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13 Dec, 2019 20:11

‘I want my desire to compete back’: Champion skater Zagitova ‘suspends’ career

‘I want my desire to compete back’: Champion skater Zagitova ‘suspends’ career

World champion figure skater Alina Zagitova has decided to put her career on ice, foregoing appearances at the upcoming Russian, European and World championships.

The 17-year-old 2018 Russian, European and Olympic champion and 2019 World champion said she will not seek to participate in the upcoming Russian national championships, or other major competitions. 

“I’m not going anywhere,” Zagitova told reporters on Friday. “I’m staying on the ice, I will continue to train.” She clarified that she wants to learn new things, because she already “has everything.” The only thing missing seems to be her desire to compete.

I just wish that the desire to go out to the starting line would come back to me.

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Her coach, Eteri Tutberidze, said that Zagitova had been talking about this possibility for the past year and a half, and that the announcement was not unexpected. 

“She skates very beautifully and is very beautiful on the ice, so all of us on the coaching staff tried to convince her to continue,” Tutberidze said, adding that she hopes Zagitova will return to the ice when she starts missing the competition.

I think she’ll come to that [decision] herself.

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Zagitova became a sensation at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, producing a perfect display to beat teammate and favorite, Evgeniya Medvedeva, for the gold medal.

She set the record for ladies world combined totals later that year and went on to triumph at the World Championships in March 2019.

However, the 17-year-old has been unable to maintain her winning form since, with younger wards of her star-coach Tutberidze producing more complex programs with quadruple jumps. Zagitova finished third after the short program at last week’s Grand Prix Finals in Turin, but made several costly mistakes in the free skate, finishing in sixth place. The podium was swept by Russia’s Alena Kostornaia, Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, who also all train with Tutberidze.

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The Izhevsk native made waves in the figure skating world by winning the 2017 Youth World Championship, before going on to triumph in the national and European championships and the Olympics in 2018, followed by the 2019 World championship.

After Zagitova executed two fully back-loaded programs in the 2017-2018 season, the International Skating Union implemented a new rule, named after the Russian skater, abolishing bonus points for doing that and effectively making it unlikely to happen ever again.

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