Olympics 2018: Korean puzzle

Pyeongchang-gun. On the track biathlon center “Alpensia” conduct training shooting skiers. Photo: Reuters

Today at 13.00 local time in Pyeongchang will start the opening ceremony of the XXIII Olympic Winter games.

Ukrainian flag in the parade of Nations will bear biathlete Olena Pidhrushna – representative, perhaps the only winter sport that has not passed their position during the years of independence.

What to expect from her and her friends a gold of the Sochi team, what are the chances to reach the podium at the freestyler Alexander Abramenko, and why the Olympics can already be considered one of the most unsuccessful in the country’s history, understood the correspondent “SE”.


Recall that the Ukrainian athletes at the Winter Olympics on the podium raised only in two sports. Fortunately, unlike figure skating, high-profile successes in which we today resemble newsreels, our medal hopes on biathlon its relevance is not lost. First and foremost, this applies, of course, women’s relay, where according to analysts, the company Gracenote, Ukraine and win its only medal at the Games in Korea.

However, if the performance of our shooting skiers at the 2014 Olympics, we waited with enthusiastic anticipation, the feeling we experience right before they go to the start in Pyeongchang, more suitable for the definition of suspense. Judge for yourself if the world Cup 2013/14 we’re two of the three relay races, which were held in Olympic games, were medal winners (first in Hochfilzen, the second in Annecy, fourth in Ruhpolding, which were not in the optimal structure: Elena Pidhrushna, who was given a rest, replaced Natalia Burdyga), then this season we got only one medal – silver in Hochfilzen. In Oberhof finished fifth, and last week became only 11-mi, showing the worst result for the last eight years and 15 January 2010, when there, in the German Mecca of biathlon, the Ukrainian team rounded out the top 12. However, the main part of the stage was passed, and the coaching staff, based on the results, just chose the sixth participant of the Olympics. It was Lyudmila Pysarenko, in consequence, however, never launched in Vancouver.

For the Olympics 2014 tactical wisdom, our coaching staff headed by Vasily Karlenko could only envy. Puzzle of four pieces he put in a Golden picture. Vita Semerenko came to the exchange, only six tail seconds from nimble Dorothea wierer. Then just exemplary second stage gave vyvev the Ukraine in the first place, those Games debutante Julia Jim. Valj Semerenko at the front was on the verge of a penalty loop, but, fortunately, escaped his leadership saved. Elena Pidrushna in turn put a beautiful Golden point in the race!

In fairness, we note that if four years ago this arrangement in General was read, this time much more difficult. Uros velepec to have a real puzzle and, presumably, that her decisions and the choice of singers for each of the stages, largely will depend on the final result of the Ukrainian team.

The biggest question marks of course are opposite the first and fourth stages. However, the role of the starter we have several like good candidates. Note that most often (nine times) was opened by the Ukrainian relay in the four years soukalova Gabriela, she was sabishisa and silver in the team pattern world Cup 2017. But what to do with the last stage, on which else recently seemed, and could not imagine anyone besides Elena Pidhrushna?

Triumphantly returning to the track after a year in the Ministerial chair, the captain of the team for only one season 2015/16 has won many individual medals in the world Cup, how many she had before that in my entire career. But then the results of athletes began to decline, and the Olympic season due to health problems, and maybe not only with them, she even turned out some ragged. From the impressive RAID in the pursuit race in Ostersund with a 28th place on the 9th with the fastest final round among all participants, and a solid, such as used fans, finish with a silver medal in the relay in Hochfilzen, up to a spot in the points area, and once even 60(!) To fight the captain of our team not to take, but in what physical condition she will be by 22 February when there will come hour X for the Ukrainian biathlon, is unclear.

8 of the 19 races, which had a Ukrainian Quartet in this cycle, finished Behind. Five – on account of Valentina Semerenko, but they were all in her stellar post-Olympic season 2014/15. Yulia Jim once auditioned for the four years in the role of finisher at the world championship -2016, but a penalty, and then escaped in the third stage Pidhrushna much “simplified” it with the task – in the end we got the fifth place.

Four times in the last two seasons, the responsibilities of the finisher, the coaching staff laid on Anastasia Merkushin, celebrated on 14 January, his 23rd birthday. And she with them quite quite well. Apparently, the ability to find additional reserves for the team, it is passed from mothers participating in the Olympics in Nagano-1998 Irina Merkushino. She too knew how the relays to make all two hundred percent. But wouldn’t that be too high a risk to put on the final stage of the young athlete in the team, and even debutante Games? In General, there are more questions than answers, we hope that after the individual races, the picture becomes a little clearer.

