Interview with Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev part 2. About Medvedeva vs Zagitova and development of figure skating.
Do you follow the battle between Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova in women’s single skating?
Katya: Of course. Zhenya is a very close person for me. For the sake of justice, it is worth saying that this time Alina really won, by skating her free program with no mistakes. Zhenya made a mistake in the short program, and she understands this very well. Perhaps it would have been easier and judges would have perceived her performance differently, if she also had performed a short program cleanly. But this is only my opinion.
When I was watching Alina’s free program from the stands I realized that she just does not give Evgenia a chance at this European Championships. Because it’s very cool to skate such a difficult program, with jumps in the second half, everything on +goe, at high speed.
But here I want to add that for me Zhenya won in the free program, although I was later explained the technical nuances that here Alina has a “plus three” and Zhenya has only “plus two”, here she moved this element, and from such little things this difference accumulated. But the program itself, skating and power, here I liked Zhenya more. Yes, maybe I judge so because she is my friend, but I also know how to look at figure skating from aside.
Likewise, I madly love and respect Carolina Kostner, but for me Masha Sotskova should have became the third, because Carolina did not cope with her free program.
Let’s imagine the situation: at the Olympics Zagitova and Medvedeva both have two clean programs. Who wins?
Katya: It’s difficult for me to say, because it all depends on many factors. I will cheer for Zhenya Medvedeva and do not hide that.
How did you support Evgenia after European Championships?
Katya: We have too personal relationships, it’s difficult to explain. Everything will be fine.
Don’t you think that now, when Medvedeva’s series of victories, which lasted more than two years, is over, it will be easier for her psychologically?
Katya: Knowing Zhenya and such sportsmen like Dima and I, we can say with confidence that this result will give her motivation to work even more. It seems to me that she will benefit from this situation.
Dima: A good athlete is able to cope with the many difficulties that arise on their path. Knowing Zhenya and her character, I can say that at the age of 18 she is very strong, and rivalry with Zagitova will help her to become even stronger.
Can this situation lead to the situation, when emotions run high, both will break and someone third, whom no one expected will bypass them?
Dima: I have already said that in Russia, we have at least three very strong girls, who will sooner or later step on their toes.
What are their names?
Katya: At least, Alexandra Trusova. Plus there is a girl who is already jumping a quadrate loop. In general, who knows, maybe next season it will be even more difficult for Zagitova.
Dima: They don’t skate well yet, but they already do the hardest jumps. In terms of skating, they are still very weak, they lack skills, confidence, charisma, choreography, technique, etc. But it is clear that they have a great potential.
We know that at trainings Medvedeva jumps combinations of three triple jumps. Five years ago, such elements were considered difficult even for men. Where does the figure skating go? Will men soon start doing jumps in five turns?
Dima: I don’t think they will start doing jumps in five turns soon. In theory, this is possible, but if people with quads are “broken”, then five turns are extremely dangerous. I do not know who will be the first to take this risk. And girls, yes, being 15-16 years they begin to jump quads. Somewhere on the Internet, I saw one of our skaters performing combination 4-3. A triple axel is already a norm. Now there was such a revolution that girls, like Alina, are trying to move all the jumps to the second half of the program in order to increase the scores. Due to this, they have an advantage over athletes who are older and physically can not perform the program with all the difficult elements in the second half. Then, apparently, they will move quads to the second half. But I do not know how it will look like. It’s just hard to imagine.
Katya: In this regard, men’s skating does not lag behind. Who could have thought two years ago that people would start jumping four or five quads per program? I still can not realize this. I think Nathan Chen was the first whose all jumps in the program were no less than 3,5 turns. Two years ago, two quadruple jumps were “Wow!” – you jump them and become the first. Of course, everyone is following the leaders and starting to complicate their programs, adding a third quad, fourth, etc.
Now we see that the girls are also moving to quadruple jumping. So far, only one of our skaters is performing it at the competitions, but the others are already aiming at least at three and a half turns. The problem is that for girls this “shelf life” is extremely short. It turns out that at the age of 15-16 you go to the peak of your shape and you have two years to stay in seniors and try to withstand till the Olympics, because everyone is aiming for this competitions. To hold on for four years at this level – I do not know how this is possible, to be honest. Physiology just will not let you.
So it turns out that at 20 years old skaters will retire?
Katya: This is the main problem. We did have so many beautiful, bright girls who at the age of 25 and 30 skated and won medals. If before the peak of a career for singles was 25-27, now being 20 you are a veteran. This is sad.
Plus, the judging system will change dramatically. Even after this Olympics there will be some changes. I hope for the better. And after another Olympic cycle, by 2026, as far as I understand, they are going to change figure skating. I can not say exactly how, I just heard that it’s planned. But, this is right, because with the current system of judging figure skating reaches a stalemate.
Dima: It is necessary to make sure that the athlete does not have any questions. Because they often occur. You did everything and you ask yourself: “Why is like that?”. It is necessary to make the judging system more understandable for people and for athletes as well. There are many nuances here, it is obvious that there are many flaws in the current system. I think that it will change more than once.
Katya: But I think that in any case this system is better than “6.0”. More objectively.
Don’t you think that fewer and fewer art remains in figure skating? There is an opinion that your sport becomes a competition of gymnasts and acrobats on skates.
Katya: Let’s still not forget that figure skating is a sport. Yes, we do not run, do not score goals and this could be called art, if figure skating was not an Olympic sport.
Dima: Here I don’t completely agree with Katya. I believe that initially figure skating is an art. It was gradually made a sporting event. But we must not forget that we stay in the starting pose and the music turns on. And it turns on not just because for the background, but because we need to show the artistic image. And when to the music of Vivaldi we see a toe loop with seven turns then something else, but there is no story, what kind of second mark can be there? It also includes choreography, presentation, transition steps between the elements. How can you go and skate without any idea?
We always try to have some clear artistic image in our programs, clear from the beginning to the end, so that viewers and judges can fully understand the story. That it was not just an abstraction, modern. All this in one form or another has the right to exist, but to skate the same thing from year to year… How it can be assessed? It turns out that you do not move anywhere, do not show how different you can be. After all, the actor must be able to play drama, comedy, different genres.
Katya: Here I fully agree with Dima. Just for me, art has a slightly different meaning. For me, for example, ballet is an art. It seems they also dance as we do, and there the story is really at the head of the corner, they do not run anywhere, it’s better for them to stay very beautifully for five seconds and this will touch the viewer. And we have only four minutes, and we need to do seven elements, etc. As Dima said, we must show beauty, but do not lose points, because this is a sport. And here, unfortunately, sport pushes art to the background.
by Sergei Podgorniov and Yuri Volokhov for sovsport.ru