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    Oleg Vasiliev: Canadian pairs will become even more of a threat in the Olympic season

    http://rsport.ru/interview/20130328/653582547.html

    1984 Olympic champion in figure skating Oleg Vasiliev , who won as a coach the 2006 Olympics with Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin, analyzes the results of psirs event at the recent world championship in figure skating and shares his expectations from the next the Olympic season in an interview to Andrey Symonenko for the "R-Sport" agency.

    - Oleg Kimovich, I'll start with a simple question - how did you like the World championships, what do you think about Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov win with a 20 points margin over closest rivals?

    - These championships were unexpected in many aspects, and in pairs as well. But Volosozhar and Trankov's victory was anticipated, and it was respect worthy - with all the stress and nervosity the guys skated to the maximum. Their victory is convincing and well deserved. As for the 20 points margin - they skated last in the free program, and judges were generous with their marks. But in any case, they had a significant advantage. Now it would be good for them to stay at this level for another year. The overall level of pair skating was high. There were side-by-side triple Lutzes, and all teams in the top 10, I think, had triple jumps. I'm not talking about the throws and twists that everyone does without exception. The only question is the quality of the elements and which federation you belong to. You can do the same elements and get a few points less if you skate for a federation without certain power. This is a policy that has been, is, and will be in figure skating. As for the direction of pair skating development - I hope, it is not the direction of quadruple twists and throws. I think this should be more a direction toward dance so that pair skating would be more spectacular with the same complexity as now.

    - I can not help but ask about the Kazakh Denis Ten, who does not belong to a powerful federation, but nearly beat Patrick Chan ...

    - He skated so convincingly that the judges could not mark him down. More precisely, they could: if Ten was a Canadian, he would get 20-30 points more. I talked to him and his mom, they prepared to this season very seriously. He could lay claim to such results in the previous seasons as well - but often it was the Kazakhstan Federation factor that didn't allow him to get a certain number of points that would let him place higher. This year, it all came together - he skated well, and other competitors were not too convincing.

    - Speaking about the rivals of Volosozhar and Trankov - many were amazed by the Germans Alyona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy doing a triple axel throw in the last seconds of the free program ...

    - I, too, was, to say the least, astonished.

    - Does this mean that the Canadians will prepare something similar for the Olympic Games, to catch up with Volosozhar and Trankov?

    - If we look at the protocols, we will see that there is a first and second mark. Accordingly, the first, technical, mark of the best Canadian pair, Duhamel / Radford, is higher than that of all our teams. And this has an explanation: the Canadians do difficult technical elements, and they do them well. They have problems with the second mark - skating skills, interpretation, and other things. But it all can come with practice - skating and, shall we say, the work of the Federation. Canadian Federation is working well, so I think, next year there may be changes. The fact that Canadians are going to be a threat this season, it was clear from the beginning. What will happen next year, we'll see - our teams will not stand still either. The same Volosozhar and Trankov, who tried earlier in the season to do six of complex elements in the second half of the long program, I think, will return to the idea. To earn points not by the number of revolutions, but by the distribution of elements. By the way, if the Germans performed the free program in Canada without errors, they would get 145-149 points. That is, the programs of these pairs are comparable. The thing is, Volosozhar and Trankov skate more cleanly and strongly now. And if both teams skate clean, the Russian pair will have an advantage.

    - Trankov himself said there will be no more experiments.

    - They, of course, know better. But I know Maxim, he says one thing today, tomorrow will say another, and it will sound just as convincing. I believe that this is exactly what they think today - that the current version of the program will be enough for them. But when the new season starts and it's time to count points, even decimal - they can make some changes. I think that they will still try to move two or three elements in the second half of the program.

    - How do you evaluate the performances of Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov and Yuko Kawaguchi / Alexander Smirnov in Canada? Do you see progress in their skating?

    - I'll start with Bazarova and Larionov. They didn't have a progress at these championships, but there were reasons: injuries, broken shoes, change of a coach. They had no physical opportunity to step forward. They skated adequately to the conditions, but they were not competitive compared to Canadians, Germans, and even the French. But next year, if they make the right conclusions from this season, they can make even a few steps forward. They have a potential. The pair looks good, well trained, perhaps with the exception of jumps, but it's not the biggest problem. Yuko and Sasha's progress is obvious, but mainly in terms of choreography. Technically, they have remained at the same level, except that the twist was a little better.