As for the chances of our athletes for a medal in the individual program, they are. The results of the same medalist and Sochi 2014 sprint, Vita Semerenko, who returned to sport after maternity leave, looked quite promising before it’s Pyongyang. But here the card will fall.

History is replete with examples of athletes who, according to all forecasts was to get on the Olympic podium, went home empty handed, as for example a 17-time medalist of the world Championships Elena Zubrilov, which is performing in two Games for Ukraine (1998, 2002) and one in Belarus (2006), did not win any Olympic medals. Conversely, who could have imagined that the bronze medalist will be Valentine Zerbe-nesina (1994) and Lily Vagina-Efremova (2006).

Not only on cards but also on the stars need to hope for the strong half of our biathlon team, in order to hold the medal in Korea. Because judging by how developed for the wards of Juraj Sanitra is four years, even if they perform at their best, it is unlikely that this will be enough to contend for a medal. Last year it seemed that this task can be under the power of Sergey Semenov. But the state of health and past results for the bronze medalist of the world championship-2016 and the winner of the crystal globe-2014/15, is set up on the optimistic before you left for Korea.


When the team competition in figure skating just debuted in the Olympics in Sochi, among them was Ukraine. Then this kind of programs are still not taken so seriously and our presence in it has not caused any particular stir. Actual, prejudice on account of the values of team awards even four years later have not disappeared, but the fact that this view displays the overall level of development of figure skating in the country, will not argue.

This time we even could not dream about to be among the ten countries participating in the team figure skating competition. This would have, at least, have athletes in all four categories. Our dreams finally collapsed at the end of last season with the demise of the only Ukrainian sports couple Renata Oganesyan mark Bardei. The latter, incidentally, is now in Canada trying to skate with Justine Brasseur – niece of world champion in 1993 and bronze medalist, Albertville-1992, Lillehammer-1994 skating Canadians Isabelle Brasseur. Get out of this Union something or not is not yet known. Such partner, as Tatiana Volosozhar and Aliona Savchenko, who found their sports happiness in Russia and Germany, respectively, is nothing to sneeze at.

Savchenko, by the way, is preparing together with a third partner to its fifth attempt to conquer the highest step of the Olympic podium. Volosozhar, which succeeded in Sochi in 2014 be with my daughter and her husband Maxim Trankovym, watch desperate fight his former compatriots at the TV screen in Moscow.

Agree, it is striking that barely staying afloat, the Ukrainian school of figure skating continues to be a donor for other countries. For the second Olympics in his career rides Kharkov Alisa Agafonova who has committed a real revolution in the Turkish ice dancing with the Alper Acarom. Making its debut at the Games along with his Polish girlfriend Natalia of Kaliszki her countryman Maxim Spodarev. At once two representatives of Ukraine will take to the ice in Pyeongchang under the flag of Israel, which, we note, involved in the team tournament, unlike Ukraine, is a native of the Dnieper Adel Tankova (a duet with Ronald Zilberberg) and skater Alexei Bychenko, by the way, student of Galina Kuhar, as well as Savchenko and Volosozhar.

Ukrainian fans, in turn, there is that remember with nostalgia the days when figure skating over the Olympic podium, raised the flag of Ukraine – thanks to gold Oksana Baiul in Lillehammer in 1994 and bronze Grushina Elena and Ruslan Goncharov in Turin 2006. For the current generation of national team of Ukraine – singles Yaroslav Panita and Anna Hrycenko and dance Duo Alexandra Nazarova and Maxim Nikitin hit the top ten is a feat akin to medals.


The third sport that we can theoretically compete for medals in Pyeongchang, a freestyle, and more precisely this discipline of ski acrobatics, because for mogulette Tatiana Petrova mere fact of getting to the Olympics was a great success. However, among the contenders for awards, our freestylers are almost from the 1994 Lillehammer. Ukrainian ski acrobatics is very similar to a girl of marriageable age who still can not tie the knot with a pedestal and do not turn the Olympic rings into engagement.

Still the best Olympics for our women’s team remains Nagano-1998. There are four representatives from Ukraine made it to the final Top 12. Tatiana Kozachenko stopped in a step from a pedestal, Alla Tsuper in two. Julia Klokova and Elena UNIC took eighth and tenth places respectively. As for the stronger sex while no one managed to surpass the fifth place Stanislav Kravchuk of the sample salt lake city 2002. Although in fairness, we note that four years ago in Sochi, Alexander Abramenko was very close, finishing in sixth place. Pity, then in the Grand final were only four participants, not all six, as it will be in Pyeongchang.

