Young Russian talent readying for Sochi gold
With just a little more than two month remaining to the opening of the Olympics in Sochi, RBTH predicts gold prospects for many Russian youth who will compete on their home turf in the 2014 Winter Games.
A year ago the suggestion that the Russian team could qualify for a gold medal in the discipline of ski acrobatics would have cause a sarcastic smile. Now the situation has changed radically.
Pavel Krotov, a 21-year-old native of Yaroslavl, has had an outstanding season. Already at the first World Cup in Mont Gabriel, Canada Pavel brought the Russian team the first victory after seven years in the discipline. Krotov easily bypassed titled Canadian Olivier Rochon and Japan’s Naoya Tabara.
For Krotov it is only the second season at the highest level; in 2012 he was constantly tormented by injuries. At one point he even thought about retirement, but personal trainers of Pavel helped him to overcome a difficult period. In Sochi Krotov will be one of the favorites and probably be able to compete for a place on the podium.
"My program is ready, and it is comparable to the complexity of the program of the leaders - the same with one for the Chinese. If we can accurately carry out these jumps, there is a chance of achieving something at the Olympics. However, I still have to work on landing. It is necessary to maintain weight, because when you land from a height of a three-story house, a very big load goes to the knees and spine," he explained.
While Krotov continues to fulfill the technical elements, another Russian Olympic hopeful—the 24-year-old skeleton racer Olga Potylitsyna—has recovered from severe foot injuries and is ready to fight her main rivals.
In late October, Potylitsyna won the third Gold Cup of Russia in her career, while setting a new record on track in Sochi (2 minutes 1.16 seconds). These results should be enough at least to climb on the Olympic podium. To become a reality, Potylitsyna must become more stable.
Last year, Olga alternated successful launches with frankly failures. Potylitsyna began her career in skiing, but suffered a serious injury, and realized that she would not be able to achieve serious progress in this sport. After being advised by her father in 2007, Olga decided to try skeleton. In six years she had become a true leader of team Russia. Krasnoyarsk native’s speed record is 138 kmh. The track in Sochi is smoother and speed there will be lower, however, and the track can have some surprises.
"The Olympic track has a couple of very difficult areas, where it is easy to make mistakes,” said Potylitsyna. “The result depends on these segments. I know them thoroughly and only excitement can stop me to achieve results. In the past year I have learned a lot, and this season I'm ready to show my maximum."
In the most popular Russian winter sport - biathlon, the Olympics host country may also qualify for a medal of the highest dignity. If female biathlon in Russia held mark for many years, in the male biathlon with the retirement of Pavel Rostovtsev, Vladimir Drachev, Alexander Tikhonov, viewers have already forgotten the taste of big wins. A new generation of Russian biathletes, however, all eyes are on: Eugeny Garanichev,25, and Timophey Lapshin, 25, and in particular Dmitry Malishko, 26.
Malishko began performing at a high level a couple of years ago. However, in a short span of time the Russian athlete has really made himself known. According to experts Malishko is one of the favorites of the Games both on a sprint, and on long routes. While the highest achievements of Malishko are four wins at the World Cup (2013), World Championship silver medal in the relay (2010), and the award for "Rookie of the Year" for the 2011/2012 season.
Malishko is a big fan of World Rally Championship and Formula 1, and in the case of a gold medal in Sochi, Malishko wants to fulfill his dream by driving a practice lap on the car at the Royal races series. Executive Director Nikolay Fomenko of Marussia Motors has already made such a promise for biathletes.
"If health does not fail, it's all real,” said Malishko. “I am looking forward to the time when I will compete with Martin Fourcade and Emil Hegle Svendsen. I am eager to beat them in my own motherland."
The progress of the 26-year-old brothers Andrei and Sergei Volkov is impressive, showing good results in the freestyle or mogul. Last season at the World Cup in Deer Valley in the United States, Andrei was the third in mogul, while his brother, Sergey, was first. For the first time since 2008 a Russian appeared at the head of this Olympics. For the entire World Cup in the bank of the Russian team there were10 podium finishes.
In figure skating - a sport in which Soviet and Russian athletes have always been trendsetters - a talented shift is growing also: Julia Lipnitskaya, 15, Lisa Tuktamysheva, Adelina Sotnikova, Polina Korobeinikova, all 17, and 19-year-old Maxim Kovtun are ready to show a world classskate. The question is, who will be better in the competition within the team.