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Valova & Vasiliev- underrated or not?

Discussion in 'The Trash Can' started by judgejudy27, May 23, 2011.

  1. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    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: May 23, 2011
  2. pumba

    pumba New Member

    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.
  3. orbitz

    orbitz Well-Known Member

    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.
  4. briancoogaert

    briancoogaert Well-Known Member

    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. :)
  5. caseyedwards

    caseyedwards Well-Known Member

    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.
  6. viennese

    viennese Well-Known Member

    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. casken

    casken Well-Known Member

    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. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    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.
  9. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    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. blue_idealist

    blue_idealist Well-Known Member

    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. essence_of_soy

    essence_of_soy Well-Known Member

    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.
  12. easilydistracte

    easilydistracte Geezette

    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.
  13. stanhope

    stanhope Active Member

    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. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    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. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

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

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    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
  17. pumba

    pumba New Member

    They skated like two beautiful adult people here.
    Just perfect.
  18. Mafke

    Mafke Well-Known Member

    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. Mafke

    Mafke Well-Known Member

    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. easilydistracte

    easilydistracte Geezette

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

    skatesindreams Well-Known Member

    That's from "Skates of Gold" II. There were three programs (1993, 1994, 1995) saluting the Olympic Gold Medalists.
    Participants did individual programs; followed by a group number for each discipline, where each highlighted a "signature" move.

    Several versions were broadcast: US, UK, CAN, JPN, RUS, etc.
    If anyone has any of the "world" telecasts. please let me know.

    All were special; but the first was more so.
    Most of the OGM's then living were in attendance. and such gatherings were very rare; if they had ever happened, previously.
  22. equatorial

    equatorial Well-Known Member

    Moskvina called V/V "mediocre skaters" (talentwise) and complained that unlike Zhuk she couldn't pick and choose and had to work with whoever she had :lol: Interestingly, it was with them that she made a breakthrough as a top pairs coach. T/M were clearly superior to V/V in terms of talent, they were finer skaters, too.
  23. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

    I always thought that the '80s era of Soviet pairs was fascinating wild ride, at least from a political perspective -

    Rodnina/Zaitzev competed in and of course won '80 Olympics, but she injured her shoulder and they didn't bother to go to '80 Worlds in Dortmund, and just retired.

    Cherkasova/Shakrai looked like the anointed ones, having been world silver medalists in '79 to Babilonia/Gardner and winning the '80 Worlds crown. But, they completely fell apart by '81 Worlds, finishing off the podium. BTW, what was their back story? They just faded away.

    Vorobieva/Lisovski won the '81 Worlds crown fairly easily, but they also fell apart by '82 Worlds with a bad, sloppy performance and finished off the podium. The Carruthers' snuck ahead of them for the bronze. They disappeared after that.

    Pestova/Leonovich were bubbling underneath all the teams mentioned above, just missed the podium at Lake Placid '80 and popped up on the podium again at '82 Worlds, winning the silver behind Baess/Thierbach and when their teammates Vorobieva/Lisovski stumbled, but they were no longer relevant by Sarajevo '84. I think they had to sit out '83 due to an injury, and just never made it as a team again?

    Valova/Vasiliev broke out onto the scene by '83 and won worlds. I think what helped V/V a little was the fact that all the above teams were probably a bit unstable on the world stage for various reasons, much to the chagrin of the Soviet Fed., which was passionate about their Pairs program. They could throw their weight behind this team and it worked out...for a while until something 'better' came along: Gordeyeva/Grinkov

    Selezneva/Makarov were cool, inventive skaters cursed with competing behind V/V in the same time-frame and thus solidly but frustratingly #2 from '83 - '85. To make matters worse, they were pushed down further by the emergence of G/G. I often sensed frustration from S/M on-camera. They may have felt that no matter what they did, they were never going to beat either G/G or V/V. In fact , The Soviet Fed probably didn't care too much by '86 and their reaction was reflected in some of their performances.

    AS the '80s progressed, it looks like the USSR found the 'right' pairs [G/G and V/V] and things returned to normal - no more Soviet pairs jumping around in the standings year to year and it lasted until the end of the decade.

    BTW, didn't V/V and G/G trade titles in the early part of G/G's career. I seem to remember that one year [perhaps '86], G/G won Soviet Nats but V/V won Euros, then G/G got the world crown

    ETA - one top pair no one talks about is Riegel/Nischwitz from West Germany. They won '81 Worlds bronze IIRC. What happened to them?
    Last edited: May 27, 2011
  24. floskate

    floskate Vacant

    R&Z were absolutely in Dortmund and - so the story goes - wanted to compete. After all 11 world titles would have made her the most be-medalled skater ever. I don't know whether she was really injured or if they could have skated with the injury, but they were withdrawn, apparently against their wishes. Plans were put in place for them to skate a special exhibition during the gala but the ISU put a stop to it and when it was announced to the audience that they would after all not appear, there was a chorus of booing from the crowd.

