From Elena Vaitsekhovskaya
Platov: “Maxim and Oksana showed much more clean and powerful skating here than at Europeans. It’s their result and I think they understand perfectly well that they did all they could. If not for the injury, if they could have prepared properly it might have been different. They probably could have contended for silver. Competing with Canadians right now is impossible. The only hope is that they’ll retire…They showed the maximum of what is possible in dance and to catch up to it will be really hard."
Re: direction of ice dance
“In the direction of art and ballet. What the champions – Virtue & Moir, showed in Vancouver is on the level of Maya Pliseetskaya and Mikhail Barishnikov in ballet. Of course, not all skaters are born so talented.”
In the mixed zone a journalist asked Oksana if they regret going to Linichuk: “No, after all under Linichuk we became world champions, bronze medalists, although it wasn’t what we left for…”
When did you realize you wouldn’t get more than a bronze?
“When we saw free dance marks. Before that we hoped fro better. Hope dies last, right?”
Did you expect your competitors would pull so far ahead after OD?
Shabalin: “Honestly, no. We counted on getting a big lead in the CD and giving ourselves room, but we couldn’t. After the OD, we understood everything.’
Did you see how the Canadians and Americans skated?
Shabalin: “no, we never watch or pay attention to others’ marks… ”
Practically until the end Russian media was saying D-S could win… but the main blow was in the OD. D-S did their best, got their season’s best (an improvement of + 1.35) and wound up 3rd, behind last year’s 4th place at worlds team Davis & White (who beat them by 4.24) and Canadians Virtue/Moir (ahead by 5.57)
For people who didn’t really train for two years but just fought with a serious injury, D-S achieved something just by finishing the competition, but they didn’t go for that – but to win. And certainly not to lose to Olympic debutantes.
This was the same attitude of Turin silver medalists Belbin-Agosto, and they were 4th in the OD.
The performances of the top 2 teams were discussed til late in the night by sports journalists – “ a different level, a different league, a different galactica, totally changed, but everything came to one conclusion – nothing like this had ever happenened in dance before.
Zhulin, “You won’t believe it, but I stood in the empty locker room before the screen and applauded. First the Americans, then the Canadians. How do they do it? I don’t understand…”
For professionals the fate of Olympic gold was clear a year ago. At worlds in LA Virtue/Moir competed practically without practice, but the bits they did at practice showed that there was a new epoch in dance. One of athletes who grew up in the new system.
Platov: “In our day it was consididered impossible to do 4 twizzles in one direction and then 4 twizzles in the other direction on the same leg. You could kill yourself! Everyone who never did it had to relearn. It’s not easy. The old system existed more than 100 years, the new one – 5. Of course, it’s not a perfect system. But the main thing is that the skaters of the old system were at an obvious disadvantage.”
The performance of the Canadians and Americans in the FD finally proved everything. For D-S it was really hard even to fight for bronze. They won the Europeans a month ago because of the compulsory, in the other 2 portions they’d been behind Italians Faiella/Scali. In Vancouver they beat them.
……In the performances of Canadians and Americans you could not miss that there were no unattended details. The choreographer, acrobat, designers and sound operators work was all on display. They won gold by all parameters. Just as Americans took silver. In direct argument with all those who claim you have to wait in line for years to get on the podium.
This opinion developed in the time of Russian hegemony – there were so many Russian pairs you had to wait your turn. Moreover everyone knew, if you just waited Olympic gold would all by itself just fall into your hands. This is how D-S career started. I think when Linichuk took them she thought she was taking future Olympic champs. Because the support for the top team of the country should be on all levels – including judges’.
The plan was interrupted by the unexpected worsening injury of Shabalin.
The ranking as Russia’s top couple was help up completely artificially for the whole last year – pushing back most of all Khokhlova-Novitski. When Oksana and Maxim had to skip 2008 worlds, K-N suddenly were the top team and got bronze. The next year (again in the absence of the official leaders) they earned the European title.
Two months later D-S came back, and Yana-Sergei’s ranking dropped to second and they were suddenly 6th at worlds. They didn’t skate the best there. But the constant conversations that the first team’s results were paid for by dropping the second were heard too often so that anyone could believe that the result was truly fair.
I suspect that the 2nd Russian pair’s morale was broken then. Otherwise, we might have seen better progress. We began to see a desperate look in the eyes of K-N after worlds 2009, one that expected failure. It’s often hard to dismiss thoughts that your own federation, with total indifference, can sell you any time.
Many specialists considered the win of D-S in LA extremely debatable. But the main problem was that nobody could expect Shabalin’s knee to get any better.
Instead of preparing for the new season, they had to take care of old wounds. While competitors starting moving ahead. And completely took off. In Vancouver, they had set an unbreachable distance between themselves [and the Russians].
Khohlova-Novitski finished 9th. A bit closer than they were 4 years ago, when they debuted in Turin. I cannot say they were sold again, although the final result showed they were behind many competitors who aren’t better than them and that causes one to raise eyebrows. Moreover, unlike their skate at Europeans, here the Russians skated fairly cleanly – without visible errors, even as French Pechalat-Bourzat clearly blew a lift in the free dance, and English Kerrs erred on twizzles.
It was impossible not to note that two American teams finished 2nd and 4th, while French were 6th and 7th. That was a real counterpoint to the argument that the 2nd team of a country never gets judged fairly.
I don’t exclude the possibility that judges from all countries have noticed in recent years – you can do whatever you want with the Russians’ second team, as long as you don’t “offend” the 1st one too much. Then there will be no pretensions..
It’s hard to say which of these two teams were most wounded in Vancouver. A medal of course is worth more than 9th place. But Oksana Domnina told the truth that it wasn’t for this result that they had left their coach, moved to American and took on a really hard life for 2 years. Judging by her face at the ceremony and in the mixed zone, one could tell she didn’t understand that things didn’t turn out as she expected. Because of course she and Shabalin had not seen the way those who defeated them skated.
INTERESTING Before the men’s FREE Skate
Ari Zakarian “It’s a lot of negativity. Plushenko did a great practice, did the 4-3-3 easily, but in the corridors everyone is saying he is not as good as he was before. They are talking about the lack of transistions, and his comments about competitors…It will be hard, after all he practically has no advantage in points after the short program.”
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