For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

For Russian skating star Medvedeva, a huge change was necessary to keep going

TORONTO – She was not supposed to be sitting here, in a coach’s office at a skating club in Canada. Yevgenia Medvedeva is Russian, just 18 years old, figure skating world champion in 2016 and 2017, and only eight months ago winner of the singles silver medal at the Winter Olympics in South Korea.

Barely two months after the Olympics, she left her Russian coach of 10 years, Eteri Tutberidze, who had guided her to the top of the figure skating world, for reasons Medvedeva has not discussed except in general terms. The move she made was startling and utterly unexpected.

Star Russian skaters stay in Russia. Never before had one of the sport’s pre-eminent Russians left the country to train with a non-Russian coach. Not since Michelle Kwan in 2001 had a skater with a career record as brilliant on the world and Olympic level as Medvedeva’s made such a dramatic coaching change, and Kwan did it without leaving her native California.

But Medvedeva felt she had no other choice after a tumultuous 2018 season that did not end with the Olympic gold medal she had seemed a lock to win.

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With investigation over, no one will know if judge's alleged impropriety cost Spanish ice dance team an Olympic spot

With investigation over, no one will know if judge's alleged impropriety cost Spanish ice dance team an Olympic spot

The International Skating Union said Monday it has dropped disciplinary proceedings against a Belarusian judge due to his resignation, which seems to have been conveniently timed.

That means it never will be known if a Spanish ice dance team lost a chance to go to the 2018 Olympics because of Alexandre Gorojdanov’s alleged violations of his duties as judge.

It also means the ISU’s inexplicable refusal to give an automatic lifetime ban to any judge or referee found to have violated the ethical rules of those duties allowed Gorojdanov the chance to potentially corrupt the results of another competition.  The Belarusian had served a 6 1/2-month suspension from Jan. 13 to June 30, 2017, after having been found in violation of the ISU code of ethics as a pairs referee at a 2016 event.

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Skate judge under investigation resigns; status of inquiry uncertain. Was Spanish Olympic dance selection affected?

Skate judge under investigation resigns; status of inquiry uncertain.  Was Spanish Olympic dance selection affected?

Alexandre Gorojdanov, the Belarusian under investigation for questionable actions at a December figure skating competition, has resigned from his positions as an international judge and referee.

Gordojadnov’s resignation was confirmed in a Saturday email by Alexander Lakernik of Russia, the International Skating Union’s top figure skating official.

Lakernik, ISU vice-president for figure skating, would not comment on the reason for Gorojdanov’s resignation or whether it meant the investigation was over.

"I can confirm the rest only after the formal decision is taken," Lakernik wrote.

Globetrotting reported exclusively Dec. 20 that Gorojdanov, who served a 6 1/2-month suspension earlier in 2017 for violating the ISU code of ethics as a pairs referee at a 2016 event, was under investigation again for his behavior at the Golden Spin of Zagreb, an ISU Challenger Series event Dec. 6-9 in Zagreb, Croatia.

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Men's figure skating has mess on its hands (and knees, and butts)

Men's figure skating has mess on its hands (and knees, and butts)

The Grand Prix and Challenger Series events ended last weekend, moving this Olympic figure skating season into the national championship phase (the first two of note are Russia, Dec. 19-24 in Saint Petersburg and Japan, Dec. 20-24 in Tokyo.)

There are big questions related to each.  Will injured reigning world champion Evgenia Medvedeva compete in the Russian Championships? Will injured reigning world and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu be ready for Japanese nationals?

A 2018 Olympic spot for each should be a foregone conclusion, notwithstanding the unanswered questions about eligibility for all Russian athletes.  Given that Medvedeva did not compete at the Sochi Olympics, the epicenter of current Russian doping issues, and given that she has had no doping positives, nothing but injury should keep her from competing in Pyeongchang.

The Grand Prix Series also has left other unanswered questions.  Here are a few involving men’s singles (I’ll get to women, pairs and dance later in the week):

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Sixth quad in a free skate? Nathan Chen might try it

Sixth quad in a free skate?  Nathan Chen might try it

HELSINKI, Finland -- Nathan Chen felt out of sorts. He stressed over having slept badly Wednesday night. His skating boots were literally letting him down, no matter how much duct tape he used to hold them together. His warmup before Thursday's short program at the 2017 World Figure Skating Championships saw him fall on one quadruple jump attempt and a step out on the landing of another.

"I think the pressure got to me a little bit," he said.

Each issue made Chen a little more nervous about his world championships debut at the end of a season in which he had gone from a first-year senior with great promise to the cynosure of all eyes in the sport. He had become the U.S. champion, the Four Continents champion, and the first to land five quads in a free skate.

Now he faced 20 minutes between the end of his warmup and his start time, which he spent thinking about making sure the quads were secure and worrying about how the 11th-hour struggles might affect his performance.

"That kind of got me a little shook up," he said.

It would be more than a little ironic, though, that the last and best thing Chen did in the warmup was a very good triple axel -- the jump that has remained his nemesis as he leaped to the top of his sport with a dazzling number and variety of quads.

"Triples are hard," Chen would say with a laugh after the short program. "Quads are really my thing."

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