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Entirely to blame

5-6 (2010)
Viewed: 2046

«Who is guilty?» and «what to do?» — are the questions, which winter sports federations tried to answer after fiasco in Vancouver. And there appeared to be a lot of answers. Then the president himself had to act as the arbitrator.


Russian national team did not manage to carry out two primary tasks this year — to win the Olympic Games in Vancouver and the World championship in Germany. Disgracefully having lost the main four-year tournament, team stars Kovalchuk, Ovechkin and Malkin arrived to the world championship to prove their strength and yielded to modest Czechs during inefficient game in final. Nevertheless, Hockey Federation of Russia decided to continue cooperation with national team trainers Vyacheslav Bykov and Igor Zakharkin. In many respects it is so due to the loyal attitude of political leaders of the country — Dmitry Medvedev and Vladimir Putin to them. The first supported Bykov right after the final game with Czechs, and the second congratulated him on «silver». In the near future Bykov will sign new contract, the intrigue is in its terms only.


Despite the fact that the performance of the Russian biathlonists in Vancouver was quite good in comparison with the total failure of others, they also could not avoid changes. The head of biathlon federation oligarch Mikhail Prokhorov sees huge commercial potential in this kind of sports, comparable with football and hockey in the countries of northern and central Europe. First of all, Prokhorov eliminated a situation where nobody is responsible for the result. From trainers' triumvirate Vladimir Barnashov — Vladimir Alikin — Alexander Selifonov only the head coach Barnashov kept his post. actually being turned into the main coordinator and analyst.

Skating sport.

Basic changes in the Union of skaters had begun before Vancouver when it was headed by well-known businessman Alexey Kravtsov instead of Vladimir Komarov. Russian skating sport was rescued from total failure on Games by Ivan Skobrev who was trained in the Italian national team and won two Olympic medals. Isn't it an occasion for personnel revolution? First of all Kravtsov has completely replaced a trainer's staff of a national team. The national team was headed by former resident of Kharkov Konstantin Poltavets who for many years of work in Holland managed to bring up the whole army of world champions, European and Olympic games, including invincible Sven Kramer.

Cross Country Ski.

Despite failure performance in Vancouver, the management of the Russian ski sport would be the same this day, were it not for sportsmen. 13 leading skiers wrote open letter to the president Dmitry Medvedev, asking to fire Vladimir Logi-nov from Cross Country Ski Federation of Russia for being «incompetent». As a result the federation was headed by legendary Elena Vyalbe. At first Loginov became her assistant, and later he left. The sevenfold Olympic champion promised to decide on national team trainer's structure in the shortest terms, having specified that she did not see domestic experts among candidates.


For the last years there were Alexander Zubkov and all the others in the Russian bobsleigh. Zubkov also addressed to the president with the request to sort out the mess in Bobsleigh Federation of Russia. The president of federation Nikita Muzyrya and the first vice-president Vladimir Mysev kept their posts, and the head coach of a national team Vladimir Lyubovitsky was fired by new ROC management.

As a result, Lyubovitsky gave way to the sixfold champion of the country, the participant of the Olympic Games-2002 Oleg Sokolov.

Figure skating.

The situation in figure skating resembles bobsleigh — here our best sportsman Evgeny Plyushchenko provoked direct confrontation with federation management. Realizing, that there were too much claims and it was impossible to keep power de jure, the president of Figure Skating Federation Valentin Piseev had prepared a way for retreat.

Shortly before June annual conference Piseev had introduced a post of the general director of federation and took it himself. The Olympic champion Alexander Gorshkov stood for the head of federation unopposed, however Piseev kept control over financial flow.


It will be difficult to win in the Sochi team event without successful performance in such medal-hungry sport, like freestyle. Once one of the leading and progressive sports, today it has practically died out in Russia and became a lot of few enthusiasts. Andrey Bokarev, the new president of federation of freestyle should revive former traditions. The well-known patron of art and the great admirer of ski sport he took the place of Alexander Tcherkasov, who had resigned from the post right after the gloomy Olympic Games-2010. Bokarev has been already looking for trainers for the national team.

 «The majority believe in the Sochi revanche»

Vladimir Lebedev, the freestyle bronze prize-winner at the Olympic Games in Turin:

— After failure of Russia in Vancouver my mission as ambassador of «Sochi-2014» became just a little complicated. It had been done a lot of work before XXI winter Games, and after them. The difference is that before the beginning of this year the attention was given to the performance in Canada, and now the main priority — are competitions in Sochi. To convince compatriots that in three and a half a year our athletes will show the best result, I have to give forcible arguments. For example, about building of summer camp in Sochi, where sportsmen would train. If it is build by next summer, it will be cool: the team will have an opportunity to study the place of the Games carefully, to adapt to weather and other conditions. I have to perform a lot. And, seemingly, people who listen to me, — are optimists: the majority believe in success of our sportsmen at the domestic Olympic Games.

«It is necessary to change trainer's schemes»

Alexander Zubkov, the bobsleigh bronze prize-winner at the Olympic Games in Vancouver: — To be the ambassador of «Sochi-2014» — is a pleasant feeling, and I lay hopes on the following winter Games. Though, after our failure in Vancouver it is very difficult to convince compatriots, that we will perform much better in Sochi. I consider, Russians almost do not have chances to take a revenge in 2014. We have to change a lot to win, first of all in trainer's schemes: the gap between winter sports training systems in the countries-leaders and in Russia is too big now. Teams should be trained by trainers with a world name and great experience in champions' growing. Unfortunately, there are no such trainers in Russia. I don't believe that it is possible to form a team, capable to win a lot of medals at the Sochi games by forces of present trainers. The only thing we can fight for, is the right to be it the top-five.

Author: Sergey Semyonov