Russian skater confronts US rival during Olympic team event
Russian and US ice dancers were caught up in a contentious incident ahead of the figure skating team event at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Friday, after the two duets almost collided during their warm-ups.
Reigning world and European champions Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov of the Russian Olympic Committee (ROC) team were polishing their elements when the pair appeared to be hindered by US duo Madison Hubbell and Zachary Donohue.
Sinitsina and Katsalapov were seen skating backwards in the direction of Hubbell and Donohue, who did not move fully out of their path.
Sinitsina appeared to brush into Donohue as she swept past him, avoiding what could have been a much worse collision.
According to reports, a visibly angry Katsalapov exchanged words with American rival Donohue before returning to practice.
“We could have collided with the US duet during the warm-up. Five couples on the ice are a little bit too much, nobody likes that,” Katsalapov explained.
“We were the first to start practicing an element moving backward, so we couldn’t control the situation.
“I said something to the US skater, but don’t remember what exactly. But it’s going on all day, somehow it accumulated,” Katsalapov commented on the episode, adding that the US couple perfectly saw them and could have given way.
Attempting to play down the incident, Katsalapov added: “There is no need to pay much attention to this episode. We are on good terms outside the ice.”
The episode nonetheless seemed to affect the Russian champions as Katsalapov stumbled on a step sequence, committing a mistake which surprisingly put them behind the US duo.
The Russian pair earned the ROC team nine points, while Hubbell and Donohue helped the USA to cement their overall lead after two events of the team contest.
After the first competitive day, the USA sits first in the team table with 28 points, while the ROC team is second with 26, and China is currently in third place with 21 points.