Ilia Averbukh: Both our duos look better than Shibutanis
Ilia Averbukh about results at Rostelecom Cup, Medvedeva’s new program, Carolina Kostner, Mikhail Kolyada, Yuzuru Hanyu and Shibutanis’ victory.
What to do think about Evgenia Medvedeva’s new free program? Is its replacement justified at the beginning of the season?
– First, I congratulate Zhenya on winning the competitions. It is very difficult for her psychologically, because all by default expect Olympic gold from her. At such a young age, it is not easy to withstand such pressure. But her performance is admirable. In my opinion, both of her programs don’t look 100% ready, but there’s nothing to worry about. The season has just begun, and it is foolish to demand an outstanding skating from Medvedeva. If it is more comfortable for her to do the technical elements in the presented program, then I welcome it in every possible way. It is important to skate cleanly and impeccably, because the main rivals didn’t participate in the tournament in Moscow. The program should fit the athlete, not otherwise.
Probably it’s hurts that they changed your program?
– What’s wrong with that? Nothing fantastic or extraordinary.
Is Medvedeva’s fall a worrying sign in the Olympic season?
– Do not make a tragedy from Medvedeva’s fall. She always pleases us with irreproachable skating. In 2015, at the home Grand Prix, she was not a leader after a short program. Let’s not sprinkle ashes upon head.
Do you have any fears that this fall could break Medvedeva and her series of victories will be interrupted?
– Zhenya has a chance to become a legendary champion. It’s a big responsibility to come to the Olympics as a two-time world champion. But that’s what makes the champions legendary. If another skater wins in South Korea, then she will just become an Olympic champion, she will not become the great, but Zhenya can earn a place in history.
Medvedeva has a good head on her shoulders, strong surrounding that doesn’t let her to slow down. It seems to me that she benefits from training with her main competitor Alina Zagitova. To date, I consider her and Canadian Kaetlyn Osmond the main rivals of Medvedeva. Zhenya sees how Zagitova works and this motivates her.
Elena Radionova finished fourth, she didn’t skate unmistakably. Does she have a potential to return to the previous level?
– Unfortunately, figure skating in Russia has reached incredible heights. It is very difficult for her to compete with team-mates. Do not forget about Maria Sotskova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Anna Pogorilaya. I think that the main fight for the third place in the national team will be between them, but it will be almost impossible to compete on equal at international competitions. Well, maybe, it’s possible at European Championships. There, the main competitor is Carolina Kostner, fantastic, magnificent Italian who became second at the Grand Prix in Moscow. Kostner is an athlete with a capital A. Concluding the conversation about Radionova, I want to say that for her the main competitions of the season is the Russian Nationals.
Talking about Kostner, after her impressive result in Moscow, can she be considered one of the favorites for the Olympics?
– It will be very difficult for her to claim for medals in Pyeongchang. But she is the girl who, even not being an Olympic champion, has made a huge contribution to figure skating. There’s also such an example in men’s skating – Stephane Lambiel. He did not win an Olympic gold, but left a large footprint in the development of our sport.
Kostner went through a lot of tests, the last of which was disqualification. But she returned and shows excellent results. Her skating is fantastic, magic. No matter what places Kostner takes, I will always take my hat off to her.
Should we assume that this is a significant merit of Alexei Mishin?
– Undoubtedly, it couldn’t be otherwise with such a coach. Mishin is the figure skating guru.
Mikhail Kolyada performed quite unevenly. This was previously characteristic of Maxim Kovtun. What is the reason?
– Kolyada’s performance has more pluses than minuses. If you look at the technical score there is no global gap from the fantastic performances of Yuzuru Hanyu and Nathan Chen. This inspires optimism. Mikhail did a good job, he has a good combination, a rich arsenal of jumps. Programs look better than last year. Mikhail has a huge potential, it’s necessary to improve in technique. There was quite a serious competition at Rostelecom Cup. From the elite only Javier Fernandez wasn’t there.
Kolyada now in the the top five of the world’s strongest skaters. No one is insured from mistakes. If he performs his program with a quadruple lutz, salchow and toe loop clean, then he can compete for a medal at the Olympics. It remains only to solve problems with psychology.
I would advise him to replace salchow with two toe loops, because he performs them so easily. But it’s up to the team.
What do you think about Dmitri Aliev’s potential? He skated with injuries, but the short program and the first half of the free program were performed perfectly.
– I was impressed with his work. I am very happy for him, for the coach Evgeni Rukavitsyn. Aliev did not have enough “physics”, so the second half of the program didn’t go well. We have another incredibly talented guy. He has a soft and beautiful skating, good quadruple jumps. Now we hope for Kolyada and Kovtun, Aliyev is a hope for the next Olympic cycle.
Men’s competitions were remembered by the duel between Hanyu and Chen. Why did the Japanese loose? Maybe he does not want to disclose all the trump cards?
– Hanyu concentrated on the execution of the quadruple lutz, such attitude affected execution of the following elements. In this I see the main reason for his failure. Japanese pulled jumps, he skates like a champion. He learned the quad lutz during the Olympic season. This speaks of tremendous motivation. Chen’s technical level and the cosmic performance of the quadruple jumps are admirable, but my sympathies are on Hanyu’s side. I root for Yuzuru, because he shows balanced figure skating.
You root him, but who is the main favorite of the season?
– It’s impossible to say. Hanyu, Chen and Fernandez have extraordinary results. Everything will depend on the nuances. Whoever will be better in one particular day at the Olympics will win gold. None of the upcoming competitions will show what will be at the Olympics.
What do you think is going on with Ksenia Stolbova / Fedor Klimov?
– We have about two pairs equal in their capabilities and strength. They, along with Eugenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov are the main contenders for Olympic gold. The main thing is Russian duo winning the Olympics.
But Tarasova and Morozov are now the undoubtful leaders in the country?
– Yes, they took advantage of their compatriots’ problems who had injuries, missed competitions, had a moral recession after an Olympic gold. During this time Tarasova and Morozov have grown up. Now they are leaders, but this does not mean that Stolbova and Klimov can’t beat them.
Tarasova and Morozov already show super-high scores. What can they improve?
– They have strong, athletic and energetic skating. This suits them. But I’m sure that their best programs are yet to come.
Bobrova and Soloviev fought on equal with Shibutanis, but themselves gave the victory to the Americans because of a mistake on spin. Do you agree that the fight turned out to be on equal?
– Ekaterina and Dmitri were supposed to beat the Americans in Moscow. Yes, they always skate cleanly, but from the point of view of emotions and harmony ours are better. It’s a mystery to me why judges give them such high marks. Both our duos look better than Shibutanis.
The support of Americans has political nature. For Russians, this is a barrier that separates them from the leading group, where there are Canadians, French and other Americans. The judges acted strangely, giving victory to the Americans. Stepanova and Bukin skated the free dance better. I want to support both our duos.
by Artem Romanov for russian.rt.com
Related topics: Alexandra Stepanova Ivan Bukin, Carolina Kostner, Dmitri Aliev, Ekaterina Bobrova Dmitri Soloviev, Elena Radionova, Evgenia Medvedeva, Evgenia Tarasova Vladimir Morozov, Ilia Averbukh, interview, Ksenia Stolbova Fedor Klimov, Maia Shibutani Alex Shibutani, mikhail kolyada, Nathan Chen, Rostelecom Cup, Yuzuru Hanyu