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19 Dec, 2019 14:29

At the cutting edge: Why Zagitova’s decision to suspend career instigated ‘war’ in Russian figure skating

At the cutting edge: Why Zagitova’s decision to suspend career instigated ‘war’ in Russian figure skating

Alina Zagitova’s decision to take a break in her professional sporting career has split Russia’s figure skating family into two camps, with legendary coaches and renowned pundits being involved in the “war.”

Last week, the reigning world and Olympic champion announced that she will put competitive practice on hold, citing lack of motivation and tiredness as reasons for the unexpected decision.

READ MORE: I WILL return, vows Olympic champ Zagitova as rumors rumble over decision to take career break

The 17-year-old, who won all the major titles in women’s figure skating, will now concentrate on performing in the exhibition show where she was invited by Olympic champion ice dancer Tatiana Navka.

Zagitova’s announcement triggered a wave of comments with many speculating over the skater’s possible comeback or complete retirement after she realized her inability to compete against quad-jumping youngsters.

Russian figure skating legend Tatiana Tarasova was among those to suggest that Zagitova’s career is over, expressing regret that the immensely-talented athlete spent just three seasons at senior level.

Also on rt.com ‘I want my desire to compete back’: Champion skater Zagitova ‘suspends’ career

Tarasova’s remark was taken as a personal insult by Zagitova’s coaching team who have been consistently reproached for their inability to work with adult skaters prompting them to retire at an early age.

Eteri Tutberidze who has raised several world and Olympic champions, including Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva took to social media to reply to the criticism, lambasting Tarasova for her “constant negative” remarks aimed at Zagitova during her career.

Dear Tatiana Anatalyevna Tarasova, during three years spent at senior level Alina has showed more results in comparison with other skaters [who] have won nothing in a 10-year period. It’s a shame that despite Alina’s remarkable results you have constantly criticized her. Probably you just wanted to show your huge love. In that case I wish other skaters of our team will receive less love from you,” Turberidze team posted on social media. 

The coach also hit out at men’s skater and Olympic champion Evgeny Plushenko who she accused of trying to lure Zagitova away from her camp and reminding him that he hasn’t brought up a single champion after opening his figure skating school.

Plushenko didn’t leave Tutberidze’s comments unnoticed slamming the coach for setting off a war in figure skating.

I understand that Alina’s retirement made an irreparable damage to your (sport manager’s) budget. I know you prefer to be called a coach, but I am aware that technical preparation in your team, including jumps has been supervised by Dudakov. So, I understand that Alina has brought essential profit to your team.


I don’t know why, probably due to lack of attention Alina asked me for advice during the show in Japan. Athletes are also people and should be treated as people, not as gold medal-winning machines,” Plushenko wrote.

The social media spat between coaches sparked heated debates in Russian figure skating with numerous pundits commenting on the situation.

Those supporting Tutberidze insisted that she is fed up with negative comments over her short-lived triumphs with teenage skaters.

Also on rt.com 'It's a shame the career of an Olympic champion lasts just 3 seasons' – coaching legend Tarasova on Zagitova 'pause' decision

Others condemned the coach for her impulsive reaction stressing that she should concentrate on preparation for the national championship instead of spending energy on social media wars.

The only person who hasn’t commented on the situation is Zagitova who inadvertently sowed the seeds of the biggest conflict in Russian figure skating.