Arthur Dmitriev sums up the season

TAHbKA

Cats and garlic lover
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An interview with Arthur Dmitriev in sport-express.ru

Q: Is the cancellation of the Worlds and the lockout in figure skating going to have the biggest impact on Russia? The trio of Trusova/Scherbakova/Kostornaya pretty much lost their medals and who knows what will happen in a year.
AD: I wouldn't call them the main victims, all the skaters have lost. It's an extraordinary situation. And it's a big hit on figure skating which will require a while to recover from. But the level of our team is something to respect. I saw how seriously everyone were working towards Montreal. I think it's not a level you can lose in a year. We'll wait for the life to recover. I think it might take longer than a couple of months though.

Q: The main thing this season was the domination of Tutberidze's trio. Can you call it the biggest story of the ladies figure skating?
AD: A controversial question, after all there are other skaters as well and I hope this trio has a lot to look forward. It happens that there is a leading group in the world. Take Moskvina in pairs, Dubova in ice dance, Orser and Mishin in the singles. No one believed Mishin's boys are beatable. Pluschenko, Yagudin, Urmanov... They are all gone. But Mishin did not become any less great, right?

Q: Not obvious what will happen with the ISU congress, but what do you think about the offer to change the age limit? Is it a war against that group?
AD: When we talk about that reform we need to think what is our goal? Turn the juniors skating int a more developed sports then the seniors while not allowing those boys and girls to move forward? Sounds silly. So there will be plenty of the junior skaters who will end their career just there. I don't even want to touch what will it do to the pairs skating.

Q: Perhaps now is the time of the changes and later everyone will learn to land the quads?
AD: At any age - they will not. It's special for the ladies. Eteri found the method which gives the constant result with the girls. In her group they realized it requires a discipline. The kid is in the system. It's the same in gymnastics, rhythmic gymnastics and circus where the kids are allowed to work. The lack of fear helps. The girls that age are more developed than the boys - they can't even nearly endure what the girls can. It's the physiology. And of course, the great team. Dudakov is a great kids coach. Eteri needed a second coach for a while - the technical one. All her success came after Dudakov had joined. Without Sergey that team would not exist in it's current state. But still, speeding up the preparation will not work with the boys.

Q: There are talks about slowing down the body development. Is it true?
AD: No one knows. I think the stress they are under slows it down. Before the Olympics I recall both Zagitova and Medvedeva running for 40 minutes before and after the morning and the evening practices. Eteri did not invent it - those methods existed before. Just that she became famous and that's the breaking point. The parents bring their kids where the success is. The best join her group and there aren't too many of them. So she gets to choose and set the conditions. If you haven't done what you were supposed to - go away, goodbye.

Q: Many consider it being mentally too tough.
AD: It was the same in hockey during Tarasov's and Tikhonov's times. They would lock the players in the training base, if they were not training well they would not be allowed to see their wives. Tarasov even had a weekly meetings with the wives and would say something like `Tell your dude to work harder'. That's the approach. He was not hitting them. He was creating the conditions. In the USA they were quite harsh as well before the 1980's victory.
Eteri follows everything. You can't skip working, you will be punished. Perhaps it's not a democratic approach. But it's not a democracy. Does it cross the border? Well, you'd need to be an insider for that. I worked wither her in the 2000s, but things were different back then.

Q: The fact they are so closed from the public - is it right?
AD: It's their right. Is it a good thing or a bad? A hard question. Guess it's part of their vulnerability. On the other hand too much attention is a bad thing. Last season I think it was hurt Dmitrii Aliev after his silver at the Europeans. Still, figure skating lacks publicity. We did have our share of popularity, but not that much.
And we have to understand that all that is being said in Eteri's case is part of our training methods, our sports culture. Tutberidze is by far not the toughest coach. There used to be that coach - Stanislav Zhuk. At least Eteri does not send pupils to the army. He could have. For not working well enough or even if someone refused to switch to him. He would invite a person and ask `How old are you? 18? Well, go on - serve in the army'. And the person would end up carrying weights in the middle of nowhere and end up being a handicapped. It's a stories I know personally. And yet he was a great coach.

