Irina Zhuk: A month before the 2018 Games, they already got their uniforms and were so happy.
Alexander Svinin: Irina and I were out for the Russian Junior Championships when we got a call from Moscow and heard the news.
Irina Zhuk: I don’t remember the next three hours cause to be honest, the only moment in my life worse than that was when my mom died.
Elena (Ivan’s Mom): Well, what a tragedy! I thought I was gonna have a heart attack. I was crying so hard... And then Andrei came back from the shop and said; “I already know. You have to stop crying. Vanya will be here soon. You should collect yourself!”
Ivan: When I found out that I was not allowed to participate in the 2018 Games, I was just in shock. It was hard to get over it. I was driving when I heard the news and I just stopped in the middle of the road. I asked: “How? What is the reason?” And the response was: “They didn’t say anything, they just sent a letter to the federation stating you are not allowed to go.” I was very upset and ashamed for my partner and coaches. I drove to the nearest gas station in shock and bought myself some water. The day was very sunny and warm, even though it was February. I stood and silently drank some water. The hours after that was very painful, endless calls from different people. It was a really tough time but we decided for ourselves to move forward, this is not the end of life.
Alexandra: I remember people saying: “Don’t be hard on Vanya for that, okay?” And I was like: “What’s wrong with you people?” Or they would ask: “So now you’re gonna dance with another partner, right?” And I thought: “Gosh, what the heck!”
Irina Zhuk: We were absolutely not ready for the rejection of Vanya. That day will remain a black day for us on the calendar. We have been coaching them for more than a decade. They are like children to us. Sasha’s behavior after learning of the situation definitely struck me. She turned out to be stronger than me on that day. It was more difficult for Vanya since his name was the one that appeared on the list. It was really sad to witness, considering what a positive person he is.
Natalia Bestemianova: You know, whatever happens, happens for the best. All this has strengthened them and it is why they have completely transformed into stronger spirits.
Alexandra: l think you should live through hard times to finally get what you deserve. I’m a really weird person! (laughs)
Andrei Bukin: They became more mature, they started to skate better, with more soul, with better technique, and I hope the judges notice that.
@worms.forbrains(any pronouns): well I don’t have a pole, but I have a skateboard 😈
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Tiktok creator worms.forbrains skating and singing along to the song “Montero (Call Me By Your Name)” by Lil Nas X. For each line, there are seamless transitions that include outfit changes that range from feminine to masculine and everything in between.
Steven Bradbury – you know, the Australian speed skater who won gold because all of the other skaters fell down – has gotta be one of my favourite athletes for the context that most posts about him don’t mention.
Y’see, throughout his career, Bradbury’s opponents falling down had basically been his curse. He’d been skating competitively for over a decade, and in that span, he’d been knocked out of contention in major events by opponents either stumbling into him or falling in his path on at least six separate occasions. In some cases, he suffered considerably more damage than simply losing out on a medal; in one incident, a stumbling opponent’s skate-blade sliced open an artery in Bradbury’s thigh, causing him to lose four litres of blood and spend the next eighteen months in physical therapy; in another, Bradbury tripped over an opponent who’d fallen down in front of him and broke his own neck. Following the latter incident, Bradbury’s doctors told him he’d never skate again.
In spite of those warnings, Bradbury would later qualify for the 2002 Winter Olympics, though most commentators – and, by his own admission, Bradbury himself – believed that his age and the lingering effects of his past injuries made it unlikely that he’d win.
On the day of the 1000 meter short track event, it looked like those predictions would bear out. Going into the semi-finals, having made it that far only due to the disqualification of stronger competitors, Bradbury was already exhausted (it was his third event of the day), and he trailed far behind the pack. However, three of his four opponents stumbled on the final lap, allowing him to advance. In the final, Bradbury’s opponents fared even worse, becoming entangled in a massive wipeout just fifty meters short of the goal, and Bradbury was able to weave through the resulting pileup and coast to the finish line, capturing Australia’s first Winter Olympics gold.
Following the 2002 Olympics, Bradbury immediately retired.