Best Tatarstan athletes in 2022

What Tatarstan athletes stood out last year

The Winter Olympics in Beijing is the main and, as it turned out, almost the only big international sports event Russia competed in last year. Tatarstan won five medals: in hockey and figure skating, ski jumping and snowboarding surprising both the Russian sports community and Realnoe Vremya’s sports journalist Jaudat Abdullin.

“Gold-plated” vice champion Yevgenia Tarasova

Yevgenia Tarasova’s silver she won together with Vladimir Morozov is the main sports accomplishment in Tatarstan in 2022. The Olympics are the main sports event of 2022 and Tarasova is an athlete who achieved the best result in this tournament. The situation around this award adds value to this result. If Tarasova and Morozov went to the 2018 Olympics as the country’s top pair and confidently getting a silver medal in the team event winning their competition — the short programme, ending up on the Olympic team for Beijing looked unlikely at some point.

Two pairs of Tamara Moskvina Boikova and Kozlovsky and Mishina and Gallyamov placed Tarasova and Morozov to the back seat replacing each other. At one moment, Yevgenia and Vladimir’s personal coach Nina Mozer refused from them. Maxim Trankov worked with them most of the pre-Olympic four-year cycle almost optionally, Sergey Voronov moonlighted, but the main job resumed only with the transition to Eteri Tutberidze’s group. However, by this time, Yevgenia and Vladimir had managed to break up and stopped existing as a couple in life and they had to rebuild the new-old relations when they got acquainted and created a duet. Everybody who was interested in figure skating were aware of their breakup, only the in-crowd knew that Yevgenia started to date another figure skater Fyodor Klimov. And at a moment it started to seem that Tarasova and Morozov would skate together only before Beijing, and that’s it.

The start of the Olympic tournament landed another blow on Yevgenia and Vladimir when nobody but the national team’s top athletes were chosen for the team event. But Mishina and Gallyamov performed their programme winning a gold Russia hasn’t yet received because the IOC hasn’t yet closed Kamila Valieva’s case. Perhaps, Tarasova and Morozov had known long before the tournament they wouldn’t be in the final team and they felt calmer though they were offended because of not being on the list and deprived of a chance of gold. However, the athletes started the short programme absolutely calm, focused though Galatea screwed things up or Pygmalion didn’t ride out.

If Tarasova and Morozov went to the 2018 Olympics as the country’s top pair, ending up on the Olympic team for Beijing looked unlikely at some point. Photo: Maxim Platonov/

The sweetest tears

But the closer Beijing was, the better the pair skated running the risk of missing the main competition in four years. It finished third in the country’s championship in Saint Petersburg and finished European runner-ups more confidently (by the way, Tarasova’s most rivals physically don’t have because of the absence of international calendar). But Tarasova and Morozov performed the short programme so that Alexandra Trusova applauded so hard. A 0,16-point lag behind Sui Wenjing and Han Cong the judges defined is the price of some inhalation and exhalation the pair didn’t manage to make in unison. It couldn’t be determined in elements, the difficulty of jumps, throws and supports, Sui and Han simply competed at home.

Let’s be objective, the athletes didn’t manage to absolutely synchronically finish a jump at the beginning of the free programme and perhaps lost the gold. But nobody was aware of this at that moment, and there were fears that this almost unnoticeable slip as it happened earlier cause a landslide of mistakes like a small stone even English-speaking commentator of Euronews who exhaled “Oh, year” after the successful completion of the throw didn’t want. Trankov started to cry behind the rink board and the Euronews commentator whose voice was suspiciously shivering with the last music chords. Tears accompanied the figure skating before the scores were announced, the semi-empty hall shouted “Bravo”. Perhaps, even Tutberidze who didn’t sit with the figure skaters in the Kiss&Cry area allowed herself to blink in the foyer of the Beijing ice palace like Meryl Strip performing Miranda Priestley. Who knows.

