We write two golds, carry one in mind: real plan for Tatarstan Olympians

Ice hockey players have two, hopefully Yevgenia Tarasova has another

The Russian Figure Skating Federation hasn’t announced the squad for the team event, as it was expected. This is why Realnoe Vremya’s journalist Jaudat Abdullin makes his forecast for the performance of Tatarstan athletes in Beijing 2022 excluding Yevgenia Tarasova’s potential participation in the team event.

Hockey: thanks, NHL

The refusal of the NHL to send hockey players for the Olympics in Beijing simplified our team’s road to the gold medal. There can be just one problem. We thought the same before last year’s world championship where team Russia lost to Canada in a quarterfinal, the latter hardly reached the quarterfinal from the fourth place in the group.

Yes, the problem of the Russian team with two Ak Bars players Dmitry Voronkov and Timur Bilyalov (a year ago, Bilyalov didn’t play, Ilya Safonov did) is about them. The Russians have such players who would play in the first and second teams are in reserve. Other national teams’ squads can be analysed during the tournament itself, which is long enough, let’s keep this in mind though the competition seems short. We do remember that at the previous Olympics ours even allowed themselves to lose to Slovakia, which didn’t impede them from finishing first, while the Slovaks didn’t even reach the semi-final.

For instance, one shouldn’t analyse the squad of Russia getting sad because it has seven Moscow CSKA players. Let’s remember that a mixture of SKA-CSKA went to Pyeongchang, because whatever one wants is done in Russian hockey. The victory four years ago allowed to expand this process, and now hockey players will fight for the gold, even not to receive money for the Olympics later but to get some indulgence for the next years hinting that everything is fine in Russian hockey.

Is Khristina Vyalbe’s “heir”?

Khristina Matsokina who will compete in the sprint race will represent Tatarstan in skiing. A year ago, we dreamt that she could be included to the relay race team. But she didn’t, neither did she get a spot on the sprinter team. And now we should count our steps back the skiing community of Tatarstan made. It will unlikely have a reason to be happy about medals like in Pyeongchang where Andrey Larkov (silver and bronze) and Anna Nechayevskaya (bronze) stepped onto the podium three times.

Sadly, in a race for team success in the Russian championship and Russian Cup the Tatarstan team has won in the last few years, we didn’t win medals at last year’s world championship, but we lived with expectations that we would play it back in Beijing. We won’t. Tatiana Sorina first and now Veronika Stepanova joined the duet of leaders Natalia Nepryayeva and Yulia Stupak. Should we be happy about Matsokina’s competition at the Games? Yes, of course, but this is an obvious step back, even if we don’t compare it with 2018 and Sochi 2014 when the national team already had Anastasia Dotsenko and Natalia Zhukova. Perhaps, it is time we stopped calling Khristina Yelena Vyalbe’s heir, she is her compatriot, since both come from Magadan. While it seems that Alexander Bolshunov is now Vyalbe’s “heir” given the number of awards.

If we have a look at the post-Olympic future, it doesn’t get nice. Judging by the age and dynamics, precisely leaders of Tatarstan skiing are about to retire, and the next Olympic four years don’t promise some Tatarstan athlete will be on the national team. Given this, it is time to change the concept according to which the big number, not prowess, was the focus. The swimming management of the republic have already gone through this, they cannot understand who will represent Tatarstan at the next world championships and European tournaments, which will be in Kazan. Sooner or later, skiers will also have to decide that the less is the better, and one champion is good in any case than ten masters of sport.

Leftover principle

Danil Sadreyev’s career is expected to be long on the national team. The only problem is that ski jumping is one of the weakest Russian sports at the Winter Olympics. The situation is worse only in Alpine combination. But this isn’t a reproach of Sadreyev himself considering the attention given to his sport, his Olympic debut is already a sports breakthrough.

It is interesting that some sports now develop depending on infrastructure. So at a recent meeting of the Ministry of Youth Affairs, it was announced that four team Russia members in extreme sports would move to Tatarstan: Danil Bogatyryov from Izhevsk, Vitaly Konstantinov from Anapa, Arseny Lyubishkina from Krasnodar and Moscow-born Daria Nabatova. All this happened because an extreme park appeared in Kazan where the mentioned athletes can train and prepare for competitions It is a kind of base for traditional sports whose representatives spend time in Krugly Lake or Novogorsk.

Another Beijing Olympian Milena Bykova appeared on Tatarstan team thanks to the conditions created at Sviyaga Hills near Kazan. Bykova already finished fourth at the 2019 World Championship. She was tenth in Pyeongchang. However, even in the country’s squad Milena is second after Sofia Nadyrshina, and this doesn’t allow us to make an optimistic forecast for medals. Victor Wild and Vlad Khadarin are people who will simply represent Tatarstan at the Olympics, that’s it. Paradoxically, American-born Wild is even closer to Tatarstan than Russia’s Khadarin, since Vic lives in Russia though he broke up with his spouse Alyona Zavarzina.

Whereas Khadarin has been living in Italy since he was a child where his parents moved but decided to compete for Russia unlike, for instance, snowboarder Yury Podladchikov who won the gold in Sochi 2014 competing for Switzerland. At the same time, American Wild won two golds for Russia. Why is he representing Tatarstan now? Why not, he is competing for our republic’s team not only at the Olympics but he also performed for it in Russian competitions. It is a common practice when athletes belong to some region. In the end, Krasnodar Krai was one of the beneficiaries of the Olympics in Sochi because it had Viktor An, figure skaters Volosozhar and Trankov.

Olympic gold cannot be insignificant

The situation with the figure skaters’ team event shows again how hollow different specialists’ comments and opinions can be. So many people have talked about the insignificance of the team event compared to the individual competition. so the opinions remained in the past, while the fact is a fact: a lot of articles on the upcoming competitions of figure skaters in Beijing are dedicated to different layouts for the team event.

The author of the report has had a chance of hearing the opinion of ten people who created their “dream team.” The figure skating team competition has more intrigues than individual competitions. Hence the question: representatives in which discipline should be replaced and who is ready to perform the short and free programmes. There is a dilemma: who will be fielded for the short programme, and who will perform the free programme in case of substitution. The main question is who will be in the team event. The answer was promised to be given yesterday, since the Russian figure skaters who were officially on the team were going to have their first training on the Beijing ice. But the intrigue hasn’t yet been revealed.

Specially for those who consider the team event incomplete unlike the individual one. American Ashley Wagner participated in several TV shows after Sochi 2014 and was introduced as an Olympic bronze medallist. Though she was just second on the country’s team after Gracie Gold. Everything related to the Olympics is anyway appreciated more than any other international competition. Fingers crossed for Yevgenia Tarasova!

Jaudat Abdullin

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The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.