An amazing thing: journalists were waiting for the test skates of the Russian national team this season, as children are waiting for the New Year and Christmas in winter, but on Saturday evening the general tone was best conveyed by the phrase: "Where would I get the strength to survive another day?"
This is not a question for figure skaters. To a greater extent, to the format. The task of television was initially difficult: to turn a very nervous and responsible event for skaters into a show. As a result, something happened, something - absolutely not.
The conference and interview-interruptions between the performances of the participants took almost three hours in two days. Such a show-find, let's call it that, would be justified only in one case: if this part of the program in its qualitative level was not inferior to what is happening on the ice. As a result, the audience got something completely different.
Moreover, if figure skating fans have long come to terms with the level of commentary work of Alina Zagitova, then in relation to Maxim Trankov there was not even disappointment, but deep regret: for a person who is able to brilliantly comment on competitions, conduct conversations and be organic in the frame, they did not come up with anything better than to work out clichéd phrases and unfunny jokes under the prompter. With the disgusting quality of acoustics, besides.
Is it necessary to turn a purely working pre-season event into a show at all? It's also a tough question. Skating in front of spectators in Megasport is definitely better and more useful for skaters than demonstrating programs at an indoor skating rink in Novogorsk near Moscow.
But if it is still a show, it (taking into account the number of those who participate in it) should be as dynamic and compact as possible and, possibly, imply at least symbolic prizes and fees for those who skate. Not for the sake of money, as such. It's just that in a situation where the motivation of most athletes tends to zero, it is necessary to use any available opportunities to add excitement and positivity to performances.
It is clear that there is always an argument for any criticism: "If you don't like it, don't look," but the paradox is that part of the two-day spectacle turned out to be truly high-class. I'm talking about pair skating, which has become an illustration of the fact that everything always happens for the best.
The departure of Alexandra Boykova and Dmitry Kozlovsky from Tamara Moskvina provoked a double and very sharp rivalry between both the departed skaters and the remaining ones, and their coaches. A similar effect, although not at such a high level, was caused by the separation of the coaching team of mentors Sergey Dobroskokov and Sergey Roslyakov.
Add to this the decision of Alyona Kostornaya and Georgy Kunitsa to pair up and get involved in a serious fight, and we can already say that this type of program will become the epicenter of Russian figure skating this season. In which the actors are all right with motivation, and with productions, and with the mood for long-term work.
You can't say the same about singles. It's not even about the degree of readiness. Test rentals never implied maximum physical fitness, but almost always made it possible to see and evaluate the progress that certain athletes managed to achieve in a few months of the off-season. It doesn't matter what - jumping, spinning, skating, presentation.
It was not easy to single out someone in this aspect. Perhaps it was affected by the fact that the second half of last season, and part of the summer, many spent in the format of a variety of shows and are beginning to gain condition only now. In addition, to endure the second season in a row, without having a real prospect of returning to the international ice, is also not an easy test, anyone can give up.
But the fact remains that when there is no progress, stagnation begins.
Let's try to be optimistic. The International Skating Union intended to return to the issue of admission of Russian figure skaters to the world level in October. Even if we assume that the decision turns out to be positive, it will mean that the first half of the international season will still pass without Russians, and the number of quotas for the main competitions will be reduced for Russia to a minimum. Which of the men's singles can be sent to get these quotas, despite the fact that almost everyone who played in Megasport now looks worse than last year's ones?
The same can be said about girls, although in this discipline we still have some airbag called "quadruple jumps". Only Veronika Zhilina and Adelia Petrosyan showed them at the rentals, but it is quite obvious that in the course of the drawing of the domestic Grand Prix, others will begin to swing at this maximum.
And in Megasport it was very difficult not to think about the fact that Russian women's skating now lacks most of all a truly charismatic, performance-charged leader-irritant, capable of agitating the company, leading it to fight. Such as recently was Alexandra Trusova.
Actually, the departure of this skater from the stage is the main loss of this season. Kamila Valieva in her current state is still unable to cope with this role.