Orser wanted and 'broke down': Medvedeva might go down to 'low division' after Russian Championship

Women singles' hornets’ nest: the Canadian’s promises, Zagitova’s recognition and Tutberidze’s new whiz kids

The Russian Figure Skating Championship kicks off today with men's singles short programme. However, the attention of the mass media, fans and experts will be paid to female figure skaters – the setup in women's singles is a tangle of ambitions and contradictions this season. We expect plenty of intrigues, particularly if Medvedeva will take advantage not to go down to the ''low division'', if Tuktamysheva's lung inflammation will guarantee a ticket to the 2019 European Championship, whether the Tutberidze factory's new diamonds will start shining and what Zagitova will prove in the Russian Championship. Realnoe Vremya's preview tells the details.

Tuktamysheva will miss the championship, but her place in the national team is undoubted

Speaking about the qualitative list of RC participants in Saransk, we can't help but regret Elizaveta Tuktamysheva's absence who is having an incredibly bright season. We should remind the 22-year-old figure skater will miss the Russian tournament due to lung inflammation.

However, the third place in the Grand Prix Final will likely allow her to be in the national team of Russia by the federation's decision (if, of course, the athlete recovers from the disease by 21 January when the 2019 European Championship begins in Minsk).

This season can become awesome for Tuktamysheva. She has all trump cards – improving components (though slowly), real triple Axel and incredible emotions on the ice. In addition, her character is very different from the classic one same Zagitova or Kihira stick to, which gives Elizaveta advantage among fans.

This season can become awesome for Tuktamysheva. She has all trump cards. Photo: vk.com

Nevertheless, the absence of Tuktamysheva in Saransk is a chance and big responsibility for Eteri Tutberidze's brilliant juniors (see below) and Evgenia Medvedeva. Responsibility to herself and the coach.

While Orser successfully breaks Medvedeva down, Olympic medallist passes by Grand Prix Final

Due to his favourite Yuzuru Hanyu's injury, Brian Orser changed his plans and will come to the Russian Championship with Medvedeva. The Canadian has already been etched on our memory for a series of public statements. ''Medvedeva's come from a system in Russia and she's thrived, she's done pretty well, she's been the world champion twice, an amazing junior skater. You literally have to break it down and then put all the pieces back together. I think it will be great, really great, but there's no quick fix,'' the Canadian warned.

The overseas specialist is, undoubtedly, handling the first point of this programme (breaking down). The reigning Olympic silver medallist even passed the Grand Prix Final by in Canada. Meanwhile, women's figure skating is becoming younger in front of our eyes. Mainly thanks to Tutberidze's pupils. Though Japan quickly brought Kihira up too.

Failure in Saransk will bring Medvedeva to 'low division'

In the same interview, Orser said he needed two years to change Medvedeva. But the specialist doesn't have the time. Not being on the podium of the RC in Saransk might leave Evgenia outside the European and World Championship this season, which will already mean the final transition to the ''low division''. By the way, in answer to the question ''Do you believe Medvedeva to be a top figure skater in two years?'', 65% of sports.ru users replied negatively.

Not being on the podium of the RC in Saransk might leave Evgenia outside the European and World Championship this season. Photo: vk.com/evgeniamedvedevavk

Short programme of Orser's staff's choreographer is banned even in Canada

As much as Brian Orser boasted in the public, his coaching staff understands Medvedeva has big problems. And Canada tries to solve these problems. So according to TSL channel whom the same sports.ru cites, the Russian figure skater has already changed the short programme. The previous one was staged by Orser's group's choreographer David Wilson, Misha Ge from Uzbekistan has made the new one. Such uncertainty also proves the absence of a clear plan in Orser's coaching staff.

Despite all the above mentioned, in the absence of Tuktamysheva, any place below second will become insufficient for Medvedeva, and this is the main pressure for Evgenia. Apart from Sofia Samodurova (who got to the Grand Prix Final), new mega juniors of Tutberidze can trip up the former leader of women's figure skating – Alyona Kostornaya and Aleksandra Trusova.

Only Tutberidze's whiz kids' deficit of stability can help the adults

Both young talents have very complicated programmes, while Trusova performs stable quadruple jumps. In case of a perfect skate, the juniors will certainly go ahead of Medvedeva and have a higher score. However, the chances are low – the girls lack the same stability at the moment.

Moreover, amid the pressure that started to be put on whiz kids by different experts. Coach Oleg Vasilyev went further than others in this respect. He criticised the very admission of juniors to the Russian senior championship. ''There is no sense in fielding both Kostornaya and Trusova in the Russian senior championship. I like Kostornaya, and Trusova to some extent, but now they can't compete with adults. I don't understand why they should be allowed to the senior championship. Why is this needed? To make those girls who can compete nervous?'' the expert said.

Reigning Olympic champion Alina Zagitova is an undoubted favourite of the Russian championship. Photo: bimru.ru

Interest in Zagitova is falling. Rather from recognition

The interest in Alina Zagitova is inevitably falling due to these intrigues. But this happens likely because of the understanding that the reigning Olympic champion is an undoubted favourite of the Russian championship (Kihira certainly won't be there) and recognised leader of the season in the women's singles.

The point can be confirmed by the new, and not much, news. So according to the United States Sports Academy, Zagitova and Hanyu became the best athletes of November, moreover, the Russian figure skater went ahead of popular American gymnast Simone Biles in the voting.

Alina is also respected in Russia. According to the Public Opinion Fund, it's Zagitova whom Russians consider the person of the year among our athletes – 7% respondents voted for her (Khabib Nurmagomedov and Igor Akinfeyev, both with 5%, follow her).

By Artur Khalilullov