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Thread: Artur Werner on Olympic pairs

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Post Artur Werner on Olympic pairs

    http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/45911.html

    Lesson in Chinese

    So, dear readers, imagine yourselves once again up in the stands of the Pacific Coliseum in Vancouver, awaiting the battle among the pair skaters who were at the top after yesterday’s short programs, and were now in the last two groups.

    As you recall, short program results came as a surprise not just to the participants, but for their federations as well. The “magnificent five” were comprised of Xue Shen/ Hongbo Zhao, Aliona Savchenko/ Robin Szolkowy, Yuko Kavaguti/ Alexander Smirnov, Qing Pang/ Jian Tong, and Dan Zhang/ Hao Zhang. Maria Mukhortova with Maxim Trankov and Vera Bazarova with Yury Larionov came eighth and twelfth, respectively.

    Last night, I watched the last group’s skate on a tiny TV screen. Seeing the recording today, I see that Savchenko and Szolkowy go more than their deserved; fair judging would have placed them third, if not fourth or even fifth. The Chinese showed quite strong and difficult short programs. Of course, my heart goes out to Masha and Max losing their chance for an Olympic medal, but they can only blame their nerves and their coach.

    All that was yesterday. By today, the tears of yesterday’s losses have dried up, the joy of yesterday’s victory is safely tucked away, and the taught nerves are ready for the new performance. Will they hold up under this ultimate pressure?

    Most likely, Tamara Nikolayevna Moskvina couldn’t quite hide from Yuko Kavaguti the foul remark of the Russian sports official Irina Rodnina which the paper “Soviet Sport” published on September 12, 2009 – “I think one could find a nice Russian girl for such a gorgeous guy as Alexander Smirnov. The choice of partner is questionable here.”

    The famous and medaled pair skater of the last century has not only a sense of tactfulness and propriety, but has deemed it appropriate to insult a skater who’s been training with Igor Borisovich and Tamara Nikolayeva Moskvins for many years, and not only speaks Russian fluently, but has a Russian citizenship – meaning she is a Russian. Furthermore, if Rodnina doesn’t consider the petite Japanese skater a beauty, it’s her personal opinion, better kept to herself. Especially when it comes from one, whose nickname during her athletic career was “flying stool” due to her height and elegant figure.

    I’ll take the liberty of only concentrating the best pairs as well as our teams; the rest skater for the figure, for statistics, or just for themselves.

    Vera Bazarova and Yury Larionov showed a difficult and packed program; however, it wasn’t clean, but had many tiny errors. Nonetheless, those kids proved that Russian team can well rely on them for the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

    To that end, though, I’d be so bold as to recommend that Lyudmila Kalinina go to Igor Borisovich and Tamara Nikolayevna Moskvins to let those great masters polish those diamonds properly. The Perm natives lack the ability to show their “chocolate” side, they lack the brilliance, and their movements don’t have a tiger’s elegance.

    Otherwise, I fear Valentin Piseev can take the team of the future from Kalinina, and give them to some Oleg Vasiliev, who’ll destroy their career as he’s already done with Victoria Volchkova, Natalya Shestakova, Pavel Lebedev, and others.
    Dan Zhang/ Hao Zhang, who lost only to Totmianina and Marinin in Turin, were down in fifth after the short program. This made them try all that much harder in the free. They had a beautiful, difficult program full of hard elements and original lifts. Even though Hao fell on the 2A-3T, the Chinese remained in fifth.

    Following them were Maria Mukhortova and Maxim Trankov; in my opinion, they are their coach’s victims. The skaters looked even more tired than they did at Europeans. Their version of the famous “Love Story” looked like a play that’s being performed in the thousandth and first time. Both Masha and Maxim made several mistakes in the triple Salchow, 3T-2T combo, and several other elements. Nonetheless, they managed to move up from the eighth to seventh place.

    Perhaps Vasiliev should demand that ISU makes its judges more like Themis and wear a blindfold – perhaps this way his students can medal with such skating.

    First up in the last group were the European champions. Their first element was supposed to be a quad salchow and the figure skating world was playing a guessing game – will Yuko and Alexander take the risk? Will their coach bless this risk? As we have found out, the answer was “no”. As I feared, Yuko’s nerves didn’t hold up. The salchow lost one rotation; Yuko made a mistake in one place and fell in another. Tamara Moskvina’s “magic alloy” splintered on its ultimate test and finished just off the podium.
    The German team also couldn’t avoid falls. However, Ingo Steuer chose not to take risks, and only included in the free program the elements that Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy can do in their sleep. That, according to the new judging rules, was deemed enough for an Olympic medal. The medal was bronze, though they really wanted gold.

    The Chinese team Qing Pang/ Jian Tong showed the highest level of pair skating; it had fire, spice, elegance, and much much more. They were far better than the Germans and even better than the rest, but their short program errors gave them a silver medal instead of gold.

