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    Breaks the roof: Valieva is in great shape for the first time since the Olympics

    Olympic champion Kamila Valieva is in the lead after the short program at the Grand Prix stage in Moscow. Sports states that the figure skater has gained optimal shape for the first time since the Olympic Games in Beijing.

    They say that you can’t win with a short program in figure skating – you can only lose. This phrase is loved by skaters, coaches, commentators, fans and in general everyone who is somehow connected with this sport. And so often that it has already become a kind of rule – unspoken, of course, but no less significant.

    However, there are exceptions to any rule, especially when we talk about Kamila Valieva. Perhaps, even in her current form, our Olympic champion is capable of winning just that with a short program – well, or at least getting close to it. At the final stage of the season, the Grand Prix in Moscow, she received 81.27 points for her short run, breaking away from her closest pursuer Sofia Muravyova by a decent distance (76.67). Of course, it’s too early to talk about anything more than an intermediate lead, especially since two weeks earlier Muravyova had already beaten Valieva at the stage in Kazan, just based on the results of the free program. And yet, several conclusions about Kamila are already emerging.

    Probably the key one is that she has changed a lot. By the time Moscow arrived, Kamila visually became much lighter and clearer, and there is a feeling that she hasn’t been in such excellent physical shape since the Olympic season. It’s hard to imagine how much effort the champion had to put in for such transformations in such a short time. There is a feeling that now even the most picky critics will not be able to blame her for being unaesthetic – from the outside, the presentation of the program, the positions in the rotations, and even Camila’s makeup looked luxurious.

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    Obviously, the problem of competitive fitness, which Camila herself previously spoke about, is not so acute now. An actual confirmation of this can be the return of the triple Lutz – triple toe loop cascade to the end of the program. At the beginning of the season, she was not given such content, but now, it seems, there are no difficulties with it.

    It would probably be too optimistic to talk about its complete resolution – such global things are not developed in a couple of weeks, so to demand from her a perfect free program now would be something selfish and even stupid on our part. Probably, for Valieva herself and the team of Eteri Tutberidze, the stages of the Russian Grand Prix will be something like a stage of preparation for the main tournament of the season – the national championship, and if the gain in form continues in accordance with the current schedule, in Chelyabinsk she will have every chance to regain her title lost due to sanctions.

    True, Camila may face an interesting obstacle on the way to this. Or, more precisely, not an obstacle, but a difficulty, which until quite recently was downright impossible to imagine. At both stages of the Russian Grand Prix this year, she received just over 81 points for clean short programs (81.09 in Kazan and 81.27 in Moscow) – and this despite a radical change in style, which took place without any particular rough edges.
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    Probably, taken out of context, Kamila’s points, given the absence of a triple Axel in the application so far, look more than worthy. However, last year, for comparable performances of the short program, which is not to say that the quality of production was superior to the current one, it received more than 83 points (83.92 and 83.30, to be more precise). And the scores with the triple axel threatened to completely break through the roof of the ice arena and fly somewhere towards the world record, if not higher.

    But that's then. Now the judges seem to have, if not completely cooled off towards Kamila, then definitely cooled down a little. In Moscow, for example, the champion had only one mistake – a small breakdown of the twizzle section on the step sequence (though not noted in the protocol), but otherwise, by all visual indications, this was Camila’s best performance of the season. The same Camila, whom commentators during competitions introduce about 10 times more often than all other participants combined. That Kamila, without whom the federation would have an additional headache when attracting people to the stands.

    Taking into account the current experience, we can officially state the recognition of the judges and bosses of our figure skating that last season Kamila, as they say , supported and motivated in every possible way – nothing else can explain such a difference in points. And since this season, support seems to have decreased. And no, this does not mean that Camila is being judged. On the contrary, with the current judging, the competitive environment in women's single skating has noticeably improved, and Valieva's scores themselves are good and more than deserved.

    In such situations, it becomes very unfortunate that there is no public practice in figure skating review of refereeing with responsible persons. At least in this case, it would be very interesting to listen to the explanations of competent people.

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