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Alexander Selifonov: “I can be a tough coach if it is needed”

According to decision made by the RBU and the Sport Ministry, Alexander Selifonov was appointed as a head coach of the Russian women’s team. In his interview, Alexander talks about consensus with Wolfgang Pichler, decision about groups within the team, which is still to be made, super talents he found during two years of his work with reserve, and methodical work required for success.

— Alexander, after two not the best seasons, some fans see you as a savior of Russia. What do you think about it?

— I am okay with it. However, I do not want any PR. I got an offer to become a head coach. On the one hand, I was happy, but on the other hand, I was frustrated. I had nothing else to do – someone has to work. Biathlon is my favorite sport, and I could not refuse. I understand well, that the tasks now are very-very hard.

— Do you feel pressure from such attention?

— Of course, I had time for rest from the media attention, especially from several interviews in one day. I had a calm life, I worked… I want to have a good working atmosphere in the team. There should be no stress for sportsmen and coaches. We should simply work well.

— You have already been appointed as a head coach, but it is still unclear, what will be the work like in the off-season. Will there be two groups?

— We will have more consultations on this issue. There are plans to make two groups. There will be one team but two directions. We will thoroughly discuss and analyze everything. We should talk to the sportsmen and their personal coaches. After all these, we will make a final decision regarding training plans.

— If there are only two directions, will you be disappointed, that the top-4 sportsmen will train in the group of Wolfgang Pichler?

— No, I will not be disappointed. We are one team with common tasks. And it is too early to talk about this division – the decision on who will train with which coach has not been made yet. We will see, talk and analyze.

— Can you tell now, how the team will be formed for the first world cups?

— By that time it will be clear which sportsmen did well in the off-season and what their conditions are. Some sportsmen will participate in the world cup, and the others – in the IBU cup. In addition, of course, there will be rotation. If someone has a great performance at the IBU cup, she will get a chance at the world cup.

 

— What can you tell about the work of Pichler?

— I have only seen the team at the competitions. I have not seen how the team trained. It would be wrong to criticize the work of Pichler without knowing all details of the training. Perhaps, there were some mistakes in loads. I think there could be some mistakes in some trainings and training plan. We will see and analyze it with the entire coaching staff.

— We know that your relationships with Wolfgang Pichler are normal. In Uvat you communicated with him and even invited him to your birthday.

— I know Pichler for a long time. From the late 90th – that time he was training Magdalena Forsberg. I started to work with the team in 1998. Then I had a pause. In 2001, I came back to the main team and worked with it until 2010. We had normal relationships. He is not our enemy! I hope we will manage to work together. We will try to find common points and consensus. We have already talked before my appointment. Later we will talk one more time, will plan how to make everything better.

— For the last two years, you worked with the junior and youth teams. Have you gained any new experience?

— This was a draft and more basic work. Many sportsmen, for example, cannot ski with classical technique or perform some other exercises. Sometimes it happens, that young biathletes are not that good in roller skiing. We had to work a lot on shooting. In the main team, this work is different. However, the world cup in Sochi proved that not all sportsmen could work with that type of the track, offered by the organizing committee. We should teach biathletes to work on the downhills without losing time. So, there are problems even in the main team.

— Will there be less training camps in Ruhpolding?

— Of course, we will correct the training plan’s sites. The Olympics will take place in the mountains. The altitude in Sochi is 1450 meters. We will correct the training plan accordingly. We will work with our scientific group through all important moments. There always should be a dialog and common conception in the training plan.

— Have you noticed anyone good enough for the main team in these two years of work with reserve? Are there any super talents?

— Super talents? (smiles) Of course, there are. We should work with them thoroughly and carefully. Olga Podchufarova is very talented. There are other good sportsmen, that can be at the highest level.

— You are considered as a gentle coach. But this characteristic does not fit to that harsh decision you had to make regarding the relay at the Olympics games in Vancouver. Your decision to include Anna Bogaliy brought Russia a gold medal.

— In principle, in most cases I am a gentle person. However, when there is a need, I can raise my voice. I can be a tough coach, if it is needed. I want to repeat, that I simply want to have a normal working atmosphere in the team.

RBU Media Office