Yelena Vyalbe about Norwegians’ domination: ‘I couldn’t care less’

Tatarstan skiers celebrated the next championship on a large scale

Tatarstan’s skiing team has won the Russian Team Cup this season for the sixth time, moreover, doing this for the fifth time in a row. This is total domination, but the current victories are much more valuable than the previous ones journalist of Realnoe Vremya’s sports staff Jaudat Abdullin will talk about more in his report.

Gold medals are not equal!

Kazan actively prepared for the next sports weekend last Saturday. Your correspondent came across a camera crew of a federal sports TV channel and fans of Rubin who were preparing for the next match of their favourite team were met at the end of the route, near a shopping and leisure complex where dominators of Russian skis summed up the victorious season — the management, coaching staff and members of the Tatarstan skiing team.

There is a team event in skiing perhaps ordinary sports fans don’t really understand but it is very important for the management of federations. Precisely the team event determines the level of development of skiing in a region because a star can grow up wherever, sometimes even against any logic, while a team victory determines the scale of development of this sport. Moreover, the absence of the international calendar this year suggests that last season other regions got as stronger as possible thanks to their leaders who used to compete only in world championships, university games and World Cup legs. But in 2023, they competed only in the nationals and Russian Cup stages. Alexander Bolshunov and Denis Spitsov, Natalia Nepryayeva and Yulia Stupak, their teammates in the men and women’s national squads this year became competitors of Tatarstan athletes, but even this didn’t impede our republic’s athletes to win and invite President of the Cross-Country Skiing Federation Yelena Vyalbe, renowned skiers of the past Alexander Zavyalov and Nikolay Zimyatov to the celebration of victories.

Started speaking with delight

Mind-numblingly beautiful girls went downstairs of the complex as if they guessed that the father of all victories of Tatarstan skiing, President of the republican federation Ilshat Fardiyev was coming to see them. He just needs to be given a reason to joke, he hugged every beautiful girl, kissed each of the champions showering them with compliments. Female skiers are hard-working, they skied during the year spitting their “lungs” at the finishing line, spreading the snot, then lying without energy at the finishing line to shine now in all the senses of the world: in breath-taking evening dresses, with mind-blowing hairdos. Who is the champion? You are the champions!

President of the Cross-Country Skiing Federation Yelena Vyalbe is true to herself. She is harsh about Scandinavians every time she is asked by another journalist to comment on international skiing events without Russians, so now she claimed that she “couldn’t care less” when asked about their feelings during the competitions without Russia. This already became a “mandatory programme” allowing media representatives not to ponder on headlines.

Vyalbe’s stance doesn’t change, she is right in being principled but wrong from a perspective of the examination of spatial impression. Mrs Vyalbe also avoided a journalist’s question, “I don’t know what’s happening in swimming,” while this significantly reduces analytic possibilities. Russian sport is returned to the international arena, and in some sports this comeback is justified (boxing, sambo, fencing), and in other sports it looks strange (cycling, rowing and canoeing, taekwondo). The clearance for weightlifting is shocking in general, but this is another story, but the fact that ski sports are still on the sidelines as well as all winter disciplines is a requiem. Yes, Norwegians in general deserve Russia’s justified discontent, but first of all, because the Scandinavians poke their noses where they shouldn’t and try to rule processes where they mean nothing significant. They make changes to figure skating rules without having a single athlete in this discipline, neither do they have one in fencing where Norwegians are actively against the return of Russian athletes to fencing pistes. In these sports, Norway is equal to nothing. But in skiing disciplines, anyway, it is a dominator and one should keep an eye on them.

No trees seen behind the forest

Realnoe Vremya’s correspondent decided not to bother Vyalbe with questions this time guessing that questions at a festivity should sound like toasts and answers should be backtoasts. Mrs Vyalbe would have to cover the champion Tatarstan with good wishes. Nevertheless, she raised the problems that are seen with the naked eye herself. We have a team of champions but without leaders.

“We don’t have Bolshunov, Spitsov, Usyugov, Andrey Larkov is going to retire and there aren’t such strong girls, and this victory was achieved thanks to a big team that sometimes kills everybody with its number,” Vyalbe fired facts. “The victory itself means that cross-country skiing dynamically develops in the republic, which is seen in the number of children participating in different competitions.”