Q: Now-a-days it would be criminal.
AD: What is criminal about it? He was not the one to handicap them. Just that he person would join the sports sq. and some commander would get to them. It happened, it was real. It was a tough time in sports as well. So the authority was a must.

Q: So how do they become successful in the West? Some other way?
AD: In Russia the coaching culture is certainly more tough than abroad. But I spent many years in the USA and know there are such specialists as well. But mainly - they have more rinks than we do. The kids are usually quite lazy, there are plenty of those who want to try and the federation hardly gets involved in the beginning steps of the skating. The parents are paying and they are the ones to decide who is a good coach and who is not. Hence they switch from one to the other. In my experience you need at least 3 months to figure what the coach wants from you and another 3 to be able to do it. So you switch 3-4 coaches and you wipe off 2 years. In the USA a lot of talented youth are wasted.
Another factor is not being able to make the kids do things. Here you can tell - I need her to train this and that time. There the parents will say they don't have so much money. Even those who do - see it as a hobby. And then the highschool/uni time comes and they pull the kid out of the skating. He just studies. Those who are now in the USA team find the sponsors, look for them.

Q: Anastasia Tarakanova was trying to do that.
AD: Well even in the USA that system does not always help. You know what is special about figure skating? It's like a ballet, you can't just learn it. I heard a lot of times in boxing, for example: there is that strong dude, let's teach him the right technique, in a year he'll win the regionals and in his 2nd year he'll go to the Worlds. In figure skating if you haven't started at the age of 6 you can't learn it in a year. You need a system. The training system in Russia right now is the best in the world.

Q: So we are done with the NA, let's say Europe is still in a knockout after Graz...
AD: Yes, Japan is left. There it's the opposite direction - the endless respect to the coach. The Japanese got burnt with that - the coaches were using it and killing the kids with the amount of work. The skaters did not survive. But the coach is the god and they bow to him. Eteri more or less recreated that feeling in her group - the kids are afraid of her. And respect her. You see the results.

Q: There must be a lot of problems in the Russian skating which no one talks about because it's all about the age limit and Tutberidze's victories. You travel a lot, what stands out?
AD: There are indeed some problems. Let's take one: recently there are a lot of new rinks opened. And there are no good specialists. It's what the local management talks about. We lose a lot of good skaters. The regional coaches are on the level of `give me your hand and let's do a round'. They get their 30K rubles salary and earn the rest in the private lessons. They give private lessons to their own or others' pupils. But they don't know how to teach and they are not willing to learn. They are fine as it is. You have no responsibility for your private lessons and it's not a systematic work. Half Moscow do them but it's really a waste of time. Why learn when you already have it all?
The next step is not releasing their kids. Because the parents are not stupid, they take the kids to the master classes. We have a half-American system that begins here. And all of the sudden the kids start jumping. A 2A, a 3T. And then they get back and they are re-taught, they are not allowed to do the things they were told to do in Moscow. I.e. we have a level of the top coaches and a void in the middle level. It's a big problem on a long term run.

Q: But there are so many talks about the popularity of the figure skating. Do you feel it?
AD: There are more single ladies, the level of the pairs skating is higher. But there is a height limit. If the girl is 1.65 her partner needs to be around 2m. There aren't many such guys. Besides a lot of girls are afraid switching to the pairs - the split twists and the throws are really scary. And the pairs skating becomes technically harder, there are a lot of details and not a lot can take it.
As for the ladies single skating all the doors are shut. Only the first 3 make it to the national team. The rest will stick around for a while and retire.

Q: How about the citizenship change? When speaking about Medvedeva or Tuktamysheva a lot have a very strong opinion about it.
AD: I think it will happen. Not necessarily to those two, but for some others. I don't mind say, Medvedeva switching citizenship. But is it worth it and should she insist remaining competitive? It will only mean she did not hold the pressure of the competition in Russia. She would still know that there are skaters, come to the international competitions and lose becoming 5th. That's not what she wants. So does she need that switch if it doesn't even give her a chance?

