The Russian press is starting to pick up negative stories coming out of the Winter Olympics. Mostly involving rudeness and unsportsmanlike behavior of American athletes. Here are a couple of such stories, this one involving the snubbing of a Russian Skeleton crew, and this one involving the highly politicized sport of female figure skating, and some bratty comments made by one of the American girls.
“Americans and Canadians don’t even say hello to us…”
Skeletonist Nikita Tregubov relates that the Russian Skeleton team is having a tough time over there in Pyeongchang. Their coach, Willi Schneider, was banned from this Olympics. Or rather, he was banned from coaching the Russian team; I believe he is actually over there in South Korea, as we speak, but is coaching the Chinese team. Without a coach, the orphaned waifs of the Russian Skeleton guys are making do as best they can.
“The Americans won’t say hello to us, because they are politically inclined against us,” Tregubov reports. “But we don’t care. Oh, and the Brits are like that too. Why? Who knows? I don’t give a rat’s ass. If they won’t even say hello to us, then they can just go to ****”
On the other hand, Tregubov adds, the Canadian athletes are polite and say hello to their Russian counterparts. Which makes sense, to anybody who has ever met a Canadian: These are a scrupulously courteous people. And that’s the way it should be, in my humble opinion.
Nikita goes on to explain how the skeleton crew make do without a coach: “We get the bobsled coaches to stand along the track and videotape us. Now, you understand that skeleton and bobsled are two completely different things! So we have to tell the (bobsled) coaches where to stand and what to video. We send the videos back to our own kind (in Russia), and they analyze our (training runs). This type of remote training is very far from the way we usually train. Usually after we do a training run, we do an instant post-mortem and corrective, and then off for another run. Now we can’t do that.”
Nikita went on to say, that the Russian biathletes and sledders (who are in the same situation, competing without a coach) are being helped by friendly coaches from other nations. However, that won’t and can’t happen in the Skeleton, due to the high level of competitiveness.
Everybody knows that Ashley Wagner is a brat
The next story concerns an American brat named Ashley Wagner. Gossips note that this is not the first time Ashley has made unsportsmanlike comments, directed either at judges/referees, or at her fellow competitors. In the past, some of her brattier outbursts were corrected by none other than American statesman Scotty Hamilton, who tried to explain to Ashley, in big-brotherly affectionate fashion, that criticizing figure skating judges is not the best political move in such a highly-regulated and technical sport.
But my gossip sources dish that Ashley is a 26-year-old brat who never grew up, and never listened to good advice. As a result of which, she shot her mouth off again last month and did not win herself an Olympic berth. So now, she cavils from the sidelines, picking apart the programs of others, but with special attention to Russian skater Alina Zagitova.
Alina is a 15-year-old prodigy hailing from Russia’s backwoods: Izhevsk, Udmurt Republic; her father Ilnaz being a hockey coach. Fortunately, the diminutive Alina picked figure skating instead of hockey as her sport! Now, there happens to be an event called “Team Figure Skating” at the Olympics, and just yesterday Alina received the highest technical score ever for an individual lady: 158.08. This being a team sport, with the team total determining the winner, it goes without saying, that it behooves each member of the team to strategize on behalf of the entire team, how to win the most points in a single performance. Alina’s gift to her team enabled it to garner the Silver Medal; with Canada taking the Gold, and the United States the Bronze.
Everybody is happy about the result. Everybody except Ashley Wagner. Who took it upon herself to criticize not only Alina’s program, but also the judges who awarded it so many points. Here is Ashley’s catty tweet:
Ok. I respect the competitive approach. But no cannot do this set up. It’s not a program. She killed time in the beginning and then just jumped the second half. It’s not a performance. I understand that this is what the system allows but it’s not all figure skating is about.
Ashley, of course, is the expert in what figure skating is all about. She is referring to the fact that Alina (and her coach, choreographer, and the team in general) created a strategic program for her, which maximized the number of points she could accrue in a single program. Since jumps are worth more in the second half of the program (because the skater is presumably more tired then), Alina saved most of her jumps for the second half. And so on.
A similar “strategizing” approach enabled American figure skater Evan Lysacek to defeat Russian rival Evgeny Plushenko in the 2010 Olympics, even though Lysacek did not have a quadruple jump. Plushenko, at the time, was the bad sport, questioning the outcome. I took Lysacek’s side. The rules are the rules. Lysacek was suffering from an injury, he did not have a quad, but he was able to design a very clever program that showcased everything else in his arsenal, while also geared to maximize points. It worked, and he won, fair and square.
Analogously, Zagitova earned her points fair and square, and it is not for the likes an Ashley Wagner to criticize her, nor the judges either. She should tend to her own technical training; not to mention her manners.
Judge for yourselves. I couldn’t find Alina’s team Olympic program on youtube, it’s probably still commercially protected. But here is a vid of her short program from a month or so ago, at the 2018 Europeans. It appears to fit the same pattern as her long program described by Wagner, the first part filled with gorgeous footwork, spirals and twirls (what Wagner calls “killing time”) and then splendid and beautifully executed triple jumps in the second half. This little girl is a real talent, thank goodness her papa put her into figure skates and not hockey skates!