaching in Toronto.
Patinage Magazine: We never thought to see you here – is it that you miss all those years when Javier Fernandez came to win?
Brian Orser: Oh yes, I miss Javi so much!
P.M.: Jason Brown is now doing U.S. Nationals, how is he?
B.O.: Great! Jason has been training really well. He is prepared. He has big GOEs, spins, steps… We try to maximize as much as possible what he has. The system is designed for it!
P.M.: What about his quad?
B.O.: You know, it’s difficult at that stage to get a quad, or get it back… But it’s going quite well in practice. According to how they feel (at U.S. Nationals), they will decide the right thing to do.
P.M.: How is Yuzuru Hanyu? How did he come back from all his trips?
B.O.: You know, Yuzu had a very difficult schedule, doing NHK, the Grand-Prix Final and then Japan Nationals. He did many trips in a short time. He was deflated coming back from Nationals, since he didn’t win. It took a while to get his competitive spirit back. In fact, he was exhausted and he needed to rest!
P.M.: How do you consider Yuzuru’s rivalry with Nathan Chen?
B.O.: Yuzu needs to do what Yuzu does best. He is very creative. When he has a magic moment, as he has in several occasions, then he is the best. We have to train him for him to achieve this. Training is going well, and we hope it will happen at Four Continents.
Nathan has grown as a skater. They are not the same age. In a way, Nathan is like Yuzu as he used to be then!
Nathan is definitely a rival. Their rivalry is good for the sport, it’s good for you, journalists. Also, they are two very different skaters. That makes it even more interesting, because you have to decide which strategy will put you on top.
When Yuzu has a magical moment – and there is only a handful of such moments in one’s career, when he puts everything together in this type of spirit, he can win.
P.M.: In Turin, at the Grand-Prix Final, it was striking to see how badly Yuzuru wanted to land the quads Nathan was doing…
B.O.: Yuzu has to go for his own qualities, his flow, his speed, his power… Be more engaging into his programs, pay attention to his choreography. That’s all those things which are necessary to create magic. He knows that. Skate Canada was amazing in that respect. Nathan will be at Four-Continents as well, and he’ll be competitive…
P.M.: We saw him try quad Axel?
B.O.: Yes, he is on a mission to land a quad Axel at some point. It would be incredible. If anybody does it, it’s him. His triple Axel is so big… He also has to find the right time to do it, because we don’t want any injury at this point.
P.M.: You had mentioned last year that a skater of high caliber coming to you needed 18 months to really adjust. How do you consider Evgenia Medvedeva’s progress in that respect?
B.O.: You’ve seen her progression: she did amazing at Cup of Russia! And then at Russian Nationals we didn’t count on breaking the boots. That happened three times this year: with two boys and with her, all during a competition. There’s nothing to do when a boot breaks, you can’t even strap it. You have no support anymore, then you lose your confidence and you think of the risk of being injured.
P.M.: How is she at the moment?
B.O.: She is still in Russia, but she should come back to Canada next week or so. But she is pretty feisty at the moment, and she is proud of what she has on the table, her new style, her new look, her new technique, … Being a woman figure skater.
We try to keep that spirit within her. We think she is right. She is doing something positive for the sport.
P.M.: How do you work on that posture with her?
B.O.: Every day on the ice! Of course, we need to be tough on her, but at the same time we praise what she is doing, and keep the value of this type of skating.
P.M.: Do you mean that Evgenia is posturing herself as a woman figure skater?
B.O.: Yes, she’s been embracing it. She is proud to have a figure of a woman to present on the ice. She is proud also of having the experience of life she has, so she can share it on the ice.
She has opened up to a new horizon, after all these years when she was sport and athletic and result driven! Also, she is doing something very important: the sport needs some longevity for sure, at least for the fans to have someone to follow. Evgenia has lots of fans, and she wants to keep them happy.