Q: This year she had a chance to make it to the team if it wasn't for that broken boot.
AD: The broken boot is a tough issue. I had a single guy in my group, his boot broke as well. The middle part was travelling around, the other parts held. He landed his triples.

Q: So Medvedeva could had competed and it was a trick?
AD: Let's say: let's believe Medvedeva, but I think it was not only about the boots. Medvedeva had done so much for our sport, let's forgive her the little mishaps.

Q: The current judging in Russia and aboard - is it a problem?
AD: No, it's all quite adequate. Perhaps in Russia we score higher than abroad. The ice dance is a story of it's own, the judging there is complicated. There is a reason our sport is called `figure skating and the ice dance'. There are a lot of ugly moments there. The rules are such that you can always not count something. Though in the singles the underotation rules become more tight. In pairs I had a team who lost after the competition was over and the protocols were published. It was in Zagreb. The judging is a hard issue, but it's not the main thing in figure skating. The most important is the quality of the skating. The ability to find the right balance between the difficulty, the musicality and the expression.

Q: Your son is one of the not so many in the world who are attempting the 4A. Hanyu is getting there now. What is so special about that jump and no one had still landed it?
AD: Arthur had the rotated attempts, but he fell from one of them. It's too late for him - he is too old. Besides, he joined TSKA, switched the coaches and lost a lot of time. Then he broke his foot with another coach, got into a car accident, had a concussion, switched the coaches again, underwent a knee surgery and then came to me. He did take things from each coach. But I'm not a magician. I understand that jump is a way to make history. Besides, working with your son is hard.
As for the 4A - it's about the rotation speed. The faster it is the easier it will be to land it, yet it has to be the ideal speed to take off. Like the pole jump - he does not speed up like Bolt in his 100m, but looks for the right moment to get off. The development of the jump up is a slow process. Another thing - you need to prerotate as much as possible without breaking hte rules. I.e. it's too many things at once.

Q: In Mishin's books there are usually a lot of that - about the geometry...
AD: You need the experience. The athletes don't need to know the geometry and trigonometry, they will think you are nuts if you try explaining them things in degrees. It does not mean the skaters are stupid. They just have different goals. The coach needs to find the right words to explain what the skater needs to do.

Q: Is Arthur ok now?
AD: Hard to tell. You were asking about the problems, so here is another one: he didn't make it to the national team, i.e. he lost all the support of the federation. The medicine, the massage, the costumes and the boots are his financial responsibility now. If you are a serious athlete earning money at the same time is almost impossible. The balance between the work and the practices is hard.
If we talk about the figure skating being popular - the times there were well payed shows in the USA are well over, now it's all about the American football. And the ability of our stars to become rich are well behind. In the 90s we were all earning in Champions on Ice. And Russia was dead poor back then. It was on the level of: you come to the rink and there is no ice. You ask the zamboni guy and he says `I have no petrol'. I would drive to the nearby petrol station, Urmanov would, we would spend our money and queue for it. In these conditions we took all the gold at 1992 Olympics. You have to really want it. Russia has all the right conditions for it now.
 

Yuri

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Очень интересно, Артур! Сейчас я лучше понимаю почему Россия делает так хорошо!

Thanks so much for translating the article.
 
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canbelto

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What he says about Zhuk is interesting, because in a recent TSL interview Katia Gordeeva (who spoke about his abusive ways in her book) seemed to also give him credit for her success.
 

overedge

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What he says about Zhuk is interesting, because in a recent TSL interview Katia Gordeeva (who spoke about his abusive ways in her book) seemed to also give him credit for her success.

Some abusers produce skaters who have a lot of competitive success. IMO it doesn't make Zhuk's abuse any less awful for Katia to acknowledge that she was successful when he coached her.
 

MacMadame

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You see that he's been around a long time and has some perspective. I don't necessarily agree with his acceptance of practices I consider less than ideal (at best) but I like that he isn't scapegoating people.
 

casken

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The comments about Jr. are brutal. :slinkaway

"He's too old. He's changed coaches too much. He keeps injuring himself. He's only doing the 4 axel to be a footnote in skating history. Now he came crawling back to me, and working with your son totally blows."

