What's gone wrong for Russian & Japan at 2013 Worlds?
Thus far (after the Pairs SP, the Men's SP, & the Ladies SP), these world championships have been something of a disaster for Russia and Japan. Only Volosozhar & Maxim Trankov have performed to anywhere near their best for Russia. Sotnikova made some mistakes, but Kovtun, Tuk, and Leonova were truly awful. As for Japan, only Murakami has performed to expectations. Takahashi, Asada, and Suzuki were below par, and Hanyu came spectacularly unstuck. In contrast, the North Americans look far better prepared (particularly, the Canadians on home turf), and the Europeans (minus Russia) are performing as expected.
So what has gone wrong for Russia and Japan thus far? I think Japan are just have a bad championships, which can happen from time to time. Russia, however, just look mentally out of it and this is not the first time this has happened in recent times. They need to seriously think about investing in a team of sports psychologists, and addressing the issue of how their athletes prepare mentally for major championships. As the old cliche goes, you can have all the talent in the world, but if you don't have the temperament to go with it, you will get nowhere.
Russia are now pretty much doomed to going into the 2014 home Olympics with just 1 competitor in the Men's event and 2 in the Ladies event. Whilst that is obviously not what they wanted, in the long run it will do them good, because the temperament issue is one which has needed addressing for a long time. Normally, change only tends to come about through failure