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    The Russian figure skater moved to China and married the champion. What love does

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    He won silver at Albertville 1992 for Russia paired with Elena Bechke, and now lives and runs a business in China with his wife, world champion and two-time Olympic medalist Lu Chen. Denis Petrov told Sport about how this happened.

    – You and the Chinese figure skater Lu Chen – how did this union become possible?


    – We’ve known each other for a long time. Lou says that she remembers me from 1988, when she came to Leningrad for some competitions, but he perceived her as a little girl. She was growing up, but I didn't notice it. And once on the bus on which all the show participants traveled around America, the only free seat was next to Lou. We started talking – and so for twenty years now we have not only been talking, but also living as one family. Moreover, we skated together twice in the show. Then they decided that it was not worth doing this, otherwise we would get divorced without getting married.

    strong>– Why did you decide to settle in China after finishing your career?

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    – They didn’t intend to at all, or they simply deceived me. We lived and worked in America for a long time, then Lu was invited to Hong Kong, and I stayed in the USA. I worked as a coach, and I had a couple that I wanted to bring to medals at the national junior championship. I took it from scratch and improved it. Then Lou was invited to a skating rink somewhere near New York. Before that, we had a guest marriage: she lived in Phoenix and I lived in Richmond. We tried to work together for two years, but it didn’t work out. And I never liked New York. The city is kind of bustling.

    At the same time, Lu continued to travel to Hong Kong, and at some point a Chinese company that built skating rinks at shopping centers offered her to run a figure skating school in Shenzhen. It's close to Hong Kong, you can even get there by metro. I was also attracted. At first we thought that we would work for five years, save some money, and enjoy life.

    – What made you change your plans?– In China, promises are not always kept. The plans we made were not fully realized. Lou saw herself as the director of a larger skating rink, but they didn’t even make her just a director. When we got involved, the students appeared. And our children went to school, and we decided that it would be useful for Nikita and Anastasia to learn Chinese. They were going to move to America when they mastered it. By the way, Lu suggested giving Russian names to the children.

    – How difficult was it to start your own figure skating business?

    – To open the first skating rink in Beijing, we sold the house we had, leaving only an apartment. In China, work in figure skating has its own specifics. We cannot, for example, schedule training sessions late in the evening due to proximity to residential buildings. Although our business brings profit, it is not as profitable as we would like. We are slowly developing it. In Shenzhen, they rented space in a shopping center and opened an ice skating rink there. Now Lu is doing the same in Shanghai.

    – Do parents pay for classes in China?

    – There are also public schools, but only in Beijing and in the north of the country, in Harbin and Changchun, where Lu is from. Her father worked there as a coach for the hockey team. In other cities there are only private ones, like ours.

    Do you have students who have achieved success at the international level?

    Started at us Logan Higas-Chen is now training with Timothy Gable, she became the winner of the US Junior Championships. My parents even invite me to come and train her in America. Another girl, Fattaratida Kaneshige, represented Thailand at the last Junior World Championships and finished 17th. She is also now training in the USA with Gable.

    – Is it easy to find a common language with the parents of young Chinese figure skaters?

    >– In different ways. It's easier for me than Lu – I don't speak Chinese. The easiest way was to work with a boy who has a Russian mother.

    – In Russia, parents who don’t like something during training can post derogatory posts on social networks. In China too?

    – Naturally! Some even try to dictate how to train. But, as I already said, it’s easier for me. I don’t know Chinese.

    – How do you train Chinese figure skaters?

    < br>– I show a lot on the ice. And almost everyone speaks English. Especially those who come from Hong Kong.

    – Can you teach quadruple jumps that you have never performed?

    – When learning to jump, it is important to understand how everything works. Aleksey Mishin systematized the training methodology. I was lucky enough to train with him when Tamara Moskvina sent me to improve my jumps. I was imbued with Mishin’s ideas, and now I am guided by them when teaching jumping.

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    – Have you and Lou seen your children as figure skating champions?
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    – My son immediately said that if he skates, it will be for the soul. He is now 17, he is all about music. My daughter skated in a strong group and at first was the best in it. We probably put too much pressure on her. In theory, she could do best in dancing; Anastasia did not like to jump. Now I’ve decided to become a volleyball player. She studies at a specialized boarding school and persuaded us to send her to a summer camp in the USA.

    – In 2006 in Turin, Nikolai Morozov, who trained Olympic champion Shizuka Arakawa, said that Asian figure skaters are the most fertile material for work. They have an ideal build for jumping and unconditional obedience to trainers. Is it the same in China?

    – In different ways. Unquestioning obedience to the coach is good up to a certain point. Still, figure skating requires a creative approach. In China there is very strict control by the federation. You can't even switch to another coach. As a result, many simply end up with figure skating.


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    – The first Chinese world champion Lu Chen was not forced to join the Chinese Communist Party?

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    – This is impossible in principle. Dual citizenship is not allowed in China, and when Lu was given a choice, she chose to have an American passport.

    – How do they view sanctions against Russian figure skaters in China?< br>

    – The last tournament in which the Russians competed was the Olympics in Beijing. It is completely different from the one in which I happened to take part as a skater due to anti-Covid restrictions. After the quarantine, the Russian team was suspended, which would simply kill the next Olympics. I don’t know how the ISU and the IOC will get out of this situation. In China, at least, interest in figure skating has noticeably decreased. I don’t see as much excitement as there was before. The Chinese, of course, are proud of holding the Olympics in Beijing, but they don’t care about the next ones.

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