The mer­ci­less 2022 has tak­en a toll on Russ­ian sports. But he didn’t crush it. Mass sus­pen­sions have not erased our sports heroes from the radar. On the con­trary, many con­tin­ue to delight with their achieve­ments. Let’s talk about the 20 best.

20. Anna Vyakhireva

When every­one around is talk­ing about the foot­ball Mes­si, you can’t ignore our hand­ball Mes­si. Anya has been com­pared to the great Argen­tinean for a long time, and deserved­ly so: both are Olympic cham­pi­ons, both play lead­ing roles in rep­utable Euro­pean clubs, but they have one thing in com­mon: the abil­i­ty to cre­ate the unearth­ly on the play­ing field.

Vyakhireva’s career has many awards, but one more is miss­ing — vic­to­ry at the World Cham­pi­onships. Mes­si closed the gap at the age of 35; his hand­ball embod­i­ment still has plen­ty of time (she will turn 28 on March 13).

19. Maria Lasitskene

Masha is our main ath­let­ics star. At one time, Lena Isin­bae­va was like that. And that was a time of oppor­tu­ni­ty, but now Russ­ian ath­let­ics is going through a dif­fi­cult peri­od — our ath­letes spend more time in sus­pen­sions than in inter­na­tion­al com­pe­ti­tions.

It is dif­fi­cult to say how long this peri­od of obliv­ion will last. How­ev­er, Masha does not give up, even if she did not shine in the jump­ing sec­tor last sum­mer. Her goal is the Olympics in Paris, and who knows, maybe there she will be able to repeat the Tokyo mir­a­cle.

In any case, the title of Olympic cham­pi­on can­not be tak­en away from her.

18. Svetlana Romashina

Open Sve­ta Romashina’s page on Wikipedia and look at the right col­umn of awards — the num­ber of gold dies will daz­zle your eyes. Sev­en will be ded­i­cat­ed to her vic­to­ries at the Olympic Games. Sev­en! Romashina is the most titled syn­chro­nized swim­mer in the world, and is still active.

After her vic­to­ries at the Tokyo Olympics, she sus­pend­ed her career, but has not yet com­plete­ly hung up her swim­suit. So there’s no point in rul­ing out her return to Paris—there’s enough room for new awards on her page in the online ency­clo­pe­dia.

17. Artem Dzyuba

Remain­ing the most pop­u­lar foot­ball play­er in the coun­try, even with­out play­ing foot­ball, is a unique gift wor­thy of our rat­ing. Sign­ing a con­tract with a club only to leave after three months is also some­thing of an achieve­ment.

Artem con­tin­ues his wind­ing career path. We hope that next time he will be among the best thanks to pure­ly ath­let­ic results.

16. Ian Nepomniachtchi

Nor­we­gian Carlsen has held the title of world cham­pi­on for so long that he is already tired of it — he refused to play a match with our Jan again for the chess crown. But that’s his prob­lem. Z

The goal of the best grand­mas­ter in Rus­sia is to pre­pare well for the fight for the title; in 2023 he will be opposed by the Chi­nese Ding Liren.

15. Vitalina Batsarashkina

Judg­ing by the meme “don’t try to leave Omsk,” it’s not easy to escape from the city that raised the 2‑time Olympic cham­pi­on. But, since Vitali­na shoots a pis­tol bet­ter than all the women on Earth, it’s dif­fi­cult to argue with her desires.

14. Evgeni Malkin

Malkin should have been ranked based on the his­to­ry of his nego­ti­a­tions for a new con­tract with Pitts­burgh. Just when it seemed to every­one that the 16-year rela­tion­ship was over, news came that the Cros­by-Malkin rela­tion­ship was stay­ing togeth­er.

So far, every­thing has not been in vain — Evgeniy con­tin­ues to reg­u­lar­ly score points and even caught up with Sergei Fedorov in the list of the best Russ­ian scor­ers in the his­to­ry of the League (1179). Only Ovechkin is high­er.

13. Evgeny Rylov

Let’s dilute the hock­ey play­ers with a spe­cial­ist in the liq­uid state of water. Zhenya is a top Russ­ian swim­mer. Remem­ber Alexan­der Popov? So Rylov was born in the year when he won the last, until recent­ly, Olympic gold in Russ­ian swim­ming. And he was the one who breathed new life into him. And twice.

Now the two-time Olympic cham­pi­on has start­ed exper­i­ment­ing with train­ing, but so far it’s not work­ing out very well. But the time for tri­al and error was cho­sen wise­ly — our swim­mers are still sit­ting at home.

12. Kirill Kaprizov

Kir­ill ful­ly deserves the right to be in our rank­ing and high­er. But it’s okay, we will still have the oppor­tu­ni­ty to improve — he is only in his third NHL sea­son. If he con­tin­ues in the same spir­it, he can climb to first place.

Let’s look at the sta­tis­tics: in the League, he recent­ly scored his 200th point using the goal + pass sys­tem. And this is for 167 match­es. Only three hock­ey play­ers man­aged it faster, and you know them well: Malkin, Ovechkin and Sid­ney Cros­by. Great com­pa­ny. Keep it up!

11. Anna Shcherbakova

If you want a scan­dal, show this rat­ing to fig­ure skat­ing fans. Olympic cham­pi­on and in 11th place? Below sil­ver medal­ist Truso­va? Yes! We decid­ed so. Anya is a won­der­ful fig­ure skater, a cham­pi­on of every­thing in the world, smart, beau­ti­ful. She has every­thing, well, let her at least share her place in our rank­ing with her team­mates.

Anya — health, it seems like she is not going to give up sports yet. At least not offi­cial­ly announced.

