March 22, 2023

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Interview of Pavel Rostovtsev – the new chief in biathlon: what did he do for these 9 years, what did Pichler teach, what to do with Guberniev

Figital games are a new sport in Russia. Here you can lose in FIFA, but take revenge on the field

Figital games are a new sport in Russia. Here you can lose in FIFA, but take revenge on the field

The key acquisition of the Russian biathlon team is the head coach, without whom the team went through the entire Olympic season.

Now at the post (in the nominal position of vice-president of the RBU for sports) Pavel Rostovtsev is a three-time world champion, the leader of the national team at the beginning of the 2000s.

And in the early 2010s, they formed a bond with Wolfgang Pichler as coaches of the women’s team, Rostovtsev was responsible for shooting. After the Sochi Olympics, he left biathlon, focusing on civil service in Krasnoyarsk (and a little in Irkutsk).

A month after the appointment, we talked with Rostovtsev about a new job and where he has been for these 9 years.

Briefly: what exactly is Rostovtsev doing now in the SBR?

– Gradually I delve into and immerse myself in the processes. There are discussions with coaches – first of all, organizational plans. For example, a plan for the second quarter of the year has already been prepared: where and at what time the groups will train, how many athletes, specialists of different categories.

We are doing a lot of work on the draft calendar for the next season. We draw conclusions based on the experience of this season, when there were a lot of starts and movements. The coaches of the national team offered their vision of how to build competitions: the Russian Cup, the Russian Championship, the Commonwealth Cup.

Now I am working on this option with representatives of the technical committee and the coaching council of the RBU. Moreover, we are working not only on a draft calendar for men and women, but also for juniors and juniors, so that they combine correctly with each other. This is such a coordinating work on a daily basis.

The result should be a proposal from the RRF to the regions – so that they confirm the possibility of holding these competitions at their complexes. We plan to consider the project for the 2023/24 season at the coaching council in March in Khanty-Mansiysk.

And then – I hope, in April – it will be approved by the RRF executive committee. I can say that earlier the calendar was approved in the fall. If everything goes as planned, now it will be six months earlier.

– I would like an example of what exactly you are discussing.

– We are focusing on the 2026 Olympics – the biathlon races will take place in February in Anterselva, this is the middle mountains. In this regard, one of the initiatives of the coaches – and I support it – is to hold the main start of our season at its best.

– We have only Sochi from the heights.

– Well, yes. I would like to compete there. At the level of the Ministry of Sports, a decision was made to hold the Spartakiad of the strongest athletes in February 2024. Of course, we cannot influence the place and dates. Looking forward to a decision in February. Why do we want the main starts of the season in Sochi? We decided that the middle mountains are more informative.

As for the Russian Championship, the general position of the coaches is that it is necessary to hold a long tournament, close to the program of the Olympic Games. It’s one thing to run three races on a stage – tight, hard, but usually. Another thing is when you compete in one place for two weeks – you run 5-6 races. This is a different picture – who will maintain the level of concentration, motivation? This requires special training.

Already now, coaches should think about leading to the main start. Where? Obviously also great. What is this height? And so, the coaching discussions began. I gave one example, but there are many such nuances.

Another observation of coaches: an abundance of starts in December 2022. Four stages of the Russian Cup, plus the Commonwealth Cup – well, really a bit too much. We propose to hold three stages of the Kyrgyz Republic + the Commonwealth Cup.

– You live in Krasnoyarsk. How will everything be built with sidings?

– Depending on the needs. There were many questions that required spending time in front of the computer – for this it is not necessary to be in the RRF office. Now I am at the Russian Championship in Ufa, next week I will be in Saransk and Tchaikovsky.

It all depends on the tasks, we form a schedule for a month and a half or two ahead.

Refusal of walkie-talkies at the turn, forgotten sticks and a broken rifle: what Rostovtsev has already noticed in the team

– You have not worked in biathlon for almost 9 years. During this time, were you invited to the national team, to the RRF?

– In 2014, shortly after leaving, the names were Alexander Kasperovich and Vladimir Korolkevich. I won’t say more specifically, but somehow work with the team – both as a shooting coach and in other positions.

I had other plans: I just finished my coaching career, realizing that children need a father. Three years for 280 days I was not at home – this is a lot. The family had to be taken care of. I left just because of this.

Then there were proposals when Maygurov (together with Rostovtsev in the photo below – entered the leadership of the RRF. There were options – not only coaching. At the beginning of the 2022/23 season, we talked again, and Maigurov suggested the option of working on the ground.

– Why didn’t you go?

– I understand: I have not been present in this role for 9 years and I think that I am not ready for such work.

After Maygurov was re-elected as President of the RBU in the fall, we returned to the conversation. He said that he sees a deficit in the coordinating role for our teams, who would connect all aspects of the life of these four groups. He physically did not have enough time for this, he wanted to strengthen his position here. We have agreed to.

– Do you still have a spark from a practical coach? Do not want to tell the coaches at some point to intervene?

– Prompt and discuss – yes. Intervene – no.

In Raubichi, we talked with Artem Evgenievich Istomin, and his words: it would be cool and interesting to sit down with you, talk calmly – how we worked with Pichler, how we built processes in training, shooting, and so on.

But here the line is thin. Coaches are responsible for the result, for the form of athletes, and in no case should you impose something. Let the coach take in information from outside if he wants to; but only he decides how to use it, whether to use it at all.

I am not a supporter of forcing my position through an authoritarian method. But yes, I am ready to share and recommend something to the national team coaches based on my experience.

– Already had to?

– Again, in Raubichi. I came to shoot – just to look. I see that athletes and coaches do not use walkie-talkies for negotiations. I clarified: tell me for understanding – were walkie-talkies banned at the turn? They answered me: no, they are allowed, but we somehow moved away from them.

It seems like a trifle, but you never know how it could help. Wolfgang and I used walkie-talkies at all sightings – both in training and in competitions. I’m not saying that this is the only correct way, but it was convenient and useful for us.