Tamara Moskvina, the colorful and innovative pairs skating coach for the Unified Team, needs no lessons in the art of marketing and self-promotion. Last week, when she wasn't overseeing the performances of her two medal-winning pairs, Natalia Mishkutienok and Artur Dmitriev (gold), and Elena Bechke and Denis Petrov (silver), Moskvina was either logging airtime on CBS, charming the world's press or conducting hardball negotiations with slick-talking American agents who wished to sign her skaters to pro contracts.
In figure skating circles there is only one Tamara; her last name is as superfluous as Katarina Witt's. A five-lime Soviet national champion between 1951 and '69, the 50-ish Moskvina began coaching in 1970. Her first protègès to receive international recognition were Oleg Vasiliev and Elena Valova, who won three world championships and She Olympic gold medal at the 1984 Games in Sarajevo. Moskvina, meanwhile who has been fluent in hi English since her university days, served as the unofficial translator for the Soviet team in Calgary. Her wit and candor made her many friends in the West. She is now calling on those friends as she prepares for the future.
For despite a tradition of utter dominance in pairs skating by athletes from what was once the Soviet Union—they have won 24 of the last 27 world titles and the last eight Olympic gold medals—the breakup of the country has left its skaters and coaches scrambling to find funds. Moskvina has sought the advice of IMG, the superagency of sport, concerning how she might obtain sponsorships to offset the rising costs of costumes and travel in relation to the plummeting ruble. "I'm getting twice as much salary," Moskvina says, "but prices have gone up 50 times."
To Moskvina's obvious dismay, she has yet to receive a job offer from abroad, even though she is now free to entertain options. "Nobody wants me because, well, who knows?" says Moskvina with a shrug. "Maybe I will go into another feild. Maybe I'll hold seminars. Or go into business. Or television." She pauses and smiles impishly. "I'm available."