TIME TO COUNT CHICKENS

The Salt-Lake-City Olympic season had finished, and it gave start to the Turin Olympic season. The Games in the USA couldn't be anything but the biggest, the most expensive and actually the "-est-est": the prestige of a country as the Super-power obliged (as well as the Moscow Olympics organizers 22 years ago). In some way they became that: for a long time the world hasn't known such scandals, that occurred in the capital of mormons' state.

Russian skating team was represented by three pairs - Elena Berezhnaya/Anton Sikharulidze, Maria Petrova/Alexey Tikhonov, Tatiana Totmianina/Maxim Marinin, three men - Alexei Yagudin, Yevgeny Plushenko and Alexander Abt, three lovely women - Irina Slutskaya, Maria Butyrskaya and Victoria Volchkova, and two ice-dancing couples - Irina Lobacheva/Ilia Averbukh, Tatiana Navka/Roman Kostomarov.

In ladies singles the main stake was made on Ms. Slutskaya: Michele Kwan, who quit from her coach, didn't constitute any serious menace in fight for gold. But the thing, which Maria Butyrskaya predicted to Slutskaya already in 1996 in Sofia, after she firstly became the European champion - it's more difficult to win in 22 than in 16,- happened to her... In Salt-Lake-City, as well as in Lausanne, several weeks earlier, the placing depended only on Irina - and she helped a juvenile American girl Sarah Hughes to become the Olympic champion, whose childish skating is still as far from the women's one, as her underdeveloped figure is. Of course, in some things Slutskaya is guilty too: in the declared 3T-3S cascade she doubled Salchow, spoiled flip a bit, and actually it seemed that she decided to skate only certainly confident elements, not compromising a possibility of getting the gold medal. The risk refusal told upon the colour of her medal. But Hughes, who jumped from the fourth place to the first one, also didn't have a clean free skating. As I could judge its technical level from the TV-screen in the 3S-3R cascade and in Salchow and Loop Sarah didn't land cleanly, she didn't revolve a quarter of a turn in 3T-3R, and 3L was also far from ideal. So from my point of view in free skating Sarah deserved the third place the most - in all cases lower than Sasha Cohen, who's falling entailed a big deduction of "tens", but the program was much higher by technical level and skating quality. Nevertheless the American and the Canadian judges Deborah Islam and Joseph Inman, who obviously danced to the same tune, gave Cohen only fourth place, and the German Sissy Krick, who may had listened that tune, gave even fifth place. Islam and Krick placed Slutskaya third, and the Italian judge Paolo Pizzocari gave fourth, behind Hughes, Kwan and Cohen. In her turn Hughes received five first places from Germany, Italy, Finland (Pekka Leskinen), Canada and the USA, the second place from the Byellorussian judge Irina Absalyamova, the third one from the Slovakian Maria Hrachovcova, and two fourths from the Russian Tatiana Danilenko and the Dutch Ingeliza Blangsted. Irina Slutskaya was considered to be the best by four: Danilenko, Hrachovcova, Blangsted and Absalyamova. So in order to receive a gold medal Slutskaya had to have one triple and one judge's voice. Of course the silver is not the worst variant, especially in comparison with the ninth place of the gone with the wind of her own tune Victoria Volchkova, or the sixth one of the veteran of ladies singles Maria Butyrskaya, who skated like in a dream - beautifully and slowly. To cut a long story short, with all other equal conditions Irina Slutskaya had to be the first, Sasha Cohen the second and Sarah Hughes maybe the third.

In men's singles the stake was made on two Mishin's pupils: Yevgeny Plushenko and Alexei Yagudin, who was prepared by Tatiana Tarassova during all the four years of the Olympic round. The Olympic Russian Committee was more or less sure that both of them would take the highest places, but the question was who would take which.

