At the Four Continents Championships Rafael Arutyunyan was asked how the things are going in figure skating a year before the Games in South Korea, tell about Olympic skating rink and three things that could surprise him at the Olympics in Pyeongchang.
– First of all we came here because it’s a test competitions. In principle, the dates of this tournament is very inconvenient for us. It’s uncomfortable for us to fly to Asia at this moment of the season. We will have to recover for a long time.
What are the first impressions from the rink?
– We don’t quite like the ice, I haven’t heard that someone is happy with it. The quality varies: soft today, tough tomorrow. In general, not very comfortable, guys don’t like it, everybody complains. Probably, it is new, perhaps, has recently been prepared. For the rest, everything is ok, including the air temperature at the rink, it is comfortable.
It’s a year before the Olympic Games. If we talk in general about the balance of powers in figure skating, in your opinion, how is it?
– Russians dominate in women’s skating. I don’t see anyone who could compete with them at Olympics.
Well… if the Russian team will go to Olympics.
– It all seems far-fetched for me. It seems to me nothing like this won’t happen. I spoke with representatives of the American Federation, who completely deny it and this is not welcomed. Yes, there was a statement of the president of federation, but it is an elective position, for two years. And those who are engaged in figure skating, they have a different opinion.
Mariah Bell has already started to perform in Gangneung. How do you assess the beginning of competitions for her?
– She got to the international competitions for the first time in her 20. This is American style. Russians get to competitions in 14 years, and here in 20. She has never been in the national team, and now qualified to this tournament and the World Championships. She skated badly, maybe at the best she will get into top-six, ten. She qualified to the teams as No.3.
Well, my boy (Nathan Chen), I hope, will perform well (smiles).
In Russia, less and less people believe that will see Adelina Sotnikova and Yulia Lipnitskaya at Olympics. What do you think?
– I always had an opinion that it is very difficult to come back and compete with those who are constantly fighting for the result. It is very difficult to fit into, because you loose feeling of fighting, tempo, competitive tone. I remember Sasha Cohen called me after the Olympic Games and said she wanted to a rest a year and then come back. I told her: “Sasha, you can not do that.” And so it happened. It is very difficult. You need to be in the competitive mix all the time.
Seems Carolina Kostner managed to do that.
– She’s a different story, the break was enforced. Maybe she was angry and trained. It is one thing to be Lipnitskaya or Sotnikova, and another thing to be Carolina Kostner. Though they won but there were a lot of talks because Carolina didn’t lose without scoring a point. She was there and was equal to them, lost only a little bit. They decided to take a time off, but she was kicked away. Psychologically different situations! It is one thing “they don’t let me,” and the other thing “I’m just going to the Bahamas!” Different things.
Of course, we have the example of Eugene Plushenko, but he had a huge margin. I have been always saying it: Zhenya had such a margin that he could return after a year, and after two. I mean the technical margin mainly, experience compared with the rest he competed with.
What are three things that can really surprise you at Olympics?
– In my opinion, will be a big surprise if Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir win in dance. They were Olympic champions, did not win in Sochi, took a break and now they’re back in the lead. Can they still hold all year? In my opinion, it’s hard.
The second surprise will be if Russian girls don’t win. And the third thing, not even a surprise, but one of the main intrigues – Who will win in men. A lot of contenders. Let’s see what will happen. Guys are jumping quads like grasshoppers! I wonder how they will cope with this, whether they will transfer it to the Olympic season, to the Games themselves. This is really intriguing.
Do you have a feeling that in the run-up to the Olympics someone still saves up forces, being secretive?
– Rather otherwise: guys begin to show programs with four and five quads, this year the representative of Japan Soma Uno tried to do four quads. I think Yuzuru (Hanyu) will likely jump four quads. Right now, it’s a time when everyone is trying and showing. There are certainly some serious elements which is executed only in training, the same Uno has the second combination with four turns (triple axel – a quadruple toe loop) … This is actually a serious bid. But I think everyone has something in the “storage”.
by Veronika Gabadieva rsport.ru