The championship of Russia in figure skating among juniors in Perm ended in a grandiose scandal related to refereeing. The first call was the reaction of Sofia Titova, who was outraged by the low marks for her performances both at this tournament and throughout the season: “I am 146 [очков] scored with one triple axel. Well, where? But a real storm broke out after the end of the competition, when the coach of the Russian national team Evgeni Plushenko came out to the journalists. He also stated that his wards were being sued and did not rule out that for this reason his best pupils could change their sports citizenship.
The coach of the Russian national team and the head of the Angela Plushenko Academy is sure that his pupils are judged very strictly, while their rivals are judged loyally, turning a blind eye to blots. Evgeni Plushenko announced this at the end of the Russian Figure Skating Championship among juniors in Perm.
– My athletes who do ultra-si, for some reason, are given points much lower. And the jumps are great! If someone else did them, there would be completely different scores. Mine, for example, if there are any ribs (fuzzy landing, – Izvestia), they are immediately seen. Other athletes do not see. This has been going on for several seasons. What’s happened? I spoke with the judges, with the federation, I said: “Look. Why are you judging me harshly? Judge everyone the same.” We are for justice.
Evgeni Plushenko drew parallels with the performance of Alexandra Trusova at the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing, when she jumped five quads, but lost to Anna Shcherbakova.
The main statement of the Olympic champion was that a number of his talented pupils, seeing such injustice, can change sports citizenship. Plushenko noted that such an initiative comes not from him, but from the skaters themselves and their parents. And he, as a coach, is obliged to support them.
“Most likely, there will be transfers of many athletes to other countries,” the coach emphasized. — Those who are judged unfairly. Because the guys also fight for justice? And should I fight? I’m tired. If my athletes don’t need the federation [фигурного катания России]then we’ll go where we’re needed. This [происходит] not the first season. This has been building up for a long time. If you look now, people win with one quadruple. I don’t want to offend anyone. But with one quad to oppose four ultra-c… Well, what are we doing?
Honored coach of the USSR Tatyana Tarasova, commenting on Plushenko’s statement to Izvestia, also did not rule out the possibility of some athletes moving to the national teams of other countries.
– He thinks so, so the athletes will move. And how can you prevent the transition of athletes to other countries? — said Tarasova.
At the same time, she did not see bias in refereeing at the championship in Perm.
– If the skaters make a mistake, as the athlete Plushenko made a mistake in the short program, then they take points. If she had not made a mistake, she would have won by a wide margin from second place. Even if outstanding athletes are wrong, they are deducted points. And they are still only juniors, – Tarasova emphasized.
Evgeni Plushenko really outlined one of the hottest topics in Russian and world figure skating. Questions about refereeing from time to time surfaced both during the current season and in previous ones. Moreover, we are talking about both underestimation of points and overestimation. What are the estimates of the dance duet Elizaveta Khudaiberdieva / Yegor Bazin at the last Russian championship this season. They were at the level of points with which the French couple Gabriela Papadakis / Guillaume Sizeron became Olympic champions. Then many experts noted that with all due respect to our couple, they are very, very far from the level of the French, and such high scores look simply absurd.
And in single skating, especially in women’s tournaments, refereeing issues arise with enviable constancy. For example, this happened in the fall at the 4th stage of the Russian Grand Prix. In the short program, Sofya Akatieva scored about the same amount for her strong triple Axel skate as Kamila Valieva the week before with a clearly unsuccessful performance. The situation looked, at least, strange.
If you delve into it, you can find that the same Valieva generously appreciated the imperfect cascade. Even the figure skater herself admitted that she “saved” the element. The judges showed extraordinary loyalty and the majority put +4, three more +3. And there are many, many more such examples. And Plushenko himself during the current season had doubts about the impartiality of refereeing.
The duel of his student Sofya Muravyova with Elizaveta Tuktamysheva at the Grand Prix stage in Perm has become one of the most memorable. The tournament ended with a super-dense result: Elizaveta won 0.8 points from Sofia, and both made three clean triple axels. It was extremely difficult to justify the difference between them. Plushenko even then expressed dissatisfaction with the assessments and said that in his understanding it was Muravyova who won the stage.
Will there be changes
You can react to the statements of the coach of the Russian national team in different ways. Someone decides to accuse Evgeny of trying to manipulate – it’s not just that he announced the possible transitions of athletes to other countries. Or even point out that Plushenko violates the code of ethics of the FFKKR. But, according to Izvestia, the monologue of the Olympic champion regarding violations of this document will not be considered.
Nevertheless, his speech is an important moment in the history of Russian figure skating. Prior to this, athletes sometimes hinted at unfair refereeing, or even said that they were “shamefully underdone”. But for the coach to speak so loudly and specifically, this has never happened before.
What Plushenko is right about is that the problem can be solved only if people talk about it. Perhaps some changes will follow after his monologue. He has done this before, and during his own career. At the 2010 Olympics, according to the judges, he lost to Evan Lysacek, despite the fact that the American did not make a single quadruple at all, and Plushenko performed a quadruple sheepskin coat in each program – both in a cascade with a triple. The reaction to that scandal was proposals to strengthen the role of technical elements in scoring – and they were accepted.
Eugene himself noted his contribution to these changes: “If I had kept silent, then the cost of quads would not have been raised, and the system would have remained the same.” Now he loudly raised the topic of refereeing at domestic Russian competitions. Also, for sure, hoping that his statements will bear fruit.
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