Ilinykh and Katsalapov: Swan Song? http://winter.sport-express.ru/figur...reviews/42838/
The scenario of the ice dance finals on Saturday was truly unprecedented: the gap between the winners, Anna Cappellini / Luca Lanotte, and the French team, Nathalie Pechalat / Fabien Bourzat, that were the third, was only 0.06, and the Canadians Kaitlyn Weaver / Andre Poje managed to wedge into this gap.
For the fans of Russian ice dance, world championship from the very beginning has been extremely controversial and largely tarnished. It was not just because Dmitry Solovyov got injured and had to withdraw on the first day of the ice dance competition. Just before the start of the competition, ITAR-TASS published information that the championship was going to be the last in the career of Ilinykh and Katsalapov. And that Nikita starts to skate with a new partner - Victoria Sinitsina immediately after the competition.
Understandable, that many people in Saitama immediately began to discuss the shocking news .
Most balanced position was that of the President of the Russian Federation of figure skating, the Olympic champion Alexander Gorshkov, who said that no official inquiries concerning possible coaching changes has been filed from any of the participants. And therefore he sees no matter to discuss.
Formally, the topic has been closed. Informally, more and more new details continued to emerge. The fact that the coach of the Olympic bronze medalists Nikolai Morozov arranged a try-out for Katsalapov with the potential partner before the Worlds, that she herself, contrary to the original plans, is not going to post- season tour through the country, but immediately starts training, and that the newly formed duo plans to train in the U.S., where the coach is planning to move after the season has finished. Anyway, when I casually asked the famous, now American, coach, Marina Zueva what she thinks of the rumor, Marina repeated in surprise: "Why the rumor? Morozov himself has said that it’s a done deal."
The coaches of Sinitsina and Ruslan Zhiganshin also knew, as confirmed by Svetlana Alekseeva, making it clear that they were upset with the prospect of losing another strong pair .
Prerequisites to the split of Ilinykh/Katsalapov has been long standing, but they appeared at the time when the situation was rocky. Lena was acting up, feeling her special position in the group, disregarded the regimen, didn’t train enough. Nikita was losing his temper and threw tantrums. The coach had no influence on the situation. People surrounding the team (and especially the press) were blaming all the participants, and the results left much to be desired.
But this season, things have changed most dramatically. In the national team there was not a single person who would not admit that the skaters, as they say, "dig the earth" trying to make up for the time that had been lost for various reasons.
Team Olympic gold and individual bronze became a logic consequence of this work.
What could happen in a little over three weeks after the Games for the coach to want to break the world's potentially strongest team?
Could the athletes ask for that themselves? Theoretically, yes. But why? Neither Lena nor Nikita are planning to finish their careers, moreover, in this season, they have said for many times, both together and separately, that they finally understood what true partner work is, and began to find a real pleasure in training. The professionals, involved in the preparation of the Olympic team, brought them on a level that allows Ilinykh/Katsalapov do anything - a couple has really grown into their own.
The World championship can actually serve as an evidence: if not for the ridiculous mistake of the partner in the short program that lost them at least six points, constituting the base value of the lost element, the skaters would become world champions, and with more than a solid margin. But even without a medal, the best result in the free dance with four 10s for the program components speaks for itself.
Let's say I'm wrong, and Lena and Nikita got tired of each other and do not want to skate together for any love or money. In this case, what does a smart coach do? At least, takes a break, realizing that the Olympic season is difficult even for more mature people, that they need to cool down, relax, and only then make a decision. But this is true only if the coach wants to save the team.
Now (especially considering that the coach wants to leave Russia as soon as possible) the situation more and more reminds the classical: «If I can’t have you, nobody will! "
I can’t believe that Morozov does not realize that it will take two to three years, and maybe even more, for the new team to became successful: Nikolai is too good a coach for that.
Discussing the situation with the famous ice dancer in the past, and now a coach, Rostislav Sinitsyn, I heard :
- In principle, there is nothing extraordinary to break one or another couple. The famous Courtney Jones in his time changed partners almost every year, and it has not stopped him from becoming world champion twice with two of them. However, it was more than fifty years ago. Now everything is much more complicated. If we were talking about my athletes, I would do everything possible to save the partnership. When there is some kind of exchange, it immediately raises the question of how the new couple will look, choose what style, whether they fit with each other. It becomes clear after about six months of working together. But even then you cannot always predict what will be the result.
-Of course, the years skated together are of tremendous importance. This is primarily the ability to adjust to the partner in any situation, including contingency. But the feeling is very fragile. My athletes (Nelly Zhiganshina / Alexander Gazi) lost it for some reason at this event, even though they have been skating together for nine years.
-Another question is if the relationship between the partners is beyond saving. I always tell parents who bring their children to me, from the very beginning, "You should understand that ice dance is like family life, only without the sex." Each partner should be able to make a step forward, or, on the contrary, in some situations to step aside. If people are not capable of that, working becomes very hard - summed up Sinitsyn.
I had another conversation on the same topic with Marina Zueva. In the absence of Tessa Virtue / Scott Moir and Meryl Davis / Charlie White, with whom she worked for the last two Olympic cycles, the coach had the opportunity for the first time in many years to see the practices and performances of all the rivals of her athletes. She said this about Ilinykh/Katsalapov:
- Lena and Nikita left the strongest impression. I would even say they were born to skate together. They have everything in common - speed, stroking, the emotions that arise from each common movement. Put any of them with another partner - it will be not the same. Note that I am not talking about Lena’s talent or Nikita’s talent. This is primarily the talent to be a couple. And it is a great luck that the skaters have coincided in time, and the team formed.
-Another thing that is worth noticing: it is for the first time in my memory that all three winners in the ice dance fit into such a minimal gap - 0.06 - continued Zueva. - You can talk about the increased competition, I will say that there is no leader currently in the ice dance. Ilinykh and Katsalapov really stand out from the row. They are brighter, more powerful, make you look at them with a sinking heart. But at the same time they aren’t leaders either. In order to be a leader, you need to skate clean without making big mistakes. And for that, you need to work and work hard. That bronze medal that they won in Sochi showed that they are moving in the right direction. And that [the judges] are ready to give them highest marks. Plus - an Olympic medal always brings confidence. Such things are not to be thrown around, I think.