Nikolai Kozeko: Freestyle skiing gives the best sports education a child can get

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Nikolai Kozeko: Freestyle skiing gives the best sports education a child can get

Head coach of the Belarusian freestyle team Nikolai Kozeko has answered the questions of the program Sports Week on the CTV channel.

The Open Freestyle Championship of Belarus took place in Minsk last weekend. Ski jumping occurred on water. How did was it unfolding?

Nikolai Kozeko:
In general, the week was a thrill for us, to be honest. We have never held similar tournaments. And, of course, we wanted to show our new complex in all its glory. I think that our championship was a success. Many people just did not know that freestyle skiers jump into water in summer.

Anna Guskova won the only award. But men stopped just a step away from the podium: Belarusians won fourth and fifth places. How do you assess this result?

Nikolai Kozeko:
In principle, everything is fine.  These tournaments are for testing. Our athletes, of course, would like to win but this does not always happen. Only being able to lose will you learn to win. Anya's result is pleasing, no doubt!

Will this season be decisive for Anna? She's now preparing some new super complicated jump.

Nikolai Kozeko:

Yes, Anya is preparing to perform a triple somersault in snowy conditions and test it at the beginning of the winter season. We are talking about World Cups.And, in general, this season is decisive for Belarus. We can say that this season we can afford to experiment a little bit.

Does Alla Tsuper think of returning again?

Nikolai Kozeko:
I saw her yesterday. She was very happy and it was very nice to see her.  We are not talking about that. But I want to say that we don't have an athlete of such a level.

By the way, that tournament was attended by some officials. CTV correspondents were able to talk to one of them, Mr Jing Dong. He is Secretary of the Chinese Association "New Youth Media."

Dong Jing:
Yes, I am here for the first time and I am very impressed. Here you can see the great technologies, great atmosphere, and you can see the competition, where representatives of different countries participate. We in China don't have freestyle with jumping into the water, but upon returning we will tell Chinese about this sport. At the upcoming Winter Olympic Games in Beijing, we will advance freestyle jumping into the water as a preparatory stage.
All our Chinese Youth Federation hopes to cooperate with the Belarusian Republican Youth Union (BRSM) to develop sports, to develop friendship of our youth, which will be based on joint participation in major competitions. Thus we will promote peace throughout the world.

Mr Kozeko, as we can see, all praise the complex. Are there any drawbacks or is it really that wonderful as in a miracle?

Nikolai Kozeko:
Firstly, it is the only in the world for us, freestyle skiers, made under the roof. And, secondly, it is a public place. Anyone can come. After all, more than 90% of the area is given to public entertainment. There's all sorts of slides and aqua zone for entertainment, and various saunas and whirlpool - everything is available for general public.  And in the presence of the public the national team can train. The atmosphere is quite festive.

What kinds of freestyle is more difficult: on water or on snow?

Nikolai Kozeko:
Both have complexities. Modern sport, elite sport means that you're always on the verge of your limit.  Of course, it is easier to climb and just jump down into the water. If you have skis you have to be able to ski, after all.

What is safer then?

Nikolai Kozeko:
Both options are safe if your approach is right.

Unfortunately, Alexei Grishin and Dima Daschinsky finished their active career. Dmitri, as far as I know, is now coach of the youth squad of Belarus. How well is he doing now?

Nikolai Kozeko:
Let's just say that we are both satisfied. He is very happy with his current status as a Belarus youth coach. Children listen to him carefully. Fortunately, he has something to tell them. And I hope that Dima is still able to learn something. He will be allright.

Will Alexei Grishin have a desire to stay in freestyle?

Nikolai Kozeko:
His desire to try himself in something else prevailed. He is now in some business.

Anton Kushnir missed last season with good reasons. How will this pause affect his career?

Nikolai Kozeko:
I think that it will only be positive. Because he has recovered and balanced.  And I think that now he has to practice more. He is in good shape. 

Mr Kozeko, what is motivation for you now? After all, earlier you sought to win Olympic gold. Alexei Grishin did it. Then it was woman's gold. Alla Tsuper did it too.  What goal is next?

Nikolai Kozeko:
Not only victories attract me but some wish for something new. And I think one can discover much new in jumping. And the second point. Never have we had a situation with such dramatic generational change! I would like to know how strong our reserve is.

It will be interesting for us too. What is the limit of human capabilities in freestyle? 

Nikolai Kozeko:
The record was set by an American jumper. Matt Chojnacki made a quadruple back somersault with four twists. That is like something fictional. Super tricks! But the International Federation limited their complexity. Now the maximum is triple somersault. However, the number of twists is not limited.

Time is running, freestyle is becoming more and more complicated. Maybe time will come when it will be the norm?

Nikolai Kozeko:
We played at the US Open and there was an opportunity there to do a quadruple somersault. Many tried. It is achievable, but it's hard to include it in the usual "diet". We need super conditions for this.

Are there decent young aerialists?

Nikolai Kozeko:
Yes, there are.

Are children interested in this sport? Are there many of them?

Nikolai Kozeko:
Children come to our schools. But, of course, they are a little discouraged by super complexity of tricks done by leading masters. But freestyle skiing gives children lots of useful skills. Kids learn to ski, they are given alpine skis. I am talking about those children who will be selected. They will learn to swim. They will learn acrobatics, trampolining, and gymnastics. Freestyle skiing gives the best sports education a child can get. In gymnastics a child is limited. We, however, train very versatile persons. And then, having passed the tests and been selected, kids get into freestyle. And then, at 14-15, they begin to make their first jumps.