(Never heard of metaratings.ru ... the original article in Russian was published on March 29, 2023):
“Malinin went for quadruple axel and it was completely underscored. The judges just spat in his face!” Interview with sport’s agent Ari Zakaryan
Interview with sport's agent Ari Zakaryan. About this season, Ilia Malinin and World Championships.
Excerpts:The 2022/23 season in figure skating has ended. The last competitions of the year, the World Championships, was held in Japan, where local athletes dominated. Figure skaters from the Land of the Rising Sun won three out of four gold medals. However, it was not without scandal. American figure skater with Russian roots, Ilia Malinin, performed a very powerful program: he became the first skater in the world to land a quadruple axel at the World Championships.
But the judges placed the 18-year-old athlete only in third place. [me: ] In an exclusive interview with Metaratings, Malinin’s agent Ari Zakaryan expressed his opinion on what happened, as well as summed up the season.
Ari Zakaryan: The success of the Japanese skaters was not surprising to me. Their figure skating has been improving since 2006. During this time, they have developed a strong training program for their skaters, which is supported professionally by the federation. The Japanese have not only produced top skaters but also have a decent “bench” in general. For example, there is Mao Shimada in juniors.
I was not surprised that Miura-Kihira won the pairs event. They have been consistently improving in recent years. As for Kaori Sakamoto’s victory, all the ladies were competing at a similar level. Nobody attempted quads, but the Japanese skater had powerful, fast skating, which was her main advantage, plus she had the support of the home crowd.
As I said, the men’s competition had a very high level. All the guys performed brilliantly. However, the men’s event was the biggest disappointment of the season. There is no way to judge Malinin’s performance so low.
In your opinion, has pairs figure skating stopped developing?
Ari Zakaryan: At one point, there was a surge in quadruple throws, and most likely due to their traumatic nature, everything returned to what it was before. Even in 1983, Selezneva and Makarov were performing the same elements as today’s skaters. That is, pair skating has been stagnant for 40 years. Yes, there is progress, interesting programs appear, but the technical level has remained the same, with only a few variations of triple jumps added, and even then very rarely.
Perhaps this is why interest in pair skating is declining. In the days of Gordeeva and Grinkov, Underhill and Martini, people went to arenas for them, because it was a fireworks display. Now it’s completely different – audiences come to pairs performances as part of a general event.
... Yes, he [Malinin] needs to work on his skating, I agree. But let me say it again: quads are a completely different level of concentration. They say that Ilia skated poorly at other moments. But understand, at that moment on the ice, a skater’s mind is only focused on those jumps, those crazy elements. And when you try to show some smiles, edges, between those elements, that’s a different story. I hope the experts who judged the competitions at least once put on skates themselves. They should understand what it is and how difficult it is.
Ari Zakaryan: ... I will repeat again that I am not questioning the places of other skaters who performed well and deservedly took their places. I am challenging the fact that the quad axel was scored humiliatingly, with disdain and cynicism. Let’s see what the future holds for us.