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  1. #1
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    Sustainability of depth in Russian ladies?

    How long will the deep ladies field in Russia last (and will it deepen even more)?

    History tell us is that deep fields tend to be diluted a quad later. Fields become diluted because many skaters retire or lose their skating strength

    The 2002 US ladies field was incredibly deep with four skaters capable of medaling at the Olympics (Kwan, Cohen, Hughes, Nikodinov) and a host of other strong skaters (McDonough, Kirk, Liang, Corwin). This field remained fairly strong for a couple years, then crashed in 2006.

    Similarly, the Japanese ladies field in 2006 was perhaps even deeper, with Asada, Suguri, Arakawa, Onda, Nakano, and Ando at the top and world-class. The skaters below (Ota, Mai Asada, Sawada, Kitamura, Takeda, etc.) were also very strong. This field remained strong in 2010 but had diluted to the point where depth was no longer 'remarkable'.

    What will happen to the Russian ladies' field in 2018? Generally fields don't remain deep for very long, but this situation may be different. First, the field has rarely been this strong in any country (to the point where Pogorilaya made the GPF, skated alright at Nationals, but came in 8th). Second, there is a rising of very talented juniors to the senior ranks every year. However, general trends tell us that many skaters do not stick around for very long.

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    Good question. Right now the main ones: Julia Lipnitskaya, Adelina Sotnikova (don't forget that that she was the highest ranked Russian ladies before this season), Anna Pogorilaya. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva can't be counted out, either, and there's the youngsters, Elena Radionova, and the juniors: Alexandra Proklova, Maria Sotskova, Serafina Sankhovich, etc. I think one thing that remains to be seen is how many of the youngsters will adjust to puberty and growthspurts. Julia looks like she had some maturing physically to make, and many of the juniors are only thirteen or fourteen. There's also the question of how Adelina will deal with the pressure and expectations of being the reignign OGM.

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    Does Japan, Canada or USA look likely to keep Russian Ladies off the podiums in the next few seasons?

    Gracie and Polina look strong and of course USA has several veteran skaters who might continue through the next cycle.
    Not so sure about Japan but if Mao stays she is always a podium threat. What about the next generation though? Is Kanako retiring?

    Right now I like the chances of the Russian girls.

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    You always see a boost in the quality of home athletes when they are awarded an Olympics...they get money dumped into their programs years out so by the time the Olympics roll around, they've got some competitive athletes. The effect trickles over to the next quad, but after that it depends on different circumstances. If the money is there to continue to get the Russian ladies the same support they got leading up to Sochi, I would say their sustainability is good. All those gold medals they won certainly isn't going to hurt. You could argue that the USA's ladies program got a boost leading up to the 2002 Olympics (not to mention that Kwan was still very much a global star), and the "fizzling" out has been a result of the money simply not being there anymore.

    So I would say, as long as the money stays, the girls will keep winning and bringing more attention and funding to their sport, perpetuating the cycle.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spareoom View Post
    You always see a boost in the quality of home athletes when they are awarded an Olympics...they get money dumped into their programs years out so by the time the Olympics roll around, they've got some competitive athletes. The effect trickles over to the next quad, but after that it depends on different circumstances. If the money is there to continue to get the Russian ladies the same support they got leading up to Sochi, I would say their sustainability is good. All those gold medals they won certainly isn't going to hurt. You could argue that the USA's ladies program got a boost leading up to the 2002 Olympics (not to mention that Kwan was still very much a global star), and the "fizzling" out has been a result of the money simply not being there anymore.

    So I would say, as long as the money stays, the girls will keep winning and bringing more attention and funding to their sport, perpetuating the cycle.
    I don't think it is just money. USA got couple of world junior medals after 2002 too. But new rules for flutz and underrotation effected them badly than others. In 2006 I thought US ladies going to have bright future with 16 year old World Champion and with other young top 10 skater.

    This year age rules are changed. This means we are not going to see 2014 russian junior team until 2015-2016 GP. This can be good or bad for them. No high senior expectations so they can work without pressure. They can accommodate their new body. But only 14 spots for Junior Grand Prix can be a problem. Sotnikova, Tuktamisheva, Lipnitskaia, Radionova, Pogorilaya only skated one season at Junior Grand Prix. Every year they had another junior star.

