Society Skating on the Edge

Anna Shcherbakova. Bukharev Oleg. License purchased by author from Shutterstock.

“When I afterwards saw how she was received by her closest entourage, with such…coldness, it was chilling to see this.” — Thomas Bach, President, International Olympic Committee

“That was the most bizarre and heartbreaking event I have seen in my entire life.”

Johnny Weir. Twitter post from Weir.
Kamila Valieva in 2018. EUPA-IMAGES. License purchased by author from
Coach Eteri Tutberidze in 2018. Bukharev Oleg. Author purchased license from

“Why did you let it go? Why did you stop fighting? Explain it to me, why? You let it go after that axel.” — Eteri Tutberidze

“He doesn’t like the harshness of our coaches, but everybody knows that the harshness of a coach in high-level sport is key for their athletes to achieve victories.” — Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin Spokesperson

“Valieva was fourth. But in high-level sport, the strongest wins.” — Peskov

Alexandra “Sasha” Trusova. Instagram post from Trusova.

“I am not happy with the result. There is no happiness.”

Kaori Sakamoto. Instagram post from Kaori.
Anna Shcherbakova. Instagram post from Shcherbakova.

“I still don’t comprehend what has happened. On the one hand I feel happy, on the other I feel this emptiness inside.”

  • Valieva was a “protected person” under the age of 16.
  • Valieva had delivered negative drug tests before and after the positive test in December 2021. The status of her “B” sample was still unknown.
  • The report could be the result of a lab error — the same lab that took an irresponsible 6 weeks to process the sample — because the amount of trimetazidine was exceedingly low (2.1 ng/ml) for a test purported to require at least 10 ng/ml to be detectable.
  • The low level of trimetazadine seemed odd for a drug that experts suggested needed to be ingested daily for weeks to have any hope for performance enhancement.
  • Not allowing Valieva compete may well cause “irreparable harm.”

It is clear that many in skating are determined to break the Tutberidze grip on women’s ice skating.

The “Eteri bonus” is worth 5 to 20 points.

Sambo-70 School, Moscow, Russia. Instagram post from Eteri Tutberidze.
  • In 1994, the fearless 17-year-old, Oksana Baiul, defeated the elegant Nancy Kerrigan with jump after jump to claim Olympic gold.
  • In 1998 the brilliant Tara Lipinski won Olympic gold at the even younger age of 16, beating out the two-time World Champion, Michelle Kwan.
  • In 2002, Sarah Hughes won Olympic gold at the age of 17, beating out the 21-year-old Irina Slutskaya and Kwan, eventual 6-time world champion.
  • Alina Zagitova completed a win of gold in every major world title at the youngest age ever, capping her career with Olympic gold at the age of 17.
  • Evgenia Medvedeva won her first World title at 16.
  • Trusova began tossing quads and medaling in major competitions at 14.
  • Shcherbakova won Worlds at 16.
  • Valieva jumped to the front of the Tutzberitze pack in late 2021 to win the Russian and then European Championships at the age of 15.

A quadruple jump is worth from 4.5 to 5.3 more base points than an equivalent triple jump.

Very young. Very thin. Great jumpers. Instagram post by Tutberidze.

The “Tutberidze expiration date” is said to be 17.

So, what can we do to fix skating (and the systems in our world)?

  • Raise the minimum age limit of Senior/World’s/Olympic Women’s Figure Skating to 18.
  • Enforce existing anti-doping laws more rigorously, and
  • If we want to go out on a limb…encourage an IOC investigation of the Tutberidze gym for child abuse.

DONE! It’s fixed!

Where are our lattes, Twinkie's, and phones?

We gotta post this!

“Let’s get rid of the Olympics!”

Twitter. Samson. Irons. Dr. Ghurlkarap.
  • Sport keeps us active and healthy.
  • Sport teaches life lessons.
  • Supporting young athletes engages a wide swath of our communities: families, coaches, administrators, and towns. And with a world population approaching 8 billion, a lot of folk need engagement!

Why? What is wrong today?

We can’t agree on the difference between “working hard” and “cheating.”

Cheating big = Trying harder

“If you ain’t cheating, you ain’t trying. So the Patriots are trying hard…It’s a game. Everyone wants to win. So you do whatever you can to make it happen.” — Joe Montana

We can’t reconcile “old school” vs. “new school” coaching and leadership.

We pay college coaches $5 million and more a year while offering top athletes relatively little. A coach-first sport.

We are struggling more than ever to negotiate “fair matchups.”

  • Redefining categories that were once agreed-upon: “man”, “woman”, “adult”, “child”, “banned drug user”, and so on.
  • Balancing the interests of the rare individual and the typical group.

How can we apply such different rules to people competing in the same contest?

We find complexity overwhelming fun and the truth.



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store