Liberal Arts Blog — Is Eteri Tutberidze the Wicked Witch or Just a Phenomenal Ice Skating Coach?
Liberal Arts Blog — Saturday is the Joy of Sports, Dance, Fitness, and All Things Physical Day
Today’s Topic: Is Eteri Tutberidze the Wicked Witch or Just a Phenomenal Ice Skating Coach?
Child prodigies have often been victims of abuse from their coaches — whether family members or not. Michael Jackson and Mozart come to mind. Eteri Turberidze, Russia’s premier coach of female skaters, has been harshly criticized for her methods in the training of prepubescent girls. She has trained the likes of Anna Shcherbakova, the 2022 Olympic Gold Medalist, Alexadra Trusova, the 2022 Silver Medalist, and Alina Zagitova, the 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist. She has been accused of using “dehydration, starvation, and unchanged practice routines despite injuries.” Her detractors detect a pattern of former students retiring before age 18 due to injuries. Apologists believe that “the harshness of a coach in high-level sport is key for their athletes to achieve victories.” Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE HARSH CRITICISM OF TUTBERIDZE’S RESPONSE TO A 15 YEAR OLD SUPERSTAR’S MELTDOWN
1. Kamila Valieva (above), 15, was the first woman to land a quadruple jump at the Olympic Games, but on February 17th, at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing during the free skate “she stumbled or fell at least four times as she skated to Bolero.”
2. Thomas Bach, President of the IOC (International Olympic Committee): “Rather than giving her comfort, rather than to try to help her you could feel this chilling atmosphere, this distance and it got even worse because this was even some kind of dimissive gestures.”
3. Tutberidze’s actual words to Valieva: “Why did you let it go? Explain it to me, why? Why did you stop fighting completely? Somewhere after the axel you let it go.”
NB: The pressure that Russian (and perhaps all Olympians or all competitive athletes are under) is perhaps well captured by the breakdown of Valieva’s teammate Alexandara Trusova after the Olympic awards ceremony in which she only won the silver. “Everyone has a gold medal, everyone, but not me. I hate skating. I hate it. I hate this sport, I will never skate again. Never.” Does this perchance ring any bells with any athletes or parents or grandparents of athletes out there?
THE VALIEVA DOPING SCANDAL: DON’T GO AFTER THE SKATER, GO AFTER THE COACH (Jenkins, Washington Post)
1. “Allegations concerning misconduct by Valieva began on on 25 December 2021, when Valieva submitted a routine urine sample for analysis following her win at the Russian Nationals on 24 December. The normal 20-day testing time for the sample lapsed, apparently due to COVID-19 backlogs at the testing laboratory, however, the positive doping test results were eventually forwarded for evaluation in February 2022.” (Wikipedia)
2. “The criminalizing of 15 year old virtuoso Kamila Valieva is the moral disaster that the pseudo-puritan twistos of the anti-doping movement have been asking for all these years, with their “zero tolerance.” It has led to the damning of an innocent. Watch Valieva. Just watch her. Discern anything in her performance but unhurried grace and pure greatness.” (Sally Jenkins, Washington Post)
3. “The girl (Valieva) is not the face of Russian state doping. If the sports world wants to go after Vladimir Putin’s system, then target those directly responsible, the ones who really are the face of the system, such as Valieva’s coach, Eteri Tutberidze.” (Ditto)
NB: “But do it with hard science, not suspicion and rumor. Which is what this case is really about: rumor, suspicion and resentment by other nations. Those are not the elements of fair adjudication.” (Ditto)
SHOULD AGE LIMITS HAVE BEEN RAISED IN FIGURE SKATING? WHAT LIMITS ARE APPROPRIATE FOR WHICH SPORT?
1. In the aftermath of the Valieva incident, the International Skating Union, by a 110 to 16 vote decided to raise the minimum skating age from 15 to 17.
2. “I think it was done to more or less even out the competition, so that our Russian female skaters couldn’t have the opportunity to win world championship, European, Olympic medals,” (Dmitri Soloviev, Russian Olympic medalist).
3. “The limit will be phased in with 15-year-olds continuing to be allowed to compete next season, a minimum age of 16 in the 2023–24 season, rising to 17 the season after, which is the last before the Olympics.”
NB: Other age minimums: swimming 14, diving 14, judo 15, weight lifting 17, boxing 17. (Quora, seventh link)
For the last four years of posts organized by theme:
#2 “39 Songs, Prayers, and Poems: the Keys to the Hearts of Seven Billion People” — Adams House Senior Common Room Presentation, 11/17/20
Please share the coolest thing you learned this week related to sports, dance, fitness. Or the coolest thing you learned about Sports, Dance, of Fitness in your life — whether on the field, on the dance floor or in the gym, whether from a coach, a parent, a friend, or just your own experimentation.
This is your chance to make some one else’s day. Or even change their life. It’s perhaps a chance to put into words something you have never articulated before. And to cement in your own memory something cool you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something dear to your heart.