Mishin tried to prove, that the skater, who fell out of his boat would certainly drown. Tatiana Tarassova was sure, that with the gained technique for Yagudin it's enough to have a good program, beautiful costume and the strong nerves to win. The first two she did by herself, for the latter she invited the famous specialist Rudolf Zagainov, and she had turned to be right. Plushenko was nervous along with his coach, and already in the short program he did a serious mistake, having fallen on the quad. And although the judges knew very well, that that had been an easy jump for him for a long time, the poor Russian was thrown back to the absolutely undeserved fourth place. As a result, Yagudin and Tarassova had become the Olympics champions, and Plushenko and Mishin the silver medallists. Alexander Abt could be the third one, but the judges - the followers of the internationalism on the podium shifted him with the American and the Japanese.

As regards the ice-dancing, there were at least four couples for the first three places: Anissina/Peizerat (France), Lobacheva/Averbukh (Russia), Fusar-Poli/Margaglio (Italy), Bourne/Kraatz (Canada), and the Lithuanians Drobiazko/Vanagas were also very close. Marina Anissina and Gwendal Peizerat had become the Olympic champions by right. They were the best in all four dances: in compulsories, in the Spanish Original, which was made by the ballet-masters of the Ballet and Opera Theatre in Madrid, and in the free dance, where Natalia Dubova again showed her talent and fantasy.

Nevertheless exactly in the compulsories and the original I would place Irina Lobacheva and Ilia Averbukh almost near them. First time in years they not only skated but they looked tastefully: lovely but not loud costumes and even Irina's head did not look like a rag used by painter to wipe his brushes at and got the bright of a good coiffeur's hands. It seems that someone with a perfect taste appeared in the Linichuk-Karponosov's group. Whatever the offended with the judges' decision commentators of the Russian television told, the Lobacheva/Averbukh's silver medal was a worthy award for those, who was left without medals a year before. You can argue whose dance - of France or Russia was more original, but the free dance of Lobacheva and Averbukh was built on the American Tragedy 11/09/2001 exploitation, and it didn't deserve gold in any case. Politics has nothing to do with sport, and the Ilia's body moves, who tried to "extinguish" Irina, didn't look like a dance. The Lithuanian couple Margarita Drobiazko and Povilas Vanagas was very good. And it's a pity that judges don't give medals for their wonderful, done for the sensitive spectator intellectual program, in time of quick body moves. If the judging was objective enough, and put the marks for the technique and presentation, and not for the personal ambitions or the collections of the American former presidents, than Drobiazko and Vanagas would have a full right for the bronze medal, having switched places with the Italians, where the partner was never able to skate on one leg. From the other dancers I was impressed first of all by the Bulgarians Albena Denkova/Maxim Staviysky, the Englishmen Marika Humphreys/Vitaly Baranov and the Ukrainians Elena Grushina/Ruslan Goncharov.

And in the pairs the plan for gold was performed, though not without a complication - the most famous scandal of the XIX Winter Olympiad. There's no any doubt that the gold medals of Elena Berezhnaya and Anton Sikharulidze were completely deserved. It's not so important t hat it wasn't their best skating - it was the best at those Olympics. Against the Russians' the old program of the Canadian couple looked "tres sale", and it was very unpleasant to watch the scandal behaviour of Jamie Sale and David Pelletier, as well as their joy during the procedure of hanging the gold medals of the "second freshness" on their necks.

