Ice Network

Friends, colleagues remember late Pashkevich

'Conscientious' coach big reason for Tutberidze, Samohin's success
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Much of the success world junior champion Daniel Samohin (middle) has attained can be attributed to the work the skater did with Igor Pashkevich (right). -Klaus-Reinhold Kany

As the 2016 World Figure Skating Championships are set to begin, the skating world mourns the loss of Igor Pashkevich, an Olympic and world competitor who represented both Russia and Azerbaijan. Pashkevich died last Saturday; as of press time, the cause of death had not been released.

Pashkevich, 44, grew up training under Viktor Kudriavtsev, one of the premier technical coaches in the world, and his wife, Marina Kudriavtseva, who later mentored Pashkevich in his coaching. As a coach, Pashkevich was known as a strong technician and possessed a deep understanding of the competitive mindset.

"He was one of the best pupils to represent the quality of Kudriavtsev," said Ari Zakarian, who was Pashkevich's agent when he performed professionally after he finished his competitive career. "He was a workaholic and technically very strong and good, very consistent.

"As a skater, he unfortunately didn't really have a chance because at that time other skaters were really picking up," he added. "Not much space left for him."

Pashkevich represented his native Russia for many years, winning the 1990 world junior championship and taking the silver medal at the 1996 European Championships. But as he reached his prime, Russia's men's field was very deep -- with the likes of Ilia Kulik, Alexei Urmanov and a young Alexei Yagudin -- so Pashkevich chose to represent Azerbaijan. For that country, he placed eighth at the 1997 World Championships and 16th at the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano.

"He had about two years of shows with me before he turned to be a coach," said Zakarian, who considered Pashkevich a good friend. "He learned the backflip. He was always conscientious."

Among Pashkevich's former students was Angela Nikodinov. Pashkevich was injured in the tragic car accident in January 2005 that claimed the life of Nikodinov's mother, Dolores.

After that, he left the skating world for a while but returned to coaching several years later. In Russia, he was a part of Eteri Tutberidze's coaching team, which oversees the training of world ladies favorite Evgenia Medvedeva, among others.

"He was coaching quite good and had a lot of positive stuff going on," Zakarian said. "He was a very good coach. He had a lot of knowledge, great experience."

He moved around a bit in his coaching career, stopping in Russia, Estonia and several places in the U.S., including Alaska, Arizona and California. He gave popular seminars in places like Finland and Kazakhstan. In recent years, he was based in Miami.

Pashkevich made an indelible imprint on the career of 2016 world junior men's champion Daniel Samohin of Israel.

"He was working constantly with [Samohin] until the last moment. Even if he wasn't there, he was working over the phone. He was discussing the programs," said Boris Chait, president of the Israel Ice Skating Federation, who has known Pashkevich since the latter won Skate Israel 20 years ago.

Chait credited Pashkevich with strengthening Samohin's jumps.

"He was good with technique as a skater and he was good as a coach," Chait said. "It's not simple today for the athletes with the technical elements and with the pressure they're going through. He brought a lot [to Daniel].

"We were very much trusting him with skaters as a coach and as a person," he added. "This is a big, big loss. It's the loss of a friend. I could pick up the phone at any time, ask him advice, ask him what he thinks about something. He was a great person.

"It was a working situation, which you cannot always have with coaches. We were planning to send some young skaters and a pair team to him after the world championships."

Renowned coach and choreographer Nikoli Morozov knew Pashkevich from the time they were kids. They remained friends when Morozov switched his focus to ice dance.

"He had students who I helped him work with, and he helped me work with my students," said Morozov, noting that Pashkevich worked for a time with Fumie Suguri, the two-time Olympian and three-time world medalist from Japan. "He was a great coach."

Morozov said Pashkevich's knowledge and expertise were big reasons for Tutberidze's success.

"We've been one of the best friends," said Morozov, who noted that Samohin's victory at the world junior championships earlier this month may be Pashkevich's greatest success. "We're so proud of that. He'll always be in our memory."