    - Was the decision to send to the World Cup the pairs that have struggled recently with injuries, instead of healthy and ready for battle Ksenia Stolbova and Fedor Klimov, correct, in your opinion?

    - I think that the federation executives spent more than five or ten minutes, considering this issue. If they decided so, it means that there were good reasons for this. At a time when the decision was made, Sasha and Yuko had skated elegant, dignified and strong in Novogorsk. It was, I think, the main factor in making a choice in their favor. Bazarova and Larionov were number two team from the start of the season, so it was clear that if they are able to stand up and skate until the end of the program, they would be sent here.

    - Recently, it was announced that Bazarova and Larionov will start training in Nina Moser's group, where Volosozhar and Trankov also train. In your opinion, will these teams benefit from training in the same group?

    - I do not think there is anything beneficial in it for Volosozhar and Trankov. These are the pairs of different styles (both in skating and working), and so they should be trained separately, in different time slots… As a result, there will be no "mutual feeding" or working competition. And no competition means no progress ... As for Bazarova and Larionov, for them, this switch is more useful. They will continue to - or, at least, be able to continue to work with Victor Kudryavtsev and their choreographer, and they will receive better funding (compared to the previous one) and better administrative resources. Whether it will help them - time will tell ...

    Corrected Google a bit
    Last edited by quiqie; 03-29-2013 at 05:27 PM.

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    Quiqie, thank you for your translation. Those of us who wish we could understand Russian appreciate your work very much indeed.
    I know Oleg is honest and knowledgeable; it is therefore all the more depressing to read that federation power means a lot in this sport. No wonder the general public is leaving. When we see a fine performance and are moved and amazed the protocol should be the objective explanation of that reaction we have. We then get the right feedback: what we have just seen, our impressions and the judges' (honest) assessment. When this chain of feedback does not function, the public is not educated.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Belinda View Post
    ...
    I know Oleg is honest and knowledgeable; it is therefore all the more depressing to read that federation power means a lot in this sport...
    Ah yes, skating behind-the-scenes is as much or more important than what we see on the ice. Such an imbalance will always result in controversies, great and small.

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    He overstates the past of Ten! Sure he had a good 2009 worlds with a skate equal to what won but had a sever downslide that was evident even at 2013 4cc!!!

    Maybe quad twists and throws are not the future but 2013 saw sbs triple lutz and throw 3a on the podium and certainly v/t have an astounding triple twist but can maybe try something new but pcs is so good for them!

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    I don't get it. He's saying if Ten was Canadian his score would be 20 -30 points higher?

    Is this just a singles bonus that Canadians get, or is he also saying the Canadian pairs are overscored by 20-30 points? V&M as well?
    He overstates the past of Ten! Sure he had a good 2009 worlds with a skate equal to what won but had a sever downslide that was evident even at 2013 4cc!!!
    Yeah, he's kind of been a mess for a while.

    I don't get this interview at all.

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    Quote Originally Posted by casken View Post
    I don't get it. He's saying if Ten was Canadian his score would be 20 -30 points higher?

    Is this just a singles bonus that Canadians get, or is he also saying the Canadian pairs are overscored by 20-30 points? V&M as well?


    Yeah, he's kind of been a mess for a while.

    I don't get this interview at all.
    He's saying if Ten had a powerful federation backing him, Ten would have scored higher.

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    You have to wonder how much Vasiliev has paid attention to skating in recent years if he really believes the Kazakhstan Federation has held Ten back instead of Ten himself. Frankly, up until this Worlds, Ten has been a bit of a mess. And it would take a miraculous skate for someone who never medals in anything to all of a sudden become World Champ, no matter which country he represents.

    And Vasiliev claims that D/R benefit from "the work of their Federation", and that pairs from "countries without power" may be held back, which makes little sense if you actually look at the performances. It's not like the French and Italians have regularly outskated the Canadians and Russians.

