Evgenia Medvedeva Out of Russian Nationals
Medvedeva pulls out of Nationals two days before competition; is back on the ice and should be fine for Europeans.
When Yuzuru Hanyu withdrew from Japanese Nationals yesterday, it looked like Russian Nationals might get luckier. Their top star, too, has been struggling with injury. Evgenia Medvedeva started December in a cast, and subsequently had to pull out of the Grand Prix Final. The cast came off and she returned to the ice only a week ago. Still, the earlier report was that this was on schedule, and she planned to compete.
This, however, would’ve been pretty hard to pull off. Especially since the Russian ladies field may be the most competitive skating national field in the world. That Medvedeva would be heavily favored to beat anyone anyway increases the pressure. It would be a strain her newly recovered body doesn’t need right now. It seems her doctors advised her of that, and she listened. Today, it was announced she was out of Russian Nationals. Two days before the competition is scheduled to begin is a little late to be pulling out, but perhaps she took time to be convinced. At least she gave Sofia Istomina, who qualifies in her place, enough notice she’s been able to hop a train to St. Petersburg before the ladies short on Friday.
Like Hanyu, she doesn’t have to compete at Nationals, and can rest easy knowing the Russian federation will name her to everything anyway. Her next event would be the European Championships in Moscow, which are nearly a month away, plenty of time for her to work her way at a reasonable pace back into fighting form. This week did see her skate on camera, as Russian media did a profile on coach Eteri Tutberidze and her students, and got all dramatic about the Olympic ban. When shown for seconds at a time, she looked well enough. In all likelihood when she reaches the Olympics, provided she chooses to attend, this’ll be a distant memory.
Her training mate Alina Zagitova, already heavily favored to make the Olympics with her, is now also the favorite to win the national title. But the Russian ladies field remains a volatile as well as stacked one. Had Medvedeva competed, it would’ve been a shock had she lost. But with her out, anything can happen.
She’s actually not the only notable withdrawal from Russian Nationals this week. Elena Ilinykh & Anton Shibnev also pulled out of the dance competition, and declined to give any explanation why. They probably wouldn’t have been much of a factor in it this year anyway. But now one hopes the two of them aren’t breaking up.