Baby Ballerina Phenomenon Russian Edition, Some Thoughts
So now that the season has finished out at the WTT, and meanwhile there's been time for the results of Worlds to settle in, I've been thinking lately about the results of the Russian ladies. When it comes down to it, how many people really thought they'd go down to two spots, that Adelina Sotnikova and Liza T wouldn't get the job done? Except that I'm thinking now maybe we all should've seen it coming. Especially American viewers, who saw this happen in our own ladies field four short years ago.
Remember 2008, when our age-eligible ladies couldn't keep three spots for the life of them, and meanwhile Rachael Flatt, Caroline Zhang, & Mirai Nagasu were sweeping the podium at Junior Worlds? If only those pesky age rules hadn't kept them out, we all said. All the older girls better retire right now, we said, because they'd never go to Worlds again; these three ladies would take over. Their Junior Worlds scores, scored at Senior Worlds, would've kept three spots. And perhaps if the age rules hadn't been in place, they would indeed have preserved the spots. That year.
Things weren't quite the same at 2009 Worlds, because only Rachael Flatt made it there, and also she actually did pretty well, and Nationals bronze medalist Caroline Zhang was still doing well enough it was assumed at the time that had she gone, she could've made the top eight. But given how she nose-dived the following season, one wonders how sure of that we can now be. Maybe we should've paid more attention to Mirai Nagasu, who took an early fall(though how easy that was to forget the following year, when she kicked herself back up).
Even without this example, we knew there were reasons for the Adelinas and Lizas of the world to struggle as they got older and grew. Not just physically, either; now they're old enough to feel the pressure too. Of course they didn't even need to third berth for them both to make Worlds, though that was simply because Alissa Czisny had a better Nationals than Alena Leonova. But it all panned out the same: hyped as the salvation of Russian ladies before they were old enough to do it, a trio of them already designated as the team for the next Olympics, then when they had the magic birthday couldn't do it.
Unless one wants to think Julia Lipniskaia would've done better; since another difference is that all three of the American baby ballerinas became eligible in the same year. But her own track record this season makes that far from certain.
And what now? Two of the American trio proved the US representatives in Vancouver, and at the moment it seems likely enough two of Liza, Adelina, and Julia will likewise represent Russia in Sochi(but it looked not unlike for the American trio at this time last quadrennium, before Caroline plummeted). It's an interesting question whether any of them can medal, especially since replace Joannie Rochette with Carolina Kostner and that situation too is eerily similar; if all three of her, Yu-Na, & Mao skate clean or even close to it, and is it even possible for anyone else to medal? Though Mirai came in 4th, so if one of them blows it will may see a Russian girl on the podium at Sochi.
But afterwards? There are many Russian girls all ready to pull a Gracie Gold, more than there were here in America, and I wouldn't be so quick to write Leonova off absolutely. Three years later, Rachael Flatt is gone partly because she had other priorities, but also because of injuries, Caroline Zhang looked like she was back in 2012, but this last season not so much, and Mirai Nagasu has hung in somewhat, but is now coming off a second Nationals disaster in a row and a deeply uncertain future. None of them are likely to make it to Sochi. When we got three spots back in time for the Olympics, it didn't involve any of the baby ballerinas. If they have to rely on their baby ballerinas, Russia could be in for a long and hard quadrennium after next season.
I ageee whole heartily. There wasn't enough time for Adelina or Tuk to establish themselves before Sochi unlike Kim or Asada who had almost 4 years as Seniors to prepare for the 2010 Olympics. Plus it didn't help that most of the top skaters from 2010 except for Joannie Rochette are going to be in Sochi. I still hope someone other then the big 3 of Yuna, Mao or Carolina ends up on the podium in Sochi. I hope one of the younger girls sneaks in for the bronze or silver these Olympics coming up were supposed to be their time to shine.
The Russian ladies will be 21 and well past the ravages of puberty for the 2018 Olympics, and that is a more realistic goal. Kim and Asada were 19 in 2010 and had had 3-4 years on the senior circuit to set themselves up for Vancouver.
Exactly and skaters peak at different times. Just look at Carolina it took till she was about 25 to hit her peak.
Originally Posted by euterpe
Yes, not as much anyways. But the more important issue seems to be that they didn't have enough time to be comfortable with their new body yet. Or perhaps they aren't even done growing. If they come back next season fully solid I am sure they will still have a shot at the Olympic medal. Both Sot and Tuk medalled at Euros this season with one of their better performances of the season. There's still one more GPF and one more Euros before Sochi. It can still be done, but probably ot when they are in their current inconsistent forms.
Originally Posted by Jammers
Gold is not a baby ballerina but there is no reason to believe none of the Russian olds can turn into a Gracie gold caliber skater. Gold is still young too. Not much older then Liza or Adelina. A year older? It's not like she's in her 20's. At roughly the same age as Liza and Adelina she's had the impressive worlds showing many though would come from Liza and Adelina. Liza has made the gpf two times. 2011 season and 2012 gp season. So that's something. Euro ladies are weak but even among that field you bad two medalists there. Sure if korpi had been there it may had only have been one but you never know. Russian ladies was the weakest field ever in 2007 and 2008 as well as 2009 even with leonova. No one is left but the juniors of those years! They did not have talent and needed to rush the sitnikovas and tuktamisheva's and leonovas. They were going places with doronina and petishkova?? Wagner and nagasu and czisny and flat were all at us seniors those years while no one is left on the Russian side!! So these girls had to takeover. It's symbolic of the trial lack of depth that existed. Depth is wrong too , you might as well just Say international caliber talent. Yes all the older Russian ladies needed to go. Oksana gozeva? Katarina gerboldt back in ladies?
Last edited by caseyedwards; 04-15-2013 at 10:44 AM.
Gracie is 17 and yes, she is only a year older than Adelina and Liza. But Gracie is well past puberty while Adelina and Liza are still adjusting to their new bodies. With Liza, there may be even more changes to come. But we didn't see Gracie when she was going through her growth struggles because she didn't make it to 2011 Nationals. She didn't do her first international competition until her one JGP in the fall of 2011, and then she wasn't seen again until JW 2012 and then the 2012 GP.
We saw Adelina and Liza romp in the JGP, at JW and their first GP season was better than most newbies'. Then puberty bit hard and both have struggled. Only time will tell if they can regain their prepubescent form. I don't think their medals at Euros are proof that they are competitive for the Sochi podium. They and Carolina were the only top skaters at Euros this year. Of the skaters they beat at Euros, the highest placed at Worlds were Meite (11th), Helgesson (14th) and Popova (15th).
The medals by themselves don't mean much but their skating that lead to the medals at euros was far far superior to their skates at worlds or wtt. So it's not that their good skating was left in juniors but just didn't show up a lot excel at euros. I do think that korpi would've been second or third but their skating was still worthy of medals.
Gracie most likely struggled in 2011 when she didn't make Nationals because of her growth spurts. Turns out it might have been the best thing that ever happened to her. She came back the next season and worked mostly on her jumps which is going to be her calling card no matter how she improves.
Originally Posted by euterpe