Romance and Mystery Novels

by Alina Adams

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Monday, December 22, 2008


Domnina and Shabalin betrayed Gorshkov.

Translation of an article by Sergey Dadigin printed in the Russian language publication Express Gazeta on November 27, 2008.

Many fans of figure skating are still guessing why Oxana Domnina and Maxim Shabalin left Russia for the USA. How could it happen that they left the coach who gave them many years of his life, and because of whom they for the first time became the European Champions this year?

Oxana and Maxim are now training at the ice center of the State of Delaware with coaches Natalia Linichuk and Gennady Karponosov. As it became known, Linichuk invited them a year ago, but then she just used the invitation as a trial balloon. Last summer the skaters themselves contacted the famous coach and told her that they were ready to move.

That decision of Domnina and Shabalin was completely unexpected by their longtime coach, Alexey Gorshkov. When Oxana and Maxim wanted to meet with him before leaving for the States and explain their decision, he was so angry that he refused to see them. “I see what is going on, go anywhere you want” - said Gorshkov.

The president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Mr. Valentin Piseev, thinks that Shabalin was upset with Gorshkov. Allegedly the coach forced Shabalin to participate in the European Championship in Zagreb. A month before the competition, Shabalin had an operation on his knee and did not completely recover. The skaters won the European Championship, but Maxim developed complications with the operated leg and they had to skip the World Championship. At the Moscow segment of the Grand Prix in November, Domnina and Shabalin for the first time performed for the Russian audience as pupils of Natalia Linichuk. A few days before the competition, Domnina and Shabalin came to practice at the same rink where they worked with Gorshkov for the last several years. Gorshkov was on the ice at that time and the coach and his ex-students just acknowledged each other with a nod.

Gorshkov said that he was upset by the way it was all done behind his back; that he did not force Shabalin to take part in the European competition – it was Shabalin’s decision. “If he would not want to participate, no one could force him,” -said Gorshkov. “The other thing was that I felt then and I feel now that it was important for him to take part in that competition. Since shortly before that they won the Grand Prix, it was important to establish them as real world class competitors. They needed to be seen by the judges. Ice dancing is a very subjective kind of sport. If you miss some events, your place will be overtaken. The title of European Champions is going to stay with them for good, no one would take it ever away. Their rating went high up after Zagreb."

Last June, Gennady Karponosov’s mother passed away. He and Natalia came to Moscow for the funeral. At that time, the deal with Domnina and Shabalin was fixed. Everything went very fast from that point on. In a few days Linichuk and Karponosov went back to the States together with Domnina and Shabalin. Oxana’s boyfriend, Olympic Champion in ice dancing Roman Kostomarov stayed back in Moscow. He begged Oxana not to leave. But she would not listen and now they see each other occasionally.

When accomplished skaters leave their coaches it is always a drama. Ekaterina Gordeeva and Sergey Grinkov left legendary coach Stanislav Zhuk with a big scandal. Alexey Yagudin – World and Olympic Champion left Alexey Mishin. Maria Butirskaya dropped coach Victor Kudrjavtsev. It is hard to count them all. At some point in the past, Natalia Linichuk lost to Tatiana Tarsova the famous ice dancers Oxana Grishchuk and Evgeny Platov, although it was Linichuk who made them Olympic Champions in Lillehammer.

Relations between the coaches and their pupils are a complex matter. Often, when sportspeople leave their coaches, they forget to pay them for their work. Gorshkov did not suffer financially from the skaters, but he has some claims against Linichuk. Domnina started her career not with Gorshkov but with another coach – Irina Fedorova. At some point Oxana and Maxim worked with another coach – Oleg Sudakov. Gorshkov payed off these coaches when he took on the pair. Linichuk will take advantage of the pair’s European Champions’ status and will get financial benefits without sharing them with Gorshkov. He feels that it is not fair, but he does not have any contact with Linichuk, although he has no problems with other coaches.

At the Moscow segment of Grand Prix there were two Russian pairs competing – Domnina and Shabalin and Khohlova and Novitsky. When Gorshkov was asked who would he like to win – he said Khohlova and Novitsky. The pain was still there!

These days Gorshkov is coaching ice dancers from Japan, Ukraine and Azerbaijan. In other words he works for the competition.


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