    Meanwhile, the veterans of Chinese pair skating Xue Shen/ Hongbo Zhao, the Turin bronze medalists, became Vancouver Olympic champions. In something like the first time in the history of pair skating Russia ended up off the podium.

    No doubt, the Chinese will remain the most dangerous medal contenders at the Olympics in So-Chi. To overcome them, one would need to start by reinstating the Soviet Union, together with its system of benefits for the best athletes and their parents.
    In part, this is quietly happening already. Russia has practically gone back to the one party system, and tries to cover the fleeing birdies with the wings of its two-headed eagle, especially those who have decided they can already fly solo.

    All that’s left is to reinstate the control over living arrangements and resurrect in the largest urban centers of the country the national factories where talented skaters’ parents can be provided with employment. In another fifteen or twenty years, the country would again have all the medals. Provided, of course, that the prices on oil and gas do not tank.

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    Thanks for the translation!

    Though I do have a question. Werner seems very critical of Oleg Vasiliev as a coach, is this warranted? I'm not terribly familiar with Vasiliev's coaching history, but Werner seems very harsh here.

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    Custom Title Mathman's Avatar
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    Thanks for the great translation!

    What does Werner mean by skaters "showing their chocolate side?"

    Do you think that Werner is right that the fiure skating establishment in Russia is slowly reconstructing the old Soviet apparatus that produced so many great pairs teams in the past?

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    I hope the Russians resurrect their pairs program because the pairs competition is really lacking. I find it ironic that now Russian pairs have the same problems as American pairs in that they break up too soon instead of working through bad results.

    The Chinese really don't have that impressive a pairs program. They have had the same 3 pairs for many years and they don't have any new pairs in the wings. Of course, by 2014, the pairs competition may be so weak that a 39 and 35 year old Shen and Zhao can return and win easily.

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by evangeline View Post
    Though I do have a question. Werner seems very critical of Oleg Vasiliev as a coach, is this warranted? I'm not terribly familiar with Vasiliev's coaching history, but Werner seems very harsh here.
    Well, Vasiliev completely blew it with both Volchkova and Suguri (don't know about the others). The worst thing about Vasiliev IMHO is that he just isn't all that smart while hasa HUGE opinion of himself. When something doesn't work, he tends to blame his skaters, though he's quick to take credit for the successes. He has also said some not-too-nice things about K&T and especially their coach, which is especially inappropriate since she's been his coach as well.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mathman View Post
    What does Werner mean by skaters "showing their chocolate side?"
    Their "good side".

    Do you think that Werner is right that the fiure skating establishment in Russia is slowly reconstructing the old Soviet apparatus that produced so many great pairs teams in the past?
    Werner left USSR back in the bad old Soviet days, and has deep disdain for the old Soviet system (as do I). I think he wants to remind his readers who may be getting nostalgic for the athletic achievements of yore that those come at a stiff price and that you can't get one without the other. Also, I bet it pains Werner to see Russia slipping politically into its pre-Democracy days. This is a comment on all that.
    Quote Originally Posted by soogar View Post
    I hope the Russians resurrect their pairs program because the pairs competition is really lacking. I find it ironic that now Russian pairs have the same problems as American pairs in that they break up too soon instead of working through bad results.
    Seriously, I don't think it's really possible. One reason USSR had such a successful program is the lack of other opportunities. An athletic career gave access to such an improvment in a quality of life that it made it worth it for young people to sacrifice their lives for even a remote chance of achieving this.

    The Chinese really don't have that impressive a pairs program. They have had the same 3 pairs for many years and they don't have any new pairs in the wings. Of course, by 2014, the pairs competition may be so weak that a 39 and 35 year old Shen and Zhao can return and win easily.
    ITA
    Last edited by Ptichka; 02-17-2010 at 12:05 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Ptichka View Post
    Well, Vasiliev completely blew it with both Volchkova and Suguri (don't know about the others). The worst thing about Vasiliev IMHO is that he just isn't all that smart while hasa HUGE opinion of himself. When something doesn't work, he tends to blame his skaters, though he's quick to take credit for the successes. He has also said some not-too-nice things about K&T and especially their coach, which is especially inappropriate since she's been his coach as well.
    What exactly happened with Volchkova and Suguri? Volchkova wasn't exactly the most consistent skater by the time she came to Vasiliev. I thought with Suguri he was trying to overhaul her jump technique and that didn't go too well.

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    Forum translator Ptichka's Avatar
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    Well, once thing that struck me in how Vasiliev talked about Suguri (http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/15977.html) was how he blamed her for any misunderstanding between them. I think that's very much a part of his attitude. BTW, this old interview (http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/1743.html) also says a lot about Vasiliev's personality.

