Brian Orser: Champions and superstars are needed for the popularity of the sport
Interview with Brian Orser about the results of Junior Worlds, Evgenia Medvedeva, Ekaterina Kurakova, quad jumps and popularity of figure skating.
by Ekaterina Bespalova for sport-express.ru dd. 8th March 2020
Your words that Medvedeva lost her spirit because of non-participation in the World Championships upset many. What would you say to her fans?
– Be patient. Evgenia is working on new elements, choreography, the season is over for her and Medvedeva is preparing for the next one, although it is very difficult to do this while the season continues for the rest of the skaters. She tries hard, comes to the rink every day and continues to work hard.
As for my other student, Ekaterina Kurakova, the championships in Tallinn was an amazing experience for her. She did everything that she so carefully prepared in training and it is obvious that Katya is on the rise now compared to the beginning of the season. She has charming and beautiful programs which the judges are beginning to like.
If we compare the European Championships and the World Junior Championships, in your opinion, where the level of competition is higher?
– Of course, in Tallinn. Here, all the girls from the top 12 are incredibly strong. I come to this competitions every year and noticed that before there were two or three top-level participants, now there are at least 15.
What can you say about Kamila Valieva?
– She is amazing, but Korean skaters were also good, they skated very expressively. Kamila has very beautiful lines. Possible increase of the age of eligibility? I am not ready to say something specific here. There are rules – and we, coaches and skaters are working according to them. More transitions required? Ok, we will make them, learn them.
What can you say about another winner, Andrei Mozalev?
– He performed very strongly. It is noteworthy that at the very beginning of the season he was not the main star of the Russian junior team. And it also happens that one of the guys performs greatly for a season or two, and then disappears somewhere. It’s very pleasant to watch Andrei’s progress, he has cool jumps, spins, choreography. Let’s see how he will perform in a couple of seasons.
Is working with Kurakova, who now represents Poland, a challenge for you? Still, this country is not the leader of figure skating …
– Yes, in part, but here’s a different thing. I want to work more with her in Toronto, this season there are a lot of competitions and she spends a lot of time in Poland.
Russia has 8 out of 12 medals, although our athletes were capable of more …
– Oh yes, this is amazing, the European Championship has become a Russian Nationals. (laughs)
I have heard the opinion that Russian dominance reduces interest in figure skating in the rest of the world …
– Figure skating fans still appreciate the athlete’s class, regardless of the country he represents. For sure Russian fans truly appreciate foreign top athletes. Look what happens when Yuzuru Hanyu comes to Moscow, everyone adores him! It’s just that the development is undulating. At the time of my sports career, North America was ahead. Now figure skating is incredibly popular in Russia and Japan, and 10 years ago people in Korea went crazy about it. And in this country it is still popular, though it’s not the same as it was during Yuna’s times. Champions and superstars are needed for the popularity of the sport.
What about Canada?
– Not so well. There are no superstars right now. There were Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir, but they ended their careers. Plus now you can watch competition on the Internet. The only thing that remains for us is continue to work in order to maintain interest.
And speaking specifically about the level of ladies’ single skating?
– We have a good girl at the junior level, but she does not have either a triple axel or a quadruple jump. I have never had the experience of learning a triple axel with a 13-year-old girl with a body that has not fully formed yet. But I didn’t have a student who was capable of performing the quadruple jump at the age of 13-15. Kurakova? She is 17 years old and she stopped growing. I had a boy who started doing quadruple jumps at the age of 10, all their types at the age of 12, and all this is very difficult.
Senior Worlds are starting soon. Kostornaia, Shcherbakova, Trusova – who is your favorite in ladies’ single skating?
– They are all beautiful and special in their own way. Kostornaia has soft skating, which I really like, Trusova’s athleticism also delights me very much, and the third girl, I forgot her name, the Russian champion, oh yes, Anna Shcherbakova, she has a very cool quadruple lutz. But no forecasts – it will be safer for me. (laughs)
From a fan perspective in the USA, athletes for team USA Jason Brown has the showmanship, audience connection, and overall attitude that makes the sport popular especially in Japan. Nathan Chen has this covered and so do the ice dance team of Chock/Bates because they are champions, successful, and win a lot. Alysa Lu is also a champion but a newer one also she is not yet old enough to compete in Senior international events.