10. Alexandra Trusova

Here is Sasha, right behind Shcherbako­va. Why? For courage: I could not have tak­en the risk and not done the dif­fi­cult triple axel in the Olympic short pro­gram, but I still decid­ed. I made a mis­take, then there was an out­stand­ing per­for­mance with a his­toric five quadru­ples in the free pro­gram, after a few more min­utes there were tears and hys­te­ria from los­ing first place: the points lost on the axel were not enough.

Truso­va is a phe­nom­e­non; even ele­men­tary school stu­dents who are far from sports know about her. By the way, she remains in it for now — she even per­formed in sev­er­al com­pe­ti­tions this sea­son, but the record hold­er has not yet been able to restore her jumps.

9. Kamila Valieva

The fig­ure skat­ing com­bo is com­plet­ed by Kami­la, accord­ing to most experts, a per­fect fig­ure skater who knows how to com­bine the most dif­fi­cult jumps with amaz­ing skat­ing and chore­og­ra­phy. That’s what they say about her — a bal­le­ri­na on ice. It was impos­si­ble to imag­ine that he was also dop­ing.

Life is worse than fic­tion, the result is that last year Valie­va became the most talked about ath­lete in the coun­try. The inves­ti­ga­tion has not yet been com­plet­ed; the Olympic vic­to­ry of our skaters in the team tour­na­ment is at stake. Kami­la was not sus­pend­ed — she won the right to com­pete and even became sec­ond at the recent Russ­ian Cham­pi­onship. What hap­pens next depends on the sports court.

8. Andrey Rublev

Andrey fin­ished last year in eighth place in the list of the best ten­nis play­ers on the plan­et. To be there in ours is no less wor­thy. In 2022, our hero took four tro­phies, anoth­er one in tan­dem… with the Ukrain­ian Denis Molchanov. Oh sport, you are the world!

7. Nikita Nagorny

How many ath­letes do you know who have ele­ments named after them? Not chem­i­cal — sports. Niki­ta has one: if you do a triple back som­er­sault while bend­ing over, you know that you have per­formed a jump named after him.

Nagorny also has the title of absolute world cham­pi­on and Olympic win­ner, some­thing that hasn’t hap­pened in Russ­ian gym­nas­tics for a long time. But what’s even more impor­tant is that Niki­ta doesn’t focus on results; his YouTube chan­nel has almost half a mil­lion sub­scribers. And this does not stop you from becom­ing a cham­pi­on. Plus to kar­ma and to our rat­ing.

6. Nikita Kucherov

In media terms, Kucherov is infe­ri­or to his over­seas broth­ers, but it is impos­si­ble not to notice him this sea­son. His sta­tis­tics are killer — he is in the top five most pro­duc­tive play­ers in the best hock­ey league in the world, its best pass­er. What else does? Kucherov knows the answer — the third Stan­ley Cup.

5. Daria Kasatkina

Dasha is the best Russ­ian ten­nis play­er, this is quite enough to be so high in our rank­ing. She fin­ished eighth in the world year — strong.

In the media field, she also showed her­self to be strong: togeth­er with her friend fig­ure skater Natalya Zabiyako, in her per­son­al video blog she talks in detail about her gas­tro­nom­ic trav­els, despite the fact that not every­one in her home­land shares her tastes.

4. Artemy Panarin

The guy from Korki­no, Chelyabin­sk region, con­tin­ues to tear up New York. Arte­my is unstop­pable at Rangers — the club is almost a hun­dred years old, but it has nev­er had such scor­ers before. Panarin has already sur­passed Jaromir Jagr, Mark Messier and Wayne Gret­zky — sur­pass­ing the per­for­mance of the leg­ends in the first 200 match­es for the club. He has 268 points (76 goals and 192 assists).

Now we need to ensure that our part­ners don’t let us down either. Last sea­son, the Rangers already reached the con­fer­ence finals; Panarin had nev­er been so close to the Stan­ley Cup.

3. Alexander Bolshunov

San Sanych gave the heat in frosty Bei­jing — he took medals in each of his five Olympic races, three of them were gold. There was no cool­er ski­er in Rus­sia, he has every­thing: vic­to­ries at the Games and the World Cham­pi­onships, in the Tour de Ski stage race and in the over­all World Cup stand­ings. But he is only 25. The main thing now is to return to the world lev­el, where he will hit the ski tracks with a vengeance.

2. Alexander Ovechkin

Yes, Ovi is not the first, don’t be sur­prised, this sea­son one guy sim­ply has to be taller. Alexan­der and his fans should not be offend­ed by us — Mr. Hock­ey has long earned his own rat­ing with­out com­peti­tors, he is already cool in all respects: the high­est paid, with the largest num­ber of sub­scribers, among the lead­ers in men­tions in the media.

For him, it is much more impor­tant to be first on anoth­er list — the best scor­ers in the NHL. While the Great One is in sec­ond place (as is ours), the most inter­est­ing thing is ahead — Wayne Gret­zky. The pur­suit of his 894 goals will be epic. We have at least two more sea­sons ahead of us in this series.

  • Daniil Medvedev

Let’s be hon­est, ten­nis will be more com­pet­i­tive than hock­ey — unlike sticks, rack­ets are waved all over the world. Becom­ing the best in such a game is very cool. Medvedev suc­ceed­ed — in 2022 he stayed at the top of the rank­ings for 13 weeks; even our ten­nis play­er Marat Safin did not achieve such great­ness.

It’s just a shame that Dani doesn’t have enough titles — only two. One slipped away in Aus­tralia, where he lost to Rafa Nadal in a freaky five-set Grand Slam final. “The child stopped dream­ing,” he said about him­self then. But we, no, dream of his quick return to the throne. As in our rat­ing.