The mass media wrote a lot about the guilt of the French judge Marie-Reine Le Gougne, who took the fire on herself, but Le Gougne was not more than a pawn in others' game, and she hadn't receive, as it may be assumed, her queen's crown. And the comedy, which was played by ISU, was no more than an ancient variety number, named "the battle of two Eskimo boys", where under the costumes of two fighters one artist hides. As we all remember the ISU President Ottavio Cinquanta confirmed, that the gold medals were given to Berezhnaya/Sikharulidze deservedly, and the ISU didn't question the judges' choice. This ISU decision was protested by Cinquanta himself, but that time he was acting as the leader of the IOC Winter Sports chair, in the name of whom he gave the Canadians their gold "duplicates", having explained his action by the fact, that the Olympics are not the ISU championship, and they are under the IOC aegis, which quasi made a decision of gilding Sale and Pelletier. One can hardly believe this, because Jacques Rogge would scarcely interfere by his own initiative in the judges' job of the sport, where he doesn't understand a nicety - the intellect and sense of tact of the Belgian doctor, who managed to replace Juan Antonio Samaranch in quite difficult circumstances, speak against this. Actually most probably the North American television was standing behind this dirty story. It not only pays ISU hundred millions dollars for the translation rights for the Euro, Four Continents and Worlds championships, two Grand Prix series - senior and junior, but it also "orders the music". Having understood, that they couldn't count on Michele Kwan, who parted with her coach, as on the Salt-Lake-City Olympic champion (no one thought about Sarah Hughes then), the television, which was extremely interested in the spectators increasing, decided to make at least the adjoining Canadians the Olympics champions in the USA, along with the support of the powerful USA and Canada mass media. And they put fierce pressure on the ISU president as on the money receiver. Marie-Reine Le Gougne, as one can suppose, was used by Cinquanta himself, and she helped him to get rid of Didier Gaillaguet, who could become a serious rival at the new president elections. I don't know how defensible this step was, but to the time of writing of this article, Ottavio Cinquanta had been already elected on the third term, and Gaillaguet had disappeared from the ISU Council members list.

But let's go back to the joy and difficulties of the everyday life. Season 2001/2002 finished with a quite scandalous World Championships in Nagano. And it's time for the federation to give punches and medals. Judging the written documents from the Russian Figure Skating federation conference, which was held recently in Moscow, the duet of her lifelong president Valentin Piseev and a man with a not very clear function "the head of the competitive committee" Leonid Khachaturov was singing together the refrain from the famous song of their youth: "As for the rest, the beautiful marquise, it's all so good, it's all so great". But won't echo them until we analyze some lines of this interesting song named as "The Federation Conference decree from 24 May 2002".

"Having listened and discussed the summary report of the Federation President Piseyev V.N. "On Presidium and Executive Committee's of the Russian Figure Skating Federation work for the period of September 2000/May 2002" the Conference notes...The efforts of the Federation, its regional branches and membership organizations were oriented on the figure skating development, and the improvement of skaters' skills, the provision of the necessary conditions for the team preparation to the 2002 Olympic Games in Salt-Lake-City. Of 12 Olympic medals the Russian skaters had won five: golds in pair skating, and in men's single skating, three silver medals: in men's and ladies' single skating and in ice-dancing. The performance of the Russian skaters at the subsequent World Championship in Nagano, where they won three of four gold medals, had also confirmed their high level and the authority of the Russian skating school." Sounds optimistically and promisingly, especially the mentioning of the regional branches and membership organizations.

