Olympic Favorite Announces Injury as Skate America Loses Another Russian Lady, Among Others
Medvedeva currently in a cast but still wants to do the Grand Prix Final; three withdrawals from Skate American accompanied by two very uncertain futures.
The last three days in the world of figure skating have been on the crazy side. Two of the top Russian stars of the past few years have admitted to injury, but only one of them is engaging in the logical subsequent withdrawals. The Olympic ice dance competition has lost a second team that ought to be there, but can’t because one of the partners couldn’t get the needed passport. Skate America is rapidly replacing withdrawing skaters, but not all of them. Except we’re not even fully sure what’s going on with the ladies, because at this moment that Entries grid on the Grand Prix section of the ISU currently isn’t loading, probably due to sheer confusion. There are three new withdrawals, two of skaters where we’re not sure, at this moment, when we’ll see them again, or even if. Though at least the third’s just sick.
Evgenia Medvedeva Injured; Might Still do the Grand Prix Final
Evgenia Medvedeva has already won her Grand Prix events and secured her ticket to the Grand Prix Final in Nagoya in two weeks’ time. But now there’s a chance she won’t be able to skate there. Or potentially worse, will do so at a time when she should not. We have learned she skated both events injured, and now has her foot in a cast. Despite this, she insists she will only withdraw from the Final if her doctors absolutely insist on it.
She says as explanation for her not withdrawing, “this is the Olympic season.” But that ought to be a reason for her to be more careful. For a skater of her accomplishments, a win at the Final doesn’t matter much anyway. But by doing this, she’s may risk aggravating her injury. Right now, she’s got two and a half months before she needs to be completely in shape. But make it worse, and she could find herself unable to compete at the Olympics she would otherwise be heavily favored to win.
She clearly very badly doesn’t want to give this competition up. Her love of Japan may even be fueling her desire to be there. And unfortunately, coach Eteri Tutberidze has a reputation for having her students compete even when it would be more prudent for them to wait an injury out. But if she really should sit how this one, let’s hope her doctors tell her so.
One wonders if perhaps, even if she gets through the event without worsening her foot, she might then sit Russian Nationals out as a precautionary measure instead. She is, after all, the one lady that doesn’t need to skate there.
But as it is, Russian Nationals may instead be without a skater who very badly needs to be there…
Anna Pogorilaya Out of Skate America Due to Back
After her disastrous free skate at Skate Canada and reports on her having back issues, we weren’t sure whether or not Anna Pogorilaya would make it to Skate America. When the weekend saw Da-Bin Choi’s name crossed off and hers not, however, it was looking like she would. (Oddly enough, Choi’s name is still in the standings, which is otherwise updated. But with the ladies grid down we can’t tell what’s happening there.) But now, the news has come she won’t. Apparently she missed a few days’ training due to illness, pushed it too hard to make up for the lost time, and aggravated her back again.
There is a quote of her talking about how things got so bad she couldn’t even skate, though in Google Translate it’s unclear whether that refers to now, or when she pulled out of her Russian Cup event. On the latter occasion, she described herself after the short program as being in so much pain she couldn’t even move, not even to get out of her skates and costume.
Russian Nationals is a month away, and back injuries can be tricky things. Pogorilaya might not even be able to compete there, in which case her season will probably be over. Even if she does make, if she’s not fully recovered, she could be lost in their crazily stacked ladies field. It seems the closer we get to the Olympics, the slimmer her chances get of making it. Between injuries and bad results, she might even be driven to retire, despite only being 19.
As she goes out, another Russian girl comes in: Serafima Sakhanovich got an invite as her replacement. She’s mostly known as a skater who’s never lived up to her potential, but she did get her first senior international win at the Warsaw Cup Challenger event last week. She probably won’t medal, if only because of the number of hard hitters in this field, even without Pogorilaya. But given that their recent histories makes it difficult to predict how most of those hard-hitters will skate, this event is now extremely unpredictable.
Tobias & Tkachenko Out of Skate America-and the Olympics
As the Nationals season approaches, some countries aren’t waiting to name their Olympic teams. Australia was the first to name their full roster a couple of weeks back, but by then all three entries were pretty much known already. This week the naming of the Israeli Olympic team brought sad news-and it might be even worse when the ice dance team involved is now mysteriously withdrawn from both their Grand Prix events.
Isabella Tobias & Ilia Tkachenko earned Israel’s Olympic berth at Worlds last year. Like many of those that skate under the Israeli flag, they were both recruited from abroad (only one member of their team was born in the country). She, being Jewish, had no problem getting citizenship, and earlier this year, they described themselves as optimistic for him. But he’s Russian, and not Jewish. His wife is, which they might have been banking on. But if so, it seems that didn’t cut it. With the team announcement came the news he’s been denied, and their berth has been given to the much weaker team of Adel Tankova & Ronald Zilberberg instead.
We have still heard nothing from they themselves, and there is still no explanation for why they have now withdrawn from Skate America too. But under the circumstances, it is all too likely that they’ve decided to end things. He is now 30, and may have only been staying in for a chance at the Olympics, which he’s never been to. Without them, he may have simply decided to move on without bothering with the rest of the season.
That would not be at all nice to her, of course, but then again, she might even be doing the same. She’s not young either, even by ice dance standards; she would be 30 at the next Olympics. If she decides to stay in for another quadrennium, she’ll probably get a new partner over the summer. She might look for a fellow Jewish one this time, or possibly hop countries again, since Israel’s the third she’s represented in her career, and none of them even her native U.S.
The rest of Israel’s Olympic team is what was already inevitable. Alexei Bychenko and Daniel Samohin were both safe the Olympics as soon as the former earned berths for both of them at Worlds. Paige Connors & Evgeni Krasnopolski have been likewise since they qualified at Nebelhorn. Israel doesn’t have any strong ladies skaters, but Aimee Buchanan is pretty much the best they’ve got.
They probably wouldn’t have medaled, but their withdrawal from Skate America still weakens the field, especially since right now there’s no replacement. But in the men’s field, another withdrawal did come with a replacement…
Jorik Hendrickx est Malade Vraiment
On top of all that, there was another withdrawal from the men’s, albeit one apparently caused only be illness:
It’s a bit sad to lose him. But he wasn’t expected to be a factor in the competition itself. And at least he won’t lose anything else, if only because the upcoming Belgian Championships doesn’t even have a senior men’s event on the schedule. They need not bother; he’s their guy.
For the second time in as many weeks, U.S. Figure Skating has found a Canadian replacement, in the form of Liam Firus. He’ll just want to do well enough for an extra boost going into the battle for the second men’s berth that will be Canadian Nationals.
Skate America starts Friday in Lake Placid. If the rest of the field doesn’t accidentally fall into the lake the city is named for first.