Rinat is a former ice dancing champion of Japan (with Nakako Tsuzuki). He presently coaches at the Dr. Pepper Star Center in Euless, TX. His couples include Julia Golovina & Oleg Voiko of Ukraine and Ashley Duenas and Ramil Sarkulov who represent Uzbekistan.
How and when did you decide to end your competitive career?
It was the middle of the 2001 -2002 season just prior to the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt Lake City when my partner faced a severe lower back injury. I did not decided to end our career but rather it was the situation which forced us to put things to a halt. We finished Skate America and Skate Canada and only had one more competition which was the Olympic qualifications, but by this point Nakako’s injury had intensified. She flew back to Japan to seek help and I remained in Connecticut.
Did the partnership end on good terms?
Yes. I always felt the responsibility to take care of my partner so when she went through the injury it was her health that became most important. At the time it was upsetting and even disappointing to end a career especially in the middle of the season when you have been working your way up to an event that will occur only every 4 years, but l feel the right choice was made. There are more important things you must face in life sometimes and I was very supportive to ensure Nakako’s long term health. She has managed to find a way through the difficulties and is even back in competitive skating again. We still remain great friends. She has been to Texas to visit and help coach.
Have you always wanted to coach?
I always wanted to be a professional skater and reach my best ability. Coaching never entered my mind as a career, however, I always have enjoyed helping others on the ice. Even in Russia I would go back and help my old coaches with other skaters or do a little choreography. Now I see it as a great profession. There is always something to create and that keeps it interesting. Coaching has also been a little challenging in working with high level teams as they are older and more mature. There is always something new to learn and I just hope I can be there to give them the best advice and use the knowledge I gained from my coaches (Tatiana Tarasova & Nikolai Morosov) to pass on.
What made you decide to move to Euless, TX?
The timing in which I ended my partnership with Nakako also coincided with the beginning of a partnership for a friend of mine who lived in Texas. I was still living in Connecticut when Nikolai told me about Mathew Gates who was an ice dance director in the DFW area. Mathew was planning on moving to Connecticut and was looking for someone to fill his position. Nikolai had hinted to me that this would be a good opportunity for me. Not to long after I received a phone call from Mat asking me to take his place as a coach. Shortly, after I moved to Texas Peter & Darlene Cain and Pierre Payani contacted me about building a dance program at one of the Dr. Pepper Star Centers in Euless, TX.
It has been a wonderful environment to work in. It truly is a great facility for training and with wonderful people. We have at least 5 hours a day of solid ice strictly for ice-dance and with complimentary coffee every morning at 7:00a.m. it’s not a bad place to be in.
What is your favorite memory from competition?
It was the beginning of our free-dance at the 2000 World Championships in Nice, France.
We skated to a beautiful piece of music by Andrea Bocelli and the entire audience was familiar with the music and appreciated it. As we began skating the entire arena applauded. This was an amazing feeling and we ended with the audience standing at their feet, something I will never forget.
Your couple Golovina/Voiko received good feedback from judges last season. How do you respond to that?
I feel Great! I watched the video from Worlds and there was a lot of positive commentary from respected people in our sport. It makes me feel like I accomplished what I set out to do. Julia and Oleg did a remarkable job, doing the best they can do. It was my first season to work with them and their first season with me as a new coach so we both learned a lot from each other.
What do you feel makes each of your couples unique?
Julia Golovina and Oleg Voiko (right) – Julia and Oleg are World/ Olympic competitors as well as Ukrainian national and silver medal winners. Both are natural performers and have a lot of characteristics. They are good dancers and carry a good energy.
Ashley Duenas and Ramil Sarkulov (top) – Ashley and Ramil have a unique situation unlike most. Here we have an American girl skating for a foreign country when we usually see it the other way, a foreign male skater who competes for America. What they are doing is something the Figure Skating Federation of Uzbekistan values as very important. I also think they both are extremely hard working people. They both have the same goals and believe deeply in them. They have overcome many hurdles and difficulties but remain on the same focused path. They will be skating internationally and while Ramil has experience in competition this is Ashley’s first competitive season ever. She went from never competing to jumping into the international world of competitive ice-dance.
What do you hope to accomplish as a coach?
I would like to have a team that is going to accomplish their best and reach their highest no matter what and hope that I can prepare them the best I can for competition. I also aim a creating memorable programs for everyone to enjoy.
Do you coach singles or just ice dance? Do you choreograph for single skaters?
I work with both fields and also enjoy making programs for single skaters. There are different elements involved and it is much different to what you can do with one person than say a couple.
Why should someone choose you as a choreographer?
I finished skating 2 years ago and am still involved with the competitive level of our sport. Figure Skating is constantly changing and I hope to be part of that process. I think I have some innovative ideas and am looking forward into not into that past. I like things to be more modern, more of a “new age” style and I think I have some innovative ideas to offer.