But having looked through another document named "The totals of the annual inspection-competition for the best work of the CYSS (Child-Youth Sport School), SCYSOR (Special Child-Youth School of the Olympic Reserve), SHSM (School of the High Sport Mastership) and the membership organizations' branches of the RFSF (Russian Figure Skating Federation) for the 2001, you make sure that Russia almost lost all its regional branches: in the "High Sport Mastership" category there were only seven schools to participate, including three from Moscow (the unions ESCYSOR, EHSSM "Moskvitch", SCYSOR of CSCA), one from St. Petersburg and by one from Kirov, Samara and Ryazan, and in the most important for the future Russian figure skating category "Sport Reserve Preparation" 15 schools participated including six from the previous category: two from St. Petersburg (SCYSOR and the Center "Crystall"), two from Moscow, and already known DSCYSOR from Kirov, CYSS from Samara and RSCYSOR from Kazan. For the first time the schools from Chelyabinsk, Cherepovets, Belgorod, Petersburg region and Salekhard took part in the inspection-competition, but there were no formerly leading schools, which prepared the future champions - from Yekaterinburg, Perm, Samara etc. Now they are almost dissolved. So it's not so good with the sport reserve preparation. Truth to say, the Conference partly admits the unimportant role of Federation in the skaters' victories of the season, and confirms, that quite successful performance of the Russian skaters at the 2002 Olympics "was able due to the selfless creative work of the leading coaches, such as T. Tarassova, T. Moskvina, Zh. Gromova, N. Linichuk, V. Kudryavtsev, A. Mishin, R. Arutyunyan, L. Velikova, O. Vassiliev, A. Zhulin". Having put aside Vassiliev (in fact Natalia Pavlova from St. Petersburg put Totmianina and Marinin in couple and raised them to the present level), we have to note, that almost all of those coaches had worked by themselves, literally without any help from the Federation, though exactly its government had decorated its front with the results. At the expense of disappearing of the pyramid basis, which raises the young skaters, the "intermediates" stream to the groups of the highest coaches, who are able to prepare the future champions, is almost exhausted. Moreover, due to the tough pressing from the Federation government's side to achieve the results at the 2002 Olympics season at any price, the leading tutors made a stake only on their "medal" pupils. So for a time of two seasons they turned into the one actor theatre's directors, having left the other pupils to the post-Olympics lot. Of course, Tatiana Tarassova had been coaching only Alexei Yagudin from the Russian skaters and she disregarded the foreigners, but already Elena Sokolova, Andrey Gryazev, Tatiana Basova, who are coached by Alexei Mishin (whose endeavour to prove the advantage of Yevgeny Plushenko over his former pupil had grown almost in craze), loafed on ice without any result at least for the whole Olympic season. Zhanna Gromova, who had been completely busy with Irina Slutskaya's training didn't have time for Lyudmila Nelidina, Elena Chaikovskaya left on "self-skating" the Junior World Champion Christina Oblasova etc. The things are not better with the training of those singles, who soon can be named men: aside Yevgeny Plushenko Alexander Abt (who from the skating point of view is not a young man already) is the only "reserve" for the prize places in the future season. Neither Ilia Klimkin nor Roman Serov, nor other skaters have reached the champion's level, and the youth like Andrei Gryazev or Stanislav Timchenko were not very good at the JWC in Hamar (as well as Sergey Dobrin at the other competitions). In the "Totals of the Russian junior team performance at the World Junior Championship 2002" the Federation government marks that "there's a poor preparation of the singles in the provinces. At present time, the skaters from Perm, Kirov, Samara can't make a competition" and gives a priceless indication "The school leaders have to urgently revise the training process, to pay an extra attention to the skaters' elementary training, to take more initiative in the organization of the joint trainings and competitions with the leading coaches from other schools. But Messieurs the directors are skipping the question on how the schools' leaders will finance this process, though they know quite well about an almost full stop of the financing of the schools in the Russian remote places.

