Another Grand Prix Withdrawal and Two Russian Breakups
Nagasu declares herself out at the 11th hour; Astakhova & Rogonov and Loboda & Drozd all split as Astakhova retires.
Right now, in Toronto, International Skating Union officials and national skating officials have spent the past two days meeting to hash out the rosters for the six 2019 Grand Prix events. This year, more unusually, they may have also needed to figure out where of the third of those six events was even going to take place. Originally the events were supposed to take place in their usual locations of the U.S., Canada, China, Japan, Russia, and France, in that order this year. But then China, officially because their arenas all needed repair, but probably because they’re mad at the ISU, declared they couldn’t hold any of their international events this season. Korea was the ISU’s first choice as a replacement event, and had until Monday to say yes or no. We haven’t been told their answer, but Japanese media indicated last week they might have said no.
Word is now that the roster will come out tomorrow, though the ISU being what it is, they may well keep us waiting longer. So that meant today was the last day for any skater to announce they weren’t doing the Grand Prix without their fans having to find out when they didn’t appear there. And so we ended up getting one such announcement, from a skater already expected to bail.
But she wasn’t the only one we’ve lost recently. There were also two Russian couples whom, at the beginning of the spring, we also expected to see on the roster. But this week, there came the news of two breakups, one brought about by a skater retiring.
Mirai Nagasu Out for Now
Already the Grand Prix had lost of the biggest stars to coming out of the Olympics, when Adam Rippon said he was probably done all together. Less certain has been the fate of Mirai Nagasu, especially with reports of her training on the ice. It may be she herself took some time to decide what she would do next season. But in an interview today, Nagasu said she would not be competing on the circuit, and isn’t sure she wants to do anything else when she doesn’t see herself lasting until the next Olympics.
At 25, Nagasu is definitely on the old end of the scale for ladies singles. In recent years some ladies have lasted years longer, but most of them had no competition within their own country. And when even with her triple axel, the field remains far ahead of her, retiring now would allow Nagasu to go out on a very good note. She’s had a good career in general, too, despite some very rough years. Although not as big as her friend Rippon, she’s enjoyed a little fame and a few opportunities since the Olympics. She’s got a good career as a show skater ahead of her, if she wants it, and she’ll be one in the immediate future.
If she did come back, however, her fans would welcome the encore, regardless of whatever the results ended up being. Especially if she managed to keep the triple axel.
She also spoke of other ladies deserving a chance, and her bowing out now may well allow another American lady in, though it’s hard to gauge such things. This will be especially true if Ashley Wagner, the last major U.S. skater who may skip it but hasn’t confirmed yet, also is absent from the roster released tomorrow.
Astakhova Retiring, Rogonov Looking for a New Partner
We already knew one Russian team would be skipping the Grand Prix. Back in early May, Kristina Astakhova said she needed a break, and she & Alexei Rogonov might not compete this season at all. Even then, there were whispers she might be retiring completely. This Sunday, Rogonov confirmed she had decided she was tired and wanted out, but he’s looking for a new partner. He included lots of thanks and even a short video tribute:
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Мне очень сложно писать этот пост. Но и промолчать я не могу. По всей видимости, этот Олимпийский сезон станет для нашей пары с Кристиной Астаховой заключительным. Кристина приняла решение уйти из спорта. Я был настроен кататься ещё как минимум 4 года. Но переубедить или уговорить Кристину продолжить кататься не получилось ни у меня, ни у тренера, ни у Федерации фигурного катания. И её можно понять. Все эти изматывающие тренировки, травмы, нагрузки, неудобное расписание с 10:00 до 22:00, хореография 6 раз в неделю, постоянное безденежье, стресс на соревнованиях, ответственность за Страну…да ещё этот неугомонный Рогонов, готовый терпеть вот это всё ещё 4 года😄 Нас назвали КристАлики… И я был бы рад ещё посиять на льду, но, похоже, решение Кристины окончательное. Возможно, когда-нибудь вы увидите нашу пару в ледовых шоу. Но сейчас я чувствую в себе силы, и непреодолимое желание продолжать расти как спортсмен и соревноваться. Поэтому, в данный момент рассматриваю все возможные и невозможные варианты… Спасибо нашему тренеру Артуру Дмитриеву за его поддержку и крепкое плечо. Спасибо хореографу Сергею Комолову за веру и крутые программы. Спасибо Кристине Астаховой за терпение, труд и невероятный талант! Спасибо нашим болельщикам за поддержку и любовь! Спасибо Федерации фигурного катания России за понимание и этот замечательный видеоролик! Это было круто, но лучшее, конечно, впереди! #АлексейРогонов #ффккр #inSkate
Looking at their respective ages of 30 and 21, you would’ve expected he’d be the one retiring, rather than her. But age doesn’t always determine who still wants it and who just wants to do something else with all their time already. And in the four years they skated together, they didn’t have the easiest time of it, too often outskated in the strong Russian field. This season, they even endured the pain of initially just missing the Olympic and World teams. Russian doping drama and an injury to one very unlucky pair got them into both, and they even managed a very respective eighth place finish at Worlds. That’s at least a good record to call it a career on, but their future prospects remained uncertain anyway.
His remain so. He makes it clear he really wants to go on competing, but at his age, he’ll need to find a new partner quick. Pairs skaters can sometimes last until their late thirties, but the question remains whether they can in Russia’s field, so his years are likely now limited. Unless he goes for a foreign partnership, but then the Russian federation would likely keep him from competing internationally for at least two years.
Fortunately, Russia remains a place where his chances of finding a partner are better than they are in most countries. There are plenty of pairs skaters, and also ladies just realizing they aren’t going to get anywhere skating singles. Though most of the latter would be half his age!
Loboda & Drozd Split
In the most recent of days, stories started flying like mad about another Russian team, this time a pair of ice dancers. Finally, both Alla Loboda & Pavel Drozd confirmed they’ve split, Loboda to her fans on VKontakte, and Drozd to skating reporter Tatjana Flade. Loboda claims he dumped her after their vacations, and is now skating with Maria Stavitskaya. Drozd says the two of them were going in different directions, and he is now doing tryouts. It’s possible he was just having a tryout with Stavitskaya, who is not considered his equal.
Whatever the case, it’s a disappointing loss. The two of them had a very successful junior career, culminating in two medals at the World Junior Championships. They skated together for a single senior season. Their results for that didn’t set the world on fire, but they were good ones for a team in their position. With the top Russian ice dance team now out, likely for good, and heavy doubts hanging over at least one more top team, they could’ve moved up and taken their place, been the next pair of Russian contenders.
Loboda, too, is looking for a new partner. There have been a couple of splits in Russian junior ice dance as well, and there’s probably more than one potential one available for both of them. If either of them fails to find anything this or next year, they could even try going international.
One assumes neither of these teams will be on the Grand Prix roster, though it’s possible, in the case of Loboda & Drozd, that the officials haven’t gotten the news yet, and they’ll have to be taken off it afterwards. Hopefully we’ll know tomorrow.