With 29-year-old athlete from Nikolaev are connected and our main hopes for the Games in 2018. Although, in principle, the complexity of the program allows you to dream about the podium and the second Ukrainian participant Olga Polyuk. But for this 30-year-old freestylist from Exactly need to be pure to perform their jumps, but this can cause problems. As for Abramenko, when and quality, and the coefficient of difficulty is not prohibitive, as the double world champion Chinese Qi Guangpu or Olympic champion Sochi Anton Kushnir, but sufficient in order to intervene in the dispute over the award of the Olympics.

I’d like to hope that Enver Ablaev, for whom this will be the fifth Game overall and first as a coach of the national team of Ukraine will be able together with the wards to ensure that did not happen in his time he himself and his generation. Because, sadly to say, but in Pyeongchang in 2018 we have set a record for our office in Olympic ski acrobatics and while in sight of new Abramenko. God willing, we are mistaken and they are in four years, there will be still some excitement in the sport blew from the Bukovel. But all that was done, or should I say not done before, in terms of the development and its infrastructure, clearly contributed to the influx of new staff and the old we, as experience shows, to protect and not learned.

Our neighbors-Belarusians have the patience not to write off in circulation Alla Tsuper and Anton Kushnir. And they waited that the natives of Ukraine made for them a Golden double in Sochi. Okay for Kushnir this was the third Olympics, but for Tsuper – fifth (!) And both are again eager to fight for medals in Pyeongchang.

While our management policy at the time led to the fact that one of the most successful freestylers of the Ukrainian Stanislav Kravchuk ended his career at 34. To Pyeongchang, he would, of course, hardly took the leap, but to compete in Sochi could, the main thing I wanted, just as our only medalist of the world championship Olga Volkova.


As for the other sports in Sochi 2014 we can count on a high place in ski racing. But I guess our hopes finally sunk into oblivion and Requiem for him was a defeat to sixth in the career of the legendary Olympic games Valentina Shevchenko, although it would hardly have claimed there is even in the Top 10. That Alexander Putsko and four of his players, who still come to Korea’s Pyeongchang, will do everything, to show a good result, no doubt. The only question is, what their capabilities are.

Some media reported that we missed the tickets to Korea due to the fact that the international ski Federation (FIS) has granted licenses to a number of “exotic” countries at the expense of the overall quota. But this is true only partly. Because Bermuda, Ecuador, Pakistan, Togo, etc no license is not provided, they won by completing the criteria (no more than 100 FIS points) or B (no more than 300). Another issue is that the number of potential Olympians of the more unusual countries has increased in recent years and thus become the number of 310, and this is exactly the quota of the ski racing Game has become more difficult. And if in our ski economy in the near future will change nothing, as if we ourselves soon became Olympic exotic.

Against this background, just amazing looks our office in six people in Luge, where we not only lost in quantitative terms, but also wrote a new page in history, delegating men in a single sled on the second Game. Before Sochi we competed only among women and in twos. Yes, on those results, as was at one time the Lilies Are, and Natalia Yakushenko, the current generation can only dream of. But let us note that the above mentioned athletes hardening received in the Soviet era, and the team of Taras Garzuly – it is a modern product, and grown in the absence of at least approaching international standards alignment in Ukraine.

In these kinds of as skiing and Nordic combined, and perhaps to a lesser extent in snowboarding (annamari Dance still repeatedly called in the Top 16 at the world Cup and are familiar with the podium Universiade), for us the main thing not victory, and participation, and Vladislav Geraskevich – the first and currently the country’s only athletes, participation is already a victory.

Sad that the second Olympics in a row we have his athlete in this spectacular sport like ski jumping, where we sometimes even three participants sent. And it’s a shame that unlike Sochi-2014 will not be presented in short track. Our young generation, which in this cycle finally took the torch from the veterans who just can not, in existing circumstances, to compete with rivals, whose number is as the popularity of the sport, in recent years has grown significantly.

33 athletes in nine sports – a record for Ukraine at the Winter Olympics. Certainly there are fans who say, figure in the column of the coin is much more important than how many participants we have. After all, quantity does not always mean quality. So it is true, but without first second in high performance sport, too, is difficult to achieve. Such talents as Oksana Baiul born once in fifty years, and that they need soil to grow in these great athletes, and we want Olympic medals every four years. And for that, we should at least start to properly dispose of the fact that we still have.

Anna SAVCHIK, Sport-Express in Ukraine

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