Chinese Sui Wenjing and Han Cong seemingly retired from sport to treat numerous injuries and sit on their laurels. In summer, Yevgenia Tarasova married Fyodor Klimov and continued performing with Vladimir Morozov in autumn. Three years left to the Olympics in 2026, Tarasova will be 31, Morozov will turn 33.

Vic Ivan Wild’s tears

Tarasova and Morozov’s sports destiny is a series of obstacles they go through if one learns the story of little Yevgenia Tarasova coming from a settlement who was born in an ordinary family. The fate of the next Olympian Vic Wild is also a series of ups and downs. However, fortunately, the ups coincided with Olympic seasons. Two golds in giant slalom and parallel giant slalom in Sochi already made him Russia’s sports hero. Plus, this was an amazing reply to those who had been showering the success achieved at the Olympics at home with dirt. When you start enumerating the authors of golds — Viktor An’s three golds, Wild has two, figure skaters had three — critics gradually go silent and change the topic.

But Wild’s post-Olympic seasons who was brought to team Russia by his Russian roots and marriage with his teammate Alyona Zavarzina were so tough that he was thinking about retiring. He got divorced, his spouse went to England but Wild stayed. And after 2018 when he didn’t end up on team Russia, he left team Kranoyarsk Krai where he was denied financing to team Tatarstan.

“I feel gratitude. Thanks to all the people who believed in me. I said if I got a medal, I would retire,” Wild was happy about his bronze said in Russian spoiling some words but still pronouncing them through tears. “It was zero one? Full stop zero one? Zero full stop zero one? I didn’t know! I didn’t know! Wow!”

This is who Wild reacted to the way he outperformed his rival in the quarterfinals — South Korean Li San Ho. Moreover, over three years of his previous performances for the Tatarstan Freestyle and Snowboard Federation, the athlete had once won the country’s Cup and a bronze of the Russian Championship.

But the Olympic bronze justified his invitation to our republic’s team in surplus. Moreover, its sports clubs trained many athletes defending the colours of Russian regions and even other countries for the Olympics in Beijing. Figure skater Konstantin Milyukov in team Belarus, his colleague Kamila Valieva was born in Kazan but competed for Moscow, Leninogorsk-born ski jumper Roman Trofimov competing for Nizhny Novgorod, four female hockey players — Liana Ganeyeva, Fanuza Kadirova, Olga Sosina and Landysh Falyakhova — are students of Tatarstan hockey, but the absence of a pro team in the republic makes them play far from their homeland.

Кудерметовой Veronika Kudermetova’s first Slam

Perhaps, this might seem unnatural but Veronika Kudermetova’s journey to the tennis Olympus wasn’t a walk in the park. There were enough obstacles. Some ten years ago, her father once-famous hockey player Eduard Kudermetov who celebrated his 50th jubilee this year complained in one of children tournaments that the republic didn’t help his daughter’s career. The republic was then preparing for the World Student Games signing contracts with Yekaterina Yashina from Saratova (seemingly she is now back to her city’s team), Anna Smolina, brought Ksenia Lykina from Czechia and, to be fair, it didn’t care about schoolgirl Veronika. Eduard Kudermetov even talked about Austria’s interest, but here we should thank the CSKA sports community whose ice hockey team he played for during the last years. “They hosted, warmed...” While the sports management of the republic together with the tennis federation managed to persuade Muscovite Kudermetova like it earlier did with Muscovite Tarasova to compete for their republic’s team. Moreover, this proposal was part of a “package” with her younger sister Polina Kudermetova’s employment.

Fortunately, professional tennis organisations, the women’s WTA and men’s ATP, didn’t ban Russian athletes from competing during the season. Not because of some principles, it is sheer business. The same International Tennis Federation banned them, and both the Davis Cup and the Federation Cup didn’t include Russian teams. But they could compete individually, and Kudermetova together with Belgian Elise Mertens won in the doubles of the final WTA tournament, in fact, the unofficial world tennis championship.

Jaudat Abdullin

The author’s opinion does not necessarily coincide with the position of Realnoe Vremya’s editorial board.