Natalya Bestemyanova: “Stepanova and Bukin must fight for the podium”

The World Figure Skating Championships will get underway on Wednesday, March 21, in Milan. Natalya Bestemyanova, champion of the 1988 Olympic Games, four-time world champion in Ice Dancing, answered the questions of the ROC Information Service.

– From your experience, is it difficult for the athletes to tune up for the World Championships, held after the Olympic Games, when the peak form seems to be left behind?

– I think it is wrong to speak about ‘leaving the peak form behind’ when talking about one of the most important tournaments. You either skate properly or do not come out on the ice at all. Moreover, the new Olympic cycle begins with the World Championships, scheduled immediately after the Games. In the future you can count on  those, who are on peak of success now.

– However, some athletes, for various reasons, refused to participate…

– Mostly those who finished their careers, such as Olympic Champions in Ice Dancing Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir. Javier Fernandez will no longer perform, neither will the Canadian couple Meagan Duhamel and Eric Radford. Chinese pair Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, who won silver in Pyeongchang, as well as Hanyu Yuzuru and Evgenia Medvedeva will miss the competitions due to the injuries. But these megastars can afford to miss a single World Championships.

 – Will you miss them, as a viewer?

– Of course, it is a pity that Yuzuru and Zhenya will not perform in Milan. Without them, the championship is poor. But big sport is cruel. Many contenders for the vacant seats come at once. Therefore, it is desirable not to miss major tournaments.

– According to your forecast, will Medvedeva return to the top?

– It depends on her. Evgenia is a very strong person. If she wants it, she will. If she will find another goal in life, she will navigate towards it.

– Will Alina Zagitova find strength for another major tournament?

 – She is only 15 years old. How can she get exhausted?

– Now there is talk that they can limit the number of jumps in the second part of the women’s program, and forbid quadruple jumps to save athletes from injuries. How do you feel about it?

– It’s a nonsense! The Eteri Tutberidze’s team took the lead, having risen to a height, unattainable for others, and no one will be able to catch up with our athletes in the near future. Therefore they try to take artificial measures. However, progress cannot be halted. At the International Skating Union Congress June  there will be a fight, but I do not think that our representatives will be on the watch. Perhaps they will only slightly increase the minimum age for participation in the Olympic Games .

– Among the men, the quadruples are performed mainly by the Asian athletes. Is it due to genetics?

– What about our children?! Although the physiological characteristics of Oriental children affect the situation as well. Of course, it’s easier for them to spin.

– Does the Russian couple Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin have more chances to take top positions without Virtue/Moir and brother and sister Shibutani of the United States. Is it time for them to prove themselves at the international arena?

– Stepanova/Bukin is already a well-known couple. When they took the third place at the European Championships in Moscow in January, representatives of the French federation said openly that now Gabriela Papadakis and Guillaume Cizeron have strong and worthy opponents. I assume that Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitry Solovyov will nonetheless finish their career, although so far they declared that only miss one season. I don’t think it makes sense for them to return, because of the age. Therefore, Stepanova/Bukin is Russia’s first pair. I hope that in the next four years they will be assisted rather than hindered.

– Are they capable of winning medals in Milan?

– It will be difficult to fight against Papadakis and Cizeron, but it is necessary to fight for the podium.

Composition of the Russian national team at the 2018 World Championships:

  • men: Mikhail Kolyada, Dmitry Aliyev;
  • women: Alina Zagitova, Maria Sotskova, Stanislava Konstantinova;
  • pairs: Evgeniya Tarasova/Vladimir Morozov, Natalia Zabiyako/Alexander Enbert, Kristina Astakhova/Alexei Rogonov;
  • ice dancing pairs: Alexandra Stepanova/Ivan Bukin, Tiffany Zagorsky/Jonathan Guerreiro.