Evgeni Plushenko

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

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MOSCOW (AP) The coach of Adelina Sotnikova says the Olympic figure skating champion will not defend her title at next year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang because of injury.

“Adelina Sotnikova will not compete this season because of injury,” her coach Evgeny Plushenko, himself a two-time Olympic gold medalist, said in comments reported by Russian agency R-Sport.

“We all hoped we’d get this injury cured, but unfortunately it hasn’t happened. The injury is still causing problems, (Sotnikova) can’t manage full training sessions and it’s not right to go to competitions in this state.”

Plushenko didn’t specify what injury was troubling Sotnikova, though the Russian has been struggling with ankle problems. He added that the announcement shouldn’t be seen as Sotnikova’s retirement from skating.

Sotnikova was a surprise gold medalist in 2014, beating South Korea’s Yuna Kim amid intense debate over the judging.

Sotnikova hasn’t competed at a major championships since then because of injuries and a heavy schedule of commercial performances and TV work, including the Russian version of “Dancing with the Stars.”

In April, she split with her longtime coach Elena Buyanova to join Plushenko, who had himself only recently retired.

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Yevgeny Plushenko set to miss entire figure skating season

Evgeni Plushenko
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Yevgeny Plushenko, a four-time Olympic figure skating medalist who hasn’t competed since the Sochi Winter Games, needs another back surgery and will likely miss the 2015-16 season, according to Russian reports.

“He has been diagnosed with a crack in an intervertebral disc,” Russian figure skating president Alexander Gorshkov said, according to Russian news agency TASS. “Obviously, he would skip the season. As I understand, the nature of Plushenko’s injury allows him living normally, practicing and skating, but without any serious loads. It is undoubtedly impossible to imagine men’s single figure skating without them [serious loads].”

Plushenko, 32, won Olympic silver in 2002, gold in 2006, silver in 2010 and team event gold in 2014, his last competition.

Plushenko had March 2014 back surgery, returned to training that May and performed in ice shows starting last summer.

In February 2014, Plushenko had announced his retirement after withdrawing before the Olympic men’s short program due to his injured back.

Later that month, he went back on the retirement announcement.

“If need be, I’ll have another 10 operations … I’m not ruling out that I’ll go for a fifth Olympic Games,” he told Reuters during the Sochi Olympics. “I am not ruling out that I want stay in sports, to prove [something] to many [people] and myself.”

Plushenko was re-added to the Russian national team ahead of this season but was not entered in any Grand Prix competitions.

MORE FIGURE SKATING: Adelina Sotnikova sets return to figure skating competition

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Друзья, учитывая большое количество информации, причём самой противоречивой в сегодняшней прессе, хочу Вас заверить, что я продолжаю тренироваться. Этот сезон я действительно вынужден пропустить. У меня есть проблемы по здоровью. Врачи рекомендуют операцию, но если я решусь на нее, то это будет не раньше марта, так как восстановление после нее очень долгое, а у меня запланировано много показательных выступлений. Поэтому завтра я по-прежнему тренируюсь с Мишиным, ставлю программы с Юрием Смекаловым, Юрием Посоховым и Сергеем Филиным, накатываю их. В ближайшем будущем готов показать и новую "Короткую" и новую "Произвольную" программы руководству Федерации! Мой фокус – не очередной чемпионат, их было уже много в моей карьере, мой фокус – отбор на Олимпийские игры. Форсировать подготовку и, уж тем более оперативное серьезное вмешательство, я не хочу. Мы с доктором Ильей Пекарским пробуем инъекции и другие методики. Есть минимальная надежда обойтись без нее. У меня сложный путь, спортивный путь. Мне 32 года, за спиной 4 Олимпиады, да, есть проблемы с позвоночником, но желание тренироваться есть, соревноваться есть. 2 месяца назад на шоу в Японии я делал самый сложный набор элементов. Я понимаю, что могу бороться. Поэтому, если этот сезон я пропускаю – это не значит, что я не буду ничего делать. Работа идет, пусть не так быстро как мне и всем бы хотелось, но я никогда не останавливался и не собираюсь. Если не поможет никакое лечение, в марте, после всех шоу и показательных выступлений, я вынужденно пойду на 3 операцию на позвоночнике. Пока мои близкие и я не готовы к этому решению. Это будет сложное решение и мне нужно время, чтобы принять его. Поэтому я всегда на связи с руководством Федерации Фигурного катания, с моим тренером. Меня все поддерживают, поэтому завтра я снова на льду с Алексеем Мишиным! Руки никто не опускает. Всех желающих жду на завтрашней тренировке в Юбилейном! Всем спасибо и всем удачи!

