GENERICO.ruSportRussian figure skaters are needed: who will move from Russia to Georgia for the Olympics?

Russian figure skaters are needed: who will move from Russia to Georgia for the Olympics?

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While Russian figure skaters are suspended from international competitions, the Georgian national team is being recruited with might and main at the expense of its neighbors. But the team still doesn’t have enough athletes to confidently compete for medals in the team tournament at the 2026 Olympic Games. Sports tells who can proceed from Russia to Georgia in the near future for big victories.

Canadians are already losing in absentia
“Is this preparation for the Olympic team tournament? Yes, absolutely,” said Georgian figure skating boss Mariam Giorgobiani in an interview in December 2023 after the victory of the pair Anastasia Metelkina/Luka Berulava in the Junior Grand Prix Final, the transition of dancers Diana Davis/Gleb Smolkina , the gradual gain in form of the then current European champion Anastasia Gubanova and the inevitable change of generations in the men's singles, where the long-time leader of the national team Maurice Kvitelashvili has already left, and the young Nika Egadze has not yet taken over.

If three years ago Georgia was lucky enough to simply qualify for the Olympic Games team in Beijing, now new amazing opportunities have opened up for them. And dreams of an Olympic medal have become goals – still distant, but already quite realistic.

The rise of Metelkina/Berulava should be considered a key episode that gives Georgia hope for something more. World pair skating is currently going through an interesting period. Deprived of the attention of a wide range of viewers, scolded by our experts, in a couple of seasons of this oblivion it attempted a qualitative leap in terms of creativity. Their technical content is still imperfect and their execution is very poor, but in terms of production quality they are not that far behind us. And there is no doubt that a couple of years before the Olympics they will only get better.

Metelkina/Berulava had every chance of winning their debut European Championships – without a series of unnecessary errors in the free program, probably caused by strong anxiety, they would have easily taken gold. In this regard, the World Championship should be taken out of the equation, since it is almost impossible for yesterday’s (even today’s) juniors to carry through the entire season on a winning note, unless you are a singles skater from the Russian national team. But even if we take him into account in the context of the team, only the Italians Sara Conti/Niccolò Macchii and the Canadians Deanna Stellato-Dudek/Maxime Deschamps were higher than Nastya and Luca among potential rivals. At the same time, if the Georgians should definitely be wary of the Italian team, it is not a fact that the Canadian team will gather at all – they have a disaster with singles (Olympic participant Madeleine Skizas, for example, fails at the national selection) and fever among men.

< br>Outside of tournament situations, it is important to remember that Metelkina/Berulava is one of the few pairs at the international level who possess the second most valuable triple throw – the flip. Now there are only a few duos in the world capable of an even more expensive Lutz throw. The rest don't even know how to flip. For example, Stellato-Dudek/Deschamps, the current world champions, throw simpler salchows and loops.

Being one of the most technical pairs currently competing, Nastya and Luka are actively developing in the second assessment. At the moment, they are separated from world leadership only by a lack of experience, mental maturity and, as a result, authority among judges. Two years before the Olympics, however, it is quite possible to correct this deficiency, and then Metelkina/Berulava will become the most important link in the Georgian team and almost the only source of the maximum number of points.

Montreal should strengthen Davis and Smolkin
Second on the list of key episodes in the transformation of the Georgian national team is the Davis/Smolkin transition. The transfer, which was initially thought to benefit only the athletes themselves, was in fact very necessary for their new team – thanks to this, they could have a real reserve in at least one discipline out of four. Yes, the first season after the change of flag for Diana and Gleb turned out more modestly than planned, but, firstly, as in the case of Metelkina/Berulava, it is important to take into account the difference in opposition in the team and at other ISU tournaments. Then we will get that out of the entire world top, Davis/Smolkin in Milan are guaranteed to lose to only a few – Chock/Bates (USA), Gilles/Poirier (Canada – subject to the formation of a team) and Guignard/Fabbri (Italy), with all the rest more difficult to fight than real. And even a potential fourth place in dancing is a good foundation for further struggle.

