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26 Mar, 2019 12:33

'My mom was terminally ill, then my skater left me': Tutberidze speaks on break-up with Medvedeva

'My mom was terminally ill, then my skater left me': Tutberidze speaks on break-up with Medvedeva

Russia's renowned figure-skating coach Eteri Tutberidze has opened up about her personal pain during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympics, splitting with skate star Evgenia Medvedeva just after her mother was diagnosed with cancer.

The coach, who guided several Russian skaters to world prominence, published a lengthy post on Instagram detailing the ordeals she went through right after Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva won Winter Olympic medals in South Korea.

The 45-year-old said that she couldn't savor the moment of happiness after two of her skaters stood on the Olympic podium, as she was fully focused on her mother who has been diagnosed with brain cancer just before the 2018 PyeongChang Games.

"The day I went to Japan to hold a pre-Olympic training camp, my mom had a stroke which caused partial paralysis. Later it was discovered that she had brain cancer," Tutberidze wrote.

She went on: "I remember all that happened to me as in a fog. My daughter lived at school in order to avoid staying alone at home. My mom was in hospital in critical condition. My daughter, who was left alone in Moscow, cried every time we talked by phone. My mother fought for her life against the frightening disease."

Tutberidze said that pain was the only thing she felt after the triumphant performance at the Winter Games, regretting that her mother was not able to enjoy the success.


"Then there was the Olympics, medals, award ceremony. People looked into my eyes while congratulating me, trying to find happiness there. But there was no happiness. There was just pain.

"My father died six months before the Sochi Olympics, my mother was not able to realize what we did at the Olympics and feel happy for me," she wrote.

"Then there was a weird break-up with several students, one of whom I held up as an example and for whom I did everything I could, dedicating 200 percent of my power out of 100 percent possible. Then followed accusations which honestly didn't make my pain worse," Tutberidze added, recalling a highly publicized split with one of her more talented skaters, Medvedeva.


The coach didn't blame Medvedeva for her decision to terminate their long and productive cooperation, but stressed that she did everything in her power to guide the skater to the Olympic podium.

Russia's long-time leader Medvedeva, for whom Olympic silver came as a disappointment, parted ways with Tutberidze and went to Canada to train under Brian Orser.

Tutberidze's emotional Instagram post evoked a dramatic reaction, with many users criticizing Medvedeva for leaving when her coach needed her most.


"We love you Eteri Gerorgievna, Alina [Zagitova] will never betray you," one user wrote.
"I wish nobody would ever betray you, Eteri. You are a talented coach," a user wrote.  

"You are so strong. I couldn't read your post without tears. I hope your students always win," another added.

Others insisted that the figure-skating coach was speculating too much on the controversial split, trying to besmirch the skater who simply preferred to work with another specialist.

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"I wish you would find the strength to let Zhenya [Evgenia Medvedeva] go. Sometimes this happens that an athlete wants to work with another coach. You need to accept it," one critic wrote under Tutberidze's post.

"Zhenya didn't have any other option. You knew quite well that she would leave you. You did everything for Zagitova's victory at the Olympics," another comment read.

"It really hurt you that Zhenya won a medal at the world championships. Please concentrate on your own and leave Zhenya alone," another added.

At the 2019 World Figure Skating Championships in Japan, two of Tutberidze's students achieved podium places. Zagitova claimed gold in Sataima, while one more Tutberidze skater representing Kazakstan, Elizabet Tursynbaeva, finished second – becoming the first female skater to land a quad at a senior competition. Medvedeva took bronze again, finishing behind Zagitova, who beat her last year at the Olympics.

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