Yulia Lipnitskaya

Adelina Sotnikova

Olympic champions left off Russian team for World Figure Skating Championships

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Neither of Russia’s Olympic figure skating champions were named as part of the nation’s three-woman team for the World Championships in Boston later this month.

Olympic singles champion Adelina Sotnikova and team event champion Yulia Lipnitskaya were passed over in favor of Anna Pogorilaya for the team’s third spot behind national champion Yevgenia Medvedeva and silver medalist Yelena Radionova.

The full Russian team for all disciplines is here.

The decision was not shocking, given Pogorilaya was third behind Medvedeva and Radionova at both the Russian Championships in December and the European Championships in January.

However, Pogorilaya finished well behind Medvedeva and Radionova at Europeans, by more than 20 points, opening the door for the Russian federation to sit her for Worlds. Pogorilaya, 17, finished fourth at the 2014 World Championships and 13th at the 2015 Worlds.

Neither Sotnikova nor Lipnitskaya performed consistently well this season.

Sotnikova, 19, returned to top-level competition for the first time since Sochi, where she became the first woman to win an Olympic singles title without a prior Olympic or Worlds medal.

Sotnikova placed third at the Rostelecom Cup in November and sixth at the Russian Championships, her worst result in seven senior Nationals appearances.

Lipnitskaya, 17, was sixth at Skate America in October and second in the short program at Trophée Bompard in November (before the free skate was canceled due to the Paris terror attacks).

At Nationals, Lipnitskaya was third after the short program, behind Medvedeva and Radionova, but 10th in the free skate, plummeting to seventh overall.

Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion, placed eighth at Nationals. Her coach said earlier that Tuktamysheva would not attempt to defend her World title in Boston.

Medvedeva and Radionova will be medal favorites in Boston. Pogorilaya will also be in the mix, along with U.S. Olympians Gracie GoldAshley Wagner and Polina Edmunds, plus Japan’s contingent.

MORE: Adam Rippon has quads, Boston, special T-shirt in sight

Adelina Sotnikova misses Russian Championships podium

Adelina Sotnikova
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Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova and World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva finished sixth and eighth, respectively, at the Russian Championships on Saturday, hurting their chances to be named to Russia’s three-woman team for the World Championships in three months.

Olympic team event champion Yulia Lipnitskaya also struggled and was seventh.

Sotnikova, 19, dropped from fifth after the short program to record her lowest finish in seven Russian Championships appearances. She fell in the short program and twice in the free skate.

In Sochi, Sotnikova became the first Olympic women’s figure skating champion without a prior Olympic or World Championships individual medal. Sotnikova sat out top-level international competition last season while injured.

Tuktamysheva, 19, fell on a triple Axel attempt in the short program and turned out of the landing in the free skate.

Last season, Tuktamysheva swept the Grand Prix Final and World Championships after finishing 10th at the December 2013 Russian Championships.

Sotnikova, Tuktamysheva and Lipnitskaya have not been at their best this season, all going winless in Grand Prix competition in the fall.

Yevgenia Medvedeva won the Russian Championships on Saturday, following her victories at Skate America and the Grand Prix Final in the fall.

World Championships bronze medalist Yelena Radionova and Anna Pogorilaya were second and third, respectively, and are in prime positions for three to-be-named spots in the European Championships in January and Worlds in March and April in Boston.

MORE: Yevgeny Plushenko: Men will perform quad Axels in 10 years

Surprise U.S. leader at Skate America

Max Aaron
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A U.S. champion is in great position to end the home drought at Skate America, but it’s neither Gracie Gold nor Jason Brown.

Max Aaron, the 2013 U.S. champion who just missed the Sochi Olympics, cleanly landed all of his jumps, including a quadruple toe loop in combination, to lead after the short program in Milwaukee on Friday.

“I’ve been waiting for it to happen,” Aaron said in a U.S. Figure Skating video. “I just changed my mental game around, my competing around. I want to be back on top. I want to make the World [Championships] team again. I want to be that guy that’s reliable.”

The Olympic team bronze medalists Gold and Brown erred on jumps and were second and eighth, respectively, in the women’s and men’s standings.

NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will air the women’s free skate Saturday from 5-6 p.m. ET. The men’s free skate is later Saturday. NBCSN will air coverage Sunday from 10-11:30 p.m. ET.

Aaron scored a personal-best 86.67 points and leads by .14 of a point over China’s Han Yan in the Grand Prix series opener. It’s a step toward a comeback for the 23-year-old former hockey player.

Aaron set himself up to make his first Olympic team by winning the 2013 U.S. title but fell to third at the 2014 U.S. Championships, missing the two-man Sochi team, and fourth at last season’s U.S. Championships, missing the three-man World Championships team.

Now Aaron could notch the biggest international victory of his career and the first Grand Prix title for an American man since 2011. The last U.S. man to win Skate America was Evan Lysacek in 2009.

The pre-competition favorites all faltered in the men’s short program.

Shoma Uno, the World junior champion from Japan, and Denis Ten, the Olympic and World bronze medalist from Kazakhstan, both fell on quadruple toe loops and sit fourth and sixth, respectively.

Brown, the reigning U.S. champion who was fourth at Worlds, singled the second half of a jump combination and is in eighth place.

“I look at it as a learning experience,” Brown said in a U.S. Figure Skating video. “Now I’m going to take it with me.”

Gold doubled a planned triple flip and is 5.53 points behind reigning World junior champion Evgenia Medvedeva of Russia.

“I think maybe I just lost a little bit of my attack,” Gold told media. “Really been working on coming out of the gate strong. I do clean shorts in practice … just a slip-up.”

VIDEOS: Evgenia Medvedeva | Gracie Gold

World silver medalist Satoko Miyahara of Japan was third, followed by U.S. bronze medalist Karen Chen and Yulia Lipnitskaya, the Russian darling of the Sochi Olympic team event.

Gold, 20, and Chen, 16, are trying to become the first U.S. woman to win Skate America since Ashley Wagner in 2012.

The reigning Olympic and World champions on the men’s and women’s sides — Yuzuru HanyuJavier FernandezAdelina Sotnikova and Elizaveta Tuktamysheva — are not competing at Skate America.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Full 2015-16 broadcast schedule