feats of athletic excellence
When it comes to women's figure skating, Russian Olympians are leading the pack.
"Honestly, the Russians are so far ahead when it comes to base values, nobody will probably beat them," former Olympian Adam Rippon told The New York Times. "That's just the hard truth of where skating is right now."
But why, exactly?
Much of Russia's dominance has to do with its skaters' outsized ability to land quadruple jumps, which are incredibly difficult to execute and therefore worth more in points, even when landed imperfectly. Though a doping scandal concerning superstar skater Kamila Valieva — who recently became the first woman ever to land a quad jump in the Olympics — has cast a shadow over Russian competitors, it's true they nonetheless have other advantages in the world of quadruple jump execution.
For one, Russia's Olympic sports "on an elite level are government-funded, so athletes don't have to pay for coaches or time on the ice or off-ice training — or anything," writes the Times. That access to coaching thus "benefits those learning the hardest skills."
In the U.S., for instance, where elite coaching runs about $100 an hour, athletes often pay a fraction of that and practice on their own the rest of the time.
Not to mention many Russian women often have "the perfect body type for quads," former movement science professor Jim Richards told the Times.
"They're skinny, and the skinnier they are, the faster they can spin," Richards said. "Of course they have to be athletes, but being able to do a quad is partly about physical attributes."
With quads worth more in base value, Russians have successfully "gone out of their way" to use the jumps to their competitive advantage, the Times adds, per former Olympian Tara Lipinski. Read more at The New York Times.