When Russian quad-jumping prodigy Alexandra Trusova parted ways with her famed coach, Eteri Tutberidze, she was quickly denounced as a traitor by some of her former colleagues.
But how did a tiny 15-year-old girl with astonishing technical potential become an issue of such dispute that she would go on to expose the unsavory side of the national figure skating team?
READ MORE: Following in Medvedeva’s footsteps? Russian quad-jumping trailblazer Alexandra Trusova sensationally QUITS Tutberidze camp
There was nothing new in Alexandra Trusova’s decision to switch coaches after she failed to win her first major titles at senior level. Many of her predecessors had done it without being accused of being ungrateful.
“If you decide to leave, you should do it in the correct way, not as it was done by Trusova. When a person is a traitor, she doesn’t exist for us anymore,” Tutberidze’s choreographer, Alexey Zheleznyakov, said.
The immensely talented skater, who was the first female athlete to land a quad, was expected to become a new Russian star. However, her first senior season was not sensational. She constantly fell during her signature quads, finishing third at the ISU Grand Prix Final and the European championships.
The queen of quads, who had been unbeaten at junior level, started to lose her seemingly unshakable position, and her teammates and training partners began leapfrogging her at every big event.
For a girl who rewrote figure skating history, losing the leading position was a tragedy, and something she just couldn’t accept.
Leaving her coach, who she thought paid more attention to other skaters than to her, seemed the only reasonable decision to take if she were to restore her lead.
But was it the right decision? So far, none of the skaters who left Tutberidze has shown any progress after the split. It will be a big challenge for Evgeni Plushenko, the men’s skating legend who will now train Trusova, to prove that she can perform better under his guidance.
Tutberidze, who was visibly insulted by Trusova’s move, said that the Olympic champion “lured” the skater, offering her more attractive financial terms. She also maintained that her group “creates” champions, rather than enticing them in.
Plushenko denied those accusations, saying it was the initiative of the athletes’ parents that she should start training in his academy.
So, will Trusova benefit from her partnership with Plushenko? The new season will definitely show her readiness to battle for titles.
Losing a talented skater is always dramatic for a coach, but Tutberidze has a long bench of top-class skaters who could continue sweeping the podiums at international competitions, thereby glorifying their talented coach.
Trusova’s absence will not affect Tutberidze’s winning streak, which started at the 2018 Olympics.
Whatever happens, a decision to change coaches is just an attempt to improve results, and not a betrayal, however it might be presented by Trusova’s former camp.