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3 Aug, 2010 19:05

Russian speed skating makes positive turn

Russia's new speed skating coach is vowing his team will win “several” medals at the Sochi Olympics in four years, after the Vancouver Games in February saw just two podium finishes.

Russia is in the middle of a heat wave, but at least there was some respite for the country's speed skaters, who had the luxury of training in much cooler confines.

However, there is plenty of work to be done, even with the start of the new season months away, especially for new head coach Konstantin Poltavets, who has got the job of trying to make Russia a force again in the sport.

Poltavets certainly has great experience behind him. He's worked with the Dutch team, one of the world’s best, and coached Olympic champions like Sven Kramer and Irene Wurst.

Now he's turning his attention to Russia, and the country's top speed skater, Ivan Skobrev, is certainly delighted at his appointment.

Skobrev’s recent past offers an indication of how low the level of speed skating has reached in Russia. The 27 year old, who won silver and bronze in Vancouver, trained in Italy with former Olympic champion Enrico Fabris in the run-up to the games, as this offered him a much higher level of coaching.

However, Skobrev says he's going to come back to train in Russia following Poltavets' appointment.

Poltavets, who previously competed for the Soviet Union, has a tough job on his hands. He says there is plenty of potential, but now it's all about working to try and turn that potential into gold medals come the Sochi Olympics in four years’ time.