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Figure Skating - Athletes
Marina Anisina - Gvendal Peizerat
Photo © Alex Wilf
Marina Anisina - Gvendal Peizerat

In March 2001 Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat has almost become World Champions in ice dancing. For victory they lack only one judge vote. But despite that in France the people welcomed them with «You are the champions» posters. And on the wall of the house in front of the Lion railway station, where the figure skater dwell and train for several years, huge letters «Marina» appeared on her return. Marina came to Moscow right after the end of the world-famous Tom Collins tour. Our journalist met her next day in the flat of her father - famous hockey player Vyacheslav Anissin.

- We have joined Tom Collins tour on April 28, and for one and half months, sometimes twice a day we have been skating our free dance. Of course we get rid of the most technically difficult parts, but near the end of the Tour I could hardly wait when I wouldn't need to skate again. Though I'm glad what we have managed it.

Actually, Collin's rarely invite ice-dancers for the whole tour. The only team to do all the shows is Klimova & Ponomarenko, they have special contract with Collins for both winter and summer tours. For me it was the third tour, but before we have only several performances and the last year was extremely unfortunate: we have skated only four shows and I have broken my leg - I was rushing to the seats to see Klimova and Ponomarenko skating and...

- Is it hard to skate in the tour?

- Yes. For me and Gwendal this season was very hard from the beginning. Very nervous and very difficult. Psychologically first of all.

- I have read, be the way, what you tried to send official protest about the Worlds results...

- Not us but French coaches. Frankly speaking, I don't even know what all these protests were about. They were trying to protect us from all that. Once I've asked them, but they said: «Don't bother. Just skate».

- And how people welcomed you in France?

- Oh. You have to see it! We have been at home for two days only, and afterwards we have an exhibition tour across the country. 19 shows in different cities. And we have standing ovation everywhere. I feel as if I'm a national hero. Our fans waved the posters «You are the champions». Gwendal, who liked Internet very much, was telling me how many support letters we are receiving. Fantastic! And we wasn't expecting such a success in US.

- You was very disappointed at Worlds. How quickly you have recovered?

- Not very soon. It was hard - we have done our best, gained the fantastic support from the crowd, and only silver medal...

- I have heard what you'd received the telegram from Jacque Chirac...

- Yes. We have received his congratulations for the first time after our third place in Nagano. It was printed, but he signed it himself. After that we were invited to the palace and received Legion of Honour. I though I would only see Church from some distance, but he talked to everyone and I was surprised what he give me, Russian, more attention than to some others. He is speaking Russian rather well. He used to know all Eugeny Onegin (famous Russian poem by Alexander Pushkin, and quite large one) by heart, and he still remember some parts. The fact what president knows about figure skating news was a pleasant surprise for me. And after the competitions I'm receiving his congratulations, and every time there are more and more handwriting. Five-time European champions Surya Bonaly told me what she also was receiving very warm congratulations. But she is French... So I'm very happy. But I had to pay for the Legion...

- Meaning what?

- Meaning money. 90 franks. A kind of tax, I guess.

- Do they have any sport titles in France? (in Russia there are several different titles - top-class skater are either Masters of Sports or Honoured Masters of Sport)

- No. Only for the children. Like our sport levels.

- Ours? Frankly, who are you now - French or Russian?

- Hard to say. I hate when people talk bad of Russia or Russians. Once a French journalist has noticed it and next day all the newspapers were against me - «She like Russian snow more than our rain!». But as an athlete I'm French, surely.

- Anyone in France knows what you are a daughter of famous hockey player?

- Some people know. In Colorado, during the Tour, I have met a man who used to know my father in Italy. He invited me to Hockey Federation, and asked me many questions about my father. He said he believes what our Anatomy Tarasov is the greatest coach of the century, he wrote a book about him and give me a copy, for father. «I guess Gretzky is no match for your Firsov», - he said.

- Have you already started making the dances for next season?