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    Gadfly and Bon Vivant Mafke's Avatar
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    "the foul remark of the Russian sports official Irina Rodnina which the paper “Soviet Sport” published on September 12, 2009 – “I think one could find a nice Russian girl for such a gorgeous guy as Alexander Smirnov. The choice of partner is questionable here.”"

    Wow! Did she say that????. Is she always so lacking in tact??? (I'm being very restrained here). I seem to recall that that there aren't so many fond rememberances of or references to Rodnina..

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    L'art pour l'art Medusa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mafke View Post
    "the foul remark of the Russian sports official Irina Rodnina which the paper “Soviet Sport” published on September 12, 2009 – “I think one could find a nice Russian girl for such a gorgeous guy as Alexander Smirnov. The choice of partner is questionable here.”"

    Wow! Did she say that????. Is she always so lacking in tact??? (I'm being very restrained here). I seem to recall that that there aren't so many fond rememberances of or references to Rodnina..
    She really did say that and I think you can find the article which someone translated back then in the archives.

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    I kind of agree with Rodnina- though I'm not exactly a tactful person. No offense to Kawaguti, but how sad is it the top Russian pair consists of an "imported" skater. For a country with such a deep skating tradition, it certainly is a sign that the pairs program is remiss.

    I can see how that would not sit well with Rodnina.

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    Gadfly and Bon Vivant Mafke's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by soogar View Post
    I kind of agree with Rodnina- though I'm not exactly a tactful person. No offense to Kawaguti, but how sad is it the top Russian pair consists of an "imported" skater
    How can Kawaguti not take offense? She has made a _huge_ commitment to skating for Russia and deserves public respect from Rodnina. If Rodnina doesn't like the state of Russian pairs there were far more appropriate ways of expressing that without insulting a skater who's proven her dedication and commitment.

    All the gold medals in the world can't buy class and I can't think of any reason to not consider Rodnina as exhibit number one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by soogar View Post
    I kind of agree with Rodnina- though I'm not exactly a tactful person. No offense to Kawaguti, but how sad is it the top Russian pair consists of an "imported" skater. For a country with such a deep skating tradition, it certainly is a sign that the pairs program is remiss.
    I can see how that would not sit well with Rodnina.
    Kavaguti went to school in Russia. Got her degree in an accredited Russian university. Speaks Russian. Has a Russian citizenship.
    What is not Russian about Kavaguti?
    That's like saying the 50 million peoples in the US aren't Americans. Like saying how sad for the top finishing US team to "borrow" a Filipina girl to compete. That's like saying "American beat Kwan"
    Oh wait, it's been said.

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    Quote Originally Posted by FlattFan View Post
    Kavaguti went to school in Russia. Got her degree in an accredited Russian university. Speaks Russian. Has a Russian citizenship.
    What is not Russian about Kavaguti?
    That's like saying the 50 million peoples in the US aren't Americans. Like saying how sad for the top finishing US team to "borrow" a Filipina girl to compete. That's like saying "American beat Kwan"
    Oh wait, it's been said.
    They don't have an immigrant culture as we do in the US. I was watching pairs with a Polish friend and when S&S were introduced as a German team, he remarked that they were not Germans.


    People who are from countries that are ethnically and culturally homogeneous regard outsiders as foreigners. Not that Russia is culturally homogeneous but she doesn't even have a link through one of the former Soviet republics.

    If the situation were reversed and Smirnov attained Japanese citizenship (which I don't even believe he is permitted to bc of the strictness in how they treat foreigners), the Japanese would never consider him to be Japanese.

    It's not correct to assume that what goes in the US is the way it is in other countries.

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    Custom Title 76olympics's Avatar
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    I have never cared for Rodnina, and this is another reason to cement my dislike. That was a very hurtful comment and it makes me angry when I think how sad and alone Kavaguti looked after the disappointing free skate. I am glad Werner pointed out that Rodnina was no beauty queen herself ( perky at best). Thanks as always for the translation. I think you are right. The Soviet atmosphere is gone now.

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    Custom Title Moxie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FlattFan View Post
    Kavaguti went to school in Russia. Got her degree in an accredited Russian university. Speaks Russian. Has a Russian citizenship.
    What is not Russian about Kavaguti?
    That's like saying the 50 million peoples in the US aren't Americans. Like saying how sad for the top finishing US team to "borrow" a Filipina girl to compete. That's like saying "American beat Kwan"
    Oh wait, it's been said.
    Rodnina ought to keep her thoughts to herself...
    And I'm not trying to defend her or anything, but I don't consider Kavaguti to be Russian, either. She said it felt weird to have to enter Japan on a Visa. And now that the Olympics are over, she's been mulling a returning to Japan.
    But what Rodnina and the others are publicly saying is probably nothing compared to what Moskvina and Piseev have said to them in private.

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