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Shortly speaking

The first comprehensive interview Andrey Gerbulov has given after the finish of the first training camp which is one month after his appointment as a head coach of the men team. He is a well-known man of few words; however the columnist Konstantin Boytsov has met Andrey Gerbulov to find out that he likes his work more than interviews as ever.

From the history of the Russian biathlon we can acknowledge, that the invitation of the shooting coach to the head coach position is quite uncommon. Andrey Gerbulov is only the second example after Evgeny Polikanin, who worked as a men head coach in 1959–1966.

In 2001–2010 Andrey Gerbulov was working as a shooting coach. In 2011 he has got the proposal to take the position of the men team's head coach — the most prestigious one in Russian biathlon. At the moment Andrey Gerbulov is the most experienced honored coach in Russia. He is ready not only to lead the men team and rehabilitate shooting but also to give sportsmen confidence that the summer work will pay off later. Andrey Gerbulov is a business-like discreet man and doesn't like to talk much, especially when he is snowed under with work and nothing essential hasn't been done yet.

— Your first year in the national team happened 11 years ago. Looking at the increased team staff could you imagine how the two and a half people managed to do all the duties before?

— Well, two coaches, masseur and doctor, all together four. Somehow we did it. To say the truth, our competitors were not ahead of us. After the Games of 2002 the major biathlon teams started to increase their staff. Before all sportsmen came to the team with their own bullets and had only 5–6 ski pairs for the season. Now we have an opportunity to buy bullets for everybody with the preliminary checkup and shooting. And sportsmen have dozens of ski for the season.

— Did the coaching methods change much during this period? You worked with three different head coaches and can compare.

— Yes, I did have time to look closely at their methods. In 2001 I started to work with Alexander Golev — he was a guru and my elder friend. By that he had already had a huge expertise — under his coaching had worked such professionals as Maigurov, Drachev, Chepikov, Rostovtsev, Rozhkov. Golev died tragically in 2003 — at the beginning of the new era in biathlon. Nikolay Savinov who came after him tried not to change the customs. It was interesting to watch how he set the relations with sportsmen. Vladimir Alikin headed the team at the moment, when new generation of athletes came to the front and needed the support. He did his best so the sportsmen could feel that support: he leaded the way, showed the personal example of the attitude to responsibilities. Mostly because of that the seasons of 2007 and 2008 were very bright.

— Have you adopted any of the methods from your predecessors?

— I don't really like this word «adopted». We all grew on the soviet biathlon school that is why the methods of the different specialists had a lot in common. In the course of my experience as a shooting coach I have not only grown as a specialist, but also changed my view of biathlon in accordance with the changing conditions. Is there something new in our present work? For example we canceled morning exercises.

— Why?

— We don't have time for it. Morning training lasts four hours, evening training lasts also four hours, plus methodical work, restoring procedures, meetings — no time is left. By the way, one more feature of the current season — all athletes noted the reasonability of the early start of the trainings. The muscle memory is still fresh — one can especially notice it from the shooting exercises. We don't have such a problem as loss of shape and don't need time for retraction.

— The coaches for the functional trainings — Nikolay Lopukhov and Andrey Padin work under your command. Do you control their work (trainings intensity, programs and methods) or trust them and concentrate on the shooting part, familiar to you?

— What a head coach am I if I'm not concerned with the functional trainings? It is clear that we work as a team with coaches, invited specialists, head coach of the Russian team Valery Polkovsky and individual coaches. As for the shooting part we need to do a lot here. We increase intensity of trainings every day. Our task is to automate clean shooting within the timing frame of 23–25 seconds. If sportsmen do it at the trainings standing on their head, they will do it during the race too. People often ask me - what was the biggest success in my coaching carrier? Do you remember Oberhof 2008, we had a strongest fog, and almost everybody had penalty loops. Our sportsmen shot clean, they shot the targets which I barely saw through my optics. This is what I call automatism. Sportsmen were self-confident and worked with the usual pace.

— What other coaching successes did you have working with the national team?

— The relay of 2007 comes to my mind quite often — how we selected the guys, how well they worked together. Today we need to form a new relay team.

Sorry, the guys have just arrived, have to go.

With these words Andrey Gerbulov has gone to do the work, which for the last 11 years he got used to - check the implements, rifles, documents and so on.

RBU Media Office