Someone will ask why Davis/Smolkin were better than Maria Kazakova/Georgiy Reviya, Georgia's former leaders in ice dancing. At least because you can definitely rely on Diana and Gleb. Firstly, they are healthier – after Diana’s fracture two years ago, the duo did not have any significant injuries, unlike Maria and George. And secondly, they will not fall apart, which is guaranteed by both the bonds of marriage and the ambitions of Diana’s mother, Eteri Tutberidze. Considering that Maria and Georgy recently stopped working together, this factor is of fundamental importance.

And they are also better (or rather more promising) because recently they have been taken on by truly legendary coaches. The move to the Montreal Academy under the leadership of Marie-France Dubreuil, Patrice Lauzon and Romain Agenauer was expected (and was written about in the summer of 2023) and almost inevitable. Well, after the team of Alexey Kilyakov – the previous coach of the couple – showed their inability to beautifully package the duet, highlighting all its weaknesses with an unsuccessful free dance to “Swan Lake”, it became obvious that they needed to act quickly.


But even taking all this into account, the Georgian national team at the moment still retains the status of a semi-finished product. Their best singles player Anastasia Gubanova is now ranked in the top 3 at Europe, but in the last two seasons she has not even been in the top 10 at the World Championships – largely due to her own mistakes, but still. And the best singles skater Nika Egadze, in principle, has no truly significant victories in his entire adult career.

The situation is complicated by the fact that Georgia has no one at all behind Nastya and Nika. There is no reserve in their team (with the exception of dances, if Kazakova quickly finds a new partner), and if something happens to the first number, everything will immediately crumble into dust. But even if everyone remains healthy until Milan, where is the guarantee that this will be enough? Let’s say that in the team team Metelkina/Berulava and Gubanova will be able to bomb both programs without errors, and in the dances Davis/Smolkin and Kazakova will distribute the load among themselves.

Theoretically, this could work, but here’s the caveat: men’s singles. Yes, Gubanova can also give up on women, but even at the last world, among the potential team members, she lost only to Japanese and American women. At the same time, Egadze is now inferior to both the Japanese and the Americans, and, what is much worse, to the Italians – Georgia’s direct rivals in terms of leadership. And if the French make it to Milan…

If you look at things realistically, Georgia urgently needs to carry out naturalization for the next season – otherwise there will be no team medals. And Mariam Giorgobiani, judging by her words in an interview, understands this very well. Moreover, she is actively searching for the necessary personnel. There is only one question left – which way to look?

At the moment, Georgia has two weak points – one local (men's singles) and one global (no reserve for the near future). Solving a local problem will automatically saturate the team. But where to find the right people? Obviously, you need to look in Russia – this is the most reliable option, proven over the years, but right now we don’t have strong guys with Georgian roots, which for Giorgobiani, according to her, is a very important point. However, judging by Gubanova’s case, this can sometimes be sacrificed for the sake of the result here and now.

Considering the wide bench in the Russian men's singles, finding a suitable option, purely theoretically, will not be so difficult. But what if the Georgian federation takes a much more interesting and most unobvious step? The fact is that at one time there was talk on the sidelines about the potential transfer of one Russian couple from the caliber of the national top 3. It is not possible to determine how logical these assumptions were, but purely in theory – why not?

If Metelkina/Berulava never become number one in the world, Georgia will urgently need a pair capable of hitting the maximum. Without this, there is no point in even mentioning medals. In the absence of a powerful pair, the Georgian team will not have a foundation – in this case, even the feat of the singles player(s) will have no practical meaning.

In any case, transfers to Georgia should be expected, and in the near future. Otherwise, perhaps the most realistic chance for a historic team medal may disappear from them forever.

The author’s opinion may not coincide with the position of the editors

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