Only coaches from St. Petersburg Lyudmila and Nikolay Velikovs, who work in a family, but harmonious duet, were able to distribute their attention right between the wrongly "dropped" Maria Petrova and Alexey Tikhonov and their other pairs. Out of all the other Russian skating schools only this couple has a real "sport reserve", which consists of the tandems Yulia Obertas/Alexei Sokolov, Maria Mukhortova/Pavel Lebedev, Yulia Karbovskaya/Sergey Slavnov and one or two more couples, which haven't appeared on the international ice yet. In ice-dancing, from my point of view, there's a total collapse for the last few years. The point is not even that Ilia Averbukh had lost to his former partner Marina Anissina, but that if not to count Lobacheva/Averbukh, there were no "adult" couples in Russia by Olympic season, who were able to take the prize places (not counting Tatiana Navka, who is entering her thirties). It's sad to admit, but by the beginning of the XXI century the Russian figure skating is left with one and only one adult ice-dancing couple, who's able to win medals. In the country, where ten years ago were enough good and excellent couples to fill the places from first to tenth at the World Championships. So how had it come to such condition? Soon after the USSR break up, many coaches went abroad for fighting not so much for the bright future as for the secure present. At that time Elena Chaikovskaya and Tatiana Tarassova left for the professional ice theatres, Natalia Dubova went to the USA. So the places of the best ice-dance coaches of the Russian Figure Skating Federation were empty for some time. Citing the famous Russian saying "when you don't have a stamped paper you write on the simple one", the RFSF allowed a coach, who is not creatively able to become a Russian ice-dancing leader, to take place in the first row. But those who furthered her that time hoped that her partner and husband, the intelligent man with a good taste and manners, would become a leader, but not a driven in this couple. We wouldn't have written that these hopes hadn't come true, but a coach, who took a place not of her size, started behaving very wrongly. During one or so Olympic season with the support or the connivance of Federation she broke and destroyed the ice-dancing couples, the best part of which could pretend to the highest places of the European and Worlds Championships, and not excepting the Olympics. Here are these names:

World Junior Champions:

1992 - Marina Anissina (1975) and Ilia Averbukh (1973)

1993 - Ekaterina Svirina and Sergey Sakhnovsky (1975)

1995 - Olga Sharutenko (1978) and Dmitry Naumkin (1976)

1996 - Ekaterina Davydova (1978) and Roman Kostomarov (1977)

1997 - Nina Ulanova (1979) and Mikhail Stifunin (1978)



Dancers, who didn't have time to become champions:

Olga Ganicheva (1974) and Maxim Kachanov (1973)

Ekaterina Gvozdkova (1981) and Denis Egorov (1980)

Ekaterina Gvozdkova and Nikolay Morozov (1975)

Anna Semenovitch (1978) and Vladimir Fedorov (1971)

Roxana Podtykova (1979) and Denis Petukhov (1978)

Tatiana Navka (1975, 1973 from other source) and Nikolay Morozov (1975)

Xenia Smetanenko (1979) and Igor Lukanin (1974)

Anna Semenovitch (1978) and Roman Kostomarov (1977)

Some halves of "the broken trough" had found other partners, but from all of them only Ilia Averbukh was able to come to medals, and of course Marina Anissina but with Gwendal Peizerat already and under the different tricolour. Of course, Sergey Sakhnovsky had won a bronze medal with Galit Chait in Nagano for Israel, but from the very beginning this bronze was covered with a web of intrigues. As concerns the others, the lovely and greatly "skated out" statue Ekaterina Gvozdkova skates with Timour Alaskhanov, who's very far from the medallist's level now. The beautiful Anna Semenovitch was forced to quit from ice to stage (where she's very popular now), the talented and original Vladimir Fedorov coaches in the USA now, Nikolay Morozov is a coach-assistant at Tatiana Tarassova's, the disappointed Nina Ulanova went to Holiday on Ice. Igor Lukanin, who has a good skating technique, carries on ice already second American "iron" under the Azerbaijan's flag. Xenia Smetanenko married the NHL ice hockey-player Sergey Gonchar, and gave birth to a baby-daughter Nataly. Roman Kostomarov, who was considered to be a raising star and a hope of the Russian ice-dancing, was parted with Ekaterina Davydova, and sent to the USA, where he had to skate with some far from suitable partners by the freak of his coach. Finally Kostomarov left Linichuk, went to Alexander Zhulin, and made a couple with Tatiana Navka. And I'm afraid, they can win everything except the Olympic medals. The best for today by the skate possession and by the manner of holding on ice, the young mother can get a medal by the next season, but her chances for the Olympic medal in Turin, seems to be extremely unreal. Though for now there's no any couple in Russian ice-dancing to take place not even beside her, but a step lower as well. Tarassova and Chaikovskaya, who returned to the amateur sport, haven't reached the mutual understanding with the Federation, and as the Kipling's cat "walk by themselves", training the foreign dancers. Recently Tatiana Tarassova had founded her own school in Moscow, which is pompously called "Tatiana Tarassova's National Ice-Dancing Academy", where under the TAT's direction the young and talented coaches work, and she herself trains the couple from Moscow Svetlana Kulikova and Arseniy Markov for the forthcoming victories.

