‘It’s better to see female figure skaters with formed bodies’ – Olympic medalist Zhulin
Zhulin, a former ice dance world champion and double Olympic medallist, spoke out as a number of younger Russian female stars have claimed major titles.
The recent Russian national championship was dominated by junior stars in the women’s category, with 14-year-old Anna Shcherbakova taking first place, followed by Alexandra Trusova, also 14, in second and Alena Kostornaia, 15, in third.
Russia’s Alina Zagitova claimed the Olympic title in South Korea in February at 15 years old – which is the age at which competitors are allowed to join the senior ranks internationally.
For Zhulin, a renowned coach, the prominence of youngsters is not good for the sport at senior level.
“It turns out that the girls are flat, like a boy, and perform difficult jumps. Look at who became the Olympic champions in previous years.
“Obviously they deserve respect, but at the same time the girls simply managed to jump in time.
“For me it’s interesting to watch women’s figure skating when it’s not the younger generation competing, but figure skaters with formed women’s body parts, which men like to look at,” the 55-year-old told Belarusian outlet Tut Sport.
He also cited Italy’s Carolina Kostner, 31, and Canada’s Kaetlyn Osmond, 23, as examples of the type of competitors who should be at adult level, while Zagitova and fellow Russian star Evgenia Medvedeva, 19, are "still young girls."
Zhulin added that the demands placed on young female skaters – not just in Russia but globally – could even seriously hinder their bodily development to the extent that they encounter problems with fertility and childbirth.
"They [young skaters] have no 'women's affairs' before the age of 19, but they can land a triple axel," Zhulin said.
The trainer - who coached Russian pair Tatiana Navka and Roman Kostomarov to Olympic gold in Turin in 2006 - suggested an age limit of 17 for the senior ranks, claiming that those achieving success at a younger age would find it hard to maintain that level in later years.