Alexander Lakernik: “Eteri and Russia in general will cope with rising the age minimum. But many other countries …”

Posted on 2020-12-14 • No comments yet


Alexander Lakernik commented on the results of the Russian Cup, raising the age minimum and criticism from the Americans.

source: Dmitri Kuznetsov for dd. 8th December 2020

photo FFKKR /

Alexander Rafailovich, a classic question of this Russian Cup. Valieva got 255 points – isn’t it too much?

Alexander Lakernik: She has high GOE …

For quad toe loop, with a shaky leg on the landing.

Alexander Lakernik: You are a specialist, as I see. How many did she get there, +2 and +3, probably? Toe loops were good, especially the second one. High, with decent enough landings. And I was in the technical panel, not the judging one, so GOE is not my business, I watched the underrotations. There was a downgrade on the lutz, we reviewed it. And don’t forget that she got 10 bonus points. At the Russian Nationals or international competitions she would have received 245 points.

Do you think she would have received such scores at the international competitions?

Alexander Lakernik: I think, yes.

So she wasn’t overscored?

Alexander Lakernik: No.

Have you had a judge’s discussion about ladies’ competitions now?

Alexander Lakernik: No, men. Not many participants, but there were some nuances. Some were afraid to give higher marks to the participants at the bottom of the table. Well, such effect exists.

Is there an effect that top skaters are scored higher?

Alexander Lakernik: Of course, the judges are people. When a competitor skates strong, he’s judged more generously because the overall impression is good. And in a weaker skaters’ performance one successful element can remain unnoticed. It’s the same at international competitions.

According to the results of five stages of the Russian Cup, there is a feeling that the scores depend on the school and “Chrustalny” is clearly in favour.

Alexander Lakernik: Don’t you think that in this school they just do certain things better? That they follow all sorts of little things more attentively? I will not name the names, but in this school they see what is bad, and they work on it, try to hide it in skating. And others do not always know how to do this. Yes, there is an effect of past merits, reputation. This may not be right, but it is human nature. If they skate well, they will be given high scores regardless of the coach’s name and turns in their career. All of them represent Russia, it makes no sense for us to sent not the best skaters to the international competitions.

The main part of the Russian Cup is over, how would you sum it up?

Alexander Lakernik: It’s already a positive fact that we’ve held it at all. Five stages of the Cup plus “Grand Prix” in the format of a national competition – it’s a good calendar. And this is an achievement that skaters in Russia had the opportunity to skate, and did not sit at home. Skating level … Probably, a break of two or three months has already ceased to affect. But there are a lot of injuries and illnesses.

There are talks about the postponement of the Russian Nationals. Like, top skaters will get sick – and what to do?

Alexander Lakernik: To hold the Russian Nationals. And nobody writes off a sick athlete. He will still be in the mix. Postpone the competiitons? But who said it would be better? Not these will get sick, so will the others. The funds of the federation and the local budget have been invested in the competitions. If a situation of mass lockdown does not arise in the country, then I don’t think something will be postponed due to illness.

The question is rather in the selection for the national team. Does “staying in the mix” mean that a person will be able to get to the Worlds?

Alexander Lakernik: Or maybe not. First we need to cope with Europe, I hope it will be held (interview was made before the announcement of cancelation). Zagreb results will be taken into account in the selection for the Worlds. And is there guarantee that someone will not have to miss it for the same reasons? We cannot hide the athletes. They walk, communicate with people, use public transport. And I notice one thing – athletes get well easier than others. They are younger and stronger. Maybe so it seems to me. Many have it asymptomatic.

Shcherbakova resumed trainings right after pneumonia. Is it a risk?

Alexander Lakernik: I’m not aware of all the details. But there are always two things. Health care and the need to train. If we say that we care about health, let’s forbid Shcherbakova to perform till the end of the season. Is this right? From a sports point of view, hardly. It may not be nice to say, but athletes are not the healthiest people at all. Everyone has a lot of injuries. Our mission is to stimulate high results while maintaining health. Athlete sneezed and we are removing him from training? Well, he will constantly sneeze.

Our old friend, American Philip Hersh, who promised to complain about the hugs at the Russian Grand Prix has not reached you?

