Adelina Sotnikova listed as substitute for World Championships; entry list highlights

Gracie Gold
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Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova is listed as a substitute for the World Championships later this month with Russia entering Yulia Lipnitskaya and Anna Pogorilaya instead.

Since Sotnikova is listed as a sub, she could still be entered in the Saitama, Japan, event beginning March 26 instead of Lipnitskaya or Pogorilaya given injury, etc. (full entry lists here)

Russian Olympic pairs champions Maksim Trankov and Tatyana Volosozhar were also listed as subs on entry lists published Wednesday.

Other decorated skaters left off completely — Yuna KimPatrick ChanMeryl Davis and Charlie White and Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir — were previously announced to skip worlds.

Here are the key competitors who are entered for worlds:

Men
Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 2014 Olympic champion
Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 2013 World Championships bronze medalist
Tatsuki Machida (JPN) — 2014 Olympics, fifth
Yan Han (CHN) — 2014 Olympics, seventh
Peter Liebers (GER) — 2014 Olympics, eighth
Takahiko Kozuka (JPN) — 2011 World Championships silver medalist
Maksim Kovtun (RUS) — 2013 Grand Prix Final, fifth
Kevin Reynolds (CAN) — 2013 World Championships, fifth
Florent Amodio (FRA) — 2013 European Championships silver medalist
Jeremy Abbott (USA) — 2014 U.S. champion
Max Aaron (USA) — 2013 U.S. champion

Hanyu is a runaway favorite at home and with three-time reigning world champion Chan and Olympic bronze medalist Denis Ten absent. Fernandez, who missed bronze in Sochi by 1.18 points, leads the rest of the pack.

Abbott and Aaron could fight for a medal at their best, but it would also be a success if their combined placements were 13th or better to earn the U.S. the maximum three men’s entries at the 2015 World Championships. For example, if Abbott finished sixth and Aaron finished seventh.

The U.S. has not earned three men’s entries at a worlds or Olympics since the 2011 World Championships.

Women
Carolina Kostner (ITA) — 2014 Olympic bronze medalist
Mao Asada (JPN) — 2013 World Championships bronze medalist
Gracie Gold (USA) — 2014 Olympics, fourth
Yulia Lipnitskaya (RUS) — 2014 Olympics, fifth
Ashley Wagner (USA) — 2014 Olympics, seventh
Akiko Suzuki (JPN) — 2014 Olympics, eighth
Polina Edmunds (USA) — 2014 Olympics, ninth
Kanako Murakami (JPN) — 2013 World Championships, fourth

Kostner, Asada and Suzuki are the only women in the field with Olympic or World Championships medals already to their name.

The U.S. has a shot at two medals here, though if one American could land on the podium it would be a success. No U.S. woman has won an individual Olympic or World Championships medal since Kimmie Meissner and Sasha Cohen won gold and bronze at the 2006 worlds.

Pairs
Ksenia Stolbova/Fedor Klimov (RUS) — 2014 Olympic silver medalists
Aliona Savchenko/Robin Szolkowy (GER) — 2014 Olympic bronze medalists
Kirsten Moore-Towers/Dylan Moscovitch (CAN) — 2014 Olympics, fifth
Meagan Duhamel/Eric Radford (CAN) — 2013 World Championships bronze medalists
Peng Cheng/Zhang Hao (CHN) — 2013 Grand Prix Final, fourth
Marissa Castelli/Simon Shnapir (USA) — 2013-2014 U.S. champions
Caydee Denney/John Coughlin (USA) — 2012 U.S. champions

If the Olympic and world champions Volosozhar and Trankov skip the event, it opens the door for either the other Russian pair of Stolbova and Klimov or the Germans Savchenko and Szolkowy to win their fifth world title.

A medal is likely out of reach for the American pairs, but the combined placement of 13th is possible to earn three entries next year. The U.S. hasn’t earned three pairs spots at an Olympics or worlds since 2003.

Ice Dance
Yelena Ilinykh/Nikita Katsalapov (RUS) — 2014 Olympic bronze medalists
Nathalie Péchalat/Fabian Bourzat (FRA) — 2014 Olympics, fourth
Yekaterina Bobrova/Dmitry Soloviyev (RUS) — 2014 Olympics, fifth
Anna Cappellini/Luca Lanotte (ITA) — 2014 Olympics, sixth
Kaitlyn Weaver/Andrew Poje (CAN) — 2014 Olympics, seventh
Madison Chock/Evan Bates (USA) — 2014 Olympics, eighth
Maia Shibutani/Alex Shibutani (USA) — 2014 Olympics, ninth
Alexandra Aldridge/Daniel Eaton (USA) — 2012-13 U.S. junior champions

The gold and silver medalists at the last two Olympics and four World Championships are missing in the form of Davis and White and Virtue and Moir.

The rest of the top Olympic couples are competing, though, meaning it’s not assured the U.S. can get the combined placement of 13 from its top two finishers to ensure three couples at next year’s World Championships.

The last time the U.S. did not earn three ice dance spots at an Olympics or World Championships was 2005.

Yuna Kim happy that ‘absurd’ situation is finished

Japanese pair edges Americans for historic Grand Prix Final figure skating title

Riku Miura, Ryuichi Kihara
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Riku Miura and Ryuichi Kihara won the biggest title ever for a Japanese figure skating pair, taking the Grand Prix Final and consolidating their status as the world’s top active team.