    But I suppose I understand why Vasiliev may have an overexaggerated viewpoint on the "power of Federations". His team of Mukhortova/Trankov was always held behind Kavaguti/Smirnov for some reason, even if it didn't always seem right. I just wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't paid a whole lot of attention to what's been going on lately though, based on his comments in this interview.
    Last edited by stjeaskategym; 03-29-2013 at 11:38 PM.

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    I thought Vasiliev was more intelligent than this interview indicates.

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    Quote Originally Posted by casken View Post
    ...

    Yeah, [Ten's] kind of been a mess for a while...
    There's no doubt that Denis Ten announced himself upon the World scene in 2009 but struggled off and on since then. But ya know, he was 15 when came out of the blocks full steam at Worlds in 2009. He was very good in the sp too at 2010 Worlds. Denis clearly needed time to mature, to adjust to different coaching environments and to fully harness his talent. The politics and scoring stuff is just the ongoing nagging stuff of figure skating, which skaters can't allow to hold them back, otherwise they're doomed.

    Denis Ten is only 19 years of age and something apparently finally clicked inside him. He put the two best programs together in the men's event at Worlds 2013 and he's the reigning World silver medalist. It would be a boon for this sport should Denis continue to bloom.

    I take Mr. Vasiliev's words and reflections with a generous grain of salt, in many respects. But, if you're Canadian, why be so up-in-arms? Why not just rejoice and celebrate the current talent and strong legacy of Canadian figure skating? In many ways, the Russians wrote the book on figure skating politics and persuasive tactics. That doesn't mean Vasiliev is wrong about the importance and impact of behind-the-scenes politiking in figure skating.

    All the skaters can do is try to transcend the politics and indeed the slipperiness of ice. And, I suppose fans have skating forums where they can air their grievances.
    Last edited by aftershocks; 03-29-2013 at 11:46 PM.

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    If the power of Federations matter, I would have thought the Russian, USA, China, France and Japan are the powerful federations. Small Canada a world power house? Well if Vasiliev's allegations are correct, then Putin, Obama, Xi and Hollande should be sacked!
    Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them. – Publilius Syrus

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    Quote Originally Posted by stjeaskategym View Post
    You have to wonder how much Vasiliev has paid attention to skating in recent years if he really believes the Kazakhstan Federation has held Ten back instead of Ten himself. Frankly, up until this Worlds, Ten has been a bit of a mess. And it would take a miraculous skate for someone who never medals in anything to all of a sudden become World Champ, no matter which country he represents.

    And Vasiliev claims that D/R benefit from "the work of their Federation", and that pairs from "countries without power" may be held back, which makes little sense if you actually look at the performances. It's not like the French and Italians have regularly outskated the Canadians and Russians.

    But I suppose I understand why Vasiliev may have an overexaggerated viewpoint on the "power of Federations". His team of Mukhortova/Trankov was always held behind Kavaguti/Smirnov for some reason, even if it didn't always seem right. I just wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't paid a whole lot of attention to what's been going on lately though, based on his comments in this interview.
    What is there to not understand? Canadian fed is much more powerful than Kaz fed, which is a little player in the political game. It's not like Kaz fed held Ten back (your opinion); they just don't have the power of the big shots like Canada, USA, Russia, to name a few.

    Your comment about M&T and K&S is totally meaningless. Both pairs skated for Russia, so it's a non-issue. The RSF did not strongly push M&T ahead because M&T hardly ever delivered at the senior level, so why would they not place behind K&S who were skating well enough to be medal contenders?

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    Quote Originally Posted by spikydurian View Post
    If the power of Federations matter, I would have thought the Russian, USA, China, France and Japan are the powerful federations. Small Canada a world power house? Well if Vasiliev's allegations are correct, then Putin, Obama, Xi and Hollande should be sacked!
    US fed is notoriously not good at politicking effectively. Also you seem to be forgetting that the politics of figure skating is only one factor (albeit influential to varying degrees and in varying circumstances) that impacts the results.

    Oh Canada! A fairly big powerhouse these days in the world of figure skating. It's very important to have the requisite talent to promote, however. Also, there are limits to politicking as well, which means what happens on the ice may or may not trump the politics.