Like... thanks dad?
 

Weve3

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AD: The most important is the quality of the skating. The ability to find the right balance between the difficulty, the musicality and the expression.
Exactly. This is why I feel that if they decide to raise the age-eligible limit they will lose a little (or maybe a lot) both ways.

A skater at their peak or prime might be long past it by the time they hit seniors unless they can maintain. Not too many can do that.

It boils down to accepting more heavily leaning artistic programs (which is okay by me), if the age limit is raised. However, the trade-off would be losing (or at the very least watering down) the technical content and requirements. I think (over time) this would leave some fans feeling bored and disappointed with a sport that struggles to stay relevant in certain parts of the world.

It’s a challenge (not impossible, of course) to successfully bring together maturity, technicality and artistry in an older or younger skater... because they’re usually one or the other when they’ve had their success.

AD: When we talk about that reform we need to think what is our goal? Turn the juniors skating int a more developed sports then the seniors while not allowing those boys and girls to move forward? Sounds silly. So there will be plenty of the junior skaters who will end their career just there. I don't even want to touch what will it do to the pairs skating.
Changing the age limit would have a profound effect on pairs and not necessarily a positive one.

All the disciplines would look entirely different while at the risk of not being greatly improved.

Thank you, @TAHbKA.
 
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Yuri

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One thing I love about my elite Russian skating friends is their sometimes brutal, matter-of-fact honesty when they provide their opinions about the sport. Even when such honesty gets them in some trouble with the media, LOL. I don't know Artur as well as some others, but his view of the laziness of most skaters coached in America is consistent with other friends. It's truly amazing some of the great accomplishments of so many former Soviet skaters in the 1992 and 1994 Olympics while their home country disintegrated.

Obviously there are trade-offs in what an elite skater must do to reach a World or Olympic podium, physical, emotional, and social. Elite skaters' income sources are down since the collapse of Champions on Ice and the made-for-TV competitions and ice shows in the post-Tonya & Nancy era. I've seen my share of elite skaters who, while achieving amazing success on the ice, also suffered from physical and emotional abuse in some brutal training environments.

Leaving that aside, there is such a difference between the Russian and American styles of training elite skaters. I've had close friends train under the likes of Ron Ludington, John Nicks, Frank Carroll, Richard Callaghan, and Bob Young. On the Russian side, Tarasova, Moskvina, Linichuk & Karponosov, Dubova, and Mishin. Never really heard much about Zhuk other than in Katya Gordeeva's book, interesting to hear Artur's anecdotes about him, as well as the USA and USSR hockey teams in the 1980s.

Большое спасибо для перевода, ТАНЬКА!
 

kosjenka

Pogorilaya’s fairy godmother
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SO he mentioned a competition in Zagreb where his team lost after results were published.

Your Croatian correspondent is here to clear things up.
This all happened at Golde Spin of Zagreb 2016.
Dimitrievs team was Astakhova and Rogonov and they were in a battle for gold with Della Monica and Guaritze from Italy
Italians were in a lead by less than a point in short program and if I remember, both teams skated pretty good there, but the free was an utter disaster for almost all teams. I remember being very displeased with the final group and did not care for the results. Astakhova and Rogonov won by a fraction, but frankly - I did not care as both teams skated poorly.
I went home (I lived near the rink) to have lunch and came back home to meet a journalist from Corriere della sera and he was very pleased. He informed me that Italy has 3 gold medals from Golden spin. Kostner won the ladies before, Guinardi and Fabbri won(the are basically locals at the competition) and apparently - Della Monica and Guaritze.
What happened? Well, as soon as the protocols were out, the Italian federation appealed one element. It was the last lift of the Italian team that technical panel called level 1 and it should have been Level 2.
That fraction made the difference for Italians to win overall thanks to the difference in the short program.

I remember the journalist was very pissed with the judging in general (we spoke about it in details) and he was well informed that the same technical specialist was on all the discipline - pairs, men and ladies and that she only got her credentials for pair that summer and many mistakes were made.

There you go some tea.