Alexander Zavyalov, who is such a regular guest in Tatarstan who has the right to give an expert opinion about qualitative changes happening in the republic’s skiing, joined this assessment too.

“During my first visit to Tatarstan I remembered the republic had nine centres developing skiing, while now they total over 40. Count yourself how much the number of people doing this sport has increased in four years. And there are six representatives of Tatarstan in Oleg Perevozchikov’s team (it is one of the options for the country’s national team). The youth gradually grow up, leave junior teams but we hope those who grow in this skiing development centres will replace them.”

Yes, it is hard to add something to Vyalbe and Zavyalov’s words because now Tatarstan doesn’t have obvious leaders. Sadly, on the eve of the possible retirement of Andrey Larkov and Aliya Iksanova, we are champions without champions. The republican team’s joint victory shouldn’t hide that in case of the international season we have almost nobody to delegate to the world championship, there would be problems with reaching the U-23 and junior teams except for Russia’s university team.

Neftekhimik is 50 this year!

The fact that female Tatarstan skiers have nothing to do with the victories didn’t let the correspondent of Realnoe Vremya to hug the champions but provided a gorgeous chance of talking with those who founded this wins. If Fardiyev is the father of today’s victories, Neftekhimik sports club from Nizhnekamsk is the grandfather of all victories that will celebrate its 50th jubilee this year. Precisely Neftekhimik had all the female team of the republic at the start of the century and didn’t let it collapse and impeded Tatarstan skiing from dying. Thanks to this new President of the Cross-Country Skiing Federation of Tatarstan Ilshat Fardiyev didn’t come with the burnt terrain but a sport that harvested medals from international university games and world championships in spades. In this respect, both the sports club and its long-term manager Sergey Klipachyov who provided shelter to female Tatarstan skiers when they had to care about other things, not evening dresses and hairdos, should be thanked.

“The Iksanovas sisters — Aliya and Liliya, Dilyara Sabirzyanova and Kazan skier Olga Ageyeva who qualified for the title of an international master of sport defending the colours of our club competed in our team,” Klipachyov started to recall. “I have remembered the first team, plus Elmira Gayanova, Albina Zinatullina and our coach Vladimir Pereturin’s three children. His son Alexey, daughter Tatiana and Lilya are all masters of sport in skiing, Lilya is a master of sport in biathlon too where she started to compete. We finished fourth in the women’s relay twice with such a team, once we lacked some seconds to win bronze medals. It was, of course, phenomenal when not just the region’s team becomes a medallist but a relay consisting of one sports club. In sport you sometimes turn out on the swings. There is either nothing or you go up if coaches work well, a strong generation is selected. I have already said about the generation, about Pereturin too, Sergey Bochkaryov, Valery Golovanov, Leonid Savosin helped him too. As for the sports club, it was a part of Labour voluntary sports union.”

Above-mentioned Savosin, who is from Tetyushi District, also recalled how he worked at the sports club with pleasure.

“Neftekhimik was created in 1973, and a year later I went there to work as a young specialist, after obtaining a specialised degree. My classmate Viktor Sazonov, an athletic coach in the future, offered me to come to Nizhnekamsk, a rapidly developing town during those years with good sports infrastructure, with its camp. We worked with our colleagues — Vasily Valdavin, Anatoly Nikolayev, Viktor Smirnov and were responsible for holding events in the all-Union physical culture training programme, Robert Gayev was responsible for other events, I remember Yury Zhadovsky in athletics. In the end, when I left Nizhnekamsk, the city was considered the most popular in skiing in the republic.”

“Nizhnekamsk is one of the most important districts for skiing development of the republic, this is why we met with the mayor of the city twice, discussed it with the republic’s Rais Rustam Minnikhanov according to which we have a plan to build a municipal skiing school with the federation’s support. These plans will become a reality in the next years, while now we will continue using the old infrastructure,” Ilshat Fardiyev summed up the plans for one of the cross-country skiing development centres in Tatarstan.

Jaudat Abdullin. Photo:

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