    The point really is, read between the lines and figure out that everything that happens in figure skating can't be described or interpreted so literally and in always strict black and white terms. At least Mr. Vasiliev seems to have struck some nerves, which is generally the aim, eh?


    ETA:
    Part of my reading of Vasiliev's comments is this: S/S are sure to be threatened by the Canadians next season, while V/T are untouchable.

    IMO, the main thing that threatened S/S this season (and probably next for that matter) is age, time and illness presenting technical constraints; difficult challenges compounded by ill-conceived artistic choices. Not to mention politics, which has never been in their favor. All the more remarkable then that Aliona and Robin are 4-time World champions largely by virtue of their talent and hard work.
    Last edited by aftershocks; 03-30-2013 at 12:10 AM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by DaveRocks View Post
    I thought Vasiliev was more intelligent than this interview indicates.
    Keep in mind this is a translation. It may sound different in the native tongue, or unedited.

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    Quote Originally Posted by aftershocks View Post
    Part of my reading of Vasiliev's comments is this: S/S are sure to be threatened by the Canadians next season, while V/T are untouchable.
    Which is quite true IMO, along with everything else he said.

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    ^^ It may or may not be true. Obviously, it's true politically and potentially. And again it's possible to agree or disagree with everything Vasiliev said to varying degrees, or to accept everything he said whole hog (whether or not his underlying meanings and intentions are fully grasped).

    Certainly, Vasiliev has an interest in forcefully or subtly driving the point home about V/T's apparent dominance and untouchable status, along with the Canadian teams' apparent potential and ability to "threaten" the aging 4-time World champions. In actual fact, S/S are barely mentioned in the interview (at least in the translated version presented here).
    Last edited by aftershocks; 03-30-2013 at 12:39 AM.

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    I think this interview reflects more of the skating system that he competed in than it does now. If the Canadian federation was so powerful, Canada would have a lot more Olympic medals than it does. And V&M would not have finished second in their hometown. It's unfair to suggest that D&R, who clearly worked their butts off to earn that podium finish, somehow were given a boost by the federation. And not to take anything away from that achievement, but they're not yet a challenge to either the Russians or the Germans at the Olympics if all skate cleanly.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vash01 View Post
    What is there to not understand? Canadian fed is much more powerful than Kaz fed, which is a little player in the political game. It's not like Kaz fed held Ten back (your opinion); they just don't have the power of the big shots like Canada, USA, Russia, to name a few.
    I said that wasn't my opinion, it was Vasiliev's opinion. No federation, whether it is Kazakhstan or Russia, could have helped Ten gain more points when he was bombing competition after competition. I think Vasiliev's claim is silly. I wonder when is the last time he's watched Ten before this Worlds.

    Quote Originally Posted by Vash01 View Post
    Your comment about M&T and K&S is totally meaningless. Both pairs skated for Russia, so it's a non-issue. The RSF did not strongly push M&T ahead because M&T hardly ever delivered at the senior level, so why would they not place behind K&S who were skating well enough to be medal contenders?
    That's my point... M&T never beat K&S even when they maybe should have on at least one occasion just because K&S were generally the better team and Russia's #1. It shouldn't matter who's #1 and who's #2, and depending on the day, it should have been okay for those teams to beat each other. So Vasiliev obviously saw the games being played there. And perhaps that's influenced his strong opinion here (where he believes politics and country affiliations have more of an influence on results than they actually do).

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    Quote Originally Posted by blueglass View Post
    I think this interview reflects more of the skating system that he competed in than it does now. If the Canadian federation was so powerful, Canada would have a lot more Olympic medals than it does. And V&M would not have finished second in their hometown. It's unfair to suggest that D&R, who clearly worked their butts off to earn that podium finish, somehow were given a boost by the federation. And not to take anything away from that achievement, but they're not yet a challenge to either the Russians or the Germans at the Olympics if all skate cleanly.
    He probably see D&R as a threat and decided to hit them down before they truly become a threat.