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    Good point about the money coming in before a home Olympics. It's an interesting topic - I think there's a lot of factors at play and money is a big one, not only for the amount of money being put into a national training program but also the health of the nation's economy in general and parents' willingness to pay for their kid to learn skating or whatever sport. That's a new issue for Russia of course since their athletes used to have expenses paid for, and for awhile there it was a struggle to make that change. I also think success breeds more success - US skating was surging during the Kwan era in part because so many girls were working hard to try to have a chance to beat her. The SoCal region was particularly surging in talent, with Nam, Cohen and others - I don't think it's a total accident that that's the same region where Kwan was; they had the chance to see what she was up to regularly and spurred their own training on too. Top training rinks tend to bring along more talent than other rinks not only because of the coaching and resources available but also because of the daily competition going on. There was some promising talent coming along after 2006 too (Meissner, Zhang, Nagasu, Wagner, Flatt, etc.) but for various reasons none really established themselves long-term as the one to beat and that same level of internal competition sort of fizzled to some degree.

    I do see one difference in the early 2000's US boom and the current Russian one - it seems like there's a new generation of younger coaches who are as competitive with each other as the skaters are, who each have their own group of promising kids. The US didn't (and still doesn't) have that new blood of coaching talent. Several of the young Russian kids seem to have been well coached in terms of skating skills so that they hopefully won't be let down in the same way Zhang was when she hit seniors, although of course not all of these girls will be able to make the leap. Still, there are multiple Russian 10 year olds who remind me of watching a 10 year old Asada. It just seems like at least one of them should be able to break through. As of now, Russia seems to be in good shape for the next 2 Olympic cycles, and I would think a new bunch of kids would want to get into the sport after seeing both girls make a splash in Sochi. I wonder if some of the juniors coming along now have any possible affiliation with another country? If Russia does remain such a bloodbath it'd be a shame for some of these girls to miss out on Worlds and such.

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    Quote Originally Posted by MrLucky View Post
    Does Japan, Canada or USA look likely to keep Russian Ladies off the podiums in the next few seasons?

    Gracie and Polina look strong and of course USA has several veteran skaters who might continue through the next cycle.
    Not so sure about Japan but if Mao stays she is always a podium threat. What about the next generation though? Is Kanako retiring?

    Right now I like the chances of the Russian girls.
    The trouble with US skaters are that at this moment the only promising ones in my view are Gracie and Polina. For Ashley to keep up she would have to increase her technical difficulty (for example do 3-3 in both Sp and FS) and stop underrotating and double footing jumps. I a not saying that she can't get there, but it will be harder and harder now. So it is two US ladies against a number of Russian ladies. The odds don't look good. In Russia, as it seems a few of them may deal with injury and there will still be 3 decent skaters, whereas if in US one of those two is injured, US chances are suddenly reduced by 50%. It is always good to have the numbers.

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    I would say that the USA is slowly but surely working on it's generation of younger coaches, but there still is a big stigma that if you want to make it as a skater, you need to move and go to someone tried and true. If Jason Brown continues to be successful, that will mean a lot for coaches like Kori who want to be able to take their athletes all the way. USFSA needs to work on supporting ALL the coaches by giving them the training and outside help that they need in order to make a skater successful. That means supporting choreographers to work with many different teams, technical coaches to help with jumps, etc. Uprooting a skater from their home and sending them elsewhere should be a last resort, not the first move.

    (Apologies for bringing up the "sister sport" again), but one could argue that USA Gymnastics did not start to become truly versatile and deep on many levels until the "big gyms" fell out of favor or their coaches retired, and more and more gymnasts began to spend their whole careers at the same gym with the same coach. Years ago, it would have been unthinkable for a talented gymnast to stay with a coach who had never coached an elite gymnast before, but it's becoming more and more common now. Picking up and moving across the country for coaching has become the exception, not the norm. USAG has worked hard to build up the gymnastics programs in ALL gyms so that coaches are supported and receive the technical know-how to coach an athlete successfully from TOPS to the Olympics. In London, the USA team had five gymnasts from five different gyms. That speaks volumes, I think.

    I find it discouraging that someone like Kori Ade has received so much push-back from "higher ups" for her choices for Jason regarding choreography, coaching strategy, etc. There should be a much more streamlined process for coaches to receive technical teaching without having to beg around all on their own. And USAG should be working hard to promote and mentor up-and-coming coaches and choreographers instead of recommended that everyone go to the same people over and over and over.

