Ashley Wagner, Gracie Gold
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Ashley Wagner takes figure skating break; Gracie Gold set to return

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Ashley Wagner is taking her first competitive break after 11 seasons as a senior figure skater, sitting out the fall Grand Prix series, while Gracie Gold is scheduled to compete for the first time since January 2017.

“After the craziness of last season, I decided to take a breather and sit out of this Grand Prix season,” was posted on Wagner’s Instagram. “My passion for the sport burns very bright, but after 11 seasons on the circuit I am ready for a bit of a break! I am continuing to train and take this day by day, but I’m allowing myself the opportunity to open up the definition of what skating means to me!”

Wagner, a 2014 Olympic team event bronze medalist and 2016 World silver medalist, and 2014 Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova of Russia were the notable singles skaters missing from the Grand Prix assignments published by the International Skating Union on Thursday.

Gold, a two-time U.S. champion who was fourth at the 2014 Olympics, is the newsworthy name on the entry lists.

GRAND PRIX ENTRIES: Men | Women | Pairs | Ice Dance

She announced Sept. 1 that she was seeking professional help “after recent struggles on and off the ice,” then in October said she was in treatment for an eating disorder, depression and anxiety. Gold attended January’s U.S. Championships but had not announced anything regarding a possible return to skating.

The Grand Prix is the equivalent of figure skating’s regular season. The world’s best skaters each compete twice out of six events in October and November, with the top six per discipline qualifying for December’s Grand Prix Final, a prelude to the world championships in March.

This fall’s headliners are Olympic champions Alina Zagitova and Yuzuru Hanyu and silver medalists Yevgenia Medvedeva and Shoma Uno as well as U.S. champions Nathan Chen and Bradie Tennell.

The six Grand Prix series events are Skate America, Skate Canada, Grand Prix Finland (replacing Cup of China), NHK Trophy (Japan), Rostelecom Cup (Russia) and Internationaux de France. The Grand Prix Final is in Vancouver.

Wagner, 27, is the most accomplished U.S. woman over the last decade, taking three national titles, five Grand Prix wins and three Grand Prix Final medals. At her last competition, she placed fourth at the U.S. Championships in January, missing the three-woman Olympic team.

Wagner then withdrew from the Four Continents Championships and declined a spot at March’s world championships after PyeongChang Olympian Karen Chen gave up her spot after the Winter Games.

Sotnikova, 21, has skated just once on the Grand Prix circuit since taking the Sochi Olympic title over Yuna Kim four years ago and hasn’t competed anywhere since the start of 2017. Sotnikova has not announced retirement, though, unlike her Sochi teammate and fellow gold medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya.

Other big names missing from Grand Prix assignments already said they are taking a break from skating (Adam RipponMirai NagasuMaia Shibutani and Alex ShibutaniJavier Fernandez, Aljona Savchenko and Bruno Massot), retiring (Patrick ChanMeagan Duhamel and Eric Radford) or are simply not expected to compete again (Tessa Virtue and Scott MoirMeryl Davis and Charlie WhiteTatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov).

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Adelina Sotnikova cleared in Russia doping investigation, reports say

Adelina Sotnikova
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In a notable Russian victory on Thursday, the IOC dropped a Sochi Olympic doping case against an athlete but declined to confirm the person’s identity “in order to protect the rights of the athlete.”

Russian news agencies reported that it was figure skating gold medalist Adelina Sotnikova.

“To be honest, we expected this result from the investigation into Sotnikova because we were sure that everything would be cleared up,” Russian Figure Skating Federation president Alexander Gorshkov told the R-Sport agency.

The Sotnikova news came on the same day that the IOC disqualified four more Russian cross-country skiers from the Sochi Olympics and any future Games. Two other Russian cross-country skiers were disqualified last week in the same fashion.

Russia has been stripped of four of its Sochi Olympic-leading 33 medals due to reports of doping violations leading up to and during the 2014 Winter Games.

Sotnikova will keep her gold, which means South Korean Yuna Kim will remain second, with Italian Carolina Kostner third. American Gracie Gold was fourth.

If all of the stripped medals (so far) are redistributed, then Russia will fall into a tie with Norway for most total medals at the Sochi Olympics with 29 each.

More Russian athletes reportedly met with the IOC to determine possible sanctions, including Olympic medalist bobsledders and skeleton athletes. Those decisions have not been announced.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Report: Russia’s Yulia Lipnitskaya retires from figure skating at 19

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Russian sports media reported Monday that 19-year-old Olympic champion figure skater Yulia Lipnitskaya has decided to retire.

According to Lipnitskaya’s mother, the skater had informed the Russian Figure Skating Federation of her decision in April.

Lipnitskaya’s mother, Daniela, was interviewed by Russia’s TASS news agency saying her daughter made the decision when she returned home from Europe after a three-month treatment for anorexia.

The news of Lipnitskaya’s apparent retirement was deemed “gossip” by the President of the Russian Figure Skating Federation, Alexander Gorshkov. According to Gorshkov, the federation has yet to receive official documents to confirm her decision to step away.

“I cannot make statement based on gossips since my post obliges me to be guided by facts only,” Gorshkov said when contacted by TASS for comment. “We have to wait for an official statement for Yulia as now we are in the middle of gossips.”

Lipnitskaya was 15 years old at the 2014 Sochi Olympic Winter Games, where she awed figure skating fans while winning her first Olympic gold medal in the team event. She was selected to skate for the Russian team instead of the eventual ladies singles gold medalist, Adelina Sotnikova. Lipnitskaya would finish fifth in the ladies singles competition in Sochi.

Less than a year after the end of the Sochi Olympics, Lipnitskaya expressed frustration with her new-found fame. In an Associated Press translation of a Russian figure skating website, Lipnitskaya said, “Whatever you do, everything is interpreted the wrong way and then has to be justified. It’s not life, it’s constant stress.”

Her apparent retirement comes after news broke that Sotnikova would not be defending her Olympic gold medal singles title in PyeongChang. Sotnikova’s coach, and two-time Olympic gold medalist, Evgeny Plushenko said an injury would keep her out of competition for the upcoming season. However, he did not mention the type of injury ailing Sotnikova.

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MORE: Coach says Adelina Sotnikova, Sochi figure skating champion, won’t defend title