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Valery Polkhovsky: “We've made a good job”

After the Junior Youth World Championships the head of the national B-team of Russia Valeri Polkhovski  evaluates the team’s performans, names the biggest stars of the championships and explains why Russia didn’t win all the four relays. 

— Do you think that a total of 17 medals, 7 of which are gold, is a success? 

— Let’s not hurry. I believe that our main aim is to prepare the athletes for the A-team. When these athletes grow into the members of the national A-team, we’ll celebrate a success. Now we can just say that we’ve done our job well. 

— Well, what task did you give the team before the JYWCHs? 

— In the first place we wanted to repeat or even to exceed the last year’s result we had in Torsby. Just to remember, the junior and youth teams won 15 medals, 7 of which were gold. This year we also have 7 gold medals, but two medals more in the total. I think that we completed our task, especially regarding the fact that we won three of four relay competitions with an advantage of more than one minute in each. In all three relays our athletes finished with the Russian flag. 

— Was such a success unexpected for you?

— First of all we must mention the results of our youth men and women. This year we carried out an experiment, letting four youth men and four youth women train with the junior athletes. And the experiment ended very positively. Yekaterina Zubova and Maxim Tsvetkov became three-times world champions, winning three of four competitions in Nove Mesto. But Tsvetkov’s success isn’t a surprise. He as well as another world champion Aleksandr Tchernyshov is training in the experimental team named “Sochi 2014” with coach Nikolay Lopukhov. RBU Vice-President Vladimir Malin and I were always in contact with Nikolay Lopukhov and controlled their training and organization of work. 

— Yekaterina Zubova was obviously faster than her rivals in Nove Mesto. Is this improvement in skiing a new trend? 

— Frankly speaking we haven’t been so happy for the physical conditions of our athletes for a long time. Both men and ladies improved their skiing skill greatly, which we could not reach for the past several years. Russian athletes were among the leaders as for their skiing in several races. Though, we can’t but mention that at the same time we have probably missed something in the shooting trainings. Our junior men’s performance is a good example. They were the best in skiing, but for instance in pursuit they had 21 penalties for 4 athletes, when the rivals from Germany had only 15. 

— What are the first conclusions?

— It’s evident that Russian youth and junior athletes lack an experience of international competitions. In Nove Mesto I talked a lot to the Germany’s coach Michael Roesch and learnt that young Germans don’t have such a problem as well as their European colleagues. They have a chance to start at the Cup of the Alps, at the Germany’s Cup. Italian Dorotha Wierer has become the main star having won all the three single races. She has already got an experience of the World Cup competitions while for many of the Russian guys and girls this World Champs have become the first international competitions in their lives. I believe we can change this situation in the next season already. IBU First Vice-President Sergey Kushchenko, who was present at Nove Mesto, has already approved our first request to send younger Russian biathletes to the international competitions. Maybe next year we’ll even go to the Cup of Germany. 

— Still Russian athletes managed to win three of four relay competitions.

— But the only silver in that row, the one of the junior men has been bothering me since then. We not only could win all the four relays, but we must have done this. All the coaches were discussing the squad for two days. Aleksandr Pechenkin was prepared for the relay after the pursuit. Nikolay Yakushov performed great at the “Izhevsk Rifle”, Dmitri Dyuzhev trained with the team all the off-season period and we didn’t hesitate about his candidacy. Vyacheslav Akimov was good at Nove Mesto, but made many shooting errors, which could not but worry us. Ivan Kryukov started here just in the individual competition and finished fourth because of one shooting error which deprived him of being champion. Junior team coaches Aleksandr Kasperovich and Nikolay Knyazev told me than we should choose Akimov, but I knew that Kryukov deserved the place in the squad because of that only race he took part in. We could not prevent him from start, because he was better by the sports result. Unfortunately he didn’t cope with the pressure and converted a 1,30–minute advantage in a 30–second gap. I believe Ivan gained a good experience at these championships. I was so glad to see that both athletes and coaches supported him. I’m sure his time will come. But personally I’m still upset because of a wrong decision. I think we should trust more in the coaches who work personally with the athletes during off-season and know their strong and weak points. 

— Athletes’ personal coaches have also come to Nove Mesto. Did you manage to integrate them in the team? 

— I’m happy to tell you that in Nove Mesto the Russian delegation was a whole entity with anyone having his or hers duties. Each evening we had an all-team meeting to discuss ideas and suggestions. At one of these meetings we learnt a good lesson. We all admitted that it was wrong to let two-times world champions Yekaterina Zubova and Maxim Tsvetkov start in the individual competitions. We must not exhaust the younger athletes. It’s our duty to measure the load and recovery. We’ll try to control the personal coaches’ attitude and advise them not to make the athletes start in the national competitions right after the international ones. 

— After the JYWCHs most athletes go to the European Championships in Ridnaun- Val Ridanna? 

— We have already decided on the athletes who go there. Nikolay Yakushov, Vyacheslav Akimov, Aleksandr Pechenkin, Ivan Kryukov and Yevgeni Shmykov start there as well as Svetlana Perminova, Olga Galich, Aleksandra Alikina, Tatiana Semenova and Filippova. 

— The same days as JYWCHs in  Nove Mesto the Winter Universiade at Erzurum took place. 

— I was all the time in contact with Dmitri Aleksashn, the chief of the Russian delegation there and with the coaches. Our team performed well in Turkey, especially the girls: Darya Virolaynen, Yevgenia Sedova and Maria Sadilova. Yevgeni Garanichev confirmed his high potential. Unfortunately Garanichev deprived himself of a gold medal because of a personal mistake and a penalty. But I’m sure that this will make him even stronger in future. Aleksey Trusov’s shooting mistakes prevented us from winning the mixed relay. But in the mass start competition Aleksey showed everyone that one failure can’t affect him for a long time.

RBU Media Office