    Sorry, rant over. But I think it all ties in, so it's good, lol.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by hanca View Post
    The trouble with US skaters are that at this moment the only promising ones in my view are Gracie and Polina. For Ashley to keep up she would have to increase her technical difficulty (for example do 3-3 in both Sp and FS) and stop underrotating and double footing jumps. I a not saying that she can't get there, but it will be harder and harder now. So it is two US ladies against a number of Russian ladies. The odds don't look good. In Russia, as it seems a few of them may deal with injury and there will still be 3 decent skaters, whereas if in US one of those two is injured, US chances are suddenly reduced by 50%. It is always good to have the numbers.
    I agree with that, although I'd add Karen Chen into the mix as someone with a good chance to be a factor by 2018. She seems right up there with the Russian juniors - roughly comparable skill-wise to Proklova at least earlier in the season, although maybe not currently since she's been injured and Proklova seems to have taken a huge step up with her speed and ice coverage lately. But she certainly has the goods to be up there in the future. It seems like the US is running along at its normal state, with a lot of pretty good skaters and one or two young phenoms who might have world-level talent if they don't burn out, while Russia is exploding with the latter kind of talent. So yeah, the odds are definitely in Russia's favor at the moment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Spareoom View Post
    whole post
    I agree with all of that too - Kori definitely seems like a welcome addition to the US coaching scene and should be supported. And I don't know that there have to be tons of great new coaches to get something going - aren't a lot of these Russian kids coming out of Moscow, especially CSKA? There's definitely lessons to be learned from USA Gymnastics too. Of course I don't think it helped that back in the day every elite gymnast was flocking to either Karolyi or Nunno, who both seemed rather poisonous by many accounts. Some of them at least probably left behind good coaches to make that move. I read Moceanu's biography recently and she wrote that she had a great thing going with her previous coach, but her parents were so dazzled by Karolyi's reputation they wouldn't let her leave even when it wasn't working out. Of course, a cross-country moved worked out well for Gabby Douglas (and I was startled by the flack she got for it; seemed like a normal thing to do from a skating point of view). If the positive press is to be believed, apparently the gym coaches are really collaborating and learning from each other at the national team camps, which is a model that USFS could look at adopting. We don't really have anything comparable to TOPS or the national team camps. On the other hand, the Russian coaching scene is apparently not really friendly or collaborative, with coaches stealing students from each other, so maybe that model works too.

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    Tessa Hong is another one to watch, but she's only 11! I dont know her birthday so no idea whether she could go to Peongchang or not. Ridiculous to speculate, but the one vid of hers I saw on The Skating Lesson was amazing.

    I'm sure we have as much raw talent as Russia. I imagine our youth are less interested in skating and more interested in immediate gratification, fame and wealth. Their role model is Beyonce, not Kwan.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Spun Silver View Post
    Tessa Hong is another one to watch, but she's only 11! I dont know her birthday so no idea whether she could go to Peongchang or not. Ridiculous to speculate, but the one vid of hers I saw on The Skating Lesson was amazing.

    I'm sure we have as much raw talent as Russia. I imagine our youth are less interested in skating and more interested in immediate gratification, fame and wealth. Their role model is Beyonce, not Kwan.
    I just saw the videos, she is wonderful!

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    I was reading somewhere in a message board for another sport. That figure skating is very popular in Russia. That many more middleclass to wealthy families would like their daughters to be ballet dancer, rhythmic gymnasts, or figure skaters... Look at the shows they have on tv that we don't. That might explain the depth in women.

    I read another article where they said it wasn't the state that really created the bomb.

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    Quote Originally Posted by bek View Post
    I was reading somewhere in a message board for another sport. That figure skating is very popular in Russia. That many more middleclass to wealthy families would like their daughters to be ballet dancer, rhythmic gymnasts, or figure skaters... Look at the shows they have on tv that we don't. That might explain the depth in women.

    I read another article where they said it wasn't the state that really created the bomb.
    Success of Russian skaters at 2006 torino games was the trigger which started so many shows in Russia.

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    So far I have only seen Hong and Chen and, possibly Amber Glen, as "ones to watch". I didn't have time to watch Juniors and Novices at Nationals but does the US only have three possibles from all the young ladies skating out there?

