Withdrawals from Europeans and Four Continents
Savchenko & Massot skip Europeans to focus on Olympics; Ross and Wagner choose not to take a consolatory lap at Four Continents.
The European Championships are next week, the Four Continents Championships the week after. Together they are the final significant competitions before the Winter Olympics, though one is likely to have far more Olympic-bound skaters at it than the other. But today, they both lost significant skaters, as Germany announced two of its pair out, and the U.S. announced three withdrawals, although one of those was from the World Junior Championships in March.
Savchenko & Massot One of Two German Withdrawals from Europeans
The European Championships may happen on the eve of the Olympics, but for Olympic-bound skaters to sit it out is a bit unusual. Most of Europe’s skaters use it as part of their preparation instead. However, this year Germany’s top team are persuading another strategy. And they’re not even the only German team out.
Aliona Savchenko & Bruno Massot announced their withdrawal today from the 2018 Europeans in Moscow. Not because of injury, they said, but because they’re having trouble with their technical elements. Which means it would actually make sense, as they say, to spend their time on the ice working directly on those, instead of losing it traveling to Moscow and back, and possibly skating badly and dealing with the fallout from that. Except that one of those technical elements is the throw triple axel, which is a very risky move for them. Even with this extra time, the chances of them losing their chance at Olympic gold to a fall on it seem very high. But if they can’t reduce that risk, perhaps they simply won’t try it in PyeongChang anyway.
With them out, the gold is now firmly between the two Russian teams. The way things have gone, Evgenia Tarasova & Vladimir Morozov will be the favorites.
Sadly, the news came with it that third German pairs team, who aren’t even going to the Olympics, are also out, and that withdrawal is due to injury. Minerva Fabienne-Haase & Nolan Seegert have been done in by her back injury, and the season may well be over for them. It will be if Savchenko & Massot go to Worlds, though there’s a high chance she won’t be interested. There are only the three German teams, so neither will be replaced.
American Withdrawals Include Wagner and Miner
The official equivalent to Europeans, the Four Continents Championships in Taipei, was offered as consolation to those American skaters who just missed the Olympic team. But it seems the biggest names among them didn’t want it. This evening, U.S. Figure Skating announced both Ashley Wagner and Ross Miner were out. That probably means the end of the season for them both, especially since Miner is only second alternate to both the Olympics and World Championships, though Wagner is first. There’s no news of injury, so it seems likely they thought it not worth it. There’s a serious chance in both cases they’ve decided to retire completely.
It is a little more surprising in Wagner’s case, since she said earlier this week she was preparing for a competition. But maybe she just hadn’t made her final decision on it yet. While she refused to apologize for her anger when her scores came up, she did express her support for the chosen Olympic team. All together she’s currently behaving far better than Miner. He’s going around calling the decision not to choose him a “backroom deal” and saying he can’t think of a good reason. The reason outright given, his international results, ought to be an obvious one, whether it’s a justified one or not. Four Continents actually could’ve been a better opportunity for him to improve his record than it would’ve been for Wagner, but it seems he couldn’t appreciate that.
At least his withdrawal gets Grant Hochstein on the team. He really should’ve been on it already; U.S. Figure Skating’s snubbing him in favor of Max Aaron was far more bizarre than their snub of Miner. It actually extends his career; he’s confirmed as retiring after this season, so it seems he’s getting an extra last bow. Wagner’s replacement is Angela Wang, for whom this is the biggest opportunity she’s gotten in her career so far.
That’s now true for two of the American ladies going to Four Continents, and the other one, Starr Andrews, has apparently decided she doesn’t need to go back to skating junior after that. She’s withdrawn from the World Junior Championships, to which she’d also been assigned. Her replacement, Emmy Ma, was sixteenth at Nationals, and has some consistency issues all together, though she does also have a Junior Grand Prix medal. She won’t really be in medal contention, but Andrews wouldn’t have found it easy to medal either. That may have even played a part in her decision to withdraw, if she saw herself as having little to gain from going. Usually if a skater in her position does go to Junior Worlds, they’re looking to medal.