Sofia Fedchenko: “I always look up to the coaching staff of Eteri Tutberidze. This group adapts to any rules in a way that the athletes always win.”
Coach Sofia Fedchenko about her remarks about Evgeni Plushenko and strong sides of Eteri Tutberidze.
In February, Plushenko criticized the judging at the Russian Junior Nationals, where Fedchenko’s student, Alina Gorbchaeva, emerged as the winner. Fedchenko referred to Plushenko’s statements as a tantrum.
You were the first to speak out about Evgeni Plushenko’s sharp statements at the Russian Junior Nationals. How did you decide to do that?
Sofia Fedchenko: Because I was asked a lot of questions. Alina was being interviewed, and they asked her too. At some point, I didn’t respond for a couple of days, and then I did. I don’t know, I didn’t really decide anything; I just responded.
Are you personally acquainted with him?
Sofia Fedchenko: Yes.
Have you interacted?
Sofia Fedchenko: Well, at competitions.
But you understood that there would be a reaction, right?
Sofia Fedchenko: I called things by their proper names – as I see them. When he delivered his speech, he surely expected some kind of reaction. Or maybe he didn’t think about it. Each of us simply expressed our opinion.
Did he contact you afterwards? After that.
Sofia Fedchenko: We saw each other at the Grand Prix Final in St. Petersburg.
And how was it?
Sofia Fedchenko: We had a normal conversation.
As if nothing had happened?
Sofia Fedchenko: Yes.
After your remarks about the tantrum, he filed a complaint against you with the ethics committee. What is the status of that complaint now?
Sofia Fedchenko: The ethics committee already had a meeting. At that time, I was with the athletes at the Spartakiad in Sochi. So, I don’t know what decisions were made…
You don’t know?
Sofia Fedchenko: Yes, there will apparently be a presidium. It’s quite a lengthy process. After all, it’s the first year – the ethics committee was established this year. That’s why everything is taking so long.
You once mentioned that you have great respect for Tutberidze’s team. In your opinion, what is their strength?
Sofia Fedchenko: I think their strength lies in teamwork, trust among team members, and the ability to delegate responsibilities and distribute them properly. This way, everyone participates in achieving the results.
Is that the only aspect? What about the selection of athletes? Their age?
Sofia Fedchenko: It’s difficult to talk about that from an outsider’s perspective.
Could you send your athlete to competitions with a broken arm, for example, like Evgenia Medvedeva once competed?
Sofia Fedchenko: I don’t know. It’s a very complicated question because it depends on the internal situation. I believe such decisions are always made together by parents, the coach, and the athletes.
Because it heavily depends on the level of competitions and the seriousness of the fracture – a fracture can refer to a small crack that doesn’t even require casting, or it can be a very serious fracture.
Earlier Fedchenko mentioned that she always looks up to the Tutberidze’s coaching staff.
“In Evgeni Plushenko’s speech, there was a reference to one element, the ultra-c in [free] program of Alina. Did you take this criticism personally?
Sofia Fedchenko: I didn’t perceive it as a personal attack. There have been two similar situations. Almost identical. Plushenko himself in 2010, and Shcherbakova and Trusova in the previous Olympics. From these situations, we need to draw some conclusions and work within the existing rules. In the system that exists in modern figure skating.
In this regard, I always look up to the coaching staff of Eteri Georgievna Tutberidze. This group adapts to any rules in a way that the athletes always win.
To disagree with the scoring system and believe that four not-so-clean ultra-c’s are better than one clean quad and a program with good skating and musicality —I don’t agree with that. The current system implies having a balanced program: being able to spin, skate, and jump well.”
Kamila Valieva: “Initially, I didn’t even know if I would continue my career or not. But my coach encouraged me. If we’re allowed to compete internationally I’m ready for another Olympics.”