What could be the problem of Linichuk this year?
Natalia Linichuk and Genadi Karponosov has a reputation to be one of the best coaches for dance -couples. In terms of teaching the Compulsory Dance and technique, also teaching the "Russian style" of Ice dancing with romantic, sometimes pathetique attitude and choreography.
I've read in many previous post.that they failed this year on creating good choreography, choosing good, impressive music, costume, and also giving some real "polish", finess and innovation, lacking creativity and intricate choreography.
I agree with all of these posts. What could be the reason? Burn out syndrome? Aging? Losing interest? Lacking the ability of their "students"? Are they out of outer controll since too long time?
Are they too isolated to everyone else? Had they the too strong belief, they can menage anything with "politiking", which they always been very strong at it and failed it this time?
Lacking money to ask good designers, choreographers to create better costumes, music and choreo?
So, the constant health problem of Shabalin could be ONE point of view. But why Domnina was rather out of condition in the Oly, and seemed to be "laboured" in most of the elements, especially during the lifts (she was not in her usual "shape" either).
Why Belbin-Agosto had the same kind of problems, not having any health issues, but a rather meaningless mediocre choreography, which was not able to show their rather improved technique (not to mention the ugly costume, which didn't fit to especially Agosto)? (Also AGosto was rather "out of shape" condition in Vancouver as well.)
I have a feeling, Linichuk and Karponosov played a major role in their students' fiasco.
What could be the real reason?
First of all, I don't think that D/S's bronze medal is "fiasco". With Maxim's health problems it was the best result for them. He is a hero, really.
As for Linichuk and Karponosov, they are very good coaches. But Linichuk is obviously not the best choreographer, so maybe she need to invite someone else for their couples to help them with new programs... I think she khows it now and maybe will do something with it.
P.S. There are some rumors that in Torino Linichuk kept her eyes on the young Russian team, Bobrova/Soloviev, and wants to coach them...
Regardless of previous years, I think that L&K really let their teams down this year. I have been quite verbal about it in private, but I see no need to be here. Bigdeal has covered what was wrong, sufficiently in their second paragraph: in other words, everything.
Originally Posted by Lucky Star
If I were Bobrova or Soloviev, at this point, I should not choose to go with L&K, until there is some sign that they have recovered their former effectiveness.
As for the cause of L&K's relatively lackluster results this season, I think the key may have been arrogance. At least I hope it was arrogance, because if it was not, then I can only attribute the results to loss of interest/aging, which would be less easy to remedy.
As for Maksim, I agree that he gave his all, and was admirable, under the circumstances. His CD, by the way, I thought brilliant; in my opinion, he totally captured the authentic feeling of tango. I loved it.
Actually, Linichuk & Karponosov's track record isn't all that impressive. You have to remember that back in the early to mid 90's, they got most of the good ice dancing teams of Russia. Some of them were bound to hit it big!
BTW, here's something that Elena Vaitsekhovskaya wrote about Linichuk in her memoir about reporting on figure skating "Tears on Ice" (Chapter 1; http://ptichkafs.livejournal.com/48979.html):
This is how my conflict with Natalya Linichuk, which was the only long term conflict in my career.
Linichuk was one of the coach I build a great relationship with starting from that first meeting back in 1991. Natasha worked fanatically and to full exhaustion at the rink of Moscow’s “Olympic” sports palace, yet all of her best students always ended up with other coaches. I remember my quite tactless question in an interview – “Why does everyone leave you?” (I was talked about junior champions Yaroslava Nechaeva, Yury Chesnichenko, and Oksana Grichuk). Linichuk replied , “That’s simple. What can I offer my athletes besides torturous work? At the same time, everyone tells them that if they switch to a coach with a real name, just a year later, having exerted much less effort and nerves, they’ll be attending Europeans and Worlds.”
This all changed in 1992, when Natalya Dubova left fo the US following the Alberville Olympics.
Here, however, we should first delve briefly into history.
For a long time, only two coaches defined the politics and fashions on the ice and behind the scenes in Olympic level ice dancing – Elena Tchaikovskaya and Tatiana Tarasova.
Perhaps only Tchaikovskaya’s students Ludmila Pakhomova and Alexander Gorshkov were without rivals among Russia’s dancers. The coach’s second team Linichuk and Karponosov had to fight Tarasova’s Irina Moiseeva and Andrei Minenkov for all they were worth. Toward the very end of the their career, Moiseeva-Minenkov left to the then very young Natalya Dubova. When she didn’t make the champions, they helped Dubova become one of the chosen.
