Ice Network

Shishkova, Naumov navigate parent-coach balance

Former world pairs champions guide son Maxim to U.S. novice podium
  • Ice Network on Facebook
  • Ice Network on Twitter
Evgenia Shishkova (center) and Vadim Naumov (right) pose for a picture with their son, U.S. novice bronze medalist Maxim Naumov. -Courtesy of Vadim Naumov

Former world pairs champions Evgenia Shishkova and Vadim Naumov now find themselves standing at the boards as coaches, which is the case with many skaters of their generation. The twist for this married duo is that their most high-profile student happens to be their son, 2016 U.S. novice bronze medalist Maxim Naumov.

After turning pro in 1998, Shishkova and Naumov came to the United States intent on doing show skating. They settled in Connecticut and began working at the International Skating Center in Simsbury. At the time, numerous other Russian skaters were affiliated with the rink, but many of them eventually moved to different parts of the country. Shishkova and Naumov remained, however, finding that Connecticut suited a young family quite well.

"It happened very gradually," Naumov said. "We did shows, we trained, and the environment was awesome. The facility was awesome, and still is."

The couple got into coaching, quickly realizing how lucrative the business could be. By the time Maxim came along, they were firmly rooted in Connecticut.

"Step by step, you realize after a few years, everything is here now," Naumov said.

"It's a great place to raise a family -- awesome schools, great colleges and universities around, and Boston is near," he continued.

In the early years, they coached a lot of pairs, including 2005 U.S. champions Katie Orscher and Garrett Lucash. Now, their work is focused on young singles skaters.

In their instruction, they draw on their own experiences growing up in Saint Petersburg, Russia, under the Soviet sports system.

"It's a process and a learning curve," Naumov said. "It's quite a different system in the United States, and you have to adapt. You find ways to deliver the message and not lose the standards. Basics are universal -- that's the most important thing you can probably deliver. Using that foundation, you build up."

Shishkova and Naumov put Maxim on the ice when he was 5. Coaching one's own child definitely comes with a unique set of challenges, but Shishkova, 43, and Naumov, 47, are navigating the frozen waters with Maxim, who turns 15 on Aug. 1.

"First of all, you have to wear two hats -- you're dad and you're coach. They're two completely different perspectives," Naumov said. "From one side, you have to be always positive and supportive. On the other hand, you have to be pushing, and you have to keep disciplined and be tough."

Bringing other coaches in helps. Now that he's a teenager, Maxim understands more and more that his parents have been through the sport at the highest level, and know what's best for him.

"It's extremely rewarding," Naumov said. "When you see your kid stepping up on the podium, you feel so proud."

Naumov enjoys working with little kids and watching them learn the basics and improve. He occasionally works with adult skaters.

The coaching team keeps up with high-level competition by watching major events. Naumov said he sees an improvement in U.S. pairs, and that he hopes it continues.

"Tricks people learn," Naumov said, "When you skate as one, when you actually dedicate a lot of time to skating skills, to simple stroking and working with a dance coach, then teams improve and succeed."