Change coach, country, hairdos, dresses: Medvedeva became a shadow of her former self for 9 months
Having burnt her bridges, Evgenia runs a risk of bypassing world and European championships
Evgenia Medvedeva spectacularly failed at the Grand Prix stage in Grenoble and didn't get to the final, which will be in Vancouver, Canada, on 6-9 December. Realnoe Vremya tells about her failures and long-term consequences of Evgenia's business with Brian Orser.
Zagitova – Tutberidze – Medvedeva triangle
Exhibition performances of the French Grand Prix stage ended in Grenoble on Sunday when the final list of finalists of the competition was known. The final will be in less than two weeks in Canadian Vancouver. 10 out of 24 people will represent Russia at the decisive stage. Only three of them are in the women's singles. It just so happened that there is a considerable leaning of spectators' interest towards ''women'' in Russian figure skating.
Other types are covered at best as a residual. This is explained very easily – dramas based on the competition of the best athletes attract all sports fans. Such a drama happened in the Alina Zagitova – Eteri Tutberidze – Evgenia Medvedeva ''sports triangle'' with voluntary and involuntary fuel adding by the establishment of Russian figure skating to the hysteria.
As it's known, Medvedeva failed the sports competition against Zagitova and decided to shut the door having moved to Canada to train with coach Brian Orser, a famous ex-skater. It wasn't done in a beautiful way, not like adults do. And many figure skating fans immediately split into two camps: for Zagitova/Tutberidze and Medvedeva/Tarasova. We will remind that the latter unashamedly supported ''dear Evgenia'' during the transmission of the free programme at 2018 Pyeongchang in the air of Channel One. It wasn't possible to guess in her comments that Zagitova was a Russian athlete.
Medvedeva is a shadow of her former 2016 version self
This is why the main question that concerned everybody after the weekend was clear – if Evgenia Medvedeva got to the Grand Prix final. For this, the Russian athlete needed to win the French stage, and there was little hope. At the moment, under the Canadian coach, Evgenia is looking like a shadow of her former self under Eteri Tutberidze.
So did it happen. Medvedeva performed her short programme visually weaker than Japanese Mai Mihara and Rika Kihira. But thanks to the judges' ''will'', she was just 0,4 points far from the first place and rounded up the top 3 before the free programme. Optimists even had the time to say ''Medvedeva will find it easier to attack from the third position''.
Perform so bad that even the judges can't 'save'
But there was no miracle. Evgenia performed the free programme so bad that no judge could save the Russian athlete – she fell onto the ice after the first cascade of jumps (double Axel and triple Rittberger). In the end, she was fifth an fourth in the French series (Kihira won it). And it could have been by far worse, if not the generous premiums from the judges.
So the season's leader Alina Zagitova, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Sofia Samodurova will represent Russia in the Grand Prix final in the women's singles. Zagitova, by the way, is very decently, but not easily through all trials of Pyeongchang and the fight against the rapidly maturing body. The ''Tatar princess'' won all in the Grand Prix series she took part in and leads in the final standings of the season's best results.
Final score after short and free programmes (figure skaters' best results in this season's Grand Prix series)
- Alina Zagitova (Russia) – 238,43
- Rika Kihira (Japan) – 224,31
- Satoko Miyahara (Japan) – 219,71
- Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (Russia) – 219,02
- Kaori Sakamoto (Japan) – 213,90
It should be noted that Medvedeva is far from being on the list. The saddest thing is that the Canadian coach himself seems not to understand what's happening to his famous pupil, while it's already an alarming symptom. Brian Orser said to journalists he didn't know what was going on. Medvedeva was ready, had great training, she did everything. But he adds a lot of uneasy work was ahead, the season was long. The coach concluded saying that they're preparing for the Championship of Russia, they had time to improve the state.
Missing the European and world championships: Championship of Russia is close
And the showdown by way of the Championship of Russia is very close, less than a month left – the country's championship will be in Saransk on 19-23 December. Medvedeva already has to watch the Grand Prix Final on TV, later the appearance of the figure skater in the national team of Russia for the upcoming European and world championships might be under question. 1999 world champion Maria Butyrskaya, in particular, has raised this problem.
''The Championship of Russia will be soon. If the skating [of Medvedeva] doesn't change there, it means she misses the European and world championships because girls in our country want to reach the highest level. There is a psychological problem here when you aren't first any more and when others go ahead of you. One needs to arrange oneself,'' Butyrskaya said to Sport Express.
Indeed, the facts are inexorable. This season, Evgenia hasn't had even any perfect performance, eight mistakes in six performances. In addition, the jumps themselves have been heavier just visually. The scores Medvedeva got in the Grand Prix series (197,91 in Canada, 192,81 in France) are likely to work even to be in the top 3 in the Championship of Russia. Given the participation of the best junior skaters of the country, the scores above 230 and higher will be a pass to the top 3 strongest athletes. Everybody knows that another talent from Tutberidze's group, 14-year-old Aleksandra Trusova, is already performing quadruple jumps in a cascade with triples at training.
After the Championship of Russia, only two athletes will qualify for the European Championships, a third one will be chosen by coaches. But it's obvious today that Medvedeva pins her hopes on this wild card.
To leave people who made you a champion to drop out of the orbit of leaders
Let's conclude. More than six months have passed since Evgenia Medvedeva left Eteri Tutberidze's group. The figure skater managed to change her hairdo (twice) and several dresses and do gown to the second echelon even on the Russian stage. It should be reminded she left people with whom she had lastingly been the first figure skater in the world and second at the Korean Olympics. And it's the saddest thing.
Careful hints about changes in the organism due to natural growth are sometimes heard from experts from ''the Tarasova team''. These arguments would be louder if not Alina Zagitova's example. It's clear Medvedeva's organism isn't changing by 19 years as rapidly as that of 16-year-old Zagitova who has dramatically changed even since the Olympics — she was a child but become a charming long-legged girl.
The escape from the reality where you're the only and the best kills the whole sense of real training with a strong rival. Not the person whom you see four times a year but the one who is always near and motivates to fight is the best rival. Now Medvedeva runs a risk of coinciding with Alina only in big events, not only outside the Grand Prix but also European and world championships.
Medvedeva's divides fans into two camps: 'pieces of shit' and 'kind people'
Medvedeva's psychological state raises big questions too. She was 19 on 19 November. On this day, she thanked only fans and was glad about congratulations: ''A big number of Russian fans waited for Canadian time to congratulate me. Somebody wrote at 4-5 a.m. I appreciate this a lot, it's very important for me. I'm strong because of the people who believe in me. Thanks for being there, thanks again for the congratulations!''
However, after the failure in Grenoble, the tone has slightly changed. ''Do you call such people fans? I'm shocked. This doesn't make me sad. But in general, when you understand that people split into two camps, this looks bad. But in any case, I feel the support of people who were sitting in the stands and shouting words of support. There will anyway be a good, kind person among pieces of shit who will cheer up,'' Medvedeva said to R-Sport.
The division of people into correct and not much is quite a doubtful business for a real champion. No great figure skater has ever insulted fans. And 16-year-old Zagitova doesn't allow it though she has heard as much as Medvedeva from the ''other camp''. But her ''camp'' is only growing thanks to Evgenia's own effort.