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  1. #1
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    Valova & Vasiliev- underrated or not?

    It is interesting when great Russian pair teams of the past come up Valova & Vasiliev are never even mentioned it seems. The ones that come up are Gordeeva & Grinkova, Rodnina and Partners #1 and #2, Berezhnaya & Sikharulidze, Miskutienok and Dmitriev, Protoppopovs, and sometimes Totmianina & Marinin.

    Valova & Vasiliev though were at or near the top a long time as amateurs, winning World titles in 1983, 1985, and 1988, European titles in 1984, 1985, and 1986, and an Olympic Gold and Silver. They were the dominant team for several years on hand before a poor performance at the 86 Worlds saw them lose their title to Gordeeva & Grinkov who they would then never really overtake as the top pair again, despite an upset victory over them at the 88 Worlds.

    So are they underrated or are they as some people seem to think a team in the right place at the right time, who capatilized on a strange and erratic period of Soviet pairs and top pairs around the World in general in 81-84, who were fast politiked to the top with a questionable World title (to some people who thought Baess & Theirbach and/or Underhill & Martini should have beaten them) in 1983 just due to being the best of a mostly unstable lot of top Soviet pairs at the time, and who were just a filler for the Soviet federation until a greater pair like G&G or someone else came along. Or is there just nothing memorable enough about their skating or their impact. I could see how people might see them as just a stopgap between the Rodnina and Gordeeva & Grinkov eras in Soviet and World pairs skating. As well Underhill & Martini who many thought should have won the 83 Worlds (not neccessarily my opinion but I have heard alot of others say this), who did beat them at the 84 Worlds after bombing at the Olympics, and went on to far outshine them in the also often highly political pro world of skating, seem to be thought of by many as the best pair of that generation now as well.
    Last edited by judgejudy27; 05-23-2011 at 06:01 AM.

  2. #2
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    V/V as well as T/M are for some reason really not liked that much as G/G or B/S. Although both couples possessed outstanding skills and qualities, they are not worshipped that much and often treated as “another Russians who took Gold”.
    BTW, I would have never thought of U/M as of the best pair of the generation . I guess it’s their Pros career that made many in the US and Canada think they were in a league of Valova/Vasiliev, Selezneva/Makarov or even better. After watching the youtube videos I would say Baess/Thierbach were a real threat for Soviet couples in V/V time.

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    I don't think V/V was underrated. Like T/M, they often got the job done and won the major titles, but I found them neither exciting nor charismatic to watch. They also weren't blessed with the youth and beauty of G/G, which didn't help them become endearing to the audience.

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    Quote Originally Posted by orbitz View Post
    I don't think V/V was underrated. Like T/M, they often got the job done and won the major titles, but I found them neither exciting nor charismatic to watch. They also weren't blessed with the youth and beauty of G/G, which didn't help them become endearing to the audience.
    ITA.
    I don't see how they can be underrated with such an amazing palmares.
    They were good, they won many titles. But not really exciting, nor charismatic. IMO.

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    1980-1984 did have great turmoil. So many teams were inconsistent. Everything was in flux. There were also the Carruthers'. Baess and Theirbach were the world champions and could not repeat. V/V filled a vacuum of inconsistency.

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    Some of their music choices leave something to be desired.

    In the mid 80s, a great many coaches and choreographers undercut the impact of their teams and singles skaters by going with zzzzz-making arrangements of familiar music -- odd disco-type mixes of classical music. They sound awfully flat.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by viennese View Post
    Some of their music choices leave something to be desired.

    In the mid 80s, a great many coaches and choreographers undercut the impact of their teams and singles skaters by going with zzzzz-making arrangements of familiar music -- odd disco-type mixes of classical music. They sound awfully flat.
    Same with Eltsova/Bushkov, Shiskova/Naumov, Petrova/Tikhonov in the 90s/2000s. All excellent pair teams with textbook elements undermined with poor music and program choices.

  8. #8
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    V&V winning the world title in 1983 is a result that still irritates me just as it did the night it happened. There are two camps - those who look at their style as a revolution in pairs skating and their sbs triple toes being reasons for the judges giving them first place despite glaring errors, versus the more dated but technically superior and super clean program skated by Baess & Thierbach. I wish it was on youtube but right after V&V's marks were shown, the USTV feed cut to Kitty and Peter Carruthers who had already skated and after finding out that V&V were ahead of B&T Kitty is very clearly heard exclaiming;

    ''They're ahead of Tassilio & Sabine? But that's crazy. CRAZY!''