Alexander Lakernik: I got two letters from him. About hugs, lack of masks in kiss-and-cry and a banquet. I know him. But I will not answer because letters are written in an obviously hostile tone, and in this case I see no reason to start polemics. There is an element of insincerity in this – we understand that athletes and coaches are in regular contact anyway. And the rules are set by Rospotrebnadzor, and none of the skaters and organizers violated them.

I assume national team members will be allowed to the Russian Nationals outside the selection criteria? And in what format – 18 singles skaters or is the expansion possible?

Alexander Lakernik: The federation decides, not the ISU, which I represent. But I guess there will be 18 of them.

That is, the conditional Medvedeva can took the spot from someone who met all the criteria?

Alexander Lakernik: Are you sure that there is such skaters? In many disciplines, there seems to be not such a long queue. We need to understand what we want. Strong or weak Russian Nationals? If we really want to comply with all the rules, then instead of Medvedeva, a girl will go, who has no chance of getting into the national team and whose skating is interesting to few people.

Let’s make 19 or 20 participants. Since there have been such a strict regulations.

Alexander Lakernik: They won’t fit into the schedule. This is not ten minutes, no, this is an extra warm-up and a workout. We’ll have to renew the program for a day. The Russian Nationals, especially when it’s shown by Channel One, should be interesting for the viewers. And there should be those who skate well. In a pandemic, should we pursue the purity of the experiment just for the sake of adhering to the principle? There have always been exceptions, people won Europeans having skipped Nationals. It is strange to approach such a year with usual standards.

Let me ask you about the European Championships: is it profitable?

Alexander Lakernik: I do not know the exact numbers, but, most likely, not much. The World Championships is definitely profitable. I understand the logic of your question. But Europeans must be held for a different reason. Athletes must skate. If we cancel Europe, we will have to figure out how to keep the athletes busy.

What can definitely be expected is rising the age minimum, apparently.

Alexander Lakernik: What makes you think that it will be raised? Do you see a lot of support opinions?

I remember the Congress in Seville, where 54% voted for putting the issue on the agenda.

Alexander Lakernik: You see, to put on the agenda does not mean to vote for it. The issue should be discussed. But it’s tricky. And the question at the congress can turn in different ways, it is not a foregone conclusion. Some countries have one girl skating, 16 years old, why should they change something? I also met people who changed their minds. I have my own point of view, but I will not express it in the press. I will express it where necessary.

The Dutch proposal to split the judges for technique and components. Is it made to prevent quads affect the score for skating skills?

Alexander Lakernik: No, it’s completely different. But if you look from the outside – why are Kostornaya’s last year’s skating and Valieva’s today’s skating not mature and beautiful?

Whether good quads influence the scores for PCS?

Alexander Lakernik: In some ways. The way Valieva skated, she earned high nines, despite this fall. And no one will say that she got them undeservedly. For this, ISU is constantly working to ensure that this particular performance is being judged. Patrick Chan glided like a god, but when he was given the highest components after three falls, it was a mistake.

Will raising the age minimum hit Tutberidze? It seems that yes.

Alexander Lakernik: I’m more interested not in a specific group, but in figure skating in general. I think Eteri will come up with a way out and Russia in general. But many other countries … Are we sure that everyone will benefit from this gesture? Here you need to study everything, up to the average age of the participants at the last competitions. In Europe, for example, everything is fine with coaches, but there are problems with athletes. No money, no ice. And there is no money due to lack of results. But they found money for Costner and Fernandez! Now the question is where we are going in figure skating. How to combine technical complexity and beauty.

Maybe we should diversify the disciplines? There are sprints and a 50 km marathon in skiing at the Olympics. So they get 12 sets of awards. And skaters with their five sets are not given money.

Alexander Lakernik: While such disciplines have developed, and it is not easy to invent something else. A technical and artistic program? All this must be thought over. We need to involve young people so that not only the age audience watches us. And the young people love all dynamic.

Maybe jumping competitions?

Alexander Lakernik: They are interesting, but have not taken root yet. Talk starts about where the art is. As for the Olympics, they offered different options, up to the simplest one – to award medals separately on the basis of the short and free programs. Then it would be possible to adjust the rules for the free program in the direction of originality. While they answer: “Doesn’t this devalue the value of the medals?” I cannot say that figure skating is in a difficult position. ISU has funds. But the question is about choosing the direction of development.


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