Unsuccessful home trampoline
By Ivan Rafalsky
Belarusian athletes have been left without medals at the home stage of the World Cup, hosted by Raubichi. “The team performed in line with its state of readiness,” notes the head coach of the Belarusian national team, Nikolay Kozeko. He explains that, despite pre-season training being almost thwarted, the aerial skiers did well, and were in with a chance of several medals.
Anton Kushnir — the top aerialist of 2010 and the last year’s World Cup champion (held for the first time at Raubichi Sports Complex) — was suffering from an injury received on the eve of the World Cup first stage. His season has been less than successful, only managing bronze in January; it hardly serves as grounds for Olympic hopes. In Raubichi, Kushnir gave his all. To reach the final, a less difficult programme would have been sufficient. However, Anton wished to perform brilliantly at home and, as the result of a fall, finished 17th overall.
Dmitry Dashchinsky and Denis Osipov managed to almost repeat last year’s performance, when two Belarusians claimed medals (Osipov being one). This time, Osipov arrived in Raubichi with an impressive group of fans and a strong desire to win. He came third in the qualification round but failed to find a place among the top four in the finals. “The wind was against me,” he sighs. “Moreover, the snow was too soft and wet, making the skis slide badly; it was difficult to calculate speed.”
Criticising the weather hardly changes the situation, as every skier had their own battle against fitful wind, rain and loose, sticky snow. It was especially frustrating for Dashchinsky — the most experienced athlete on the Belarusian team, who was unrivalled in the qualification round, claiming first place. He had a good chance of going through to the super-finals at the very least but, alas, lost his balance during landing and ended in 9th place.
“There was a gust of wind and, as I lacked speed, I had to accelerate by twisting; it was just bad luck,” mused Dmitry, after his poor landing. “The whole team has done less than brilliantly this season; even in the preliminary stage, we failed to practise well triple somersaults — as needed for the World Cup rounds. Thankfully, there is no World Championship or Winter Olympics this season, so many leading skiers have been absent.”
The head coach of the Belarusian team hasn’t lost optimism though, blaming thwarted pre-season training for most of the team’s failure during the home stage, alongside tricky and unpredictable weather conditions. Moreover, financial difficulties have curtailed training and an unexpected visa problem made them miss two stages of the World Cup in Canada.
“I don’t want to find excuses for the performance of our Belarusian athletes; moreover, there’s nothing to excuse,” noted Mr. Kozeko, speaking on the slopes even before the press conference. “The team is experiencing a shift of generations; it isn’t painless, so swings in results are inevitable. We performed in a way fitting with our training. Our leaders’ failure to earn medals is due to a host of reasons — on which we’ll be working. Meanwhile, young Denis Osipov and Anna Guskova are just one step from the super-finals, so we have hopes that, next season, we may perform more successfully at the World Championships and at the Olympic Games in Sochi in 2014.”
Next year, Raubichi will be welcoming the world’s top aerial freestyle skiers again. Eddy Glenn, the FIS Technical Delegate, and Reinhard Krampfl, FIS Race Director, attended the event. They agreed that, despite difficult weather conditions, the organisers had managed to hold the World Cup stage at a very high level. “We’re truly impressed with the organisation,” admitted the guests. “The illumination around the run was especially spectacular. Next year, the World Cup round will be again hosted by Minsk and it would be wonderful to organise a competition at night. It would be a very spectacular show!”