Ilia Averbukh: They gave Medvedeva usual “clothes” that every North American wears
Ilia Averbukh shared his impressions of Russian skaters in the new season and Evgenia Medvedeva’s new programs.
What can you say about start of the season for Russian skaters? Some of them beat world records one after another.
– I have already said that you shouldn’t pay attention to records in figure skating. This is not a sport where everything is measured by numbers. The next day in media, I saw the headline: “Averbukh doesno’t admit Zagitova’s record.”
I believe that in figure skating there are two records – the place and the love of the audience. There is no sense in talking about a record-breaking component now, because after the rules changes everything was reset, so any best result is in fact a record. It’s like in slalom, when three athletes occupy an intermediate pedestal and are waiting for rivals who haven’t performed yet. I’m not against Zagitova’s records, I just think that in figure skating records are just a light paint.
But can we do some conclusions after the first competitions or better not to?
– As for the beginning of the season, it’s always a difficult story. At the same time, it’s good that the press is now paying attention to such competitions that we didn’t notice at the time: Ondrej Nepela Memorial, competitions in Oberddorf.
Even when I skated, I wasn’t interested who and how performed there. Now there is a rush around these competitions. Although, these are just warm-up competitions which doesn’t show anything. Skaters need them to gain shape gradually. Making predictions on them is a fortune telling by reading the tea leaves. Moreover, the season is long. Everyone plans the peak of shape for the second half.
What can you say about the state of our two leaders in women’s skating – Evgenia Medvedeva and Alina Zagitova?
– Before the season started, I read an interview with Zhenya Medvedeva’s coach Brian Orser, who said that “We will enter the season gradually, we will not rush anything.” Usually behind such phrases there is a thought: “we will save our strength for the main competition”. Therefore, I was very afraid that Medvedeva would be out of the mix. But in the post-Olympic season it is very important to continue being in the competitive cycle. You can lose, win – no matter. Let she lose something to someone. The main thing is that she starts from the first competitions.
The same applies to Zagitova. She is an Olympic champion and she doesn’t want to lose, so the thought might have appeared: “I will prepare for the World Championship and will beat everyone there.” But this is no such. And it is very correct that girls are not afraid to lose, they are not afraid to show that they may not be ready yet. Most importantly, they go in competitive mode.
Of course it’s hard for them. Zagitova grew up, but she is quite in a good shape. The same about Medvedeva. But it is still important what the rivals will show.
Do you like the new image of Medvedeva?
– I wouldn’t be right to answer this question. I was Evgenia’s choreographer during the previous Olympic cycle, so I have no right to express my point of view.
Nevertheless, you have already expressed it.
– I know that Zhenya really wanted to change. It is very good. And we tried to find some changes with her, but at some point we decided that the Olympic season was not the best time for experiments.
If you take a short program, I like what’s done. Zhenya has really changed, she is looking for a new style. Yes, maybe it is still not 100% organic for her, but the desire for change is noticeable.
If you look at this program, it is absolutely North American.
Infantile and simple?
– Not. It’s just not the style that was found for Zhenya, in order to reveal some of her talent. They gave her usual clothes that every North American wears. It is a fact. No frills that could reveal Medvedeva’s virtuosity were found. However, it is difficult to do this in three months.
It’s good that Zhenya was not afraid to change “clothes”. Butd how well this “clothes” fit her, let’s see closer to the end of the season.
What do you think about her free program?
– It is not yet prepared and less clear. It’s intergener – not purely North American and not what we did with Zhenya here. Therefore, it seems that even Medvedeva herself has a certain feeling of being lost.
However, Orser is a great specialist. I am sure that he and his team see it all too and will work on it.
When Medvedev went to Orcer, there were talks that she would definitely skate better from a technical point of view. Have you seen any changes in her skating?
– There is a feeling that Evgenia skates better. But it comes also because she has become more mature, feminine. She just started to feel different on the ice. Not just like an airy girl, who want to amaze everyone with her nature. Gestures have become more conscious.
The only thing I fought agains were talks that Zhenya lived here in some kind of grip, that no one ever consulted with her, and she did only the coach’s will. That no one asked her opinion either about the music, or costumes, or image. This is absolutely not true.
I just see some political overtones here and the desire to emphasize that we are all robots, driven into frames. I really do not want Zhenya to be a card in this game. Therefore, here I am taking rigid positions: there was nothing like that.
But everyone speaks about Eteri Tutberidze’s rigidity.
– Yes, undoubtedly, Eteri Georgievna has her own training system – more rigid and authoritarian in terms of coaching instructions than the Canadian specialist. He probably has his own approach. I can not say with certainty, because I haven’t been at his trainings.
However, if take creativity, then Eteri invited me – a person from the side so that there was air and Zhenya was comfortable to skate.
Has enough time passed to assess the prospects of Medvedeva this season?
– In principle, the term is quite small. I think Zhenya went to Canada in July. She had a hard adaptation. Because it is a different country, a different environment, a different language. Again, she was brought up in a different system. Now we shouldn’t demand anything from her. The most important thing, as I said, that compes.
Let her perform calmly and do not politicize this story. She remains a Russian athlete, represents our flag. No need to oppose her and Zagitova – that one trains in Russia and the other in North America. There is no better. Small village, one skating rink, main street and that’s all. There is nothing exclusive there. Let’s just cheer for them, and next spring we’ll look at the results.
Our ice dancers confidently entered the season. Are Alexandra Stepanova – Ivan Bukin and Victoria Sinitsina – Nikita Katsalapov ready to enter the world top?
– I really love Stepanova / Bukin. They have great potential to prove themselves in this Olympic cycle. The main thing is that they need a bit of luck. The guys do not have enough inner champion feeling, which Katsalapov and Sinitsina have more than enough. This pair is amazingly beautiful. In their case, I want the guys to overcome the psychological barrier and begin to show what they are capable of at competitions.
Both are completely competitive. These are pairs of fresh formations adapted to the new rules. Still, even Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev were not adapted to them. They did not train twizzles and lifts at a young age. And these pairs are ready to compete on an equals with world leaders. But they also need a champion gesture, which I am still waiting for.
Will our dancers be able to compete with Gabriella Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron?
– This pair is very strong. The only thing that they are one-dimensional, the kings of one dance. How will the judges look at it? Or will they be able to change? Let’s wait. I think that the new four-year cycle is the moment when the leaders in figure skating will change and there will be chances to catch on.
by Sergei Podgornov for sovsport.ru