Alexander Zhulin: Alena Kostornaia is the embodiment of all the best in figure skating

Posted on 2019-11-07 • No comments yet


Alexander Zhulin summed up some intermediate result of Grand Prix series 2019.

by Vladimir Zayviy for dd. October 6th, 2019

Was it expected that the first three Grand Prix will be won by skaters from Eteri Tutberidze’s group – Anna Shcherbakova, Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaia?

– Yes, of course. Another thing is that they still had to skate cleanly, to do everything they planned. According to their scores, it was clear that they are a new trend in figure skating. I am very glad that this happened.

Can we say that they are the main contenders for spots in the Russian national team?

– Sure.

What can you say about Alena Kostornaia’s performance in France?

– Personally for me, Alena is the embodiment of all the best in figure skating. She has fantastic skating, gliding, presentation, excellent technique, phenomenal distance on jumps … She performs cleanly every jump. If I were a judge, I would always give her +5 or +4. If Kostornaia also masters a quadruple jump, and preferably two, then she will become an invincible skater. She has almost no weaknesses, so she is quite capable of competing with Shcherbakova and Trusova. But if Trusova performs four quadruples, then it will be difficult even for Nathan Chen and Yuzuru Hanyu to compete with her.

In the short program, they still lowered her scores for triple axel, and she got less points than she could have got with a double axel. Should she continue to do this element?

– The coaches who see her every day should decided. If Alena makes a triple axel nine times out of ten, then it can and should be included into the program. Without underrotation, her score would have been five points higher. Nothing venture, nothing have, but coaches know better. Any jump performed in competitions gives confidence for the future. If Alena didn’t fully rotate this time, then she’ll definitely do it next time.

Alina Zagitova became second in France. Did she have a chance to win?

– There were chances, but her jumping content was weaker than Trusova’s, Shcherbakova’s, Kostornaia’s. That’s how she beat Evgenia Medvedeva at her time. I noticed that a certain heaviness appeared in her jumps, they become very close to under-rotated. This is a very dangerous trend.

What can Medvedeva, Zagitova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva count on if they are now inferior to young athletes?

– Of course, now it’s insanely hard mentally for all three of them, because they are faced with a new phenomenon in figure skating. However, everyone went through it. I would like to wish them patience, health and success. But it’ll very hard to compete with the Tutberidze’s trio.

They all are World and European champions, Alina also has Olympic gold. Maybe they no longer need to prove anything?

– This is a wrong concept. There is always someone and something to prove. For example Cristiano Ronaldo, who won everything in football, but goes to every game motivated and comes to training earlier than anyone else. It depends on the person, on his desire to stay in sports.

Then why does Yuzuru Hanyu skate? The guy set himself the task of mastering the quadruple axel, and works hard six hours a day for this, gets injured. This is admirable. Although one must be realistic – if he had been cleanly performing his content but had been taking third or fourth places, he could have finished.

What can you say about Alexander Samarin’s performance at the Grand Prix? For the first time he became the silver medalist of these competitions.

– I am very happy for Sasha and his coach Svetlana Sokolovskaya. They have been going with great tenacity to performing quadruple lutz and flip in both programs. Someone could tell them that they shouldn’t, it is too hard, it is better to simplify and be happy with some places. But their idea worked, in the short program Samarin was competitive even with Chen. Sasha is on the right track. He isn’t as good as Nathan and Yuzuru in skating, so he needs to compensate it somehow. I respect that he wants to be in the top three, not in the sixth or eighth place. I wish him to improve and improve.

Are Chen and Hanyu still out of reach for Samarin?

– Samarin will beat them only if they fall four times. Chen and Hanyu are the same phenomenon in men’s skating as Trusova, Shcherbakova and Kostornaia in ladies. They move their discipline to some incredible height. They are not only great jumpers, but also phenomenal skaters. Chen’s step sequence amazed me. It seems that the program has just begun, but he has already jumped 128 quadruple jumps and triple axels. In addition, he is studying at Yale University, training at six in the morning talking with a coach by phone. One gets the impression that he doesn’t even need a coach, although this, of course, is a joke.

Shoma Uno performed without a coach and it was a failure.

– Unfortunately, he made the wrong steps in his life in my opinion. Still, an athlete should have a coach. At least just to have a person who stands nearby, lookers-on see more than players. And he comes alone and lands on his head. Uno’s technique was not very good before, but now it has completely disappeared. Perhaps some kind of arrogance … If he had stayed to train with Tutberidze, he would have beaten Trusova, it’s not clear what is happening to him. I wish him to find his specialist, he is a talented and unique skater.

With all the successes of girls, fans rarely notice the achievements of young pairs. Is it came as a surprise to you that at three Grand Prix they have already won two gold and two silver medals?

– For me, all these pairs are well known: the junior world champions among Anastasia Mishina – Alexander Galliamov, and Daria Pavliuchenko – Denis Khodykin, and Alexandra Boikova – Dmitri Kozlovsky. It is important to remember that Chinese pairs have’t compeeted yet, the French, Aliona Savchenko has finished. There is a good situation to make a breakthrough in pair skating. I really like Boikova and Kozlovsky this year. Unfortunately, Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are not encouraging yet, and the other pairs have great prospects, they have a great desire, they work with excellent coaches.

Today, junior girls “shoot” right after moving to seniors, and when should we expect a breakthrough in pairs?

– Pair skating is another sport, not everything is decided by jumps. Pavliuchenko and Khodykin included a triple flip in their program, but it does not give them a lot of points, especially since it can be failed. The emphasis should be on pairs elements, on lifts that cost more than jumps. Pair skating is a very harmonious discipline, and at a young age you can’t “shoot”. First you must gain experience.

In ice dance, fans are waiting for the debut of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov at the Grand Prix, which will be held this week. Are they ready for the competitions in China?

– Yes, the guys skate well. I like the way they work, improve. They do not make allowances for themselves, because they have such a rivals this season … In France, Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron as always looked great, which doesn’t make me very happy, but as a professional, I can admit that this is a pair of the highest level. But because of this we will have more motivation at least to get closer to them.

Will your skaters correspond to the level set by the other duets?

– Hope so. Judging by the competitions where the guys have already performed, they looked pretty well, they got good scores. Let’s hope that in China they skate well.

This season, in rhythm dance they skate to musicals. How do you like this requirement?

– Dancing should be positive enough – we don’t want everyone to perform under Carmina Burana or something like that. Musicals are fun and good. Fortunately, they told us on time that music from movies also can be used, because otherwise it would be difficult to choose. There are a lot of good musicals, but the search circle was initially narrow. Everything that I see this year seems pretty to me, everyone has good dances.


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