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Money Troubles for Russian skating

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The BBC takes a look at some funding problems for Russian figure skaters.  The article speaks of the disappointments of the medal numbers and colors in Vancouver - with Plushenko winning silver, Domnina and Shabalin winning only bronze, and pairs (and ladies) getting shut out.  It quotes Plushenko, Maria Mukhortova, and Maria Butyrskaya.

Some assume that the reason the crop of Russian skaters was disappointing because of when these skaters got their starts.

The former head of Russia's Skating Federation, Valentine Piseev, who was forced to stand down after the Vancouver failure, says the lack of medals should not have been a surprise.

"The majority of skaters who performed in the Olympics started their careers in 1990s, when the country was trapped in very difficult economic and social conditions," he says.

"Sport was the last thing people could think about, junior sport schools were closing down, but the biggest setback for us was the departure of our best coaches abroad.

"Our highly qualified coaches were the main power of Soviet figure skating. But the reality was that our coaches were paid per month the same as a specialist in the US was paid just for one session."

That may very well be true, but when you think about it,  Plushenko would have won nearly every other Olympic games with his performances here.  He just got unlucky because Lysacek was his competition and Lysacek was one point better on that night (or one point better at wringing out points from the scoring system).

In pairs, ten years ago, the Chinese pairs were not at the Olympic-medal ready point that they are at now.  So it's likely that Kavaguti and Smirnov would have made the Olympic podium, despite their errors.  So maybe it's the international skating scene that kept Russians off the podium, too?  Although, perhaps there are dozens of amazing skaters whose potential never got tapped due to the poor economy in Russia.  But I guess that could be true of people in many countries who cannot afford skating lessons. 

The article quotes Russian Olympians saying they did not receive enough training money and that changes must be made before Sochi 2014.  The article also points out that sponsors are much quicker to fund televised skating shows rather than up and coming skaters.