1. When people refer to their raw talent, they are not necessarily referring to their ability to hit levels, especially on step sequences. They are referring to their lines, speed, edges and ability to sell a program. They are referring to their basics, if you will, which I don't think anyone could in good faith argue aren't extremely strong. However, being able to hit deep edges isn't the same as being able to hit all the points in a step sequence. One problem might be, quite simply, that they need a new technical specialist who can work intensely with them for a few months on hitting the levels. They may also benefit from a new coach, but assuming they are happy with Mozorov, a new tech specialist is where to start.
2. They may, whether they are lazy or not, just need more practice time, period. If so, the answer is simple- find some way to get it.
3.They may get nervous when competing. I have sometimes thought this is at least part of the problem, such as their badly botched program at worlds last year. I just can't believe nerves weren't involved somewhat in that meltdown. Maybe the expectations (which have been on her in particular, from a VERY young age) are too much. If so, one or both of them may be benefited by a sports psychologist. They may also just be benefited from more competitive experiences, so if I were the Russian Fed I'd look into getting them to some senior B's to work out their nerves and get feedback on their programs places where 'it doesn't matter'.
There are doubtless other possibilities. Either way I do wish them well. I do think they have a LOT of potential and that it will be a shame if it is not realized.
Bobrova and Soloviev have improved greatly under Zhulin's tutelage, so I don't think the man's opinions are completely useless.
ETA: Also, I think there's a big difference in saying someone is "lazy" and that someone lacks "work ethic." I think what Zhulin and their critics are referring to is their work ethic, which is less about being lazy or not lazy, but rather how they practice, how conditioned they are when they practice etc and of course working smart.
This is a funny thread title. Is everyone who places behind Maia and Alex at a grand prix event automatically done forever?
Well it's because the Shibutanis are a boring team who has no business being among Ice Dance elite. So the fact that I/K were beat by those terrible Shibutanis-- oh the horror!! -- mean they are DOOOOOMMMEEEEDDD!
On a more serious note. I/K is perceived to have a lot more natural talent than the Shibutanis and the Shibutanis' weaknesses are overemphasized (and strengths are de-emphasized) by some. Yeah, they need work on the second mark and get programs that make them stand out more, but I don't think that different from a single skater like Max Aaron or Gracie Gold who is known for jumps needing to work on components. Nobody is saying that Gracie or Max are doomed to fail because they have weaknesses. (Okay...maybe some are.)
For me I/K are better than Shib/Shib. Plus I don't like S/S's FD, because they don't dance to MJ's music! If you would replace their MJ music they easily can dance with that choreography to an another music. Nothing specific.
As the Eurosport folks point out, the music is very staccato but yet they have to do long-glides in step sequences to get the levels. So they're going to have to figure out how to dance to the staccato parts of the music, yet maintain the edges to get the key points. But again, I think that will come with due time. They don't need to peak at NHK. They need to peak at Nationals to get on the Olympic team and then if they make it to the Olympics peak again to do well. NHK is just one step toward that process.
Again, I/K may have more raw talent than the Shibs, but that certainly hasn't been reflected in their face-to-face matchup record.
If you practice again and again and again, you'll hit the levels. Why can't they hit the levels? It's not like asking someone with a bad back to do level 4 layback. They have no physical limitation to hit levels. What could possibly cause it? The only possible explanation is work ethic.
I guess Gilles and Poirier should just shoot themselves. They lost to I&K and the Shibs.
As to why Zuhlin would lie, a better questions is why he'd go out of his way to repeatedly bash them. Perhaps because he's a bit bitter? Perhaps because he wants B/S to be the definitive Russia number 1 and part of that is reverse politicking? I''m very reluctant to take his statements at face value.
I&K just don't seem to be as well conditioned as, say, D&W. They don't hold their positions with ease and seem to struggle. No matter how great their basics are, they can't hide it.
Zhulin was good to B&S *last* season. I could see the crazy starting with ruining Ennio Morricone's masterpiece Man with a Harmonica with some run-of-the-mill Tosca Fantasy rendition. The crazy is fully blown with another country bumpkin's version of Russian ice ballet with the incredibly cheesy Four Seasons. So really, Zhulin only came up with half of a good program. And I am a B&S fan.
If I have to send my kids to an ice dancing coach, I would steer clear of Zhulin and Morozov and send them to Krylova.