Evgeni Plushenko threatened to transfer skaters to other countries because they were refereeing in Russia.
Two-time Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko was disappointed with the jury scores of his students at the Russian junior championship and threatened the Russian Figure Skating Federation (FFKKR) to change the sports citizenship of academy athletes. RIA Novosti Sport explains the failure of one of the leading Russian coaches.
To begin with, a dry statement of fact – Plushenko officially declared war on the leadership of the FFKKR.
Prior to this, the relationship of the two-time Olympic champion with figure skating patrons was tense, the sides were constantly balanced on the blade of a knife, but no one took decisive action. The most acute event between them so far occurred in the 2020/21 season, when Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaya trained under the leadership of Plushenko. In a matter of minutes, Evgeny Viktorovich also did not like the way his athletes were judged, and even at the Russian Championships in Chelyabinsk, they say that the judges were “recharged, energized.” At the same time, Eteri Tutberidze’s group, with which Plushenko was in the most active conflict, entered into a sponsorship agreement with a fuel producer. If we take into account the fact that Khrustalny’s representatives later won two of the three medals (including Anna Shcherbakova’s gold), there can be no ambiguity here.
So, both before and after these words, representatives of the federation tried in every possible way to influence Plushenko’s behavior, and at one point even began to threaten to deprive him of accreditation for competitions. At that time, no concrete steps were taken, and the hostility between Tutberidze and Plushenko gradually subsided. Later, forgive the pun, Yevgeny Viktorovich even appeared to change his tone to “angel” – he began to be less critical of the judges and generally reduced the number of public comments, transferring the speaker’s powers to his wife and co-owner. Yana Rudkovskaya from the academy.
The results of her wards also went uphill – first Sofia Muravyova shone, then at the junior level Veronika Zhilina and Sofia Titova took the lead. The point is, all three were largely made up by Plushenko as athletes, so the fans’ talk about “poaching” and “scraping others’ cream” doesn’t work here. Evgeny Viktorovich clearly grew up as a coach and organizer – so much so that it was his team that went to the Russian junior championship as a favorite in at least one discipline. Where Tutberidze dominated for 8 years.
And then – Titova’s ambiguous response to 140 points for a free program (fourth place), three-quarters clean ultra-c, only silver instead of gold, which was expected from Zhilina. On the pedestal – a girl from Tver Alina Gorbacheva as the winner and Maria Gordeeva, who is not from the most “criminal” headquarters of Sergei Davydov, with the bronze medal that Titova claimed in any case. And the faucet opened:
The Olympic champion also criticized the medal winners of the tournament in a conversation with fellow journalists. No names were given, but it is clear that they were talking about Gorbachev and Gordeeva.
It is worth noting that the current situation is fundamentally different from two seasons ago. Criticism of the referees within the national team is a normal phenomenon, but it usually goes behind the scenes and does not spill over. In any case, FFKKR’s bosses are used to it to some extent. But now, in conditions of international isolation and in a generally hostile geopolitical situation, talking about changing sport (and for participation in the Olympics – again, commonplace) citizenship seems like extremely harsh, provocative statements. And even to some extent as blackmail.
First, changing sports citizenship is not a five-minute matter. The procedure includes several stages, the main of which is the departure from the federation that the athlete currently represents. The so-called “release”, where at the time of the request to change the flag, the crossing cannot occur legally, even if the skater was already in quarantine or had not skated at all for several years.
Plushenko states in his comment that the leadership of his academy and himself as head coach will not object to transfers. But what will FFKKR have to say about this, and even after such a resounding interview? Yes, and as expected, provided that top athletes that no one has any intention of quitting are asked to leave? I think the answer is obvious.
Secondly, Evgeny Viktorovich, in a conversation with his colleagues, mentions that he will refer to the current situation with arbitration. Here is a direct quote:
As a result, changing citizenship is still not a priority for academia. On the contrary, one of the points in negotiations with the top leadership of the country – sports, and only after that, as expected, the situation should change.
What if everything stays the same?
Fans on social networks are already worried – will the resounding interview become an obstacle for Plushenko’s students in the local Russian arena? Let’s say the federation will get very angry and tighten the screws so that not only high scores, but even the podium will not be taken. And then no, no, and thoughts about a possible change in the coaching group to a calmer group will creep into my head. Even Tatyana Anatolyevna Tarasova told RIA Novosti that “no one will be afraid that children will leave her.”
Is this possible? I don’t really count. The fact is that Plushenko Angels, according to RIA Novosti, has a contract system with the main skaters. It should be said that it has been operating since recently. In the “client – player” paradigm, a professional approach (and it must include a dedicated sports school) is important and necessary, and the team of Plushenko and Rudkovskaya is doing the right thing by bringing a culture of business relations to sports. Currently, Sofia Muravyova, the main figure skater of Plushenko, in particular, has a certain contract with the Angels.
And under these conditions, as they say, the possibility of an emergency escape from the ship in the event of a hypothetical storm, if not completely excluded, at least becomes more complicated. So, if the negative impact of Plushenko’s statement outweighs the positive, the Angels team will deal with the consequences together.
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