A promising Russian junior changed her citizenship. Georgia takes talent from us again
13-year-old Inga Gurgenidze learned the triple Axel in Kazan, but she will shine with it playing for Georgia. Big loss for Russia?
In the ranks of the Georgian national figure skating team, another replenishment from the rich bins of Russia. Anastasia Gubanova was joined under the Georgian flag by her junior colleague Inga Gurgenidze. In the new season, the 13-year-old figure skater enters the junior level, which means she will be able to participate in international competitions. One of the first such starts for her will be the Grand Prix stage, which she would hardly have gone to, representing Russia.
But Inga has a triple axel in her jump set. Is Russia really losing a promising athlete?
Newly made trixelist from Tatarstan
Inga Gurgenidze is still a very young figure skater, she turned 13 in April. She trains at the Kazan sports school of the Olympic reserve under the guidance of Lyudmila Gafarova. Last season, she won the championship of the city of Kazan in her age category and qualified for the championship of Russia among juniors. She failed to break through to the top in the fiercest competition with the strongest pupils of Moscow and St. Petersburg clubs. However, the very participation in this start is a significant achievement for Inga. Despite the 15th result out of 18 participants, she was ahead of the already very famous single skater Anastasia Zinina, who then trained at Plushenko’s Angels.
But the main success of Inga is the execution of the triple axel. She tried an element of increased complexity during the Kazan Cup final in April this year. The jump was credited to her and awarded with decent allowances, which for a skater from the region is akin to a true breakthrough.
Having mastered the ultra-si element, Inga could try to move further by moving to Moscow or St. Petersburg under the wing of a more eminent coach. But she found a different path in building a career and changed not school and mentor, but sports citizenship. From now on, Inga will perform under the flag of Georgia and will immediately prove herself at the junior stage of the Grand Prix in Riga.
If she had remained a Russian junior, she would hardly have been able to reach the international level.
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What will Russia lose from the departure of Gurgenidze?
Inga’s choice for the Georgian national team was not accidental. From her father, she just inherited Georgian roots. This is evidenced by her first name and surname. True, she acquired the last one only a year ago: before that, she skated like Inga Nikitina.
Photo: Channel One broadcast frame
In the Georgian national team, Inga has excellent chances to get to the Junior World Championship and become the leader of the national team in the future. But you should not worry that she changed sports citizenship. We have more than enough talented girls, and the study of ultra-si elements is now almost an obligatory stage of preparation for them.
Gurgenidze last season earned good grades at the starts, broke through the mark of 200 points in the sum of both programs, but was still far from the students of Tutberidze, Plushenko’s hope Sofya Muravyova and the main star of CSKA Sofya Samodelkina. Inga’s performances are good, but she takes prizes in Russia only at little-known tournaments. So Russia has nothing to lose from her transfer to the Georgian national team.
Just another one of our single skaters decided to take the chance to build a brighter career than the conditions of huge competition at home suggest.
And this is absolutely normal.
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Georgia is not the first time takes Russian figure skaters
This is not the first time that the Georgian figure skating team has been strengthened by Russian athletes. Moreover, the leaders there are precisely the skaters who skated for Russia in the past. Maurice Kvitelashvili, who was born and trains in Moscow with Tutberidze, regularly provides Georgia with something to be proud of. At the Beijing Olympics, he closed the top ten, and at the 2022 World Championships he stopped a step away from the podium, becoming fourth.
Parents Karina Safina and Luka Berulava, who train with Pavel Slyusarenko in Perm, brought gold to Georgia at the World Junior Championship this year. The dance duet of Maria Kazakova and Georgiy Revia also performed well at junior competitions and is now gradually making its way through the queue for adults.
But the most successful acquisition was definitely 19-year-old Anastasia Gubanova. Thanks to her sixth place at the 2022 World Championships, Georgia received the right to bring two single skaters to the next world championship. And there, you see, together with Alina Urushadze, they will get the third quota – just for the newly minted colleague Inga Gurgenidze.
Photo: Matthew Stockman/Getty Images
True, for a start, Inge needs to wait for the end of her junior career. Due to the increase in the age limit, she will only be able to do this in the 2026/2027 season.
It will take a long time to wait, but this expectation will pass for her at international competitions, and not in hopeless attempts to break into the top three of the strongest juniors in Russia.