Two Late Withdrawals from Cup of China
Withdrawals of Zijun Li and Duskova & Bidar with their Olympic chances in jeopardy; post-Skate Canada for Anna Pogorilaya also uncertain.
More years than not, things have gone so badly at the Cup of China that it earns its nickname of #CupofDisaster. This year, the trouble’s started before the competition has, with two significant withdrawals too late for replacement. For one skater, we don’t know the reasons, only that being out right now could cost her whatever shot at PyeongChang she had left. For the other withdrawal, we do know the cause, and it’s not good.
And they’re not even the only skaters where we got news about their potential Grand Prix prospects. We’ve got the empty slots in France from last week filled, neither with anyone eyebrow-raising or game-changing. But we’ve also got news about one skater after her disastrous first event, and things there don’t sound too good either.
Two Withdrawals Highlight Roster Changes
As of right now, at least here in the west, we know very little about what is going on with Zijun Li, who until the end of last season was China’s undisputed top lady. All we know is she’s crossed off for her first event only on the Grand Prix roster, and she’d already missed her preparatory event, Cup of Nice. We don’t even know whether it’s an injury, of the Chinese skating federation once again bullying her. Perhaps her still being on the roster for the Internationaux is a hopeful sign, but that could easily change soon.If she is injured, and she doesn’t recover from it quickly, she’ll pretty much be out of the Olympic race. The first qualifier for it already left her behind both her rivals for China’s one berth, she’ll get no favors from her federation, and it may soon become impossible for her to catch up. It would be a sad end to a painful quadrennium for her.
That’s now two significant withdrawals from China’s ladies lineup, but it still remains a loaded field. Li’s chances of a strong placement were already low. She couldn’t even have been certain of beating Gracie Gold’s replacement Amber Glenn!
Czech team Anna Duskova & Martin Bidar are actually still listed for both of their events on the pairs roster. But they are out on the event page for Cup of China. They’re not off France’s yet. But according to the Czech federation, she got a knee injury in practice, and they’re out of not only that, before even the European Championships in January. On her Facebook, Duskova provided some English-language clarification on just what’s happen on Monday: ACL surgery. Recovering from that’s supposed to take more months than they have before the Olympics. Nonetheless, the federation expresses a hope they can still make the Games. When it’s the Olympics, everyone involved will no doubt do everything they can to manage that, even if the team then might still skip Worlds afterwards. With the berth secured, Duskova & Bidar are unchallenged for it within their own country. If they can’t go, the Czech Republic might even give the berth up.
It certainly hasn’t been easy for France to hold on to a full roster, especially since the Czechs may pull out of that one, too, too late for replacement. After raising suspense by failing to fill Gracie Gold’s vacated spot last week, they rather anti-climatically filled it with German Nicole Schott. She who got no assignment initially now has a second, which is accomplishment enough for her, even if she isn’t likely to finish much higher in France than she did in Russia. The replacements for Xuehan Wang & Lei Wang in pairs, British pair Zoe Jones & Christopher Boyadji, are even more just happy to be the circuit, and will likely remain so regardless of who else withdraws.
Ominous Words on Anna Pogorilaya
When Anna Pogorilaya went to pieces in her free skate in Canada last week, nobody was sure of the exact cause. Since it sadly wasn’t the first time she’s done that recently, and the last one was last spring, it seemed as likely to be psychological as anything else. But then she pulled out of the gala, and now her coach Anna Tsareva has revealed she’s struggling with back issues. She said it’s something that’s plagued her a long time, before she aggravated it this summer, and while the medical examinations she had to do at the beginning of the season found nothing, she’s been struggling to train her free program especially. This certainly provides some explanation for what happened last Saturday.
Meanwhile, Tsareva’s also said she doesn’t know if Pogorilaya’s going to try to do her second event. She’s scheduled to do Skate America at the end of the series a little less than a month from now. Tsareva for now is only saying they need a couple of more days of emotional recovery before they take a look at that. She even suggested the Russian federation might want to get involved. Although the federation replied right after her words were published, saying they’d be happy to help, but Pogorilaya and her coach will have to call them. But if things are bad enough that Tsareva is even bringing up the possibility, it doesn’t sound like Pogorilaya being ready for Skate America is too likely.
Up until that free skate at the World Championships last spring, Anna Pogorilaya had been doing brilliantly, looking like a favorite for the 2018 Olympic team. If she was skating now like she was then, she’d be considered almost the favorite to win in Lake Placid. But between her more recent results and this injury, she’s now facing heavy odds. Still, the Skate America roster will feel the loss of her a little bit, even if it remains a strong one.