Aleah Finnegan continues elite representing Philippines

I used to wait tables and bartend at a pub in Avon, CT. We used to get in dozens of Russian Ukrainian, Bosnian, and Japanese skaters who all trained at the International Skating Center of Connecticut in Simsbury, a neighbor to Avon. Oksana Baiul trained there for a bit before her retirement. Many juniors and up and comers trained there along with some US amateurs. I don’t remember who made up the coaching team, but the same coaches would come in with their athletes and there would be a Japanese translater and a Russian (I think) translater in the group. It was hialrious to watch them eat buffalo wings, onion rings, potato skins, and nachos for the first time.

They always tipped extremely well and were always super courteous.
Right before I quit, one of the Ukrainian female skaters worked as a host part time to help support her host family. She was 18 so not a junior any more but she had been either the novice champion or silver medalist. She was sent to the US to train as a junior. It didn’t work out and so she continued skating as a senior but was never going to be competitive in Ukraine, so she stayed in the US. The host family allowed her to stay pending she have a visa, attend university, and pay rent. She showed us documentation, photos, and news articles of her novice success in Ukraine.

She was a horrible host though since English was a challenge for her. She quadruple sat me (including a party of 10) and I nearly killed her for it. My last memory of her was my “I quit!” party held at my condo. I invited everyone, never thinking Olga would end up showing up. The last time I saw her was at this party and my most favorite memory.
Olga funneled her first ever beer! Apparently she was quite the mess at work the next day and ended up getting fired a week or so after because she just couldn’t do the job well. Poor girl. Hope everything worked out for her.


I am sure you are thinking of Galina Zmievskaya, who coached both Victor Petrenko and Oksana Baiul to their gold medals before they all moved to the US. I believe she coached Japanese champion Takeshi Honda early in his career. She eventually moved to New Jersey, where she coached Elene Gedevanashvili and Stephan Lambiel around 2007, and Johnny Weir after he switched coaches. She also coaches Dave Lease of TSL/Aunt Joyce fame.

I have no idea which coach it was as there were several that came in.
It makes sense that she moved around 2007 as I left that job in 2006. The ISCC was huge in the late 90s and early 2000s but it then started to decline and the rink itself started to fall into disrepair as it was neglected. They have new owners now that are trying to revitalize it.
I have only been to that area maybe once or twice since 2006.

Lizzy LeDuc also competed for the Philippines in 2015.

Also the fact that Belarus went with two American gymnasts who didn’t even meet the elite qualification is a little perplexing. They could have gone with the ones who did make the qualifying score but fell short of making the National Team or one of the C-team tier gymnasts.


Does anyone have a link to scores/results for this?

I don’t think the gym had anyone who met that category

2015 was a smaller field than 2019-2021, but there were definitely better options than those two who were not in worlds contention, but I think Akopyan was familiar with the Belarusian coaches which is why both his athletes were chosen to represent Belarus. It was easier than trying to get Lauren Navarro, Sabrina Vega, Marissa Oakley or Emily Schild for example.

As well as that, I forget the specifics but I’m sure someone said those were the two highest finishers at US Classic who hadn’t done something that would’ve made it harder for them to switch. Possibly been on a US team already? Ie that there was a logic to it when factoring in easy availability as well as scoring potential. Sorry, that’s not very specific.

The whole thing definitely had strong back of a fag packet calculations after someone opened the 4th bottle of wine energy, though.

The story at the time was that it was precipitated by the coach at their gym who had links to Nelli Kim . There was a huge financial commitment as they had to self fund to worlds and the olympics. Those 2 gymnasts had families who could afford it. Nothing to do with their scores or placements in the US although they were clearly never going to represent the US. Buying an olympic spot is clearly very distasteful and I feel they probably regretted it after the huge backlash they had. The one who went on to compete at Rio did so on very watered down routines I remember - possibly only a full twist on floor. I actually feel sorry for the girls as they can’t have anticipated what it really meant and it must be a terrible burden to carry round being known as those two American girls who bought a way into the Olympics.

There is an easy way to prevent this. Joint nationality holders can compete for either country as they wish. Anyone wanting to change to a new country that they don’t hold dual nationality for (or familial ties) must give up their first citizenship and nationality. Those American girls would clearly not have given up American citizenship because they are American.


2 posts were merged into an existing topic: 2022 Southeast Asian Games (SEA) May 15-19

That’s kind of what happened. But the intention was never that they would go to the Olympics for Belarus.

The reason the plan was drawn up in the first place was that Belarus had a very promising junior, who wouldn’t turn senior until 2016. The idea was that they’d use the American gymnasts to earn an Olympic berth to use for her. I can’t remember what happened, but she never made it, and Kylie Dickson was left with the Olympic spot. And what gymnast was ever going to give that up.

What’s strange though is that they didn’t draft in 2nd or 3rd tier Russians, which is what happens across the board in Belarusian sports


Whats crazy is that Belarus would go for two AOGC athletes who weren’t even good enough to make AA lineups in NCAA.

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Was it the girl with the double scorpion spin? Ex rhythmic gymnast? Elizabetta something.

No. She’s Bulgarian

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This statement isn’t 100% accurate.
Kwan competed all events in her career (I am not sure if she ever did AA officially or if a few events were exhibition) but she injured herself after freshman year and the decision was made for her to specialize on vault and bars in order to preserve her body.
Kylie Dickson was slated to compete AA at Alabama but she injured herself before getting to Alabama (IIRC she was injured leading up to the Olympics) and was never fully able to recover. She did vault a few times but pretty much specialized on vault.

In NCAA there are actually relatively few athletes that actually train and compete AA. Most end up specializing on events.

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