Why did critics lash out Valiyeva and Shcherbakova?
The European Figure Skating Championships were a success. Moreover, thanks to the upcoming Olympics, the competition was so that there is a lot to listen to and read, thinks Realnoe Vremya’s journalist Jaudat Abdullin.
When it’s better to say nothing
It is anyway good when expectations turn out low, while the reality generously presents such plots the European tournament was full of. It seemed to have no competition in the ladies’ singles and pairs, a kind of weak fight in the men’s singles and ice dance after Mikhail Kolyada and Papadakis-Ciseron withdrew. But the results provided such a number of dramas and shocks that they will be discussed through the Olympics.
And it is necessary to start with singles, since the intrigue was so big. Many journalists and experts started to discuss the results immediately after the short programme, the results looked surprising at that moment when the men’s podium was completely Russian, while only Kamila Valiyeva represented our country in the ladies’ competition. Alexandra Trusova’s skill to do her best in the free programme is well known, therefore reigning world champion Anna Shcherbakova received all the criticism. Though the episodes when the short programme influenced the final distribution of places are rarely seen now. Alina Zagitova’s victory at the Olympics in Pyeongchang precisely thanks to the advantage created in the short programme is the most legendary at the moment. So now it might seem one could wait for the end of the free programme talking about the short programme without any evaluation. The results lived up to the expectations, the Russians occupied the ladies’ podium, one male competitor is a medallist.
We should tell you the case that doesn’t even have to do with champion Mark Kondratyuk but his coach Svetlana Sokolovskaya. When Yuliya Lipnitskaya left Eteri Tutberidze’s group, Sokolovskaya was said to be a “hit pilot” who had a whole “cemetery” of figure skaters but who didn’t make the cut. Later, the story when Alexander Samarin joined Sokolovskaya seemed to confirm this opinion, and it could be made public. But no, look what Sokolovskaya did to Kondratyuk: both jumped up like Jack in the box at the last minute and jumped not on the last but first bandwagon going to the Olympic China. And “right now” Kondratyuk is the reigning European and Russian champion, the first candidate for the team event. So many were in their early days to criticise Anna Shcherbakova after the short programme.
So Russian coach Oleg Vasilyev working in Belarus claimed: “One wants to ask the International Skating Federation about the qualification of the technical panel that determines the quality of underrotated jumps and the quality of the height and ask if these judges also had dinner with Eteri Tutberidze as well as ice dance judges a month ago?”
I want to ask him a question too. Mr Vasilyev, what happened to Konstantin Milyukov, your student who left team Russia being in the top 6 but performed well at the World Championships last spring and finished 17th? It is good skating: 221 points allowed him to outperform current European medallist Deniss Vasiļjevs, Vladimir Litvintsev (8th), Michal Březina (10th), Paul Fentz (16th), Maurizio Zandron (17th), Valtter Virtanen (19th). While now Milyukov was bad in the short programme, performed worse in the free programme. We are concerned because it is a pupil of Kazan figure skating, and we would like to see his decent performance in Beijing. While now he is risking of being out of the free programme at the Olympics.
American selection principles
Americans crossed US vice champion Ilya Malinin out of the Olympic team in the men’s singles and chose Jason Brown instead for the Olympics. And such a situation has unfolded for the third Olympics in a row. Without going into details Realnoe Vremya already wrote about, we will just remind you that before Sochi 2014 Ashley Wagner (4th) was on the Olympic team leaving Mirai Nagasu (3rd) out and added to the team event bypassing Polina Edmunds (2nd). In 2018, Adam Rippon (4th) was chosen instead of Ross Miner (3rd) and Vincent Zhou (2nd) in the team event.
Moreover, Americans did a weird trick by adding Ilia Malinin to the team for the World Championships where Jason Brown who will retire won’t compete. This looks like a planned step that will impede Malinin from joining the national team of any country that would be pleased to have him. In any case, blogger and musician Jonathan Beyer wrote: “It would serve us right if Russia makes Ilia an offer…” Ilia’s mom is a figure skater from Novosibirsk who competed in world championships for Uzbekistan when the Soviet Union had collapsed. As we see, Malinin has options, but Americans are trying to get rid of them far-sightedly.
Now about the ladies’ singles when Mariah Bell became the champion, Karen Chen was second, 14-year-old junior skater Izabo Levito finished third. Alysa Liu who didn’t compete in the nationals turned out on the team instead of Levito. This happened because of her positive test for coronavirus. However, Brady Tennel and Amber Glenn also tested positive. However, they weren’t included in the team, just Liu was on.
The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.