The spotlight has shifted from Kamila Valieva to her entourage after the 15-year-old’s tearful exit from the ladies’ singles at Beijing 2022.
A distraught Valieva came off the ice to rapturous applause from spectators, but her coach’s first words to her were, “why did you let it go?”
That brought criticism from IOC president Thomas Bach.
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The coach in question, Eteri Tutberidze, has a stable of incredible young Russia figure skaters, including the three at the centre of Thursday’s drama: gold medallist Anna Shcherbakova, silver medallist Alexandra Trusova and Valieva. All three athletes are aged 17 and under.
WHO IS ETERI TUTBERIDZE?
Born in 1974 in Moscow, Tutberidze coaches at the Sambo-70 group, who have produced the last two Olympic ladies’ singles champions and five of the past six world champions.
The 47-year-old is a former figure skater, having switched from singles to ice dancing after suffering a spinal injury. Her daughter, Diana Davis, competed in the ice dance at Beijing 2022 and finished 14th alongside Gleb Smolkin.
Tutberidze started coaching in the United States before moving to Moscow’s Sambo-70 group in 2014. Her current crop of athletes have been dubbed the ‘Quad Squad’, given their ability to land the rarely-seen four rotation jumps.
Valieva became the first to land a quad in Olympic competition in the team event in Beijing, with Shcherbakova and Trusova following suit. Trusova landed an incredible five quad jumps in Thursday’s free skate.
Watch Shcherbakova secure thrilling figure skating gold amid Valieva drama
WHAT HAPPENED TO TUTBERIDZE'S FORMER ATHLETES?
A single Olympic cycle often sees the best names come and go.
Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva, the gold and silver medallists from PyeongChang, were cut from the national team prior to the 2021-22 season.
Zagitova was already on an indefinite break after suspending her career, saying she needed to “get the motivation back on the ice” in 2019, while Medvedeva left the sport last year with a severe back injury.
Zagitova is still only 19, while two-time world champion Medvedeva is 22.
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