The 1988 Olympics brought Tarasova her first ice dancing gold. Yet two of Dubova’s teams, Marina Klimova-Sergei Ponomarkenko and Usaova-Zhulin were awaiting their turn after Natalya Bestemianova and Andrei Bukin.
By early 1990’s, Tchaikovskaya stepped aside from the sport to work on children’s ice ballet, the dance coaching’s secong giant Tatiana Tarasova was head deep in her theater, and Dubova was alone on the summit. She still coached the world champions Marina Klimova and Serei Ponomarenko; right on their heels were Maya Usova and Alexander Zhulin; finally, the very young Oksana Gritchuk left Linichuk to pair with Evgeny Platov.
This utopia didn’t last. So many ice dancers in the same space can’t help but breed coaching preferences. Dubova put her stakes in with Usova and Zhulin. Klimova and Ponomarenko immediately left to look for a new base.
A year later, in February of 1992, they became Olympic champions under the tutelage of Svetlanad Alekseeva and the so-called consultant (in reality a true heavy artillery in all sense of the word) Tatiana Tarasova, who came back to the sport for them before going back to her ice theater. Dubova, meanwhile, left with her remaining students to lick her psychological wounds in the more comfortable from the coaching standpoint and better paid-for Lake Placid. First, though, she fired Gritchuk for amoral behavior and paired Platov with the still very young Tatiana Navka.
The coaches plans, however, were foiled. Platov never showed up at the airport. A few weeks later, he was skating with Oksana under Linichuk.
In the aforementioned internview, Natasha told me, “I’ll never take Grishuk back. I don’t forgive betrayal.”
As it turned out, much is forgiven in ice dancing. If, of course, it’s well worth it. The hurts remain, so to speak, for internal consumption.
Linichuk herself, by the way, once came to Moscow from Hicksville to start training under Dubova. Then, her mother pressured her to switch to Tchaikovskaya just telling the old coach, “I have no future with you, whereas Elena Anatolievna can make me a champion; the family rightly figured that placing bets on the proven ace up on all the judging intrigues will be more productive than keeping loyal to the good but not very experienced coach. No surprises there – there have always been plenty of well wishers who could explain such calculus to others’ students.
I guess it has to be this way. Someone once joiked that dancing coaches should be selected in the birthing clinics because they must be born with sharp teeth.
It goes without saying that Natalya was ecstatic with the triumph of being the leader of Russia’s ice dancing. Dubova was too far away to count on any support from leadership (read Piseev) which she never actually had in the first place as she was too rough and independent in both word in deed in her life in Russia.
Going across the ocean with all of her students turned to be a colossal tactical mistake for the leading ice dancing specialist of the country. On the one hand, Dubova, as she tells it herself, got a wonderful opportunity to train as she saw fit in the conditions that other Russian skaters could only dream of. However, the coin had two sides. In reality, change of residence by the leading team and practical impossibility (for many reasons) to get back lead to both the coach and the skaters to stew in their own juices for a whole year without any competition and in the confidence of having the team leadership reserved for them for at least a season. That season was meant to be Usova and Zhulin’s last in amateur sport and, let’s be honest, was meant to bring them the Olympic gold which was the only prize that alluded the skaters in their many years skating together.
While they remained the nominal leaders, everyone understood that on Russian soil it was Linichuk who wielded the absolute right to shuffle her remaining teams (there were no alternatives, really), build her relationships with the judges, and start spinning the web of intrigue – in a word, create her empire.
Let’s give credit where it’s due – this young and incredibly ambitions woman learned a great deal from her predecessors. She gathered all the scraps of others’ experience over the years of her forced wait. There was talk that Linichuk’s husband Gennady is really the one behind her actions. He was supposed to be the team’s brain central. Paired with his spouse’s deadly hold with its deep provincial rootsm, this tandem turned into a truly powerful machine.
The only rock on Linichuk’s way to gathering all potential contenders for the two vacancies on the Russian team (one was reserved for Usova and Zhulin) under her umbrella was her collegue Svetlana Alekseeva. To be exact, the problem was her skaters – her daughter Elena Kustarova and Oleg Ovsyannikov, who were constantly competing with Linichuk’s Angelica Krylova and Vladimir Fedorov, and along with them eyed the third spot on the team (the second was predestined to belong to Gritchuk and Platov).
