Since the 2014 Winter Games kicked off on February 7 in Russia’s resort city of Sochi, journalists from a number of western media, which included Belgium’s La Derniere Heure, New York Daily news and some others, called women from the Russian curling team as the most beautiful athletes at the current Olympics. The reports also carried attached pictures of curlers from various provocative photo sessions.
“When everything was only beginning we were of course delighted and a bit embarrassed,” Galkina said commenting on the reports, but added that now the curlers are “fed up” with such questions.
“We want to be treated more seriously and, first of all, we want to be considered as athletes and want our sports achievements to be taken into account,” Galkina said.
“Last year we won the European Championship. We are not the team, which has achieved nothing at all. Obviously, some of the competitions go the wrong way, but it must not be the pretext to focus on some things, which can be really intimidating for people.”
At the Winter Olympics in Sochi, which runs through February 23, the Russian women curling team lost six out of nine games they played and dropped out of the race for the medals.
Galkina admitted that of the team’s players posed for photo sessions in some of the magazines, but said she viewed it as one of the ways to popularize sports and particularly curling.
“Yes, we have accepted some of the proposals and posed for pictures here and there, but we never crossed the certain line,” she said. “I do not consider it to be a negative fact that we appear in articles, interviews and that are pictures frequent the covers of magazines. I see nothing terrible about it, since it does not interfere with our training or competition processes.”
For instance, she said, someone sees a picture of Russian team’s skip player Anna Sidorova, then figures out that she is a curler, wonders what the curling is about and eventually gets into learning the rules of the sport.
“This [photo sessions] may lead to a positive chain reaction, however it is not the main tool [to popularize curling],” Galkina said
Sidorova, 23, posed for a series of photo sessions, which included the one for the Russian version of the world men’s magazine Maxim, and her pictures frequently supplied western media reports about the beauty of the Russian women curlers.
However, in an interview published by the New York Daily News a week ago, Sidorova voiced the same opinion as her teammate Galkina did.
“They must appreciate we’re professional sportsmen first, then girls. I like people to say, ‘This is good curler,’” the daily quoted Sidorova as saying and added that the Russian curler spoke “solid English.”
The daily also cited one of the players from the US curling team, which the Russians defeated 7-9 at the start of the Olympics, as backing Galkina’s opinion that media publicity of the Russian curlers is one of the ways to popularize curling.
“The more media coverage they get, the more it exposes people to our sport,” the daily quoted US curling team skip player Erika Brown as saying.