Oh and - when Italians were set to get their medals, I received a strong squeeze my Matteo <3
 

Weve3

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Obviously there are trade-offs in what an elite skater must do to reach a World or Olympic podium, physical, emotional, and social.
Yes, I agree.

However, I am seeing a recent trend of skaters’ training regimens being described as either horribly abusive or tremendously lazy. Is there no middle ground? 🧐 🤔

If the former is the case, (abusive or lazy, period) then it appears the sport is doomed! 👀

I certainly agree there has been abuse, obviously... and I concur that laziness could be an issue, but everyone and everything is kind of being lumped into one category (or the other) which I feel is definitely not the case across the board.
 

gkelly

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Yes, I agree.

However, I am seeing a recent trend of skaters’ training regimens being described as either horribly abusive or tremendously lazy. Is there no middle ground? 🧐 🤔

If the former is the case, (abusive or lazy, period) then it appears the sport is doomed! 👀

I certainly agree there has been abuse, obviously... and I concur that laziness could be an issue, but everyone and everything is kind of being lumped into one category (or the other) which I feel is definitely not the case across the board.

Well, what seems normal to someone from a very strict regime might appear abusive to people from more relaxed environments.

And what seems normal to someone from a more relaxed or individual-centered environment may seem lazy to used to a stricter approach.

So they may be speaking of skaters from the other environments as though they are on they extreme opposite end, whereas they may simply be toward the opposite end.

Also, at many US rinks, there are serious skaters who work very hard training alongside others who are not aiming at elite results. So a Russian observing will see plenty of skaters who are not working at skating as hard as it takes to reach elite levels because that is not their goal. They might in fact be lazy, or they may put the majority of their hard work into other activities such as academic accomplishment.
 

Weve3

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I think assuming and suggesting that all American skaters are lazy is a bit over-the-top. Do coaches sometimes have a lazy student? Yes, but this broad generalization is not helpful when it is clearly untrue. American skaters who have the drive and determination to be at the elite level have worked very hard, tirelessly and they’ve been very successful.
 
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overedge

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Also, at many US rinks, there are serious skaters who work very hard training alongside others who are not aiming at elite results. So a Russian observing will see plenty of skaters who are not working at skating as hard as it takes to reach elite levels because that is not their goal. They might in fact be lazy, or they may put the majority of their hard work into other activities such as academic accomplishment.

Also, some skaters are late bloomers. It may take them a while to find what they're good at, or find a coach who they like working with. The model of only focusing on the top performers who work the hardest, and not putting resources into supporting anyone else, might produce top performers. But it also eliminates skaters with the potential to be top performers later on.
 

mjb52

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The relative popularity of the sport might be a factor too. I'm no expert on football but I wonder if a person looking at training habits in American football would see something very different than what they see among American figure skaters. The expense of the sport also means that it is pretty hard for American figure skaters to train as hard as Russian ones even if they wanted to, I think, because they can't necessarily get access to as much ice time? I'm not sure how it works once you hit the US National Team. I like discipline and hard work in order to accomplish a goal, but some of what Popova talked about in her interview and what I saw in a snippet of the Vaganova Ballet Academy doc - verbal/emotional abuse - seems both bad in and of itself and also just counterproductive. I also hope a person with as many questions floating around about him as Morozov is being supervised when he works with skaters (whether he should be in the sport at all I guess is another question well above my knowledge level).
 

overedge

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@Michalle All very true. IMO "discipline" is often seen as being mean and tough, and a coach who isn't being harsh with their athletes isn't seen as providing discipline. I think anyone who's trained in any kind of activity knows that there are really good coaches who can get students to work hard and who have high expectations - but they know how to achieve that without yelling and without being physically or emotionally abusive.
 
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Tinami Amori

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:D


I am the coach, you do what i say...



I think people who are concerned with abuse by coaches, should mind and try to fix the issues is their "own back yard" (their local schools, city, state, country)...... Americans mind your own issues, and we Russians will mind ours.