And as a result of the fact, that the whole generation of 1974-1979 dancers was thrown away from the ice as not wanted and useless, there's an emptiness in ice-dancing now, and even the best juniors can't fill it now, immediately, because they don't have a name, a fame and the necessary fight experience at the international competitions, which comes only after a number of years.

The twice Wolrd junior champions Natalia Romanyuta (1982) and Daniil Barantsev (1982) from Sverdlovsk, who moved with their coach Alexei Gorshkov to Odintsovo near Moscow, lost a lot owing to Daniil, who considers himself to be a star, though he has reached a stage of an instantly passed meteorite for now. A couple missed a season and now has to start the rising to the Russian podium from the very beginning. The good, but now not very strong couple (I mentioned them already), Svetlana Kulikova (1980) and Arseniy Markov (1981), who came from Oleg Epshtein to Tatiana Tarassova can probably be in the first third. On this couple the list of the Russian leading ice-dancers unfortunately runs out. Truth to say, I just found out that Katia Gvozdkova and Timour Alaskhanov went to Natalia Dubova, and now I don't exlude the possibility of their appearance at the Russian Championship in Kazan somewhere very close to the champions. But still there are some more or less worthy "buds". Like the pupils of already mentioned "Tatiana Tarassova's National Ice-Dancing Academy" Yelena Romanovskaya (1984) and Alexander Grachov (1984), the bronze medallists of the JWC-2002, former pupils of Svetlana Alexeeva and her daughter Yelena Kustarova. In these coaches' group I saw some junior dancing couples, where girls were very good. If it's possible to move their partners-boys out of "Pinocchio condition", then maybe the Moscow "Locomotive" will be able to carry the Russian dancing echelon uphill. In Odintsovo Alexei Gorshkov's has a new couple - Oksana Domnina (1984) and Maxim Shabalin (1982). The partner, who's an alumnus of the Samara coach Oleg Sudakov, had placed second with Yelena Khalyavina (1983) at the JWC-2002 in Hamar, Domnina was the seventh with Maxim Bolotin, who skates in Locomotive now. I saw Domnina/Shabalin's yet very crude skating, and I think that this junior couple will be able to claim their existence already the next year. Alla Belyaeva - one of the greatest specialists in the youth's training - raises the great kids-dancers. But unfortunately there's no, and won't be any water in the RFSF's watering-can for pouring her sprouts, at least with its present government.

Truth to say, the situation is very sad. The baroness Yelena von Osipova, who is more famous under her husband's Anatoliy Chaikovskiy's name, talked about this to the Moscow journalist Oksana Tonkacheeva.

YvO: The Russian school exists...but it has to be revived. Lately no one was seriously concerned about the ice-dancing, that's why we missed a lot. We didn't have to let it happen. In no kind of sport you can make a stake on your sportsmen living abroad, going to the competitions from there, and orienting on them. We have our own land, own rinks, maybe the conditions are worse, but we had been raising champions on them all our life!