The 1992 Nationals in Chelyabinsk were supposed to make the final determination. I naively supposed that all the talk of the “bought” judges that I kept hearing from all camps was nothing more than an attempt by the weaker (or less confident) contender to excuse their possible loss in the fight. Yet on the second day of the competition, after the dancers were done with their compulsories, I became an unwitting witness to the most engaging scene. Piseev’s wife, judge Alla Shehovtseva, was surrounded by the judges from this competition, and without pulling any punches or choosing her words, was driving home a very simple point – anyone who will place Alekseeva’s team above Linichuk’s in the upcoming programs can consider their careers over.
Despite those instructions, the results were even. Kustarova and Ovsyannikov lost by one vote. However, they also lost their whole career – Krylova and Fedorov got onto the team, got bronze a few months later at the Worlds in Prague, and just a little later Ovsyannikov was lured to Linichuk’s camp to skate with Krylova just as Fedorov was thrown out. The dangerous opposition was rooted out.
Linichuk also owns another “know-how” which was strategically brilliant and unprecedently simple. She accumulated a huge number of teams all representing different countries. At the 1995 Worlds, she brought out sevent teams representing Russia, Ukraine, Latvia, Uzbekistan and Switzerland. The calculus was simple – the judges of all those countries simply had to play on Linichuk’s side and by her rules. Given the system where the winner was determined by the so called “placement sum”, it was important to ensure the support of five out of nine judges. That provided the majority. In that case, the skate’s quality became of secondary importance.
Everyone saw this. “Tell Linichuk it’s unseemly to show up so much at Kiss & Cry”, mocked the foreign journalists. They all quoted a phrase someone has supposedly heard intoned by the ISU president Ottavio Cinquanta: “If ice dancing is ever excluded from the Olympics, we’ll have Linichuk to thank for it.”
I couldn’t not write about it. After one such report, I made Natalya a bitter enemy.
The spark that ignited our enmity for many years to come came at the 1995 Europeans in Dortmund. I submitted a report with an innocent mention of a fall that Krylova (now with Ovsyannikov) took in performing in a practice the very element that in a previous season, in a similar fall, led to her breaking he arm prior to the Worlds in Makuhari in Japan. The skater’s mother happened to see the report. She misunderstood it, taking it to mean that her daughter broke her arm in Dortmund. She called the coach in the middle of the night, all hysterical. Without even bothering to so much as read the article herself, she jumped down my throat at the rink with many people witnessing the confrontation,
“I forbid you to write about my athletes! Don’t date approach us from now on!”
It was all so ugly and yet comical, that the answer came unbidden, “Natasha, I might as well demand you stop coaching. The only think I can only promise you is that your name will never appear in my newpaper again.”
Karponosov tried to smooth things over. He approached me a bit later. Unfortunately, his timing was off as despite the calm exterior, I was bubbling with anger. That’s, why, I responded harshly to his, “Well, you see…” with,
“Gena, please explain to your wife that I am no less an Olympic champion than she is. It’s unclear who’s achieved more in her career. And remember this – the paper pays me not to write about figure skating, but about presenting my point of view on your sport. You don’t like it – don’t read it!”
Despite all this, I’ve always been of two minds on Linichuk. Irritation often crossing to enmity somehow coexisted with a purely human sympathy. In seeking the summit, Natalya walked over corpses just as did many of her great predecessors. They were just more tactfull. Possibly, they were also smarter. They also tried to follow an unspoken rules – athletes should never guess of the backroom deals. You can always explain away any loss. There is no chance to convince a skater to sacrifice anything for the result if they know that the outcome has already been paid for.
Then again, I doubt Linichuk cared what others thought of her. By 1995, she worked in the US and had every reason to see herself a queen – a year earlier, Gritchuk and Platov won the Lillehammer Olympics, leaving in their dust the country’s premier team of Usova and Zhulin.
Linichuck listened to Piseev's wife - Alla S., Russia's very influential ice dance judge - who assured her that Domnina & Shabalin would win gold. And they did win Euros. And even the bad publicity on the OD was thought good PR in a way because of the attention it got worldwide. Now with Piseev's downfall - will Alla's star fall as well? If so, Linichuk will have a problem keeping up her stellar political reputation. Think Zhulin might surpass her. He is younger and a talented coach as well and settled now in Russia, closer to the Rus Fed with some good quality teams.
Originally Posted by bigdeal
Thank you Ptichka for this BREATHTAKING addition!!!
