Here is a copy of a Russian-language interview with pairs figure skating Olympic and World Champion Anton Sikharulidze. You'll remember that Elena Berezhnaya and Sikharulidze were the Russian pair whose gold medal win sparked international outrage and the outing of a major figure skating scandal at the 2002 Olympics. Apparently Sikharulidze is now a member of the Russian parliament. I had no idea he had gone into politics. From the interview:
KP – Did the story with the second set of gold medals for the Canadians in Salt Lake City influence your decision to become a politician? It was a clear example of how politics interferes with sports.
AS – No, that six years old story did not influence my decision about my future life direction. I think that sport is for young people. One has to know when to quit without being pushed out. One day, I felt that I was sick and tired of being Chaplin (The program called "Chaplin" was a trademark of Anton and Elena). I felt that I grew up. I was always interested in social activities and I was preparing myself to get involved in sports politics. I am comfortable with my work at Duma (The Russian parliament) and I feel that I can be useful there.
Sikharulidze also had a comment on the new scoring system:
KP – Do you have the feeling that the TV shows overshadow the competitions?
AS – It is a world trend. Figure skating is losing its popularity. There are no real bright stars. The new system of judging also played a role in the degradation of the sport. I would call this system anti-spectators, and even anti-Russian. Even I, an Olympic champion, sometimes do not understand why the judges give their particular marks. It seems that the new rules were designed to fit the Asian type of figure skating. They force the skater to concentrate only on the elements – such as what side of the skate is used for a rotation, what is the position of the hands during the lifts? Is it really that important for the spectator? The spectator wants an image, an emotional performance that a couple could create on ice. That was the trademark of the Russian school of figure skating.
I don't really know the difference between the Asian school of skating and the Russian one, but I do think that the drive to gain points can take away from a program. But that's mainly because I find certain elements ugly (I will go on the record as ruing the day Denise Bielmann invented her namesake spin).
Anyway, it was interesting to hear from Sikharulidze and find out that he's found an interesting life outside of figure skating. They were such a beautiful pair.