One, two, three and… yes: four complete revolutions.
15-year-old figure skater Kamila Valijeva made history on Monday – during the Olympic nation competition – by becoming the first woman ever to jump a quadruple (to quad jump) to land at the Winter Games.
The very young athlete dropped to her knees after her free freestyle. Immediately the camera switched shots. A proud Eteri Tutberidze, the famous Russian figure skater trainer, was shot close-up.
But the Russian party did not last long. History repeats itself: once again an athlete from the Tutberidze school quickly bounces off her pedestal after a sporting success.
This time it was a positive doping test from the very young Valijeva that pirouetted the euphoric atmosphere.
“The Eteri Expiration Date”
It is not the first time that the reverse side of Russian medals shines a lot less.
The rising Russian stars of the previous Winter Games – just like Valijeva – quickly fell out of the sky again for various reasons. Yulia Lipnitskaya had to stop her professional career because she suffered from anorexia, Alina Zagitova had a burnout and Yevgenia Medvedeva was unable to jump due to chronic back pain. And all before their 20th birthday.
Coincidence or not? The trio came from the Eteri stable.
Alina Zagitova took a gold medal from Pyeongchang at the age of 15, 2 years later she gave up.
Now the report of the Tutberidze class of 2022 is also painfully red.
Top talent Valijeva is hanging over her head with a doping case. The other two “quad squat” girls (a trio who have mastered the quadruple jump) have injuries that could be due to overtraining. And three other Eteri athletes did not make it to the plane to Beijing due to various bone fractures.
Public and international opinion no longer seems to believe in coincidence. “The entourage has been overlooked too often in recent years,” said the IOC spokesman, who would welcome an investigation into the people surrounding Valijeva.
Suddenly, the “Eteri Expiration Date” is also being talked about a lot by figure skating specialists again. Around the age of 17, her pupils di lei invariably disappear from the top sports scene due to injuries and declining results.
Learned young is done quickly
Toetberidze is therefore notorious in the skating world and famous for its Spartan training methods. With an iron hand she molds very young talents into teenagers with an Olympic title future.
Learning the quadruple jump – with which Valijeva made history on Monday at the Nations Cup – is quite an attack on the body of a teenager.
“Eteri is smart in her approach: she was the first to invent a method for teaching girls quadruple jumps. But her method di lei only works if the athletes are not older than 17 years, ”said French figure skating choreographer Benoit Richaud in an interview with Insider earlier this week.
Eteri’s method only works for -17 year olds
Similarly, Dr. Jane Moran, who chairs the Medical Committee within the International Skating Union (ISU), has linked Eteri’s athletes’ injuries to overtraining, suggesting that “during that period of their growth process, the training work should be adjusted. Because the young body of the girls cannot bear the weight of the repetitive training sessions. “
“It’s good to win medals, but is it worth being physically traumatized for the rest of your life?” Also “first quad queen” Surya Bonaly questioned Tutberidze’s method.
The Russian queen of ice is aware of that opinion, but holds a very different one. “Girls should learn quadruple jumps at a very young age. Then they are still light and agile, ”she replied to the criticism a few years ago.
In addition to the hard work on the ice, the teenage girls also have to deal with a lot of pressure mentally. Likewise, the fanatical pursuit of the ideal weight creates constant stress for growing athletes.
The lighter they are, the better they spin in the air. That the last excess 300 grams is the difference between a four- or a triple jump quickly became the discourse among the athletes in Moscow.
“Their weight became an obsession.” For example, Daniil Glejchengauz, a choreographer from Tutberidze, said that figure skater Anna Shcherbakova ate only two shrimp for dinner and then pretended to be full.
Alina Zagitova also stated that they were not even allowed to drink water during the Olympic season. “We just rinsed our mouths and then spit the water out again.”
Their body weight became an obsession
The pressure to perform in the Russian pack of Tutberidze is undeniably great. Burdened by physical and / or mental stress, the teenagers drop out one by one after their first triumph. And before they are 20, they are already being replaced by the next promising plume.
As long as that succession continues, Eteri Tutberidze will swear by her Machiavellian approach: the end justifies the means.
Is the impending expiration of top talent Kamila Valijeva a new side effect of those extreme resources?