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Mao Asada, Patrick Chan highlight Grand Prix assignments; stars missing

Mao Asada
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Three-time World champions Mao Asada and Patrick Chan will return to figure skating’s Grand Prix Series this year following a one-year competition break.

Japan’s Asada, the 2010 Olympic silver medalist and World champion in 2008, 2010 and 2014, will return at the Cup of China from Nov. 6-8 and was also assigned to NHK Trophy in Japan from Nov. 27-29.

Canada’s Chan, the 2014 Olympic silver medalist and World champion from 2011-13, will return at Skate Canada from Oct. 30-Nov. 1. Chan will face Olympic champion Yuzuru Hanyu at Skate Canada.

Russia’s four-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko and Sochi Olympic champion Adelina Sotnikova, both thought to be returning to competition after missing top-level international events last season, were not listed among Monday’s Grand Prix Series assignments. Sotnikova is the only skater on the eight-woman Russian national team who was not given an assignment.

Grand Prix assignments: Men | Women | PairsIce Dance

Also returning are Olympic pairs champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov of Russia, who also took the 2014-15 season off. They were assigned to Trophee Bompard in France from Nov. 13-15 and NHK Trophy.

World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva of Russia was assigned to Skate Canada and Trophee Bompard.

World champion Javier Fernandez of Spain was assigned to Cup of China and Rostelecom Cup in Russia.

Four-time U.S. champion Jeremy Abbott will not compete in the Grand Prix Series but hopes to return for the U.S. Championships following the Grand Prix season and end his career by winning his first medal at the World Championships.

“After coming back from [last season’s] U.S. Championships, I talked with my coaches, Yuka [Sato] and Jason [Dungjen], and we discussed things,” Abbott, who said in May he would retire if he couldn’t land two different quadruple jumps in training by June, told IceNetwork.com. “I felt hungry. I felt the fire in my stomach.”

Olympic ice dance champions Meryl Davis and Charlie White have said they will sit out this season. Silver medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada also haven’t competed since the Sochi Olympics and haven’t said if or when they will return.

Here are the U.S. assignments:

Skate America — Milwaukee — Oct. 23-25

Ladies: Mariah Bell; Gracie Gold; TBA

Men: Max Aaron; Jason Brown; TBA

Pairs: Tarah Kayne & Daniel O’Shea; Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim; TBA

Ice dance: Madison Chock & Evan Bates; Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker; TBA

Skate Canada — Lethbridge, Alberta — Oct. 30-Nov. 1

Ladies: Polina Edmunds; Ashley Wagner

Men: Joshua Farris; Adam Rippon

Pairs: Marissa Castelli & Mervin Tran

Ice dance: Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani

Cup of China — Beijing — Nov. 6-8

Ladies: Karen Chen; Courtney Hicks; Hannah Miller

Men: Richard Dornbush; Grant Hochstein

Pairs: Madeline Aaron & Max Settlage

Ice dance: Madison Chock & Evan Bates; Kaitlin Hawayek & Jean-Luc Baker

Trophée Bompard — Bordeaux, France — Nov. 13-15

Ladies: Gracie Gold; Angela Wang

Men: Max Aaron

Pairs: Marissa Castelli & Mervin Tran

Ice dance: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue

Rostelecom Cup — Moscow — Nov. 20-22

Ladies: Polina Edmunds; Hannah Miller

Men: Ross Miner; Adam Rippon

Pairs: Tarah Kayne & Daniel O’Shea

NHK Trophy — Nagano, Japan — Nov. 27-29

Ladies: Courtney Hicks; Mirai Nagasu; Ashley Wagner

Men: Jason Brown; Richard Dornbush; Joshua Farris

Pairs: Jessica Calalang & Zack Sidhu; Alexa Scimeca & Chris Knierim

Ice dance: Madison Hubbell & Zachary Donohue; Maia Shibutani & Alex Shibutani

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