Miura and Kihara, last season’s world silver medalists, barely outscored world champions Alexa Knierim and Brandon Frazier in Turin, Italy, in both Thursday’s short program and Friday’s free skate to win the six-pair event that is a preview of March’s worlds.

The Japanese totaled 214.58 points, distancing the Americans by a mere 1.3 points after Frazier erred on both of their side-by-side jumping passes in the free skate. Italians Sara Conti and Niccolo Macii took bronze.

“We had a very late start to our season than initially planned, so as we have been performing at each event, I see us getting stronger, improving things,” said Frazier, who with Knierim had their best short program and free skate scores of the autumn.

Knierim and Frazier didn’t decide to continue competing together this season until July.

“I feel a little personally disappointed tonight just for myself for my jumps,” Frazier continued. “I was a little all over the place and, normally, I can execute better, so I feel a little bad, but I’m very proud of us overall. We’ve done a great job of improving each competition and looking forward to the second half of the season where we can start tapping into our best skating.”

GRAND PRIX FINAL: Results | Broadcast Schedule

Miura and Kihara, who partnered in June 2019 and train in Ontario, both waited with trepidation for their final score to be posted, worried that each’s separate mistake on jumps might cost them the title. When they learned they won, both burst into tears.

“This was the first time in eight years that I made a mistake with a Salchow, so I thought we might not get a good score, and it would be my fault,” Kihara said.

Miura and Kihara entered the competition ranked No. 1 in the world by best scores this season ahead of Knierim and Frazier, who in March became the first U.S. pair to win a world title since 1979.

Last season, Miura and Kihara became the second Japanese pair to make a Grand Prix podium and to earn a world championships medal. Their ascension helped Japan win its first Olympic figure skating team event medal in February (a bronze that could be upgraded to gold pending the Kamila Valiyeva case).

In Grand Prix Final history, Japan had won 11 gold medals and 40 total medals, all in singles, before this breakthrough.

Knierim and Frazier, already the first U.S. pair to compete in the Grand Prix Final since 2015, became the first U.S. pair to win a Grand Prix Final medal. The Final has been held annually since 1996, though it was canceled the last two seasons due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Miura and Kihara and Knierim and Frazier ascended to the top of the sport while the top five teams from the Olympics from Russia and China have not competed internationally since the Winter Games.

All Russian skaters are ineligible for international competition due to the war in Ukraine. China’s pairs, including Olympic champions Sui Wenjing and Han Cong, didn’t enter last March’s worlds and did not compete in the fall Grand Prix Series.

Later Friday, world champion Kaori Sakamoto of Japan led the women’s short program with 75.86 points, 1.28 ahead of countrywoman Mai Mihara. American Isabeau Levito, the 15-year-old world junior champion, was fifth of six skaters in her Grand Prix Final debut.

Canadians Piper Gilles and Paul Poirier topped the rhythm dance with 85.93 points, edging Americans Madison Chock and Evan Bates by .44. Both couples are bidding for the biggest international title of their careers. None of the Olympic medalists competed internationally this fall.

The Grand Prix Final ends Saturday with the men’s and women’s free skates and free dance, all live on Peacock.

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A Winter Olympic medal still being decided, 10 months later

Fanny Smith, Daniela Maier
It's still unknown whether Fanny Smith (green) or Daniela Maier (blue) is the Olympic ski cross bronze medalist. (Getty)
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There is a second Winter Olympic medal result still in question, 10 months after the Games.

While the figure skating team event results are still unknown due to the Kamila Valiyeva case, the bronze medal in women’s ski cross is also in dispute.

Originally, Swiss Fanny Smith crossed the finish line in third place in the four-woman final at the Winter Games in February. Upon review by the International Ski Federation (FIS) jury, she was minutes later demoted to fourth place after making contact with German Daniela Maier near the end of the course. Maier, who originally was fourth, was upgraded to bronze.

“I tried to be OK with the fourth place. I was very disappointed, I have to say, [then] the jury was like this,” Maier said then. “I am really sorry for Fanny that it’s like this right now. … The jury decided like this, so accept it and be happy with the medal.”

Smith and the Swiss ski federation appealed. FIS reinstated Smith as the bronze medalist nine days after the race and six days after the Closing Ceremony. A FIS appeals commission met four times and reviewed video and written documentation for several hours before deciding that “the close proximity of the racers at that moment resulted in action that was neither intentional or avoidable.”

But that wasn’t the end. The case ended up reportedly going to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), whose rulings are usually accepted as final. The CAS process is ongoing, European media reported this week.

CAS has not responded to a request for comment. A FIS contact said Friday, “There is currently no update to provide in regards to the bronze medal in ski cross. Should there be any update, we will inform you.”

Smith said there should be news soon regarding the case, according to Blick.

Maier still has the bronze medal at her home and enjoys looking at it, according to German media, which also reported that the German ski federation expects Maier to win the case and keep the medal. Smith and Maier spoke extensively about it in recent training sessions and cleared things up. Maier said the best outcome would be bronze medals for both of them, according to the report.

For now, FIS lists Smith as the bronze medalist. The IOC lists Maier as the bronze medalist.

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