The season of shocking splits in figure skating continues to gain momentum as yet another top-class athlete, Alena Kostornaia, has decided to leave her coach Eteri Tutberidze under bizarre circumstances.
The world-famous coach Tutberidze took to social media to announce the shocking news, expressing frustration over the new runaway tendency which has affected her camp over the past few months.
“Those kind and cute girls come to us with wide eyes full of determination to win and show big results. We work hard reaching phenomenal results. And then … it seems like the outside world affects our kind and beautiful skaters. They start setting new conditions to continue our cooperation,” Tutberidze wrote.
“Once Yulia [Lipnitskaya] demanded that she not share the ice with Zhenya [Evgenia Medvedeva]. We attempted to meet her requirements, but it didn’t help much. Then Zhenya refused to skate together with Alina [Zagitova].And, now, we’ve received a long list of non-grata skaters from Alena. This is where our partnership ended.
Will we change anything in how we work with skaters? No. We do everything right. I’m sure we have devoted and strong skaters who are resistant to external distractions,” the coach added.
Kostornaia has become the first skater to part ways with Tutberidze despite demonstrating splendid results on the international circuit.
The 16-year-old, known worldwide for her gorgeous triple axel, won all major events last season, including the ISU Grand Prix Finland and the European championship.
In May Russia’s quad-jumping sensation Alexandra Trusova left Tutberidze and joined Evgeni Plushenko’s academy, stressing that she wants to be coached by a specialist who himself landed quads during his career.
The 2020 European figure skating champion Alena Kostornaya left the coaching group of Eteri Tutberidze. Tutberidze wrote about this on her Instagram.
"It seems that the outside world influences our dear and kind ones, new and new conditions appear for the continuation of joint work (like an increase in the payment for love). Once Julia [Lipnitskaya] put forward a demand not to go on the same ice with Zhenya [Medvedeva], we tried to satisfy all the conditions - it didn't help. Then Zhenya refused to skate with Alina [Zagitova], and now we got a whole list of non grata girls from Alena. That's where we parted with her," Tutberidze wrote.
"Are we going to change something in our training system? No, we are doing everything right. I am sure that among those who are with us, there are solid, loyal, resistant to external stimuli," the coach added.
In the comments to the post, Tutberidze clarified that Kostornaya moved to the coaching group of the two-time Olympic champion Evgeni Plushenko: "By Plushenko, we agreed in May."
In May, the European Championship medalist Alexandra Trusova also transferred to Plushenko from the Tutberidze group.
Kostornaya has been studying in the Tutberidze group since 2017. In addition to winning the European Championship last season, she won gold medals at the Grand Prix stages and in the series finals. She holds world records in the short program (85.45 points) and in total points (247.59). On July 11, Kostornaya received an award for the best newcomer at the ISU Skating Awards, and Tutberidze - for the best coach.
Three-time Olympic champion Irina Rodnina - about Kostornaya's transition to Plushenko and the future of other titled students of Eteri Tutberidze.
European Champion 2020 Alena Kostornaya will study at the Evgeni Plushenko Academy. Her former coach Eteri Tutberidze, who announced the skater's departure, wrote about this in the Instagram comments. In the 2019/20 season, Kostornaya became the European champion and won the Grand Prix final; she also won silver and two bronze medals of the Russian championships. In May, another talented student of hers, Alexandra Trusova, left Tutberidze for the Plushenko Academy.
“SE” was asked to comment on the next high-profile transition in Russian figure skating, three-time Olympic champion Irina Rodnina. Also, the famous athlete told what she thinks about the future of Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva.
Why did Kostornaya go to Plushenko? Coaches should not only set programs, but also work with skaters psychologically - Irina Konstantinovna, what do you think about Kostornaya leaving for Plushenko? - First of all, this question should be asked by Kostornaya, Plushenko and Tutberidze. They are the main participants in these events, I am an outside spectator like you. I am not surprised by this transition, but, apparently, not all is well in Eteri's coaching staff. Perhaps too tense. Undoubtedly, they have a good coaching staff, which gives amazing results ... Everything is good with technical and physical training, but the microclimate is not the most comfortable, not the best. Naturally, when you strive for the highest result, it cannot be convenient for everyone, but it is important not to forget that this is a perishable product, no matter how rude it may sound. Although they are professionals who work a lot in training, they are children. Their body is changing. Plus there are parents. I do not think that Trusova or Kostornaya made decisions without parental advice. So it was with Zhenya Medvedeva. This cannot be an independent decision of the athletes.
- So it already looks like a trend? - The first signal was not Lipnitskaya's departure, but a conflict within the team, when Medvedev and Zagitova trained with Eteri. Something similar is happening now. This suggests that the coaching staff of Tutberidze did not draw the right conclusions from that situation. Children are children. Don't forget that they are only 16 years old. The coaching staff should not only deliver brilliant programs, but also work with athletes psychologically. You can master the technique brilliantly and have an amazing program, but the last and most important moment to get the result is your psychological state.
- Eteri Tutberidze also said that Lipnitskaya demanded not to go on the ice with Medvedeva. Then Zhenya refused to skate with Zagitova. In your time, could you imagine something like that? - Firstly, in our time there was not so much ice. Secondly, it was believed that Stanislav Zhuk was preparing some kind of pleiad, but so that the skaters intersect with each other in one form - this was not the case. Yes, he had singles men and women, couples, Elena Tchaikovskaya had dances, singles and couples. Perhaps, in one form, the skaters crossed only with Tamara Moskvina, when there was not the most pleasant situation between the duets Valova / Vasiliev and Selezneva / Makarov.
Probably, being in competition at every workout is the greatest test and torment. Primarily for athletes. And the younger he is, the less stable he is psychologically. Any skater is not only under the tutelage of parents, but primarily under the tutelage of a coach. This can be compared to a child whose parents are separated. In this case, every child becomes an egoist. The conveyor is a very dangerous thing.
- So competition in training is not good for everyone? - Honestly, I have not been to any training session, I have not seen how the Eteri group works. I saw only the performance of the athletes on TV and from the podium. Again, the constant competition in training is terribly difficult. This is a huge challenge for the coach as well. Difficult relationships can arise between athletes. The conveyor is a very dangerous thing. Therefore, our sport is called individual and it is worth working with each super talent individually. Working in a group is very difficult. Not everyone can do this.
- The most successful Olympian in history, Michael Phelps, has released a film in which he claims that the majority of top-class athletes suffer from depression and need mental health care. They say that such a great responsibility during the performance at the Olympic Games leads to suicide attempts, drunkenness, drug addiction and broken lives. Can you agree with this? - These are different things. It's one thing when you purposefully prepare for the Olympic Games, for the World Championship or the European Championship. There is a special preparation step by step. But organizing the Olympic Games at every training session - no one can stand that.
I doubt Zagitova will return
- Do you think Alina Zagitova will resume her career? - Recently, she performed in the show, we have not seen her in official starts for a long time. If you want my opinion, then I doubt she will return. I understand that now all her fans will scold me 150 times ... I saw how hard it was for Alina the last full season. Especially the 2019 World Cup, which she won with a ruptured aorta. The whole team worked for her. Whether she can repeat all this is a big question.
- Will Evgenia Medvedeva still compete with Kostornaya, Trusova and Shcherbakova? - Medvedeva in this regard is more stable. It seems to me that Zhenya went through more stress than Alina. Change the coach, country of residence, work system. She showed psychological stability. On the other hand, new growth is growing. I would not want to say that Zhenya is not able to fight them. But the results of the last season say that it will be very, very difficult for her to qualify for medals of major starts.