Ilia Averbukh: I don’t welcome publishing private correspondence, but it was a step of despair
Ilia Averbukh explained the reasons for a new round of conflict between the two top schools (and, by the way, competitors in the show market – for some time now, Tutberidze is on it). In his opinion, if the current trends continue, figure skating risks turning into a club sport, like football or hockey, where there will be only two or three grands.
Dmitri Kuznetsov for sport-express.ru dd. 23d September 2020
Ilia, you probably see what is happening between Evgeni Plushenko and Yana Rudkovskaya on the one hand and Eteri Tutberidze and her team on the other. What’s the problem, why did everything showed up on Instagram again?
Ilia Averbukh: I don’t welcome publishing private correspondence, of course. Because if we start posting private messages of all of us, many will be in trouble. But I understand that it was a step of despair from the global coaching vulnerability. I’ve already spoke about it and the introduction of contracts.
I understand the scheme Evgeni Plushenko uses to create his club, apparently, with the participation of Yana Rudkovskaya. It is built on the principles of large football and hockey clubs. That is, a team of strong participants is being formed, an active transfer policy for such a club is the norm. And due to the strong players, in this case – figure skaters, the school is developing, the rest are following them. And there is nothing critical about it. Probably, this is how the club system can be formed in our figure skating.
Then what’s wrong?
Ilia Averbukh: At the moment it is not ready for it. Now gold skaters are bought or, if you like it better, taken away for a chocolate bar. And you shouldn’t blame the buyers for that. Those who cannot organize the transition process are to blame. Or we must officially say: yes, we are ready for the fact that in a couple of years Russia will have two or three large elite schools, and the rest will be forced to integrate them as farm clubs. And we will have our own Zenit, Spartak and CSKA. Everything will be divided into spheres of influence, there will be no independent coaches. If you hide your head in the sand and say that contracts are impossible in figure skating, then there will be no other ending to this story. It used to be said that a new judging system was impossible. But it was introduced, and it is more effective than the 6.0 system, which we sometimes feel nostalgic about.
Ilia, you probably know quite well what Alina Zagitova wants, you often contact her. Maybe Alina doesn’t really want to continue performing at all – at any school, but they want to keep her, and everything leads to such situations? Does this hypothesis sound true? It smells like serfdom.
Ilia Averbukh: Only Alina knows what she wants. But I don’t see serfdom. There is simply no order. Raising an Olympic champion is a colossal effort, moral strength, and a lot of money. All this must be compensated. If she had a contract, she would have switched at the end of it. Would like to leave before the expiration – they would agree on a penalty. And then Yana Rudkovskaya wouldn’t have to write to Alina in “direct”, they would have sent an official letter to Renat Laishev or Eduard Aksenov (heads of Sambo-70 and Chrustalny – ed). And they would make an agreement.
If the Plushenko Angels had paid, for example, a million, Alina would have taken part in the development and promotion of her new club. And “Chrustalny” would spend it on raising ten more girls, potential champions. Then it’s an equal story. And now there is inequality in it.
Inequality in relation to “Chrustalny”?
Ilia Averbukh: Yes, and now we again heard the cry of Tutberidze’s team. More than once the coaches of this team said that the students were lured away, and no one did anything, our coaching staff was hiding. You will see, very soon we will find out about a couple more clubs that will take everyone else under their roof. And the coaches will either have to go there or work, resigning to the fact that your athlete seeks to move to a top club, like in football.
This is the scheme proposed by the party of Zhenya Plushenko and Yana Rudkovskaya. It is quite working, no questions. But you have to be ready for it. Now they are taking advantage of the fact that the transition system does not work. Tomorrow the same will happen with pairs and dancers. Expansion is evident. I don’t really understand when they talk about sensations and mean the transition of a ready-made athlete. In our time, it was considered a sensation to beat the favorite. When a coach brought up a little-known guy, girl or pair and they beat the stars – yes, it’s sensational. Now we are waiting for someone to be intercepted. It seems to me that there is a substitution of concepts. Previously, figure skating had an internal, unwritten code of honor that was not violated by default. Now the Rubicon has been crossed and the situation is moving like an avalanche.
And what do you suggest?
Ilia Averbukh: The Federation should introduce a moratorium on transfers, and by April urgently develop a document to regulate transfers. Meet with coaches, specialists, athletes, talk. Then you can develop rules that will allow figure skating to develop further.