    V&V were the better pairs team but on the night did they deserve the 1983 World title? Not for me, but I can understand others thinking they did. But in the pairs maelstrom left in the wake of Rodnina's retirement, Baess & Thierbach were clearly the most consistent pair in terms of performances and placements between 1981 and 1984. The irony is that their two biggest mistakes in top flight competition came at totally the wrong time - the Olympic SP's of 1980 and 1984.

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    I was surprised Baess & Theirbach werent moved up to 2nd place after the LP in Sarajevo though. They were 4th after the SP so still easily in reach of the silver. It looked like they had a pretty good skate in the LP, despite a couple small mistakes, and one would have thought with their rep they would be easily moved past pairs they generally dominated like the Carruthers or newcomers like Selezneva & Makarov, yet they got a really low 2nd set of marks and were kept in 4th.

  10. #10
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    I've seen a few performances by Valova and Vasiliev on youtube and I think they were very good. After reading about both teams and their histories in various skating books, I think they were probably less beloved than Gordeeva and Grinkov because they didn't have the same obvious romantic relationship (I'm not sure if V and V were ever romantically involved). I don't think they were much less good than G and G though, lol sorry for the poor grammar.

  11. #11
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    The one program V & V free program I loved (from Worlds in 1986) was so full of content, no wonder they tired towards the end. There must have been about 24 elements in there at least.

    Watching 1984 Worlds again, I would probably have put Baess and Thierbach ahead of Valova and Vassiliev. The German team were super fast too.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue_idealist View Post
    I've seen a few performances by Valova and Vasiliev on youtube and I think they were very good. After reading about both teams and their histories in various skating books, I think they were probably less beloved than Gordeeva and Grinkov because they didn't have the same obvious romantic relationship (I'm not sure if V and V were ever romantically involved). I don't think they were much less good than G and G though, lol sorry for the poor grammar.
    V & V were married for a few years. Don't know if it was a "genuine" marriage or just one of convenience, though. I think they divorced before Vasiliev started coaching, though. Weren't V&V the pair that really started the trend of SBS triples? Also, the impression I got when they first came on the scene was that, physically, Yelena seemed short and round while Oleg seemed quite tall and thin. Looking at the old videos now, it's surprising to me to see how tiny she actually was.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blue_idealist View Post
    I've seen a few performances by Valova and Vasiliev on youtube and I think they were very good. After reading about both teams and their histories in various skating books, I think they were probably less beloved than Gordeeva and Grinkov because they didn't have the same obvious romantic relationship (I'm not sure if V and V were ever romantically involved). I don't think they were much less good than G and G though, lol sorry for the poor grammar.
    At the time that G&G were directly competing against V&V, there was no romantic involvement between Katia & Sergei. That happened in late 1988/early 1989, after V&V had retired. So I don't think it was a matter of one pair having the more obvious romantic relationship at the time.

  14. #14
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    The 86 Worlds pretty much set in stone Gordeeva & Grinkov were the new #1s for good, and Valova & Vasiliev would only beat them in the future if G&G made mistakes. If V&V had skated better at the 86 Worlds and kept their title they might have had a fighting chance going forward.

    The 86 Worlds was really the turning point of the quad in all discliplines:

    Ladies- Thomas establishes herself as the defacto rival for Witt with her upset title win over Witt. Witts short program error opened up a whole new World for Thomas as I highly doubt she would have won otherwise, and Thomas would have been less hyped and more vurnerable to being pushed and even overtaken in the U.S by people like Kadavy and Trenary had she won here. Winning her firmly put her firmly as the U.S #1 over Chin, Kadavy, and Trenary for the forseeable future, even after she lost the U.S title to Trenary she never lost this status really.

    Beyond that Witt losing may be the reason she went for 1988 and her second Oly Gold. Had she won here she might have happily retired. Losing here gave her the hunger to fight and prove she can win her title back, and then after winning or even skating in 87 of course she was going for the Olympics.

    Manley with her spectacular LP established herself as a certain threat for the next 2 years, and the judges took her very seriously if she could stay on her feet from this point forward.

    Ivanovas career hit a crossroads here, and was clearly on the decline from this point on.

    And for Chin it turned out to be a final curtain call of sorts, when it might have seemed at the time the start of a promising comeback.


