For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

TORONTO – She was not supposed to be sitting here, in a coach’s office at a skating club in Canada. Yevgenia Medvedeva is Russian, just 18 years old, figure skating world champion in 2016 and 2017, and only eight months ago winner of the singles silver medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Barely two months after the Olympics, she left her Russian coach of 10 years, Eteri Tutberidze, who had guided her to the top of the figure skating world, for reasons Medvedeva has not discussed except in general terms. The move she made was startling and utterly unexpected.

Star Russian skaters stay in Russia. Never before had one of the sport’s pre-eminent Russians left the country to train with a non-Russian coach. Not since Michelle Kwan in 2001 had a skater with a career record as brilliant on the world and Olympic level as Medvedeva’s made such a dramatic coaching change, and Kwan did it without leaving her native California.

But Medvedeva felt she had no other choice after a tumultuous 2018 season that did not end with the Olympic gold medal she had seemed a lock to win.

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Our favorite performances in icenetwork era, and mine is...(see below)

Our favorite performances in icenetwork era, and mine is...(see below)

We've seen some incredible skating over the last 11 years. We asked our writers tell us what their favorite performances were since the launch of icenetwork in 2007.

(To me, this meant a performance I had seen live and in person. And my choice was easy.)

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The Medvedeva saga: Orser on her ex-coach's reaction, plus money, choreography. . .& more

The Medvedeva saga: Orser on her ex-coach's reaction, plus money, choreography. . .& more

Evgenia Medvedeva’s stunning announcement Monday that she was leaving her longtime coach, Eteri Tutberidze, in Moscow to work with Canadian coach Brian Orser in Toronto continues to make headlines in Russia and both dominate and invigorate Internet and social media discussions about figure skating.

After writing about Medvedeva’s move Monday in an icenetwork story featuring my interview with Orser, there remained many facets of the story to be covered.  Here are several:

When emotions run high. . .again

Orser understands the emotions that led to Tutberidze’s critical comments about Medvedeva when the Russian coach learned Medvedeva was ending their working relationship after 11 years.

Orser had reacted similarly about Yuna Kim’s decision to leave him after she won the 2010 Olympics.

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Orser on newest star student Medvedeva: "There is so much more she can do."

Orser on newest star student Medvedeva: "There is so much more she can do."

Brian Orser knows the period after the Olympics brings changes in coach-skater relationships, so he anticipated getting inquires from some athletes who might be interested in working with him.

But he never expected the April 2 text message from 2018 Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia.

"I was totally stunned," Orser said.

Orser immediately called Tracy Wilson, one of his co-coaches at the Toronto Cricket, Skating and Curling Club, and said, "You're not going to believe this."

Medvedeva's original message indicated only that she would like a private meeting with Orser later in April in South Korea, where she was skating in a show, "LG ThinQ Ice Fantasia," that Orser had helped organize and would attend.

"I kind of figured what it was about," Orser said by telephone Monday, after Medvedeva's statement via the Figure Skating Federation of Russia announced she was leaving coach Eteri Tutberidze's training group in Moscow to begin working with Orser in Toronto.

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U.S., Canada figure skate federation presidents should step away from judging

U.S., Canada figure skate federation presidents should step away from judging

The late Sydney J. Harris, an esteemed syndicated columnist, would frequently write stories under the rubric, “Things I Learned On My Way To Looking Up Other Things.”

I’m borrowing Mr. Harris’ catchphrase for this column, which grew out of things I was reminded of while reporting a story about the ethical questions surrounding Skate Canada’s welcome gift to skaters, judges and officials at the Canadian leg of the figure skating Grand Prix series last month in Regina, Saskatchewan.

What I learned is no secret, but it raises more ethical questions about the governance and judging of figure skating.

This case involves the indefensible decision to allow presidents of national figure skating federations to be international judges, in apparent contradiction of the conflict-of-interest language in the International Skating Union’s code of ethics.

The president of U.S. Figure Skating, Samuel Auxier, and of Skate Canada, Leanna Caron, each is an active international judge.  It makes them unique among current leaders of the national federations that consistently have medal-contending athletes.

That is akin to having the general manager of a football or baseball team act as a game official.

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