It turns out one can fight against Valiyeva. But not Trusova but Shcherbakova presented the intrigue

Less than three weeks left to the beginning of the Olympic in Beijing

Perhaps representatives of the Russian Figure Skating Federation breathed a sigh of relief after the end of the ladies’ competition. Now they won’t have to think of which figure skater will go to the Olympics and make sure neither athletes nor honourable coaches are offended. Read in the report of Realnoe Vremya’s sports staff how the European Championships set things right.

What chases Trusova? Bad luck or biased attitude?

If earlier it seemed that Trusova’s five quads were just childishness, now every new competition proves that it is an urgent necessity. The figure skater has forcedly performed programmes with one and two quads, but such content could not place Alexandra closer to the gold medal in any serious competition. The work on the second competition doesn’t help either, though Trusova is almost the only top figure skater to determinately work on its components. At the European Championships in Tallinn, even despite her rivals’ mistakes, Alexandra was out of the game again. No, we cannot say that it is not her fault. There were two falls in her free programme, while a triple Axel wasn’t done again. But her rivals were also far from the ideal.

Both Anna Shcherbakova and even Kamila Valiyeva, who taught us to update her own world records in every competition, shivered. And if this season we leave Valiyeva outside the brackets, many didn’t understand how Shcherbakova lost her just several points. Anna managed to land a quadruple flip and have the perfect protocol, but Alexandra had an edge over Shcherbakova after the short programme and two quads in the free programme. However, this wasn’t enough to outperform the reigning world champion, not to mention the freshly baked European champion.

At the same time, despite all the hardships, Trusova managed to do her key task at the moment: she is certainly going to the Olympics. While this might not have happened. Over these two and a half years, the athlete has been competing as a senior, the expectations and presentiments of her trip to Beijing were different. Now, when several weeks are left to the Olympics, Trusova certainly doesn’t need to simplify her content. While this was some capitulation and betrayal of her ideals. Most importantly, the biggest number of quads is still the figure skater’s only chance of stepping onto the highest position on the podium. Only one thing is unclear: why such a layout applies only to Trusova.

It is incredible that Shcherbakova rose from the ashes

People say when something happens for the first time it is an accident, the second time is a coincidence, the third time is a pattern. But how to call the situation when a figure skater takes herself out from the deadlock for the umpteenth time? Perhaps, Anna Shcherbakova knows the answer to this question. Nobody understood how she did it, but every time there are fewer sceptics. The figure skater started to have problems about a year ago. Firstly, as consequences of coronavirus, then quads went south, in summer she had a knee injury, then a Lutz and loop combo started to fail. But none of this impeded Shcherbakova from achieving her goal and qualifying for Beijing. After the silver at the European Championships, this can be said for sure.

In Tallinn, the athlete didn’t perform a series of jumps in the short programme, but the status of the reigning world champion not only pins hopes on her but also gives her pleasant bonuses. 69,05 points and fourth place aren’t a disaster after the serious mistake in the short programme. For instance, for a similar slip but without a fall at the World Championships in Stockholm, Trusova scored 64,82 points and finished 12th after day one.

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The quite liberal evaluation also influenced Anna’s self-confidence because she claims that she doesn’t have problems, which means the slips in her performances have a different origin. If we look only at the protocols, almost everything was done in the free programme: a quadruple flip, a triple Lutz-triple toe loop combination and Level 4 in all jumps. This was enough to only be in the top 3 but also bridge the gap with Trusova, outstrip her and get closer to Valiyeva in the free programme.

Valiyeva: without world records but with gold medal

Kamila still broke one world record, moreover, it was promising enough. In the short programme, Valiyeva scored more points than at the Russian Championships in Saint Petersburg, which is an unprecedented occurrence. Moreover, the figure skater was unexpectedly below her level in the free programme. Earlier during the training, there were seen alarming calls when Kamila fell, which she hadn’t done in tournaments for several months, and she in general looked heavy. In the competition, the figure skater seemed to be more organised but fell on a triple Axel and made a mistake in a four toe loop combo. Another two quads — Salchow and a combo of toe loops — were top.

Thanks to a big margin after the short programme, it became clear that nothing threatened Valiyeva’s gold. But after the protocols were published, it turned out that Shcherbakova with one quad almost outran Valiyeva with two, the difference between the girls was 0,24 points. If we assume that Anna performed that ill-fated combination of jumps and, for instance, another quad, it is unknown what the tournament in Tallinn would end with. If such a situation repeats at the Olympics, a plot as long as that of Pyeongchang awaits us.

Channel One holds the copyright on the video. It can be watched on Channel One’s YouTube.

Why were the European Championships important?

Besides the medals, of course, it was a test before the Olympic Games and, which is also important, an unofficial qualification for the team event where Russia has a good chance of winning a gold, which means becoming the Olympic champion in the team event.

Our team will head for a pre-Olympic camp to Krasnoyarsk soon where the Olympic team and the Olympic team event’s squad will be announced. Subs of team Russia will also go to the camp besides the European winners and medallists.

Now, the public can just guess whom the Russian Figure Skating Federation will charge with representing the country in the team event. The stakes are too high, while the number of those who wish and should compete is too big. The situation gets complicated because it is permitted to make no more than two substitutions after short programmes, which means some figure skaters will be under stress till the end. A tough decision will have to be made absolutely in all disciplines because the gold or another medal will have to be won, not received. Yes, perhaps just the US team is a real rival, but in figure skating, there have been too many cases when medals were distributed in advance, and it was no good.

For instance, same Kamila Valiyeva had a good chance of obtaining the highest scores for both programmes, but the example of Yulia Lipnitskaya who was amazing in the team event in Sochi but failed her individual competition will live on. The men’s situation is difficult, they aren’t famous for stability. Also, according to the Olympic schedule, team and individual competitions go one by one. Whom to bet on in pairs? To deserving Yevgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov or open the door to the young who have won almost all the competitions in the last two seasons? To give a chance to the first pair in ice dance who have health issues and plan to fight against the French for individual gold or finally give a chance to Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin who are constantly pushed aside? Perhaps, should a debuting pair with growing results be provided with a chance so that nobody gets offended?

Guzyal Yakubova

Figure skating. European Championships.

Tallinn, Estonia


    1. Kamila Valiyeva (Russia) — 259,06.
    2. Anna Shcherbakova (Russia) — 237,42.
    3. Alexandra Trusova (Russia) — 234,36.
    4. Loena Hendrickx (Belgium) — 207,97.
    5. Yekaterina Kurakova (Poland) — 204,73.


    1. Mark Kondratyuk (Russia) — 286,56.
    2. Daniel Grassl (Italy) — 274,48.
    3. Deniss Vasiļjevs (Latvia) — 272,08.
    4. Andrey Mozalyov (Russia) — 265,69.
    5. Yevgeny Semenenko (Russia) — 260,0.

    Ice dance:

    1. Viktoria Sinitsina/Nikita Katsalapov (Russia) — 217,96.
    2. Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin (Russia) — 213,20.
    3. Charlène Guignard / Marco Fabbri (Italy) — 207,97.
    4. Olivia Smart/ Adrià Díaz (Spain) — 196,86.
    5. Lilah Fear / Lewis Gibson (Great Britain) — 196,01.


    1. Anastasia Mishina/Alexander Gallyamov (Russia) — 239,82.
    2. Yevgenia Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov (Russia) — 236,43.
    3. Alexandra Boykova/Dmitry Kozlovsky (Russia) — 227,23.
    4. Karina Safina/ Luka Berulava (Georgia) — 184,05.
    5. Rebecca Ghilardi/ Filippo Ambrosini (Italy) — 178,90.