GENERICO.ruSportWe Can't Survive Without Her. Why Zagitova's Return Is a Reality

We Can't Survive Without Her. Why Zagitova's Return Is a Reality

Alina Zagitova, in fact, ended her career long ago, but remains one of the most popular figures in Russian sports. Is it possible to return her to competitions? Need to! Why this crazy idea should become a reality – in the material Sports.

We miss “not ours”
Maintaining the ban on Russian figure skaters from international competitions puts our sport in a vulnerable position. On the one hand, the FFKKR bosses periodically remind the public that we actually have a whole bunch of new tournaments, and people abroad are very jealous of us for this reason. On the other hand, a timid hope was glimmering somewhere deep in our hearts.

Because without international tournaments, interest in sports steadily declines. In figure skating, for example, the driving force behind the main spectator interest, which is mostly made up of ordinary people, is the pattern of “ours versus not ours.” It is not so important where and how you win – it is much more important who exactly you beat. For this reason, national competitions in a vacuum do not work as well as international ones – victories over themselves sooner or later cease to impress the average spectator. You can talk as much as you like about the gray masses abroad, and in some disciplines of figure skating this definition will be quite close to the truth, but “world champion” is a world champion. This means that on the way to the title you beat everyone – both ours and yours. And this is not just a dry line in your resume, but also a reason for national pride.Can you be proud of winning domestic competitions? If you personally care about the winner, of course. But at the same time, consolidation around the winners does not occur in this case. Spectator attention is scattered between individual athletes and, if it is gathered into a single group, it is not as strong as during the victory over “not ours”. In the absence of this magnet, philistine interest evaporates over time – and sport becomes local.

It is quite possible that starting this season we will begin to feel it little by little. The leadership of the FFKKR has already announced a reduction in the number of stages of the Russian Grand Prix from six to five. The official formulation – the desire to create a more competitive environment – is both harmless and not the most rosy, because it follows that we no longer have a sufficient number of stars to evenly fill all competitions – and this is already a minus for spectator interest. It cannot be ruled out that a similar measure to optimize the calendar will be required in the future if some competitive formats suddenly turn out to be unprofitable.


Tutberidze will get Zagitova in order over the summer
But what can you do to avoid this? Perhaps increase the “stardom”. But here there is an irresistible environment – athletes with big titles most often become stars. There are, of course, exceptions to the rules – for example, Alexandra Trusova could not win her main competition in her career (the 2022 Olympic Games in Beijing), but the huge number of international records she holds can in itself be considered a significant title. Now our skaters are isolated, which means that the biggest trophy for them remains the Russian Championship.

In this regard, there is, perhaps, only one thing left – to resort to the services of those who managed to earn titles before 2022. Let's say, why not contact Alina Zagitova? Yes, it is obvious to everyone that if you go on pause once, there is a 99.9% chance that you will never return. But what if this rule can be refuted? It is not necessary to return for guaranteed victories – even a place in the top five or eight at the conditional Russian Championship will be great, and the interest in this event will exceed even the wildest expectations.

It is generally accepted that triple jumps are not something you can survive in today's world, but let's take a look at the main roster of the Russian adult team for next season. Of the six girls, three do not jump ultra-si in competitions (Anna Frolova, Ksenia Sinitsyna, Veronika Yametova). Moreover, they do not have the most expensive triple jump cascade – lutz-rittberger, which Zagitova did five years ago.

Current realities are such that Alina would be more than competitive at domestic competitions. She is clearly in excellent physical shape; fortunately, she has not had any serious injuries in her adult career, so the only thing that separates her from competitive fitness is a full summer training camp with Eteri Tutberidze’s team. There is no doubt that the legendary coach will be able to lead his most titled student to the season. And then – see for yourself. Last season, four of the six stages of the Russian Grand Prix for girls were won without any ultra-si with an average score of about 225. At the peak, Zagitova calmly received a strong score of 235.

Unlike our ultra-B queens Alexandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova, Zagitova does not need to jump over her head and restore content of incredible complexity to return. She jumped triple lutz and flip at the show, went into a double axel – and all this in conditions where no special jumping load was required from her.

Of course, all this will require appropriate fees – after all, Zagitova will risk her image of invincibility. And our sport has the opportunity to accomplish something similar. The vast majority of our stars are in partnership with television, and if they even clicked a finger, everything would become real in that very second. An outside viewer would be motivated to turn on the TV – as would those who, for one reason or another, have come out of active illness.

You don’t have to look far for examples of how this works – this season we got the opportunity to clearly see the miraculous power of returns using the example of Alena Kostornaya. Her transition to pair skating has significantly increased interest in the discipline, even despite the fact that her duet with Georgy Kunitsa is still far from big victories.

We definitely need something similar in other disciplines. Even in women's singles, where previously there was no shortage of hype. Otherwise, keeping the audience in the conditions of ongoing international isolation will be titanically difficult.

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


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