Here on FSU i notice American (CAN and USA and some Euros who want to be "western") have their heads stuck in Russian affairs from lips to out in anus, while in their own country or locality worst things take place...
 

skatingguy

Golden Team
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I think people who are concerned with abuse by coaches, should mind and try to fix the issues is their "own back yard" (their local schools, city, state, country)...... Americans mind your own issues, and we Russians will mind ours.

Here on FSU i notice American (CAN and USA and some Euros who want to be "western") have their heads stuck in Russian affairs from lips to out in anus, while in their own country or locality worst things take place...
You're an American - you live in California. The actions of abusive coaches everywhere need to be called, and the nation in which they work isn't relevant.
 

Tinami Amori

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You're an American - you live in California. The actions of abusive coaches everywhere need to be called, and the nation in which they work isn't relevant.
I am not American, I am a holder of US passport aka "legal citizen" (which obliges me to follow the law, vote and to pay taxes not to accept culture, mentality, and style of life if my choices are not against the law). I don't "live" in California, I "reside" in California, I "live and enjoy life" in its full meaning in other parts of the world (and no i can't move because of family and pets. in our family even adult children don't abandon their elderly parents).

As to tracking abuse.... First one must determine "abuse" and second, on FSU majority of posters should get off the "Russian issues" and worry about "North American" stuff. This board is statistically 80% North American, but all the "hype" with wrong doings is mostly Russian, and some Europe. :D
 

Yuri

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I haven't seen a meaningful difference in abusive situations among Russian and American-style training in figure skating, and of course other sports have their own issues. And when I am discussing abuse, I mean the clear cut situations like sexual abuse from coach to student, physical beatings (including among partners), plus anorexia and bulimia due to pressure to stay thin. No country has a monopoly, and it affects everyone from unknown skaters to Olympic medalists.

On a lighter note, I guess, it was amazing to read what Artur said about Junior's skating career. Just wow...
 

hanca

Values her privacy
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You're an American - you live in California. The actions of abusive coaches everywhere need to be called, and the nation in which they work isn't relevant.
It would be very naive to expect that someone’s identity must be necessarily the same as someone’s legal status. For example, some people have citizenship of one country but never accepted the country and its culture as a part of their identity. I know Italian people who have been living 40 years in this country, having this country’s citizenship and yet they consider themselves Italian and think and behave as Italian. At the same time, I know a person from Italy who has been here for two years and is very British. Identity is about what is close to you, what feels right for you, what you decided to accept in your life. It is not necessarily what your paperwork says you are.
The same way, there are people who consider being married as ‘having an unnecessary piece of paper’ and yet those people are not against having a strong and stable relationship; they just don’t believe that having it legally confirmed would make any difference to how they feel about each other.
 

PRlady

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I would mildly point out that North Americans here clobbered Zimmerman and Fontana, previously popular coaches, on the Cipres affair. Raf is Russian and very well-respected for what he’s done for several elite skaters. The Russian-American and Russian-Canadian skaters from Gogalev to Krasnozhon (sp?) have lots of fans.

It’s not FSU culture to only criticize one’s own country. And USFS is criticized at least as often as the Russian Fed, while the French Fed under Didier may have been the most unpopular of all.
 

clairecloutier

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The Canadian fed also comes in for its share of criticism, often from Canadians. :D

Russia is arguably the dominant nation right now in figure skating, at least in terms of results and possibly overall elite participation. As such, it will be widely discussed by posters of all nationalities. Also it will have its fair share of controversies, as is typical when any group, country, or org is in a dominant or visible position.
 

overedge

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I haven't seen a meaningful difference in abusive situations among Russian and American-style training in figure skating, and of course other sports have their own issues. And when I am discussing abuse, I mean the clear cut situations like sexual abuse from coach to student, physical beatings (including among partners), plus anorexia and bulimia due to pressure to stay thin. No country has a monopoly, and it affects everyone from unknown skaters to Olympic medalists.

Other than things that are illegal, there isn't a "clear-cut" definition of "abuse". The definition you're proposing leaves out emotional abuse, e.g. a coach calling students stupid, lazy, and so on, which can also be very damaging.