    I am sure many Canadians do wish their Federation is more powerful than the others for Canada has been struggling to get a formidable lady or pairs to be strong podium contenders for the last few years. And wow..I am impressed with the Korean Federation. They are getting there aren't they? At least in the ladies. And yes, the Japanese Federation is powerful too. Look at the depth of their ladies and men. The USA Federation is not doing too badly ... getting to be more powerful with all the potentials waiting in the wings. Come on Vasiliev, Russian Federation is not doing too badly. The Federation is pushing well for V&T. Be patient. I can see Russian Federation gaining strength in lobbying for their ladies.

    Sadly, the Australian Federation is not even in the game with Spain and Khazakstan. Time to lobby for Brooklee Han!
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    I've always perceived Skate Canada as one of the more powerful Federations in figure skating. That's not to say that their skaters don't earn their places. As Worlds showed, they have without a doubt the strongest team across all of the four disciplines. I took Vasiliev to be saying Ten would have won if he was representing a country with a stronger skating Federation, which I tend to agree with.

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    Quote Originally Posted by blueglass View Post
    I think this interview reflects more of the skating system that he competed in than it does now. If the Canadian federation was so powerful, Canada would have a lot more Olympic medals than it does. And V&M would not have finished second in their hometown. It's unfair to suggest that D&R, who clearly worked their butts off to earn that podium finish, somehow were given a boost by the federation. And not to take anything away from that achievement, but they're not yet a challenge to either the Russians or the Germans at the Olympics if all skate cleanly.
    Note that the Canadian fed has steadily built and maximized its political power since 2002. Why be so defensive and in denial? If the U.S. had as much political power, I as a U.S. fan would be celebrating. As it is, U.S. fed isn't even very savvy about helping to effectively support and develop its skaters. Times are indeed different in many ways but not so much in every way.

    Lots of factors are involved. Read up in the Trash Can thread re the earnest but misguided Petition to award Ten a gold medal... There are a number of posts ongoing in that thread about politicking or lack thereof by Canadian fed and feds in general.

    V/M were not on their game, even though they improved in the FD from what they were able to do in the SD. And even then, they're still top-notch of course. However, D/W were quite clearly better in the SD and quite good in the FD. As someone mentioned in the Trash Can thread I cited, the judges had enough controversy on their hands re the scoring of the men's event. In any case, it would have been tighter scoring had V/M actually been at full strength physically. Also, the results regardless of politicking are impacted by what happens on the ice.

    Canadian politicking for V/M was heavily expended last season. Same goes for Patrick, but in addition, Patrick is simply loved by the judges for his SS and his ability to fairly consistently land huge quads. Patrick performed beautifully in the sp, and he got extra bonus points while making a case for himself, which he proceeded to throw away in the fp after his first two jumping passes. Still the judges are enthralled by a clean Patrick and seemingly held hostage by a not-so-clean Patrick. I doubt Canadian fed has much work to do politically on Patrick's behalf ... that's not to say they don't heavily support Patrick in all ways available to them. But politicking always has the risk to it of ultimately not paying off, and/ or back-firing.

    Another factor is that we are talking about athletes who have proven themselves and who have good to great international results, so the politics has a great deal backing it up. The support goes both ways. It was a combination of talent, hard work, wonderful timing, total dedication, a little bit of magic and luck, downsides re some other teams that have been injured or split up, as well as political boosting that jockeyed D/R into being front-runners for a Worlds podium spot. Who knew D/R would challenge S/S though? It's clear D/R didn't expect to by the looks on their faces after the sp marks. But keep in mind that S/S have not had a stellar season in any case, and they didn't compete in the GPF due to illness or injury. The door was open and D/R flew through it on wings as eagles.

    Still, S/S by virtue of not having a strong suit politically were a bit low-balled in the sp. Also, S/S did not have a great fp this season musically and conceptually. D/R still have work to do, as Vasiliev noted, re working on the component aspects of their skating.


    ETA:
    Quote Originally Posted by casken View Post
    ... Yeah, [Ten's] kind of been a mess for a while.
    ...
    Well, Denis wasn't a mess in London, Ontario.

    In any case, if Ten's been such a mess, then how would you characterize Patrick's too often sloppy lack of focus?
    Last edited by aftershocks; 03-30-2013 at 07:39 AM.

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