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    The Russian babies will dominate the podium in the next quad.
    Prosperity makes friends, adversity tries them. – Publilius Syrus

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    This isn't about ladies specifically, but I am just so amazed at how the Russian skating federation managed to mitigate all that damage from the fall of the Soviet Union, funding drying up, and coaches leaving and contained it to basically one Olympics (and they still got two medals in Vancouver, which is better than most countries usually do). The Sochi team is not only strong, but young, with all of them likely to continue to 2018 except possibly V&T and Plushenko. And in the case of the ladies, it's by far the strongest team they've ever had.

    It's definitely going to be interesting to see how they manage the talent in the ladies field. If you'd have told me 8 years ago that Japan would not have had a woman on the podium in 2014, I'd have been shocked. One thing that does separate Russia from Japan and the US is they are used to managing these kinds of heavy junior categories in pairs and dance. They have a system and they make sure everyone gets their proper experience internationally and gets seen by the judges (some have complained that the US didn't get Edmunds to JW last year and that they tend to send the senior also-rans instead of top juniors). The Russian women of the past tended to peak when they were much older, so maybe the Russian fed hasn't had to deal with the puberty issue in ladies too often historically, but they definitely have in dance and especially pairs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elif View Post
    This year age rules are changed. This means we are not going to see 2014 russian junior team until 2015-2016 GP. This can be good or bad for them. No high senior expectations so they can work without pressure. They can accommodate their new body. But only 14 spots for Junior Grand Prix can be a problem. Sotnikova, Tuktamisheva, Lipnitskaia, Radionova, Pogorilaya only skated one season at Junior Grand Prix. Every year they had another junior star.
    I can't see this age rule as a good thing at all. What are they going to gain by spending (wasting) 1 more year in the JGP? I think its likely that they'll face more growing changes in 2015-2016 than next year, and so the adjustment will be even worse and it will be even harder to make a strong statement on the senior scene, especially in time for Pyeonchang.

    14 spots in JGP is not going to be a problem because they dont have many strong girls born in 2001.

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    Quote Originally Posted by spikydurian View Post
    The Russian babies will dominate the podium in the next quad.
    I think the question posed by the OP isn't whether they will dominate the podium but what will happen to those who are just below the ones on the podium. They can't all go to Euros/Worlds/Olys. And there are only eighteen possible entries per annum on the Grand Prix, which means that at most nine get two entries in a given year, and more likely fewer than that, with some others getting only one.

    Consider this: Last years National Champion, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva finished tenth at Nationals this year, and the skater who finished tenth the year Tuktamysheva won, Polina Korobeynikova, had finished fourth at Euros the season before that.

    What happens to such skaters, especially when Sotnikova, Lipnitskaya, Radionova, and Proklova are probably not going to retire any time soon?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cherub721 View Post
    It's definitely going to be interesting to see how they manage the talent in the ladies field. If you'd have told me 8 years ago that Japan would not have had a woman on the podium in 2014, I'd have been shocked. One thing that does separate Russia from Japan and the US is they are used to managing these kinds of heavy junior categories in pairs and dance. They have a system and they make sure everyone gets their proper experience internationally and gets seen by the judges (some have complained that the US didn't get Edmunds to JW last year and that they tend to send the senior also-rans instead of top juniors). The Russian women of the past tended to peak when they were much older, so maybe the Russian fed hasn't had to deal with the puberty issue in ladies too often historically, but they definitely have in dance and especially pairs.
    They are monitoring their skaters really well. While injured Caroline Zhang skated at Skate America 2013, russians withdrew Korobeynikova and Leonova from their Grand Prixs. I think Hicks got to spot but I'm not sure. They did better job than USA for Hicks
    Last edited by elif; 03-01-2014 at 05:04 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Vagabond View Post
    I think the question posed by the OP isn't whether they will dominate the podium but what will happen to those who are just below the ones on the podium. They can't all go to Euros/Worlds/Olys. And there are only eighteen possible entries per annum on the Grand Prix, which means that at most nine get two entries in a given year, and more likely fewer than that, with some others getting only one.

    Consider this: Last years National Champion, Elizaveta Tuktamysheva finished tenth at Nationals this year, and the skater who finished tenth the year Tuktamysheva won, Polina Korobeynikova, had finished fourth at Euros the season before that.

    What happens to such skaters, especially when Sotnikova, Lipnitskaya, Radionova, and Proklova are probably not going to retire any time soon?
    That's one thing I find really sad, a lot of talent is going to get lost by the wayside. In someways, no country should have this much talent. I imagine there will be some country hopping.

    I do think they do a much better job of monitoring their skaters, and handing out assignments.

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