Oksana Kazakova: “I liked Astakhova and Rogonov’s program most”

Oksana Kazakova, Olympic champion of 1998 in pair skating, commented on the events of the first day of the World Figure Skating Championships held in Milan.

– Today couples will present their free programs. What is your take on the intermediate second position of Evgenia Tarasova and Vladimir Morozov?

– They are behind the Olympic Champions, but not some average level pair.

They still have a chance for Gold, if their rivals will make mistakes. But in the short program, Alyona Savchenko and Bruno Massot did not make any. They skated very well and naturally took the  lead.

– The third place, given to Vanessa James and Morgan Cipres of France, aroused debates. As a specialist, don’t you think that the judges held our second duet Natalia Subiaco/Alexander Enbert back a little?

– No. Our athletes made a mistake on a parallel jump. Anyway, the judges know it better, and the result is summed up after two programs. In any case, Natalia and Alexander should give a good free skate.

– In your opinion, are the talks about judgement  more of a speculation of the press?

– I think so. The French pair was given high scores. They are obviously contenders for medals. They also perform a quadruple throw in their free program, while Zabiyako and Enbert do not. Judges know that.

– But this throw will only be performed tonight.

– James and Sipres practiced it during the whole season. So, technically, they’re worth more than our pair.

– Shouldn’t we judge what we see, instead of what can theoretically be? Vanessa James suffered a substantial fall in the short program.

– In the past the scores depended upon the falls. If the skater fell he lost. But you can concede in other things – rotations, steps, components. In my opinion, the components of the French skaters’ program are a little more winning.

– Enbert is your student. What do you say about his performance in a pair with Zabiyako in general?

– For some reason in this season the quality jumps has decreased. In general, however, I am happy for my trainee, for the fact that he is still completing the elements, which I once taught him.

– Kristina Astakhova and Alexei Rogonov, trained by your partner Artur Dmitriev, are holding the 7th position now. Is it their place?

– The guys performed very well. The problem is that they skated their program early – after that there were two more workouts. It is difficult for the judges to give high scores when the favourites’ performances are yet to come. Astakhova and Rogonov have a very interesting program. In  fact, I liked it most of all. Another thing is that elements should be performed cleanly. During the season, athletes made technical mistakes. But, if we talk about the program itself, I got great pleasure.

– Rogonov is 29 years old, Enbert is almost 29. Isn’t it too much to be considered promising?

– Of course, it is too much. But for men it is not a critical age. They can still go for another Olympic cycle.

– After the short program Alina Zagitova is holding the second position. However,  in this triumphant season, in free skating she managed to eliminate a far greater gap than 1.76 points, which separates her now from Carolina Kostner. In November, at the French Grand Prix stage she jumped to the final first place from the 5th position.

– Kostner did a good job! Her victory in the home championships, though only in a short program, was a great pleasure for herself and for the public. But in free skating Zagitova is stronger. Her technical reserves exceed those of the Italian athlete. I am sure that she will recover the gap, unless, of course, the peak of her form did not fall on the Olympic Games.

– Maria Sotskova, holding the 5th position, can hardly count on a spot on the podium, right?

– Yes. Although in Figure Skating anything can happen.

– For a 34-year-old Savchenko and 31-year-old Kostner the World Cup in Milan is the final chord, is it?

– It all depends on whether they will feel the strength and find motivation. Although for Savchenko, to leave after winning the Olympic Gold would, probably, be the right thing to do.