INTERVIEWS: Galit Chait

  • Ice dancers Galit Chait and Sergei Sakhnovski celebrate ten years of skating together this season. They are currently training with Evgeny Platov and Tatiana Tarasova in Simsbury, CT. Galit took time from her busy schedule to answer some questions for ice-dance.com. Below is the result of the interview.

  • Photos accompanying the interview are by Michelle Wojdyla.

What is your daily training schedule?
During the competitive season, we start with a half hour warm up, then skate for two hours, take a break for two hours and then work in the ballet room going over our programs on the floor before our second two hour practice. During the summer, it's a more intense training regimen.

Do you do any off ice conditioning?
Sergei and I do some stretching and weight training. We also work with Tatiana Drouchinina on and off the ice; more on ice when it comes to competition.

How did you, along with your coach, Evgeny Platov, decide to return to Simsbury to train?
We both enjoyed working with her and her choreography and programs and wanted to go back and work with her again. We spoke with Tatiana to see if we can work together again. The Simsbury rink is such a great facility and they accommodated skaters so well; so we decided to partially move.

It's not uncommon; for teams to have worked with several different coaches by the time they reach the elite level, what do you think the reason is for this?
Sometimes, you have to search to find the right coach for each point in your career. We have been lucky to have good relationships with our past coaches and we know that if we need help, theoretically, we could get help from any of them.
All of our coaches are great and talented people and each coach has given what another coach couldn't have given.

You have had the opportunity to work with many of the top coaches including Dubova, Tarasova and Linichuk, what have you taken away from working with each one?
From Natalia and Gennady, we learned such a great work ethic with them. They taught us that it is ok to be on the ice all day. At the start of our career, that is what we needed. We learned that if you you work hard, anything is possible.

From Tatiana, we learned a little bit of everything. She has charisma and lots of energy. If she gives you 100%, she expects the same from all of her students, 100%. She knows how to pull the best program out of us. When you are working on a new program and are uncomfortable with some of the moves and do not want to say anything, she is intuitive, so she sees this and makes the changes so that you're comfortable with the choreography. The program creation process with her is very interesting. You do the moves, and she doesn't show you what to do. The music is played and you skate to see what moves you would like to do. She takes the moves we make and turns it into our program so the concept is from us and this gives us the freedom artistically.

Dubova is a very strong technical coach and teaches body position and how to make an edge. She is a professor of making everything look very aesthetic. She knew how to break down a step or dance and make it understandable to us.

Working with Platov has helped us in our technique because he is able to show us. His ability to do the moves for us is a big plus. He pushes us, but knows when it's enough and time to stop. He paces us to make sure we have enough time to rest, do our run throughs and stop when it's enough. He is behind and believes in us 100% which helps knowing we have someone who believes in us.

What would you like the fans of ice dancing to know about you, (something they probably wouldn't know)?
Sergei and I have been skating together for 10 years, which is a long long time. We have other interests and we like doing other things. We like going to shows and having other interests outside of skating. When you're skating for such a long time, sometimes your partner will try to help you and you don't want to listen and you're busy saying "I'll do it myself". I've noticed since Sergei is teaching at the rink, that he knows how to explain things really well. He has that talent to be able to explain.

What example do you want to set for future ice dancers in Israel?
I hope that we give a lot to the kids there; they watch us at competitions. At the rink there are a lot of kids skating, a lot more than in past years. We go there to help them and work with little kids who are there for fun. The school and the program is getting bigger, so hopefully some of the skaters there will be my future students, when I have finished skating.

Of all of your programs, which one is your favorite?
It is so hard to pick just one since there are several that are memorable to me. This years free dance means a lot. When we were making this program, even before it was finished, Tatiana said that "this is the program of your career with Sergei." It shows our ups and downs and being together in good times and bad times. It's not a sad or depressing program, it's a triumphant program resulting in the culmindation of events in our career.

The second, is our Columbus program. I found this music and wanted to skate to it but Sergei and Tatiana said no. I asked them to please let me play it and then we could play around on the ice, which they agreed and then decided to use it. I love the music, it gave me chills and I could do the program a million times.

The Paganini program is the third. At the time, we were choreographing a new number to Phantom of the Opera and it was not working. I brought in the Paganini music. I researched information on Paganini to help with the expression and program, he was an extremely talented violinist, but people thought his talented was the devil because he was so good. We choreographed the program in two days.

What has been your favorite place to visit for competition?
There are so many. We love competing in America because it's home and in Canada because the fans are unbelievable - only in canada for compulsory packed; Russia because it is also heritage, a little bit home; Australia was unbelievable; and Japan, the Japanese fans are fans for life. China. In Italy, Germany, Hungary the crowds have always been so generous. The locations where the crowds are so good, that is what matters a lot to me.

Which event has been the most memorable for you?
Skating wise, the Grand Prix series this year - Skate America, Skate Canada and Cup of China; I had so much fun competing this season. We have been skating well and getting the medals this year and being on the podium. Off the ice, it was walking into the Olympics opening ceremonies holding the Israel flag. It was funny because I had my cell phone in my pocket and people were calling me. The entire experience is something I'll never forget.

What has been different about this season, than others?
This year, we kind of just got more involved in every part of it; getting deeper into the program and really understanding it. We're realizing that we only have a few left, so let's just do it, we can't wait any longer. We are working with Tanya Drouchinina a lot and it really helps us. Once we had a feeling like everything was on our shoulders. We now have an even more positive attitude and have been able to get past the difficult times.

Do you plan to retire after the Olympics?
We plan to go to the olympics and be injury free and then they will see what happens afterward. We're taking it one day at a time.

Have you given though to what you'd like to do once you've retired from competitive skating?
Definitely coach and do choreography. Working with Tatiana Tarasova and watching her process, has prepared me for coaching. When I am finished, I want to spend time on the other side of the boards. I'd like to sit with Tatiana when she is coaching to get a different perspective. Coaching is more than standing at the boards, it is psychology and how to work with athletes, how to give 100% all the time and make everyone want to go all out. Tatiana has that talent. Her father was a famous hockey coach, so maybe he taught her or it runs in the family.

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