Competitions ‘easier’ with Russians banned – skating icon
Figure skating icon Irina Rodnina says it is a “fact” that international competitions are easier in the absence of Russian stars, after French world champion Guillaume Cizeron claimed “tensions” are removed when Russian athletes are banned.
Cizeron, 27, recently picked up a fifth ice dancing world title at the World Figure Skating Championships in Montpellier, doing so in the absence of Russian athletes who have been barred due to their country’s military offensive in Ukraine.
“They lost a lot of trust from other skaters because of the situation in Ukraine and doping... Without them, there is less tension,” said Cizeron in comments to RTL.
Rodina, who won successive golds at three editions of the Olympic Games from 1972 to 1980, said those comments betrayed the notion that it would inevitably be easier for Russia’s rivals in the current climate.
“It is easier to perform without Russians or other athletes. This is a fact,” said the 10-time world champion, who now serves as a State Duma Deputy.
The World Championships in Montpellier saw the absence of Russian women’s stars such as Olympic gold medalist Anna Shcherbakova, world record holder Kamila Valieva, and ‘quad queen’ Alexandra Trusova.
Cizeron and partner Gabriella Papadakis and partner broke the world record to clinch the ice dance title, adding to the Olympic gold they won in Beijing last month ahead of Russian duo Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov, who were also missing in France.
Former Olympic ice dance champion Tatiana Navka said rivals were already fearful of the prospect of Russian skaters returning once the current ban has been lifted.
“Of course, competing at a tournament without the strongest is much calmer, there is no tension. Without our skaters, the World Championships lost a lot in class and entertainment,” said Navka.
“I am 100% sure that if our guys went to the World Cup in France, they would occupy the whole podium there.
“I think everyone understands this. They understand, realize and are already afraid of the return of Russian skaters to the international arena,” Navka told Sport-Express.
After being forced to miss the World Championships in France, Russian stars appeared at an alternative domestic event, the Channel One Cup, which was held in Saransk at the same time.
The exhibition competition featured Olympic queen Shcherbakova and fan favorite Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, and marked a comeback for Valieva after her Olympic dream turned sour in Beijing.
EDITOR'S NOTE: This story has been corrected to note that the original comments were made by Guillaume Cizeron, and not his partner Gabriella Papadakis.