- No. We decided to have a vacations from figure skating and from each other. Gwendal went to some island - diving and playing golf. And I want to go to the sea too. But later - now I'm enjoying me dishes in Moscow. That American food... oh...

- Do you father follow your success?

- When he got a chance. This season he was in St. Petersburg during Grand-Prix Final. He is always very nervous, trying to figure out how the dances are judged... But we can't make it ourselves.

- Back to the latest events. What is the strongest impression from the Tour?

- Hurricane in Colorado. Our plane get into it. I'm a bit afraid of planes myself, and this time it was something terrible. And there were many stresses. American skating rinks are smaller than Europeans, and we have to change our programs. Besides the light. It was an exhibition, so there was only spot-light and everything else was in darkness. When we came to Orlando we discovered what ice is only 20x15 meters! No borders, just flowers around the ice. And during our dance I and Gwendal managed to fall into this flowers like a sandwich. We were upset. But later Elena Berezhnaya fly there after the throw. Public was mad! It's a kind of tradition there. Rare figure skater has avoided the flowers...

- And do you have days-off during the Tour?

- Of course. We even went to beach in Florida and I burned my skin. The sun there is very hard. Though this days-off is something symbolic. Everything is so well organised - they are carrying our luggage, cleaning our dresses, taking care of our skates... They offer you everything - shampoos, make-up, really everything... But still you get tired. Everywhere it's just the same - you came to town, warm up, skate you program, and went to next town. Everyone around was talking about figure skating and latest rumours. Especially pro skaters. They notice everything - who is wearing what, who has changed the hair-cut, who has changed a make-up, who gained some weight, who lost some weight... Well, it's understandable, of course. For most of them this Tour is their life... This year there were several pros in the Tour - Rudy Galindo, Oksana Bauil (and she looks much better than last year, though still struggling with her triples), Maya Usova and Zhenya Platov. Klimova and Ponomarenko... I liked U&P, by the way. Among the pro dancers they have most original programs, and they are obviously skating with pleasure. In Los Angeles Ilya Kulik came to skating rink. He is training, getting ready for the pro season.

- Have you ever take part in pro-ams which are so popular now?

- We have recieved many invitations. But we have so much work with our new dances what we had to decline. So our «pro life» is limited to the exhibitions.

- Is there any rivalry there? Like the number of programs, order of appearance?

- A little. That's why Collins want to change the skaters though the Tour. But still sometimes it's unfair. For example Maria Butyrskaya - reigning World Champion was skating in the first half. And Michelle Kwan was the last, even though she had really bad skating on Worlds.

- Was it easier for you what your main rivals - Anjelika Krylova and Oleg Ovsyannikov were not in the Tour?

- We have wonderful relationships, by the way. Everyone believe what we must dislike each other... But the competitions are competitions and the real life is not only skating. Even if rival's coach didn't say us «Hi» that doesn't mean what I must act the same way.

- I've heard you received the proposal from Hollywood?

- Oh... That's far from being settled. One the directors has an idea, but I don't think I'll have time for it.

- But you work as model occasionally...

- Yes. Sometimes. I never thought what this job is that hard. But it was not an ordinary case - I was showing a terrific dress, which cost 350 thousand dollars! Can you believe it? And later I have seen Sharon Stone photos in this dress. And then I've seen the dress in some American magazine. I was showing this picture of «my» dress to everyone.

- What meeting made a greatest impression on you?

- Hmm... Probably with Torwill and Dean. Of course I have seen them before, during competitions, and I knew who they are, but I always believe them to be «unreachable», skaters from the other generation, from other circle. But in Helsinki Dean came to us and told us many warm words... Probably we'll work together on new dances.

- Many skaters believes what Dean is not the strongest choreographer...

- Probably. But in steps and technique, I believe, none can match them even now.

- What are you dreaming of?

- I won't tell you. But I have a dream. And to make it real I'm ready to work forever.



© Елена Вайцеховская, 2003
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