The reactions from within Russia to Evgenia Medvedeva’s announcement on May 7 that she had left her longtime coach Eteri Tutberidze and was moving to Toronto to train with Brian Orser were varied, but all are supportive of her decision. Medvedeva′s move is possibly the first time in history an elite Russian skater has moved abroad to train with a non-Russian coach. 


“Now I will live and train in North America,” said Medvedeva. “As for the change of sports citizenship, it’s absolute nonsense. All the normal and sane people understand perfectly well that it does not concern me. I will live in Canada. I just have to change my place of residence for an indefinite period. I want a long career, and it is because of this that such changes in my life are taking place. You do not know how much I’m feeling now, I have more motivation than ever before.

“I am not afraid of moving to Canada and I will not be uncomfortable there. I hope that my English will allow me to communicate normally.”

“I want to wish further development and prosperity to Eteri Georgievna’s group and once again say thank you for 11 valuable years of my life. I hope that as time will pass everyone will understand that this was the only possible option for both of us to continue to work honestly.” RFSF

Alexander Gorshkov, the president of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, told RIA Novosti that Medvedeva decided herself to move to Canada to train with Brian Orser. Medvedeva will soon relocate to North America, but will continue to skate for Russia. “This is Zhenya′s decision. She’s an adult, and she had time to think things over. She came to the final decision,” Gorshkov said.

Brian Orser: Medvedeva wrote to Orser about her intention to change coaches on April 2. 

“When Medvedeva first contacted me I was in complete shock…but it’s great that she will fly half way around the world to come to me. She told me that she wanted to change (coaches), but she did not say why. I immediately respected her as soon as she said, ‘I do not want to say anything bad about my current coaches.’

“The main thing that she needs right now is her own voice in figure skating. We have already discussed music for the programs and directions in which we want to go. She did not have that luxury before. Medvedeva told me that she wants to win the Olympics. I said, ‘Always keep it in your head, but that does not mean that we have to win all the championships on the way to this.’ This is an important message for everyone who wants to know Medvedeva’s goals. I want everyone to know this. This is where our efforts will be directed.”

Reactions from inside Russia:

Alexei Mishin:

“There is such an uncertain situation right now. There are divorces bringing happiness to both parting people, there are divorces that do not bring happiness to both, and other divorces bring happiness to one person. I think that now the correct position is to take it calmly. We do not lose anyone, we have decent athletes. Brian Orser showed himself as a high-class specialist, so we need to take this calmly and to some extent sympathize with Evgenia, who is now in a very difficult situation.”

Tatiana Tarasova: Tutberidze should not have talked about Medvedeva as a traitor:

“He (Orser) is an outstanding coach, very successful in recent years. He trains Olympic champions, champions of Europe. Just like we have Tutberidze, Orser is a world-class coach. As a person who has seen a lot in my life and has gone through many things, I can say that something must have happened, since such a serious transition has occurred. I can understand the athletes, they must think about themselves. They have a short life in sports. Any outstanding coach if he takes an outstanding athlete — and Zhenya is an outstanding athlete, who was brought up Tutberidze — certainly has a serious plan for their development. I cannot understand what happened. I do not know, I can only guess, and doing so in such a situation is wrong.”

Evgeni Plushenko: Medvedeva′s cooperation with Canadian coach can bring good results:

“…the athlete felt that it would be more comfortable for her to train with another coach. I do not rule out that a very good result can be achieved.”

Maxim Trankov: Medvedeva did not want to repeat the path of Lipnitskaya, so she left Tutberidze:

I understand why Zhenya Medvedeva took such a decision. She wants to continue her sports career, because Medvedev, as a champion, a great champion. As history shows, in the group of Eteri Georgievna with the appearance of a new star, the last star becomes unnecessary. At first there was Polina Shelepen, who was all praised, but she always won. Then Lipnitskaya appeared, and Shelepen became useless to anyone. The same story happened to Julia Lipntsika, when Zhenya Medvedeva appeared. Now Tutberidze had Alina Zagitova … Zhenya simply does not want to repeat the path of her predecessors and finish her career, so she took the only right decision for herself — to try to extend her career in another team.Now Tutberidze had Alina Zagitova … Zhenya simply does not want to repeat the path of her predecessors and finish her career, so she took the only right decision for herself — to try to extend her career in another team.

Alexander Zhulin: I know that Tutberidze wanted Medvedeva’s victory in the Olympics:

“Of course, there could be a grudge. After all, this is the relationship between the student and the mentor. But it is wrong to express dissatisfaction with the fact that Tutberidze did not leave Zagitova in juniors. The coach does not choose. She has students, but their age does not play a key role. At the same time, Eteri wanted Medvedeva to win at the Olympic Games. I know this from personal conversation. It would be more correct and fair. But competition can not be cancelled.”

Ekaterina Bobrova said she would support any decision made by her friend:

“Together we skate for the Russian team — we are friends, and I will support any Zhenya decision. This is a sensible woman, whom I absolutely support in all undertakings, no matter what choice she makes in life. I do not consider this step of Zhenya as correct or wrong. It’s her life and she does what she thinks is right. I can not blame anyone. This decision was taken by no means by Evgenia alone. Some meetings and discussions with the federation, and with her mother and grandmother, who have been watching her skating all her life. It was not so that Zhenya woke up in the morning and took this decision. Of course, it was not easy for her, but, nonetheless, it was accepted. It only remains to wish Evgenia to conquer even higher sports peaks. I support her and wish her good luck. I’ve been to Canada often and will come again with pleasure, this time visiting Zhenya, if she invites me.”

Alena Leonova:

“It seems to me that no one will ever know the truth about what actually happened, but since Zhenya expressed the decision to leave for, as far as I know, Brian Orser, it means she was better. The athlete always does what is best for him/her. I think that Evgenia did not just wake up one day and say: ‘I do not want to train with Tutberidze anymore. I′ll go to Canada!'”

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva:

“I love this trainer, his system of work. Orser is a very good option, he is one of the best coaches. As a person, he is also wonderful.”

Maria Butyrskaya:

“Figure skating is a sport in which the athlete and coach have no contracts. As an athlete, I understand Zhenya. For skaters it happens that the limit is reached and it is necessary to change the conditions, to take a breath of fresh air…but as a coach, I feel very sorry for Eteri Tutberidze. So many years, so much energy she gave to Evgenia. She did not have one athlete for so long. Therefore, it is very difficult for me to be on someone’s side in this situation. Evgenia did not just take this decision. I do not even know to whom she could go in our country, because Tutberidze is the leader in our figure skating.”

Ilya Averbukh:

“I do not like Orser’s comments, using a political underpinning…that poor Zhenya did not have the right to vote, that she was so unhappy — she was following only the directions of the coach. I have been the director of Medvedeva’s program for four years, so I’ll see what he will do as a choreographer. Zhenya was always present in the productions, her opinion always influenced the program. If Orser wants to raise the topic once again, that the Russians are robots, and they are so free, then I would answer him so.″