    As far as I know there were plans to pair her with someone taller. She simply outgrew him. I think they maybe competed at 1981/82 USSR Nationals but not sure on that.

    Loved Riegel and Nischwitz. She had wonderful knees and was cute as a button, but a knee injury pretty much ended her career in 1982.
  25. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    I think VV were bad-ass in a lot of ways. I mean, Valova had to compete the 1988 Olys with a hole in her landing foot! And they still got a bronze. Plus they pushed the sbs triples. I do think they get a bit lost having come chronologically between Rodnina and GG, and they were victims of 1980s music/costumes (as so many skaters were). But I admire them a lot.

    It may be too because I know them both pretty well, and just like them as people. But I find them to be fairly remarkable.

    If any of you haven't heard my podcast with Oleg Vassiliev, it's worth a listen. The guy has confidence to spare, and some pretty great stories, especially about Valova's foot injury
  26. olympic

    olympic Well-Known Member

    They got silver at '88 Olys ;)

    Good analysis of them, though. They were caught between the great R/Z, then G/G but they were the best at their peak '83 - '85.

    I think it would be great to see Vasiliev coach some promising US teams.
  27. manleywoman

    manleywoman podcast mistress

    Ack! Of course. Sorry.
  28. Susan M

    Susan M Well-Known Member

    This thread asks a good question.

    I think V/V probably don't get enough credit for their impact on the sport. If you look at the pairs free skates from 1980, they really look quite different from what V/V were doing just a few years later. While the other top pairs deserve some of the credit too, I think of V/V as the team that really dragged pairs into the modern era of skating in terms of technical content and program structure (kind of like Kristi & Ito did for ladies a few years later).

    That said, I do agree that they are not in a league with the skaters you named in terms of their elegance or pair-ness.

    I kind of agree with judgejudy27 - for V/V to win after 86, they usually needed an error by G/G. V/V did sometimes win (like Worlds in 88), but I think G/G were unquestionably the world's top pair. V/V usually had more technical content (SBS triples while G/G were doing 2As, 2 throw triples while G/G were doing one triple & 2A), but G/G had everything else, and in pairs that counts for a lot. Basically, if G/G did their whole program clean, nobody was going to beat them.
  29. judgejudy27

    judgejudy27 Well-Known Member

    If V/V had skated cleanly though they probably would have won in 86 it seems. They won Europeans earlier that year and didnt even skate that well, so it seems the balance of power didnt shift until after G/G won Worlds. I wonder if that were the case if they would have had a better shot of staying in front of G/G or would have been overtaken anyway. Then again skating like they did in Calgary for instance they would have no hope of winning regardless.

    V/V btw didnt even do a triple twist while G/G did a quad twist at one point, and G/G had harder lifts so I am not sure if V/V had more technical difficulty or not.
  30. Vash01

    Vash01 Fan of Yuzuru, Medvedeva, T&M, Shibs, P&C

    I posted the following before reading some of the other posts, particularly the ones just above this one. So some of this may sound repetitive.

    I think V&V were very underrated as a pair. They were the rightful world champions in their first appearance, repeat world champions (3x total?), Olympic champions in 1984 and they were second to only G&G in the 1988 Olympics. They beat G&G at the 1988 worlds.

    They brought a lot to pairs skating. They were perhaps the first pair in the 1980s to land sbs triples, throw triple toe (other pairs were doing throw double axels) and use creative choreography while most others were doing vanilla pairs elements. They were obviously good enough to stay on top for years, so they were no flash in the pan.

    They were upstaged by young Gordeeva-Grinkov, and I think their own fed may not have supported them after 1986. I liked their programs in the 1984 Olympics and the 1988 worlds LP performance was very good. As pros they did not have much success, mainly due to the dominance of Underhill-Martini.
    I thought V&V were often undermarked, but that's the way the pro competitions have always been.

    I also think they may have been hated outside of the USSR for being part of the USSR tradition in pairs skating. They were very good in many respects as far as skating was concerned, but they did not have the charm of G&G, the passion of M&D, and they did not have the balletic beauty of the Protopopovs or the beauty & lyricism of B&S. They were not purely athletic like Rodnina-Zaitsev either. I think that like V&V, T&M did not get the respect they deserved. However, T&M retired very soon and did not go through a pro career that was not particularly rewarding. V&V were around a long time but were never mentioned in the same breath as the other great Russian pairs that the original poster mentioned.