Carreira/Ponomarenko, 3 pairs teams withdraw from skating nationals due to COVID-19 exposure

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Skate America
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Skate America medalists Christina Carreira and Anthony Ponomarenko have withdrawn from this week’s 2021 U.S. Figure Skating Championships after having direct contact with a positive case of COVID-19.

“We have been very diligent and careful on staying healthy and focused on the US championships and that’s why we are so saddened to say that we have been in direct contact with a positive case of covid-19 at our training center on January 4th,” was written on both ice dancers’ social media Sunday.

They tested negative on Jan. 10.

“To maintain the safety and security of the event, the athletes, officials and volunteers attending, and as required by USFS competition protocols, it is with a heavy heart and great sadness that we announce our withdrawal from the 2021 US Championships,” the posts continued. “This is a very difficult decision, but health and safety are a priority above all else.”

Carreira and Ponomarenko, who train in Novi, Michigan, finished fourth at last year’s U.S. Championships and were expected to contend for the podium again this year. They were third at Skate America in October, marking their second Grand Prix medal.

Three senior pairs teams also withdrew for the same reason.

Sarah Burden and Matthew Rounis, Winter Deardorff and Mikhail Johnson, and Brynne McIsaac and Mark Sadusky all train under coach Dalilah Sappenfield in Colorado. The Las Vegas-hosted event was set to be the first senior nationals for all three teams. Deardorff and Johnson are the reigning junior bronze medalists.

“Sometimes doing the right thing is definitely the hardest! Yesterday we had to make the difficult decision to pull our three senior teams from nationals,” Sappenfield posted to her Instagram on Sunday. “It was brought to our attention that we had direct exposure to someone with CoVid. Due to the sensitive timeline and out of respect for the integrity of the bubble, skaters, coaches, and staff…the hard decision to pull our seniors from this event was made. This decision was also so we could follow the appropriate protocols recommended by the our medical team and the CDC for our own safety. We are happy to report that all are safe and healthy.”

Andrew Torgashev, who finished fifth last year, and the ice dance team of Adrienne Carhart and Ivan Gurianov had previously withdrawn.

Senior competition takes place Thursday, Jan. 14-Sunday, Jan. 17. Every discipline airs live on NBC or NBCSN, and every program streams live on Peacock.