Adelina Sotnikova’s return headlines Rostelecom Cup; preview

Adelina Sotnikova
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Don’t be surprised if Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova finishes off the podium at the Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix event in Moscow this weekend, the Russian’s biggest competition since her Sochi triumph.

That’s because Sotnikova, who essentially missed all of last season with an ankle injury, appears to be slowly trying to regain her form. She finished fourth among a decorated field at the free skate-only Japan Open exhibition and second in a lower-level Russian event, both in October.

“I had certain problems with motivation after my recovery from injury,” Sotnikova said, according to Agence France-Presse. “But after a short period of hesitation I understood that I’m too young to finish my career. I want to show the fans something different, some new features of my skating.

“I was really missing the competitions throughout this year. I want to feel adrenalin in my blood ahead of the new start again.”

This week, she must deal with two countrywomen who weren’t age-eligible to compete when Sotnikova became the first woman to win an Olympic title with zero prior World Championships medals.

The Rostelecom Cup favorites are arguably 16-year-olds Yevgenia Medvedeva and Yelena Radionova, the last two winners of Skate America and the World Junior Championships.

Medvedeva will clinch a spot in December’s six-skater Grand Prix Final if she finishes on the podium after Saturday’s free skate. Radionova, who was third at Cup of China two weeks ago, will clinch a Grand Prix Final spot if she wins Rostelecom Cup.

Both skaters can make it with lower finishes depending on the performances of other skaters in Moscow and next week at NHK Trophy in Japan, the final Grand Prix Final qualifier.

World champion Javier Fernandez leads the men’s field in Moscow. He will clinch a spot in the Grand Prix Final in his home nation in Barcelona if he lands on the podium Saturday, after his Cup of China victory.

Needing better finishes are U.S. silver medalist Adam Rippon and Canadian champion Nam Nguyen, who took fourth and fifth at Skate Canada.

Icenetwork.com will stream for subscribers live coverage of men’s, women’s, pairs and ice dance short programs and free skates. NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra will have coverage Sunday from 12-1:30 p.m. ET.

Men’s short program — Friday, 8:25 a.m. ET (start order here)
Women’s short program — Friday, 12:30 p.m. ET (start order here)
Men’s free skate — Saturday, 7:35 a.m. ET
Women’s free skate — Saturday, 11:35 a.m. ET

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Top Grand Prix season scores

WOMEN
1. Yevgenia Medvedeva (RUS) — 206.01 (Skate America)
2. Gracie Gold (USA) — 202.80 (Skate America)
3. Ashley Wagner (USA) — 202.52 (Skate Canada)
4. Mao Asada (JPN) — 197.48 (Cup of China)
5. Rika Hongo (JPN) — 195.76 (Cup of China)
6. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva (RUS) — 188.99 (Skate Canada)
7. Satoko Miyahara (JPN) — 188.07 (Skate America)

MEN
1. Patrick Chan (CAN) — 271.14 (Skate Canada)
2. Javier Fernandez (ESP) — 270.55 (Cup of China)
3. Jin Boyang (CHN) — 261.23 (Cup of China)
4. Yuzuru Hanyu (JPN) — 259.54 (Skate Canada)
5. Max Aaron (USA) — 258.95 (Skate America)
6. Shoma Uno (JPN) — 257.43 (Skate America)
7. Daisuke Murakami (JPN) — 252.25 (Skate Canada)