More Summer Coaching Changes
Tutberidze group drama continues as fourth skater of the summer departs; Chartrand choses to continue career in Toronto.
Back in May, it was the summer of the coaching merry go round. The month saw a whole flurry of changes. Two coaches were especially prominent. Eteri Tutberidze, hailed for training a whole fleet of ladies who dominated the discipline, lost two students including world’s best Evgenia Medvedeva, didn’t behave well, and had her reputation reinforced as someone who drives young girls badly enough to do them permanent physical and/or mental damage. Brian Orser gained multiple top students, although one of them, Boyang Jin, apparently later refused to go to Toronto and actually train under him. One skater also left Orser for Tutzberidze.
It should have ended when May did. Especially since the Russian skaters are supposed to do all their coaching changes then. But it’s far from unknown for them to move at other times too. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the world, some skaters have only just been settling that they’re going to compete this upcoming season, and thus have been making all their further decisions from there.
This week, we had more coaching related news, and from both Russia and Canada. In Russia, it had already turned out the end of May was not the end of Tutberidze’s woes, with her losing a third skater in June, and now she’s lost a fourth too. And in Canada, another lady has given an interview, and revealed plenty of things, including her intention to compete, and also her own new coaches.
Tutberidze Reportedly Loses Second Student Since May
When May ended, things had been rough enough for Eteri Tutberidze. Yet she ended it still having a ton of students, including most of the big junior successes from the previous seasons.
But since then she’s lost two of those. First there was Anastasia Tarakanova, her student from the spring of 2017, who won a medal at the Junior Grand Prix Final but only came in seventh at Russian Junior Nationals. The news came at the end of June she’d left her for Evgeni Plushenko, and she’s since showed up at his academy:
Taranakova will thus face her second JGP season with a much less experienced coach, though she and he have both been shown to be working hard. She’s still too young to move up, as are Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaia, Tutberidze’s (and thus the world’s) top juniors from last year. Only Daria Panenkova, who was fifth at the Final, is set to storm the senior Grand Prix. Although a superb technical skater, she already faced the difficulty of not being as strong technically as Trusova, or as strong artistically as Kostornaia, and the recent rule changes work against her.
And then she was the next lady about whom the rumors went flying. Then, on Wednesday, Daniil Gleikhengauz, choreographer for the Tutberidze group, claimed she’s gone. He also claimed that when the group had started their summer training, she’d refused to come out onto the ice with the others, then left the camp with her mother. He gave no reasons, though rumors of injury and financial problems are both floating around the message boards.
Panenkova herself, in interviews since, has declined to either confirm or deny even if she’s left, which is kind of strange. Another former student of Tutberidze, Ilia Skirda, claims she’s gone to the CSKA club elsewhere in Moscow, home to Elena Buyanova, the second-biggest ladies coach in Russia at the moment. One of Buyanova’s students denies she’s joined that group, but there are other coaches there. Not all of Russia’s most successful women have trained under Tutberidze, and Panenkova might just succeed just fine with one of them.
When it comes down to it, we don’t have much concrete on why either skater left. But the exodus Medvedeva started continues to raise questions about Tutberidze. And if Gleikhengauz is telling the truth of Panenkova’s actions at the camp, it suggests something happened there to upset her; if she’d decided before then to leave, like Boyang Jin in relation to Toronto, she probably just wouldn’t have showed up in the first place. It makes you wonder if losing her first two students caused the coach to start driving her remaining students harder.
Medvedeva’s departure was also accompanied by the announcement of training mate Alina Zagitova’s short program music. Poetically enough, while this was all going down Wednesday, Medvedeva announced both her own programs:
There seem to be an overabundance of tangos this year, but one suspects that Medvedeva, skating David Wilson’s choreography, will do one that stands out. Hopefully these programs in general will be more mature and a little less mimey than what she did under Tutberidze.
Chartrand to Toronto (But Not Orser)
One skater who took time to determine both where she would spend year and whether she would be skating at all was Alaine Chartrand. The former Canadian ladies champion has really struggled the past two years, culminating in her failing to win the Olympic berth nobody in the country outside its top two were supposed to be able to beat her for. In a new interview, she revealed she was seriously considering retirement, especially since she was planning to go to school, and she ultimately moved to Toronto because her chosen university is there. That required a coaching change that she wanted to do anyway.
But since Brian Orser’s dance card is a little full right now, she’s elected to train in nearby Richmond Hill with Tracey Weinman and Gregor Filipowski. They’ve had some successful students, including Roman Sadovsky, who remains a factor in Canada’s men’s field despite his recent difficulties. If Chartrand can get past her current demons, she may do very well with them. She talks about fully trusting them, which sounds good. They chose her new short program music: Ramin Djawadi’s version of “Paint it Black” from Westworld. That’s definitely the new version on the block, and the sort of dark dramatism she’d be good at. For her free, she’s getting her Sunset Boulevard program from last year altered. As she rightfully notes, she hasn’t had the chance to do that one justice yet.
Even if this coaching change works out, she’s got quite a challenge ahead of her. It’s never easy for a skater to balance school and competing in the top ranks. But it’s not impossible, and there’s still no one in Canada who can beat her when she’s skating decently, except for two other ladies, and we don’t even know if one of them’s going to skate at all this season. It’s all still there for Chartrand to take back if she can pull this off.