Aliona Kostornaya, world’s top figure skater last season, leaves coach Yevgeny Plushenko

Alena Kostornaia
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Aliona Kostornaya, the world’s best figure skater last season, left coach Yevgeny Plushenko for former coach Eteri Tutberidze, on at least a months-long trial basis, in the latest change for a top Russian woman.

Kostornaya said that she realized this season if she was with Tutberidze, her coach during her dominant 2019-20 season, she would be able to push herself to do more, according to a Russian TV interview transcript published Saturday.

Tutberidze said she wants Kostornaya to get back her triple Axel, a jump she performed in 2019-20 but not this past season.

Kostornaya, the favorite for the 2020 World Championships before they were canceled, was not on Russia’s three-woman team named on Monday for this season’s world championships later this month.

Kostornaya, 17, missed competitions earlier this season, including December’s Russian Championships, after testing positive for the coronavirus.

She placed sixth in a domestic competition last weekend, the final event before the world team was named. She said she knew a change was necessary after that result, according to the interview transcript published Saturday.

Last July, it was first reported that Kostornaya joined the four-time Olympic medalist Plushenko’s training group.

She previously left Tutberidze, whose Instagram indicated that Kostornaya gave the coaching team a list of other women with which she did not want to share ice time, after going undefeated internationally in her senior debut season. Tutberidze coached Kostornaya since February 2017.

Plushenko, a new coach, and the more established Tutberidze have developed rival training groups.

Also last offseason, fellow young Russian star Aleksandra Trusova switched from Tutberidze to Plushenko. Trusova did make this season’s world championships team, along with Anna Shcherbakova (a Tutberidze pupil) and Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva (coached by Aleksey Mishin).

Tutberidze is best known for coaching Yevgenia Medvedeva to two world championships and Alina Zagitova to the 2018 Olympic title. Medvedeva left Tutberidze for Brian Orser‘s Toronto-based group in 2018, then returned home to Russia and Tutberidze last offseason amid the pandemic, parting on good terms from Orser.

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