"The guys came, said goodbye, gave a bouquet"

The decision to transfer Alexandra Stepanova and Ivan Bukin to the group of Alexander Zhulin was a big surprise, because they spent their entire careers under the guidance of Alexander Svinin and Irina Zhuk. The first to inform about the step of the skaters was Zhulin.

"It's a pleasant surprise for me. This is a top pair. It will be a pleasure to work with. Let's start training when Sasha is in optimal condition. Now she is a little sick, "R-Sport quotes the specialist.

It is curious that now the five-time winners of the European Championships will make a company on the ice of other well-known wards of the coach and in fact the main competitors of Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov. In this regard, he noted that he is going to continue to cooperate with them too.

The duo's former mentors were also quite surprised by what had happened. According to Svinin, the athletes came to him with a colleague and said goodbye, announcing the transition. In turn, Zhuk added that they even gave flowers to mentors as a sign of gratitude for many years of work.

"We found out about it before I left for Saitama for the World Cup. Of course, it was unexpected: the guys came, said goodbye, gave a bouquet and voiced that they were going to ride in Zhulin's group. We've come a long way together for 15 years, raising a couple from scratch to top level. What you do is their decision, we have wonderful young couples left - we will work, "TASS quoted Zhuk as saying.

Although this transition raised many questions, it is worth noting that all parties behaved as diplomatically as possible. If Bukin has not yet commented on this topic, then Stepanova posted an emotional post on social networks dedicated to specialists and other members of the group.

"We want to say a word of gratitude to our coaches for all 16 years, to say thank you for being together and going to the results that we achieved. Thank you... For everything! Of course, behind us stood not only our coaches, but also a whole team of professionals in their field: choreographers, coaches in the OFP, teachers in acting and ballroom dancing. And also took care of our physical and psychological health doctors, massage therapists and a psychologist, "the partner wrote.

The main reason she called the desire to try something new, since the duo has not so many years of active professional career ahead.

Five medals of the European Championships and two victories at the national championship

The future of the couple has indeed been very uncertain lately. She was forced to miss the entire current season due to Stepanova's health problems. In September last year, the Russian Figure Skating Federation (FFKR) announced that the athlete had exacerbated an old back injury. Meanwhile, Bukin regularly assured that they were not going to hang up their skates.

However, the specific dates of return have now been announced. The partner wrote that next season they plan to please the fans with their skating. And on May 4, Zhulin's new wards will perform at Ilya Averbukh's show "New Songs about the Main" in Moscow.

At the same time, it is difficult to say whether the skaters will be able to show serious results under the guidance of a new specialist, because, as already reported, before they worked only with Svinin and Zhuk. Stepanova joined their group in early childhood, when she retired from single skating and moved to Moscow. In 2007, she paired up with Bukin.

Then they had a long and difficult path to the status of one of the strongest dance duets in the country. Together with their former mentors, they achieved considerable success, for example, five times they climbed the podium of the European Championships (twice they took silver) and twice won the national championship. True, at the World Championships, the Russians did not find themselves above the fourth place. And in 2022, they performed for the first and last time at the Olympic Games, where they took sixth place. By the way, even before preparing for the Games, skaters involved Nikolai Morozov and Alexey Gorshkov in cooperation. Perhaps even then they were thinking about changing the coach.

"We decided with whom they want to win the Olympics"

In the world of domestic figure skating, the transition of Stepanova and Bukin to Zhulin was treated calmly. For example, honored coach Tatyana Tarasova expressed confidence that their former mentors will cope with what happened.

"Since childhood, they have been training with Zhuk and Pork, well, it happens. I think they will succeed in Zhulin. Beetle and Pork are very hard... new students will be brought up. I'm sure they work very well. Thanking them for raising a couple that has a name is not easy. And Sasha Zhulin is successful," Tarasova said.

In turn, the Olympic champion Natalia Bestemyanova stressed that the athletes, explaining their move, focused on the fact that there is not much time left before the end of their careers, and therefore they intend to make progress in another group.

"It is clear that they want to reach the next Olympic Games and compete for a medal. The goal is, God willing, that our athletes will be admitted. Of course, it is difficult for Ira and Sasha, but there is a saying - an athlete has one coach, and a skating coach has many. New talents will come, they will work with them. And Vanya and Sasha decided for themselves in an adult way who they want to win the Olympics with," Bestemyanova said.

According to RT columnist Elena Vaitsekhovskaya, the sensational transition contains many advantages for all parties. For example, Zhulin received a good dance duet, which in the future can become the strongest in Russia.

"The plus for the athletes is that, together with Zhulin's staff, they receive the very refereeing resource, which has never really been observed in Svinin and Zhuk. After all, even last season, Stepanova and Bukin were technically not inferior to Sinitsina and Katsalapov, and staged, in my opinion, they looked even more interesting. But estimates at the domestic Russian level did not reflect this, to put it mildly. Now there's a chance to catch up.

Paradoxically, for Pork and Beetle, the departure of the couple is also a plus: they finally have a free hand and you can focus on working with young couples. Still, while waiting for Sasha to return to the ice, the coaches had to make some effort to maintain the motivation of the partner. Knocked out of the rut by the fact that Sasha suddenly decided for him and the coaches to take an almost year break, "Vaitsekhovskaya wrote.

As a minus, she singled out the lack of bright works in Zhulin in recent years as a director, although earlier he had established himself as a master in this aspect.

"For Stepanova and Bukin, this is now more than a fundamental moment, regardless of where they will perform and with whom they will compete. Because the year was not in vain for the other coaching teams. Against the background of the same Vasilisa Kaganovskaya - Valery Angelopol in general, it is quite difficult not to look like a duet from the past time. And this applies not only to Stepanova and Bukin," Vaitsekhovskaya added.