That is what we always been think about it but hoped it is NOT true. And it IS....
It explains one of my biggest disappointment in ice-dancing when the brilliant Torvil-Dean lost to the young, talented, but terribly unpolished Grischuk-Platov in 1994, like Usova-Zhulin also did.
I've been watching the Free Dance of Linichuk-Karponosov in the 1980 Oly now on the youtube.... That is where it all started. A very uhmmm.... program, plus the otherwise very "wodden" Linichuk almost fallen, and still they beaten the brilliant Hungarian Regőczy-Sallay by 5:4 split.... 1 months later they lost against the Hungarians at the Worldchampionships, where Linichuk had no mistake and skated better. Not a right "pay back" when we are talking about an Olympic Gold Medal......
Not to mention how modern, innovative and brilliant program Moiseieva-Minenkov had that time winning only a bronz....
Last edited by bigdeal; 04-07-2010 at 10:34 AM.
Constable , Costume Police
Gee..this almost makes me nostalgic for the days of soup flinging.
Thanks ,Ptichka . It's so interesting to read articles , etc. that come from a Russian standpoint. They often seem more outspoken than what we're used to.. mind you, there also seems to be more of a penchant for hyperbole in the culture , so we still have to weigh things carefully...but it's fascinating. At the time ,I wondered what was going on when Dubova suddenly seemed to get frozen out.
Part of what enthralls is the apparent open acceptance of the behind the scenes politics. We'd have to be fools to imagine that politicking doesn't go on in other federations ( we all probably have some suspicious cases we could point to ), but it doesn't seem so all pervasive , and not so obvious .
Anyway, I haven't ever thought much of Linichuk's choreography,and can't believe that anyone ever did , really.All that stays with you are a few attractive highlights or poses. That isn't really choreography. It was always the politics that was the winning factor. Now with the big shake -up going on, I'm tempted to feel a glimmer of hope that new Russian choreographic talent will find an outlet..but I fear that it will just be a new political force gaining sway and all the talented skaters will be funneled through one or two favoured coaches , and whatever the actual quality of their choreography ,it will be pronounced the best.
Now ,with Morozov heading back to Russia, everyone is rumored to be going to work with him, or go to him for choreography. I can't say how great a disaster I think that would be. Choreography is probably his weakest hand..except for his idea of what makes an attractive costume. I really hope Russia is just full of other talented people who will fight for prominence.
A great question. I've been scratching my head wondering about this too. I totally agree that Linichuk and Karponosov were not up to their usual standards going back many Olympics. They've always had great teams and great numbers for them. It was almost a sure thing for so long.
Originally Posted by bigdeal
So I am not sure if I would call it a failure this year. Ok D & S was a total failure but the Italian couple did not do too badly and they had two nice programs and B & A I think have their own technical programs. But overall they were not at all up to par. So what is up with that. Have they completely missed the boat on the COP system? I mean those costumes! But they got winners under the same system in 2006 Olympics.
Holy smokes. Please tell me this is not true. I can't believe that. Things can't be that corrupt. Wow.
Originally Posted by KKonas
Constable , Costume Police
Faiella & Scali's FD , at least , was choreographed by Camerlengo, and I don't think their OD was Linichuk either. Was this F/S's idea..or the Italian federation wanting a product as purely Italian as possible for Torino? I'd be surprised if it was Linichuk's suggestion. Their costumes ,too, were decidedly not Linichuk. I'll be so glad if we've seen the last of those fluttery things she usually buries her skaters in.
Last edited by colleen o'neill; 04-08-2010 at 12:11 AM.
Linichuk's biggest problem this year will be the potential of having an empty nest - meaning not coaching any top Ice Dance teams at all. Dom/Shab are pretty much history due to his chronic knee injury whereas B/A have definitively retired. This leaves the Italian team, who are the current World Bronze Medalists and they are a very good team and had a captivating OD and solid FD this year. But Torino was also their 9th appearance at Worlds. Even if they plan to continue for a little while, their time is limited and they will be chased furiously by some other veterans and as well as young & upcoming teams, who are 10+ years younger but fairly close to them in terms of ranking. It is quite possible that they won't be able to hold on to their 3rd place at Worlds in 2011, which means Linichuk will be without a top team at all by the end of the year.
