'Age issue will never be solved in women’s skating': Russian icon Slutskaya on young stars, quad fad & sensational coaching splits
Russian figure skating icon Irina Slustkaya, who dominated women’s events for years, has spoken up about a number of issues in the sport, including raising the age limit and sensational splits with coaches.
In an interview with RT Sport, the two-time Olympic medalist shared her views on modern tendencies in skating, outlining that quadruple jumps have become rooted in women’s skating as an essential part of athletes’ technical content.
Slutskaya, whose incredible sporting career spanned over a decade, during which she won two Olympic, two world and seven European titles, admitted that modern figure skaters don’t have a long-lasting career in professional sport, often being restricted to just one Olympic cycle.
“Figure skating has changed, now the sporting career of a female athlete has become short-lived,” Slutskaya told RT Sport.
“I think retirement seems to be a logical step for a skater who has won all the titles during one or two seasons. When you have all possible awards to your name it’s difficult to find motivation to continue skating. Some skaters prefer to leave sport, realizing they can’t withstand competition from fearless and ambitious youngsters.
“The age issue will always exist in women’s figure skating and it will never be solved. Of course, I would love to see more mature and well-experienced female skaters. But on the other hand we can’t stop teenage skaters with jaw-dropping skills from performing!”
Talking about the modern quad-jumping trend launched by Russian female skaters, Slutskaya said that desire to show ultra-c elements should not outweigh beauty and artistry.
“Demand breeds supply. One skater managed to land a quad, converting it into a massive trend because modern figure skating rules are favorable to quad-jumpers. Several years ago, quads were not highly rewarded in terms of points, now it’s quite the opposite – everyone is determined to land quads. Is it possible to win without having quadruple jumps? Yes, some skaters show that it’s quite possible,” Slutskaya said.
“In my opinion, a program should be very well-balanced between technique and artistry. But I should say that all skaters have started working on increasing presentation score, they have reached substantial progress here,” she added.
The former leader of the Russian team, who was trained by Zhanna Gromova during entire career, said that cooperation with a coach is a tricky issue which sometimes leads to painful splits.
“Athletes part ways with their coaches not only when results go down. There are a great number of factors that can lead to a split. Some athletes demand high results, some want more attention from coaches, others want to be the only one in the group as they don’t like fierce competition from teammates. A personal relationship is also of great importance, because you spend much time with your coach,” she said.
READ MORE: Quad generation: 12yo Russian figure skating prodigy nails INSANE jump at training session
“I never wanted to be coached by any other specialist. My coach Zhanna Gromova is a highly professional specialist who witnessed my first steps in figure skating before guiding me to the Olympic podium. I wouldn’t have thought of training under another coach. A coach passes his or her experience to a skater, shares professional skills during training. But it’s the skater, not the coach who competes on the ice. If something goes wrong, the problem is with the skater, not with the coach,” the retired skater added.
Commenting on the sensational streak of recent splits in the camp of respected Russian trainer Eteri Tutberidze, Slutskaya said that they should not be treated as controversies or tragedies, instead hailing the famed coach for the incredible results she has recorded with her talented skaters.
“Honestly, I’m not familiar with all the details of their split [with Alexandra Trusova]. The mass media always exaggerate, making tragedies out of nothing. Changing a coach is absolutely normal. No one forces people to work together, they chose their own path. Eteri Tutberidze has reached phenomenal results with her skaters, raising several Olympic champions. I hope she will bring up many more champions out of the talented kids she is working with.”