Swedish skater Adrian Schultheiss and long-time coach Evgeni Lutkov have gone their separate ways, Schultheiss tells me.
You may remember the scene from the short program at Skate America when Adrian walked around in the kiss and cry looking extremely confused without his coach or a team leader. Schultheiss says that it wasn't uncommon in the past for Lutkov to miss at least part of the off-ice warm-up, but he started to worry when Evgeni still hadn't shown up towards the end of the six-minute warm-up on the ice. He does recall in his earlier skating days that his coach would show up late to a practice session and then tell the skater that it was just a test to see if he would continue working without him. Confused about whether his coach was somewhere in the arena or just running late, Adrian made the decision to skate the short program. We later learned that Lutkov had blacked out in his hotel room and was found by security after Schultheiss told competition organizers of his absence directly after he skated. The coach woke up startled by the whole incident, and at the strong advice of Schultheiss, finally called 911 after an hour of insisting that he did not need to be examined. The doctors suggested that he be kept overnight for observation.
Lutkov was released the next day and was able to attend the free skate with Schultheiss, and he very kindly thanked the American doctors and others for their help while sitting in the kiss and cry area.
However, directly following the competition, things started to get shaky. Lutkov grew distant and told his pupil that he needed a rest from "big" figure skating for two weeks, which would be understandable given his health situation. There were no words exchanged between the two on an awkward plane ride back to Sweden, and to make matters worse, Schultheiss was informed by other officials from his skating club that Lutkov had actually gone to Finland to host a skating camp for some of the country's top skaters in the time that he was taking his "break". Schultheiss had two planned competitions coming up in a few weeks (the NRW Trophy in Germany and then his own National Championship), so obviously this was a slap in the face.
Schultheiss says that over the years, like with anyone you are around so much, there were plenty of disagreements and arguments between the two, and even with some of Lutkov's family. He knew that if he was going to continue to be happy with his skating, he needed to make a change. He now works with Maria Bergqvist and Johanna Dalstrand and says he feels very happy about the new set-up, but will unfortunately skip the NRW Trophy due to a groin injury and focus on making Nationals a success. His placements at the 2010 European and World Championships give two spots to Swedish men for this seasons competitions.