The situation will likely get even worse as time passes unless she manages to get her hands on a young team who is full of promise and that team will probably have to be Russian given the recent maneuvers of the Russian Skating Fed in recalling Russian coaches to Russia and build training base for Sochi 2014. I don't know if she will move back to Russia but if she wants to coach a talented young Russian team, it is more likely that she will have to go back to Russia than the other way around. Looking down the list of young & promising teams who are non-Russians, it's hard to imagine who would want to be coached by her.
The ultimate coup though, which is not entirely impossible, for her would to somehow lure either V/M or D/W away from Zueva/Shpilband based on the duality that must exist no matter how friendly the #1 and #2 teams are with each other. When Grishuck/Platov were training with Krylova/Ovsiannkiov, at first, the four people claimed to be the best of the friends. That friendship did not last very long when their rivalry grew with each of them being #1 and #2 team in the world. When I was in Vancouver in February, someone told me that she saw Meryl Davis rolled her eyes when she asked Charlie White backstage what score Virtue/Moir got for their Tango Romantica CD and Charlie told her that it was 42+ (then she rolled her eyes upon hearing that number). Now, I didn't actually see this but that person had no reason to lie as far as I am concerned. The problem with this scenario however is that Linichuk has lost most of her appeal as THE coach to be with. If this was 10 years ago, absolutely, you can see this coming. I think even if V/M or D/W would entertain the idea of shaking up their coaching team, Linichuk would be a hesitant choice for either of them seeing how she basically messed B/A up at the end of their career.
Constable , Costume Police
I really couldn't see either team defecting to Linichuk ,considering , as you say, B/A's results. The two teams have been marked so similarly, either team might prevail on any given day, so I think they would also weigh the thought of leaving very carefully in light of the success they've had.
Also, during the Olympics someone who was in Vancouver posted on another thread, that it's very possible Meryl's eye roll was in response to V/M's marks in relation to D/S's marks... implying that at that point ,Meryl might have thought V/M's marks weren't high enough.
Zueva as a choreographer and Shpilband as a coach seems to be GENIUS. It is a different situation. If any of the 2 teams decides to leave them, it is gonna be a HUGE handicap for them.
If the "friendship" of V/M and D/W goes away, it is more likely both teams will waiting the other couple to leave. If it is happen, I can imagine to go to Zhulin or Platov.
If they were in America I also can picture Zozoui up to Virtue_Moir. They don't have now a five stars couple and very talented.
Unfortunately I have a strong feeling Virtue/moir will decide there is nowhere to go to anymore and will retire. Davis/White are just too good not to win a couple of Worldchampion titles, and I don't think, the Canadians wants to assist for that. They got some very direct signs by the judges in Torino....
Anyway it is all out of this subject...
Last edited by bigdeal; 04-08-2010 at 09:28 AM.
Well, perhaps I'm somewhat jaded but I don't find this shocking. Ptichka's translation of Elena V's article details the closeness of Alla and Natalia for years. That Alla is a very influential dance judge is no secret in the judging world. If there really is a purge in the Rus Skating Fed, Linichuk may be a victim as well. We'll just have to wait and see what happens.
Originally Posted by aurora100
I don't think either of the Shpilband couples will leave because I expect V/M to retire before that happens. That said, I do genuinely believe that the Canton quartet ARE friends. I think growing up together (keep in mind they were teenagers when they started training together, and kids when they first met) makes it a lilttle different. Additionally, I don't know which of them WOULD leave. V/M are (likely) closer to retirement. There's less internal competition for them (the only other Canadian team Z/S have is McCurdey/Coreno, and they're not on the same level), whereas Chock/Zuerlein and the Shibutanis also train with Z/S and are closer in ability. Also, and this is just opinion, but V/M seem a closer match with Z/S. So I think D/W would be more likely to leave from the quartet, but they're less likely to due to school and the fact that they'll probably just wait for V/M to retire. If V/M don't retire, well, that'll be great for fans, and I can see D/W leaving then. But for which coaching team? Maybe Bourne/Krylova/Carmalengo?
As for Linichuk, the problems are simple. One of her couples had major injury issues such that the really sophisticated dances are next to impossible to do (see the fact that they kept getting levels two and threes for things they used to easily get level four for). So she had to design programs that minimized their defects as much as possible (the use of belts in the free dance, the outrageous costumes). For Belbin/Agosto, it's a little harder. They've been eclipsed technically by the younger teams for quite a while (Virtue/Moir were outscoring them technically since their debut senior season). They've always had issues with programs that they like and appeal to the judges (changing free dances in the 06/07 season), and I do think they got shoved under a bus a little this season