The famous "Plushenko stare of a champion"
Elizaveta Tuktamysheva is the kind of skater I have been dying to see for a while. Ever since she made a name for herself on the junior circle, I have been a fan. Maybe it has more to do with the current state of skating than Liza herself because when I list the reasons why I love her so, it makes me all the more depressed for how alienating skating has become to the casual viewer.
1) She can really jump. My god, what a simple concept, isn't it?
She has impeccable jump technique and she brings exciting difficult content to the competitions. And imagine I have to look to a 14 year old newcomer to satiate my thirst for a ladies skater who can jump, who can execute difficult combinations and won't have me on the edge of my seat due to not knowing if they will manage to stay upright for 4-5 of the jumping passes out of the 7 in the LP. I am officially so sick and tired of seeing a skater with 3-4 triples to be crowned champion yet again, no matter how great their skating skills (somehow jumps don't count in this) are or how elegant and artistic they are.
2) She has character and panache on the ice. For me, a true artist is not the most elegant skater but the skater who brings some show, some fire, some character to the ice. Every time Liza steps on the ice, I am drawn in. Sure, she has the wooden arms in certain segments of her programmes, she forgets good posture sometimes and she is an average spinner at best. But she has the same IT factor that Plushenko had before his body completely broke. I have listened to some skating fans for years whining about Plushenko's lack of artistry, whereas I have never tired watching him skate because of that IT factor he had on the ice. He had command, excitement, attack, speed and incredible showmanship. I take that over the much cherished artistry any day and that is coming from a huge Lambiel fan.
Never loses momentum, in fact gains some towards the end
3) She actually enjoys skating. I think this is the one point hardly anyone can dispute. When watching her I don't feel like she has nothing else to do but skate or that she has lost her way in skating or that maybe she has been pushed to keep skating by her federation or parents or whatever or that she is so occupied with numbers and the mathematics of it to actually care about her performance. No, I feel her joy and it is so refreshing. I also see her commitment to perform, no matter how tacky or lacking some might find it. Just check out the final minute of her LP in the Euros last week (embedded above) and see for yourself.
Liza is my new long sought favourite. I know she probably will never be free of the prejudice that she is a Mishin skater and hence only a jump wonder with lacking artistry and skating skills but I doubt it will matter to me. After all, I have given up on justice and fair judging a long while ago, even more so under COP than in 6.0 era. But that is a hefty subject for another post..