Also IMO "styles" of training are more relevant to the individual coach, not to the country itself. Sure, different countries have different ways of funding and supporting skating programs, and a coach's style may be influenced by the system they grew up in. But I don't think there's such a thing as "American-style" training, because there's thousands of coaches in the US, and many of them are doing different things.
 

Rock2

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The Canadian fed also comes in for its share of criticism, often from Canadians. :D

Russia is arguably the dominant nation right now in figure skating, at least in terms of results and possibly overall elite participation. As such, it will be widely discussed by posters of all nationalities. Also it will have its fair share of controversies, as is typical when any group, country, or org is in a dominant or visible position.

Yup.
I think part of the game here is that in an ideal world you want to find methods that get the most out of the skater in terms of results while maintaining their short and long-term well-being.

In countries such as Russia the focus is more on the results. Pure effort is not the goal. If the results aren't there, effort needs to increase. This can lead to coaching scenarios that border on or become abusive. Some of the abuse is not grey, some of it is, because over here in the west some people will characterize as abusive any feedback that makes the student feel bad. There are different ideas of what abuse is. Longer conversation.

Part of the reasons for this mentality relate to culture, coupled with the skating system. Culturally, Russians are highly-competitive internationally (all countries are, but they are pretty intense). Athletic superiority is almost a proxy for national superiority overall so the expectations are high.
Add to that the systemic factors which are largely financial. Talented kids are identified at a young age and financed by the federation. Government's view is, we're not funding you to enjoy yourself or set your own goals and 'try your best' to achieve them. We're paying you to excel and win. If that's not happening, we'll allocate the money to someone else. A lot of these athletes and their families are lower income. Skating is a way out, so the motivation is high to excel on both sides. Again, results are the context for everything.

Also culturally (and a big part of my own background) Russians aren't that touchy about a lot of things. I see the shuddering over how Artur talks about his son's potential. To me he's pretty factual and honest - there's likely no motivation to put his son down, just objectively assess the situation. Russians aren't huge fans of sugar coating, or reframing something crappy with a glossy veneer to avoid the truth. That's pretty silly to them/us. I have little doubt he has shared his feedback in that way directly with his son, who probably shrugged, agreed, and they crafted a path forward with zero emotional wreckage in its wake.

Contrast that to North America. Skating is for everyone who can afford it themselves, and whomever among those rises to the top because of their inate drive and motivation get funded and get to represent the country. Wherever you stand among the world is what it is - the federation doesn't impose its goals and wishes to a super forceful degree. So there is an ebb and flow of results based purely on what talent comes through the system. The results are not curated by the federation.

Matters of self-esteem and emotional well-being are given greater weight over here, potentially at the expense of results. Effort is prioritized and is also largely subjective. Inside of sport and outside I hear the statement "my Amber/Justin tries real hard" as if to justify the result, even if poor. I often ask for a description of what "tries real hard" means because I sincerely want to know what one person's idea of this means so I have the right perspective. I rarely get an answer - mostly spitting and sputtering - but occasionally I do. And it's never all that impressive but I keep my feedback to myself. I'm sure there are many cases where the effort is very high and the results don't happen but I see more often the case of some subjective concept of 'high effort' being a valid excuse for poor performance. We're pretty OK with that over here.

This is not all to say that Russia is purely one way and NA is purely another. As pointed out there are variations rink to rink, coach to coach. But when you look at it overall there are cultural and systemic differences that can account for how the results are presenting themselves.
 

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@Rock2 I know that the "tries real hard" attitude has been around forever, but IMO it was made worse by shows like American Idol - based on the premise of, who knows what undiscovered talent might be out there. And that gave some hope a lot of people who thought they deserved to be a star because they really, really, really wanted to be a star. Not because they had the talent to succeed. And then they ran headlong into Simon Cowell :lol:

As an adult skater I've definitely seen a shift in the attitude of parents and kids. It went from working hard and accepting that maybe what you achieved from that work wasn't good enough (to pass a test, to get the marks you wanted in a competition, etc.) - and knowing that you had to do things differently if that goal was still important to you - to 'I worked hard so I should have gotten that'.
 
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