Skating stars confirmed for Russian events amid international ban
The participation of an array of Russian figure skating stars has been confirmed for a series of Grand Prix events in their homeland, which will be held to compensate for their suspension from international competitions.
Six Grand Prix tournaments in total will take place across five Russian cities from October to November, and will feature the likes of women’s world record points holder Kamila Valieva.
The Russian Figure Skating Federation issued a list of competitors for each Grand Prix on its website on Tuesday.
Teenage star Valieva will line up at the opening tournament in Moscow from October 21 to 23, and at the Kazan stage of the series in November.
Beijing Olympic silver medalist Alexandra Trusova, 18, will feature in Sochi in October and in Samara in November.
Former world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva – who at the age of 25 remains a firm fan favorite around the world – will appear at the second stage in Moscow in November and at a tournament in Perm later that month.
Men’s stars Mark Kondratiuk and Mikhail Kolyada are also among the Grand Prix participants, along with rising young talents such as the 15-year-old Adeliia Petrosian.
Not named on the list of participants was Beijing Olympic gold medalist Anna Shcherbakova, who underwent surgery on a knee injury in Germany last month but has recently returned to training.
Pairs stars Victoria Sinitsina and Nikita Katsalapov – who were part of the Russian gold-medal winners in the team event in Beijing – are also absent after they announced a break for the first half of next season.
Russian ice dancer Diana Davis – who is the daughter of renowned trainer Eteri Tutberidze – and partner Gleb Smolkin were named on the list for two tournaments, despite rumors surrounding their ongoing training in the US.
Russia’s skating talent would ordinarily be competing at the International Skating Union’s (ISU) Grand Prix series, but the organization announced a ban on Russian and Belarusian participants from all competitions as a result of the conflict in Ukraine.
Russian sporting officials have since arranged a series of domestic events as an alternative for the nation’s stars.
The winners of each Russian Grand Prix stage will receive 500,000 rubles ($8,500) each, with second and third places earning 300,000 rubles and 200,000 rubles respectively.
The winners of the Grand Prix Finals – set to take place in Sochi next March – will each take home 1 million rubles, with 750,000 rubles and 500,000 rubles going to second and third places.
The biggest prize fund on offer will be at the Russian National Championship in Krasnoyarsk at the end of December, where 2.5 million rubles has been allocated for champions, followed by 1.5 million rubles for silver and 1 million for bronze, according to the skating federation.
Russia’s figure skaters returned to action at the national team’s test skates in Moscow at the weekend.
Women’s star Valieva, 16, received particular attention as her two routines drew upon the theme of her doping scandal at the Winter Olympics in February.
Valieva returned a positive test for the banned heart drug trimetazidine based on a sample taken last December at the Russian Championships, but which was only reported by a WADA-accredited laboratory in Stockholm, Sweden, after she had helped Russia to gold in the team event in Beijing.
Valieva was cleared to compete in the individual event in Beijing by an emergency Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) panel, but finished a disappointing fourth as the ordeal took its toll.
The Russian Anti-Doping Agency (RUSADA) announced last week that it had concluded its investigation into the case, with a hearing set for the end of September or early October.
Valieva and her team have denied any wrongdoing, arguing that the positive test may have come as a result of contamination from medication her grandfather was taking.