Adelina Sotnikova

Gracie Gold, Ashley Wagner
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Grand Prix figure skating assignments announced; Olympic champions absent

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Nathan ChenAshley WagnerKaren Chen and Maia and Alex Shibutani headline Skate America in November, highlighting this fall’s Grand Prix assignments announced Friday.

Gracie Gold is at Cup of China and Internationaux de France, also in November.

U.S. champion Nathan Chen and Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu will both debut at Rostelecom Cup, the first of six Grand Prix events, in late October.

That will mark an early season test for Chen, an 18-year-old who beat Hanyu at the Four Continents Championships at the PyeongChang Olympic venue last February but fell to sixth at worlds won by Hanyu in April.

Chen’s top challengers at Skate America in Lake Placid, N.Y., are world bronze medalist Jin Boyang of China and training partner and 2016 U.S. champion Adam Rippon.

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Wagner, a three-time U.S. champion coming off her least successful season in six years, and the surprise U.S. champion Karen Chen are both entered in Skate Canada in October and Skate America.

Russian Yevgenia Medvedeva, the two-time reigning world champion, is entered in Rostelecom Cup and NHK Trophy in Japan. She’ll face Olympic bronze medalist Carolina Kostner of Italy in both events, as well as Mariah Bell and Mirai Nagasu, who finished three-four at the U.S. Championships in January.

The two-time U.S. champion Gold, who changed coaches after a disastrous season, will get an up-close look at Russian world junior champion Alina Zagitova at her two events in China and France.

Polina Edmunds, the youngest U.S. competitor across all sports at the Sochi Olympics at age 15, is entered in France as well. Edmunds hasn’t competed since the January 2016 U.S. Championships due to a bone bruise in her right foot.

Sochi Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova is not entered in any Grand Prix events.

She has not competed since placing sixth at the December 2015 Russian Championships but recently hired four-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko as a new coach.

Also absent from the Grand Prix lists are Olympic pairs champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov after Volosozhar gave birth to their daughter Feb. 16.

The Russian pair hasn’t competed since finishing sixth at the 2016 World Championships, their first time outside the top two in 19 top-level international competitions together.

Sotnikova and Volosozhar and Trankov could still be added to Rostelecom Cup as there are open spots for Russians in each discipline at that event.

Skate America, the biggest annual international event in the U.S., is one month later in this season’s calendar, taking place Thanksgiving weekend.

Here’s the full Grand Prix schedule:

Rostelecom Cup (Moscow) — Oct. 20-22
Skate Canada (Regina) — Oct. 27-29
Cup of China (Beijing) — Nov. 3-5
NHK Trophy (Osaka) — Nov. 10-12
Internationaux de France (Grenoble) — Nov. 17-19
Skate America (Lake Placid) — Nov. 24-26
Grand Prix Final (Nagoya, Japan) — Dec. 7-10

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Yevgeny Plushenko to coach Adelina Sotnikova

Yevgeny Plushenko
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Yevgeny Plushenko wasn’t able to win back-to-back Olympic gold medals. Maybe he can coach a skater to the feat instead.

Plushenko, who announced his retirement on Friday, has started coaching Sochi Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, according to Russian media.

“We began cooperation with Adelina, however, this is all I can say at the present moment,” Plushenko said Tuesday, according to Russian news agency TASS.

The news comes one day after Plushenko posted on Instagram that he planned to return to the Olympics as a coach. Russian media reported Plushenko will detail his future in a press conference Wednesday.

Sotnikova, 20, hasn’t competed since the December 2015 Russian Championships, where she finished sixth and failed to make the three-woman Russian team for the world championships.

She didn’t compete at all this season, stopping preseason training due to a health issue and opting to perform in less-demanding ice shows, according to Russian media.

Russian women’s figure skating has grown in Sotnikova’s absence, complicating her path to making the 2018 Olympic team.

Five different Russian women have won world championships medals the last three years, including two-time reigning world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva.

Russia has three women’s spots at the 2018 Olympics.

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Adelina Sotnikova likely to skip whole season, eyes 2018 Olympics

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Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova will miss the Russian Championships later this month and will likely sit out this whole season but still hopes to defend her title in Pyeongchang, according to R-Sport.

Earlier this year, Sotnikova stopped preseason training due to a health issue, decided not to compete but rather perform in less-demanding ice shows this fall, according to the report, citing her manager.

Sotnikova, 20, last competed at the 2015 Russian Championships, finishing sixth and failing to make the three-woman Russian team for last season’s European and world championships.

She did not compete in major events in the 2014-15 season due to injury and in 2015-16 skated at one top-level international event, finishing third at the November 2015 Rostelecom Cup in Moscow.

In Sochi, Sotnikova became the first Olympic women’s figure skating champion without a prior Olympic or world championships individual medal.

Russian women’s figure skating has only solidified in Sotnikova’s absence since Sochi, complicating her path to making the 2018 Olympic team.

Yevgenia Medvedeva and Anna Pogorilaya were the two best female skaters this fall. Yelena Radionova and Maria Sotskova will join them in the six-skater Grand Prix Final this week.

Russia can send three women to the European Championships in January and world championships in March. The results of the Russian Championships later this month will largely determine the makeup of those teams.

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