Wolfgang Pichler speaks about Russian Coaching, Training Programs, and Russian Beer

Posted on October 5, 2011 at 5:15 PM


October 4, 2011, Tuesday. 13:30




Alexander Kruglov

Photo: Helen Zhulidova

- Yana Romanova said that you probably learned to understand in Russian. Is this true?

- I understand what she is talking about. Russian people speak without words, but in the eyes, gestures, facial expressions, if you're sitting across from me.

- How do you read Russian protocols?

- I can not read Cyrillic, so I translate the names of the athletes, but the language of numbers is good because it is universal.

- Do you support the athletes with personal trainers?

- Pavel Rostovtsev maintains a relationship with them and keeps me abreast of the discussions. Sometimes personal trainers ask me questions directly. And I tell the coaches the details of their training plans, explaining that we will change the training system in stages, step by step, and all at once it can not be changed.

- When you become a head coach for the women's team, many Russian experts took it with hostility. Over time, their opinion has not changed?

- Not enough time has passed. I understand the position of the Russian coaches because I worked 16 years in Sweden, originally faced the same reaction from Swedish coaches. The same thing would happen in Germany, if we engaged a the head coach from another country. I can promise that I will do everything in my power to achieve the result for which I was hired.


- I read that Helena Ekholm was upset by your departure. As were the other girls on the Swedish team?

- They also were not thrilled, and I understand it. Since 1995, when I worked in Sweden, only two or three times our athletes were not among the top three in the overall World Cup standings. First, it sought to Magdalena Forsberg, then Anna Carin Olofsson, and now Helena Ekholm. It would be very bad if they were not upset, then I would be upset - it would mean that I'm a bad coach (smiles).

- What are your impressions of the meeting of the board of the coaching?

- The atmosphere and views of some coaches to me seemed a little old-fashioned, but I learned a lot of interesting things. I never said that the Russian coaches are bad. Among them are a lot of strong professionals, but the coaching staff does not have enough fresh blood in the form of professionals with new ways of thinking, even if invited by it to give a positive effect for all members of the profession.

- Do you think that some of the coaches kept the Soviet way of thinking?

- (Laughs). Yes, I was surprised by this group, but each country and each team has its traditions, both positive and negative. You have to understand what you're running a whole generation of coaches who have grown up in the Soviet system, and it is extremely difficult to change their thinking. We need to wait when they will be replaced by a new generation of coaches, such as Pavel Rostovtsev and Sergey Konovalov. They now have much to learn, to grow. After five or six years, they become excellent coaches. But such examples of promising young coaches are rare in Russia. The council had a lot of coaches who are over 60. They have a tremendous life and sporting experiences, but in Soviet times it was very different, and it is very difficult to restructure. The biggest problem is that the athleteshave changed and the coaches have not changed with them. They have become much more free, and some who are afraid to admit it.

It was very interesting to work with athletes at the first serious competition to look for them, as every athlete responds to their performances, and a start on this when choosing methods to influence them. Every day held in Ufa gives me more food for thought. For example, one athlete with the coach I had told her: "Look, like in October or November, you do not become ill." This is by no means impossible to say! If you say athlete, that he fails, he is indeed a failure.

- You had a lot of questions during the trainer meeting?


- No. I think I'm fairly clearly explained in my report, and they understood my concept of coaching.

- Do you communicate with the advisory council and the dean of our corps trainer Alexander Privalov and Viktor Mamatov?

- Yes. I have known them for many years and was glad to see them again. I even trained Privalov in 1979. Of course, we discussed many issues, for discussion of our work is very useful, but they have valuable experience.

- They accept your coaching concept?

- I think they understood it and approved. Privalov gave me a few tips. He, too, had experience abroad with the national team of Poland.

- You talked about the need to improve the psychological preparation of athletes. What steps are you taking this?

- It was very interesting to work with athletes at the first serious competition. Every athlete responds to their performances differently, and methods must be found to influence them. Each day during the Ufa competition gave me more food for thought. For example, I told one athlete and her coach that: "Look, like in October or November, you do not become ill." This is by no means impossible to say! If you tell an athlete she is a failure, then she, inevitably will fail.

- Is it true that you would not let Svetlana Sleptsova train with her headphones?

- Yes, and she quietly accepted the decision. The fact that Germany is very dangerous to ride on the road on a bicycle or roller skis with the headphones. You can not hear a car approach, and could easily have an accident.

- What can you say about the organization of the competitions?


– I was impressed by the huge number of participants and the almost complete absence of spectators. In Ruhpolding in the summer biathlon competitions in Germany, there are 2500 spectators each day. Perhaps, in Ufa biathlon is not as popular as in Tyumen and Khanty-Mansiysk.

Did the Rain have a serious impact on the outcome?


- Do not think so. All were equal, the strongest and showed that they are the strongest. It's even good that we started in these extreme conditions, because the athlete must be prepared for anything. And if your performance is affected by the heavy rain, it only indicates that you are unstable athlete. Every athlete needs to give all her best in every situation: even in the rain, even in a storm. The Russian Championships turned out to be useful for me because before I had known only the athletes who competed during the World Cup, now I know them all. The next year It will be easier for me to make decisions on the formation of the team.

- Which athletes who are not on the team, impressed you most?


- Korovin, who can fight for a place in the team. I also see great potential in Alexandra Alikin and junior Margaret Philippi. It is worth paying attention to the good results in the junior Championships in Nove Mesto. But having a large selection of athletes - it's always a nice problem for a coach.

- In Russia you drink only German beer?

- Why? I drink Russian beer with pleasure. Romanova brought home to me some Omsk beer, and it was very good.


And how does the Russian beer compare with German beer?

- Russian beer, of course, is good, although I have not tried all sorts, but with a light Bavarian beer at the "Oktoberfest" nothing can compare.

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5:49 PM on February 6, 2012 
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