Withdrawals from the Rostelecom Cup and JGP Final
Chock & Bates’ withdrawal is followed by three more in the singles; Torgashev out of the Junior Grand Prix Final.
Since the withdrawal of multiple skaters from their first events, fans have wondered how much of the rosters for the later events would remain in place. The Rostelecom Cup roster has had no less than four such entries, including two-time World medalists Madison Chock & Evan Bates. At the beginning of last week, we waited to see if they would withdraw or stay in, and, if they did the former, whether they would do so in time to be replaced. That’s particularly hard for international entries in the Rostelecom Cup, because most of them need to get visas to enter Russia.
We are now drawing near the end of the Grand Prix, with only the final two events to come, and the Final only two weeks after that. This is of course the Final for both the senior and junior series, for which the junior skaters qualified earlier in the fall. For senior and junior skaters alike this is the biggest event of the fall if they can get to it, and the maybe the juniors, even more than the seniors, are looking to make an impression, because typically they haven’t had as many chances to do so as the seniors have yet.
But now, not only has the Rostelecom Cup suffered all the anticipated losses, but the Junior Grand Prix Final has also suffered one. But at least the Final has alternates already in place should someone withdraw, so long as they can get there in time.
Chock & Bates, Chen, Erokhov, and Schott All Out of Russia
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I’m sorry to announce that Evan and I have withdrawn from the Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix next week. We always love skating in Russia and have wonderful memories from our trips there. We were looking forward to competing on the Grand Prix circuit this season, but I am still on the mend from my surgery and no steps on the road to recovery can be skipped. It has been a year of big change for us and we are training hard to come back stronger than ever. Thank you everyone for all your support and I am looking forward to getting back on competitive ice as soon as possible! 💪🏼
Chock & Bates were out as early as Thursday, the recovery from her surgery simply taking too long. That was long enough ago one can imagine their frustration, and the worry lingers they might not be able to fully recover from this. The loss of the Grand Prix series itself isn’t as big for them as it would’ve been only a few years ago, but the loss of U.S. Nationals would be. That’s still not for another two months, so they may be able to compete by then. But even then, they’ll need to be at their best with so many teams vying for the top spots.
The weekend saw an Instagram go up from Karen Chen announcing her withdrawal. Then it went down, making some wonder if maybe she’d changed her mind at the last minute. But on Monday it went back up, and she’s been crossed off the roster too:
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although I know that injuries make me stronger, I also understand that it takes time. I need to be patient with this whole recovery process, so I realized that Russia isn't doable. This wasn't an easy decision, but I know that I want to feel 100% ready when I emerge back onto competition ice. Lastly, thanks so much for all the positive messages I've been gratefully receiving! ❤️
Despite making the Olympics it’s been a rough year for Chen: she didn’t skate well in Korea, and she’s been out since, with boot problems that have even generated a public feud with her boot manufacturer. Even if she can fix this in time for Nationals, it’s not at all going to be easy for her to repeat her successes there, especially with there once again being only two U.S. ladies berths at Worlds.
Hers wasn’t the only name to be crossed off. So was Nicole Schott’s. The German press today said only she’s still recovering from the knee injury that’s kept her out the entire fall. And when German Nationals is in less than a month and a half. Still, she faces much less competition within her country, and she’s not even the only top German lady laid low by injury right now. If she can recover in time for the European and World Championships, she can still hope for success there.
Since even Chock & Bates haven’t been replaced, it’s a safe bet the two ladies won’t be either. But the final withdrawal from the men is one of the Russians, which means they don’t have to worry about the visa. So Alexey Erokhov has been replaced already by Andrei Lazukin. Erokhov recently described himself as recovered from ankle and back issues, but he may not be back into competitive form yet. Technically, this also means he’s not qualified for Russian Nationals, but Russian officials can invite him in, and when he’s the reigning World Junior Champion, it’s a safe bet they will. It’s unlucky he lost the chance to make a good impression, but he wasn’t expected to do anything really spectacular this season anyway-pressure will be off at Nationals for similar reasons.
Lazukin is having a very good fall. He won his first Challenger medal, and did well for himself at the Grand Prix of Helsinki, coming in sixth. And the men’s field in Russia is now such that he has a real chance of making the podium, though he’s certainly not favored. Having another contender into one of the competitions is also a good thing, when Chock & Bates’ withdrawal takes with it any real fight for gold in the ice dance; Alexandra Stepanova & Ivan Bukin will now win that. It’ll be more interesting to see who wins the other two medals, though. The ladies field remains pretty strong even without Chen, and Schott wasn’t a medal contender.
Torgashev Out of the Junior Grand Prix Final
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I’m really sad to announce that I won’t be competing at JGP Final this year. I’ve been struggling with injury and unfortunately my body is healing slower than originally expected. For the better of my health and future I must make the smarter decision and let myself fully recover. Never the less, I wish the best to my training mates and competitors to compete and skate great. Thank you for all of your guys’s ever lasting support, I’ll be back
Chen wasn’t the only one posting a withdrawal message on Monday. So was Andrew Torgashev, who had qualified for the Junior Grand Prix Final. And when he very much had the chance to win it. It’s a pretty open field all together, but Torgashev is now a skater who will win most junior competitions he enters if he skates well. His problem has mainly been his struggling to do so. He made the Final last year, only to come in last. This was his last chance; he’s about to age out.
It also means his ability to earn a final trip to Junior Worlds will depend completely on his Nationals results. A good enough showing in the senior competition might just do it. But there’s a lot of competition for it, and if he’s not recovered from his injuries entirely, that’ll make it even harder.
His replacement, first alternate Stephen Gogolev, isn’t all together unlike him, though at the other end of things agewise; he won the Canadian junior title two years ago, but is only now old enough to compete as a junior internationally. He too is a skater who’ll usually win a junior competition if he skates his best, but often doesn’t. He won the opening event this year, but failed make the initial lineup because he only came in fifth at his second event. Which was held in Vancouver. The home crowd will rejoice to have him, but his reaction to that pressure earlier this fall is a little worrying. He might win. He might come in last.
The Rostelecom Cup starts Friday. The Junior Grand Prix Final is in December.