But Yelena Chaykovskaya, who's used to working on the highest level, forgot to mention, that on the lowest and middle levels the things are not better, but the conditions for working are much more worse. So what's the nearest future of the Russian skaters, what medals we can expect in Turin-2006, and what we can do for the Olympics hopes come true at least partly. And as we went in depth of the events, who is responsible for the break-up of the Russian figure skating. Of course not the Federation of this sport, or at least not only it. I don't know which budget Valentin Nikolayevitch Piseev has, but I'm sure that this won't be enough even for the minimal support of all the existing Russian skating schools - the base of the pyramid, which top is crowned with the bronze, silver and gold medals. In order to save this pyramid Piseev has to have in his hands the power of Putin, the money of Berezovsky along with Gusinsky, Potanin and Rem Vyakhirev. I would call Boris Yeltsin and Vladimir Putin the main culprits. Maybe even not the "sovereigns" themselves, but their "grandees". Right with the Boris Yeltsin's assumption, all the capital apes immediately turned into the enthusiastic tennis fans, and began giving their kids and grand-kids to the tennis-schools. At the same time all the costs for the sports development were thrown there. Now karate and mountain skis are popular, and figure skating along with the other sport victims again had their troubles for nothing.

Of course the province keep pace with the capital and in many regions the material support of the High Sport Mastership Schools of all kinds of sport except tennis was reduced or even stopped. Having stayed without living, the younger coaches had made use of the lifting of the "iron curtain", and scattered to all continents of our planet. It hit the figure skating too. In my commentaries from the Junior Worlds 2002 I wrote, that in Hamar the Russian coaches were standing behind the boards with the pupils from the next twenty one country (alphabetically): Andorra, Australia, Canada, Croatia, Chekh Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Great Britain, Hungary, Israel, Korea (South), Mexico, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Spain, Switzerland, Sweden, USA and Yugoslavia. Russia was the twenty second. And I recall Maxim Marinin's words, who answered the question "where he feels better - in the USA or in Russia": "Of course it's better at home, but what can you do when all the good coaches are there?"

But a handful of specialists stayed here, and they continue raising children for the minimum wage, but every day there are less of them. And unfortunately we can speak about the break-up of the famous Soviet sportsmen' training pyramid. Could anyone forsee and prevent this break-up? Forsee - for sure: the skating professionals had to know the possible consequences of the cut, and in many places disappearing of the elementary schools - the so called "incubators" of the skaters' raising. Prevent - perhaps not: along with the demolition of the command-administrative system of the public governance, the vertical connection, which allowed the heads make the masses pay for the regional physical culture and sport also disappeared.

It's hard to prepare new champions also because of the permanently growing ISU requirements. The leaders of this union, who live on the TV millions in fees, by demand of the latter have turned the figure skating into the figure jumping. The beautiful, highly skilled skate possession and slide ability are not considered to be the great skaters' advantage, because on the podium they can jump only with triple and quad jumps. It's possible that in a year or so some Chinese will manage to show the five turns toe-loop, and having twisted with that another spiral of increasing of the skating difficulty. And in order to teach a sportsman the new, more difficult jumps and elements, the coach needs not only a lot of time, but a lot of ice too, which at the main Russian stadiums costs more than if it would be in the cocktail glasses. One can hope only for that the elite of the child coaches, which as in "bad old times" works for joy of seeing their results, and who, in fact, doesn't have any material implication for this possibility. A couple of years ago, after the press-conference in Gelsenkirchen one German journalist asked Rafael Arutyunian: "Previously in the Soviet Union the coaches were paid for two working hours, the rest twenty two they worked without any payment. And how is it now?" The Alexander Abt's coach thought a bit and answered: "Now they pay only for one hour and actually not very regularly". But now Arutyunian himself went to USA for feeding his family, and you can count all the elite by fingers of one or two hands. And what can you expect from the judging in the light of the reform, which was taken at the ISU Congress? Is there any confidence, that the new system, by which the 14 umpires will judge, and only nine marks, each time randomly chosen by computer, will be shown, will be 100% objective? I'm afraid that no. Though of course it will more or less complicate the process of bribing a judge. But probably this system has to be shown on stream, and only after this one can speak about its effectiveness. May be now, the computer, or rather a person who serves it, will become the "bribery object". Like a refren from a popular song by Alexander Galich directed to a vending machine: "We will teach you not be smart, we will teach you how to deceive...."

© World copyright by Arthur Werner

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