    Men- Boitano who was pretty much never touted as a potential major event winner up to now marked himself as a major contender for the 88 Olympic Gold with his huge upset win here. Orser marked himself as the main destined to perennialy come 2nd with his 4th straight World and Olympic silver, even though he did manage to win the World title in 87 thankfully. Fadeev only needing to place 3rd or 4th in the LP to win the gold completely threw away a virtually certain 2nd World title which would have established him as the dominant mens skater by far halfway to Calgary, and like Ivanova his career would only go downhill from here. And Sabovcik after a disaester was never seen again. Petrenkos 3rd place finish in the LP was also a sign of things to come.


    Pairs- The biggest shakeup was G&G defeating V&V which pretty much set the new pecking order in stone for good, despite V&V winning one last World title in 1988. Selezneva & Makarov after looking like the heir apparents and the team perhaps ready to unseat V&V were now relegated to permanent #3 Russian pair status, and destined for a string of mostly 4th place finishes thereafter to prevent Soviet podium sweeps.

    Dance- Klimova & Ponomarenko were so close to beating Bestiamova & Bukin here. They didnt, losing the gold by .1, and from there never came close to beating B&B again and were forced to wait their turn until after the 88 Olympic season is over. Had they won here they almost certainly would have taken over for good as the new Soviet and global #1 and B&Bs reign would have been over relatively quickly. Wilson & McCall esablished themselves as the perennial bronze team, breaking up the Soviet sweeps, for the next few years as well.

  15. #15
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    Wasnt Vasiliev also married to Tatiana Totmianina for a period of time before divorcing?

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    As with many of the "Soviet-Era" pairs, they concentrated on speed, power and technical content so much that their eligible performances seemed to lack "refinement".

    I enjoyed this performance - their last together - more than any other:

    Valova & Vasiliev (RUS) - 1994 Canadian Professionals AP
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhCG3MoIuxA

  17. #17
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    Amazing!
    They skated like two beautiful adult people here.
    Just perfect.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by judgejudy27 View Post
    Ladies- Thomas establishes herself as the defacto rival for Witt with her upset title win over Witt. ...Thomas would have been less hyped and more vurnerable to being pushed and even overtaken in the U.S by people like Kadavy and Trenary ...
    Beyond that Witt losing may be the reason she went for 1988 and her second Oly Gold. Had she won here she might have happily retired. Losing here gave her the hunger to fight and prove she can win her title back, and then after winning or even skating in 87 of course she was going for the Olympics.
    I agree with most of your analysis but woudl quibble over a couple of points.

    Thomas was the best overall competitor among the US ladies then and I don't think Trenary or Kadavy would ever have been able to surpass her. I think either one or both might have been able to get more domestic political support had Thomas not won here, but internationally Thomas was going to dominate them. She had very solid figures and her free skating was technically competitive for the time and she had real presence on the ice (the elusive 'it' factor). Crucially she had a better mental game than either Trenary or Kadavy both of which ran hot and cold and had an unfortunate tendency to fall apart at inconvenient times. I think Thomas's mental game is underestimated because she was up against Witt who arguably had the toughest mental game ever (or at least since Henie).

    I think Witt was in through 88 no matter what happened because she was skating for the DDR whose sporting establishment didn't really care about trivial things like 'what does the skater want?'. She had a cosier relationship with the authorities than most athletes but if push came to shove they were going to send her (who else did they have?)

    Realistically the only way she could quit before 88 was to start losing and she had too much pride to throw competitions. Losing to Thomas did temporarily re-ignite her competitive drive leading to her greatest (one truly great?) LP performance at 87 worlds. But in retrospect she was running on fumes in 88 and barely eked out victories in Calgary and Budapest on her personal charisma and competitive nerve (and maybe sympathetic judges who didn't care about trivialities like spin positions or program composition, not to mention proportion or speed in figures).

    I kind of think that if the international judges were going to dump her it would have been in 1987, her uncharacteristically low placement in figures may have been a warning to put up or bow out. But she was clean and confident in the SP (althtough the program, as a program, was just awful) and followed it with her great LP that kept her in the mix for 88.

  19. #19
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    Oh, and while I'm here. I agree with the poster who compared V/V to T/M - Solid technical performers without much charisma.

    If anything V/V were more interesting than T/M (who, despite their unquestioned technical ability seemed ..... cold - in all meanings of the word).

  20. #20

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    Just stumbled across this video of an unusual ensemble performance. Don't recall ever seeing it before. Thought it was quite interesting.

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