Vladimir Malakhov and Oksana Kazakova gave it their best, but it wasn't enough. At least in the eyes of the judges.
The former NHL defenceman coupled with the 1998 Olympic champion to compete in season four of Battle of The Blades
and were eliminated from the competition following Sunday's event. One week after winning a skate off to remain alive in the event, their number was finally up.
And they weren't too happy about it.
"It was the judges," Malakhov complained. "Everything belonged to the judges. We did the best we can and it comes down to what the judges think."
Kazakova added, "Figure skating judges know the hardest part of skating, but they didn't pay attention to this. I don't know why."
Malakhov parlayed being picked in the 10th round of the 1989 NHL Entry Draft into a 13-year NHL career during which he scored 86 goals and 346 points in 712 games with the New York Islanders, Rangers, Montreal Canadiens, New Jersey Devils and Philadelphia Flyers. Kazakova and her partner Artur Dmitriev won a gold medal at the 1998 Winter Olympics.New respect
Malakhov was always a wonderful skater in the NHL, but swapping his hockey skates for figure skates gave him a greater appreciation for his partner's skating ability.
"It was tough at the beginning," Malakhov said. "It was a great experience. I learned a lot of things including how to skate with a partner. You have to take care of your partner. It was hard work, but it was lots of fun."
For her part, Kazakova was impressed with her partner's progression.
"I can say he can skate in the exhibition before Sochi," joked Kazakova.
"No! I'm done! No more! No more figure skating; that's it!" responded the former NHLer.
"I thought he skated very well," Kazakova said. "He did some very hard stuff. He did things that were hard for skaters and he practiced just one month. Now I feel like I am skating with a figure skating partner and not with a hockey player. I am Olympic skater so I can say this."
Both Malakhov and Kazakova said they will be heading home to Russia now that they are out of the competition. From there Malakhov said he'll look for a warm vacation spot because, as he said, "I need to recuperate from this competition."
He scoffed at the idea of becoming a figure skating teacher in Russia.
"No thank you," he said. "I'll stick with hockey."
Kazakova piped up, "I can teach hockey players now."
Six teams remain alive in Battle of The Blades.
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