Kamila Valieva, Anna Shcherbakova, Alexandra Trusova can already say it in unison: they are happy that they got to the Olympic Games. Each of them could win the European Championship. Camila won, breaking away already in the short program. Anya – the second, Sasha – with bronze. “How strong you are,” Evgenia Medvedeva commented on the achievements of her colleagues, laying out the final protocol. In the protocol – an abyss of points for foreign rivals.
Kamila Valieva won the first adult title. It sounds somehow even ridiculous – the skater just crushed the world with records this season, but it’s true. Two years ago, at the same arena in Tallinn, thirteen-year-old Kamila won the junior world championship. “The Girl on the Ball” made both the audience and experts talk about themselves, and even the daughter of Pablo Picasso: “It’s a blessing to see her skating.” Valieva then won the title of world champion, taking over from Sasha Trusova and taking away her records.
In Tallinn 2022, Kamila called her performance in the free program a working rental. Valieva has such a margin of safety that even a fall from the axel in three and a half turns (although she left it, but then flew off the edge) and some inaccuracies cannot “drop” Kamila.
She said that she tried to include a little more emotions and “somewhere it may have bothered me, but I tried to feel calm in the program.” And felt. And maybe there is even something good in what happened without a record this time, that some mistakes were made. After all, we are talking about mistakes at an exorbitant level of performance: three quads in the program, the most difficult Bolero, without voids and rest. Ideal skates cannot be the norm, the peak of form is not the usual state. Three weeks before the start of the Olympic Games, he was not needed.
Camila has so far avoided the question of the Olympics. He was premature. Now – just right, she said that she was very happy, this is the dream of every athlete. And being there is already an achievement. “To visit the Olympic Village, to feel this energy: there are so many athletes, and those who are not 15 years old, but who go to the Games all their lives.” But she went to them, it turns out, all her life, she simply did not have time to live an adult life without them.
Anna Shcherbakova returned herself to us. And for myself, first of all. An error in the short program cost her to leave the top three. There was no need to guess whether Anya could again show her fantastic character in a free program. Because her character is always with her. But this strong athlete, of course, is not a robot. And in the emotional and most complex figure skating, it is impossible to be them. Yes, there was a failure, and before the rental it even seemed to her that “these two days are one of the worst in my life, that it is impossible to survive.”
Well, if Anna (as she herself said) did not read anything in these two days. And she didn’t see the verdict that the “specialists” hastily handed down to her: she failed, she needs to be changed in the Olympic team. I had to forget the worst days and go out – no, not to do the impossible, but just to do what I can do.
Anya jumped the most difficult quadruple – flip. And she skated “Master and Margarita” at high emotional speeds, in her soul, not forgetting about cascades and technical elements. “Until the very last pose, I controlled every jump, step, so that stupidity would not happen, because of which I would reproach myself.” For the technique, the skater scored 94.10 points, the overall score is 168.37 points, her personal record.
When everything ends happily, she will confirm: there are no problems with the form, a clear skate of a free program is not an accident and not something out of the ordinary. And when asked if she would complicate the program at the Olympic Games, she answered this way: I always need a clean skate, if I’m ready for a more difficult option, I’ll go for it. “It doesn’t depend on the importance of the tournament, but on my form.” She also clarified that she does not forget about the quadruple lutz, she tries different versions of the program.
Alexandra Trusova remained true to herself: she does not want to give up trying to complete all her quads even for the sake of medals of a higher value. She claimed five quadruple jumps, with two cascade lutz in the second half of the program. The first two (flip and salchow) were gorgeous, then – a fall on a sheepskin coat, then – on a lutz, Sasha did not perform the second lutz in four turns.
… We are sitting on a sofa or a podium and it seems to us: you jumped two quads cleanly, that’s enough, just go for a medal! But Sasha is not enough. Ahead of Anya Shcherbakova after the short program by six points, she lost to her in the end by three. “I would like to skate clean and short, and free. I hope I roll. The place doesn’t matter to me.”
Sometimes you just want to close your eyes at these words. Lack of flexibility and tactics? Sasha simply overturns the usual ideas about how sports should achieve victories. About the need to calculate something, to sacrifice something in the name of the result. And at the same time rises above these notions. The day when she succeeds in doing what she is eager for will go down in history. And so temptingly flashes the thought: what if this day will fall on the Olympic Games?
Sasha competed at the Russian Championship after an injury. Europe became only the second start in two weeks. Trusova says that physically she feels better and better, gradually gaining shape. She is dissatisfied with the performances in Tallinn, she can only praise herself for the salchow, which she inserted into the program and did. As for the rest, everything is the same as always: “I will still jump at the maximum at the time of the competition, I perform with myself.”
So they all – Camila, Sasha and Anya – said at a press conference, Camila voiced a friendly answer: we are fighting with ourselves. And this is not slyness. Luna Hendrix from Belgium, who sensationally became second in the short program, apparently left all her emotions and strength there, at the moment of triumph and her own indescribable surprise that “Russian girls who are so strong” were behind. In the free program, Luna fell twice, she doesn’t have an ultra-c airbag, and it was her worst skate of the season (it’s good that she stayed in fourth place).
… Anya Shcherbakova, speaking about the Olympic Games, shared: I have a feeling that this will not happen to me in my next life. But now the last start before Beijing, which overshadowed the Games and made it impossible to reach the finish line even in thought, has been passed. And passed by the Russian team triumphantly. The “next life” is already underway.