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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

Yevgeny Plushenko will reportedly be named to Olympic Team

Yevgeny Plushenko
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Yevgeny Plushenko will be Russia’s lone singles figure skater at the Sochi Olympics, according to R-Sport citing an unnamed source.

“In the men’s individual skating, there’s one name there — Plushenko,” a source within Russia’s sports ministry said.

The three-time Olympic medalist said he landed two quadruple jumps in a closed-door skate Tuesday, where he performed in front of Russian officials set to decide on the nation’s entry by Thursday.

“The test skate went great for me, I skated the program clean with all the elements,” Plushenko said, according to R-Sport. “Everything is fine, now I will continue training and waiting for the decision. I’m pleased, my team is pleased, we did a great and successful job.”

Plushenko faced opposition from Maksim Kovtun, who beat Plushenko at the Russian Championships, but Kovtun finished a disappointing fifth at the European Championships last week and said he didn’t care about the Olympics anymore.

Sergey Voronov was also considered a possibility after he won a silver medal at the European Championships.

“Plushenko stake a good claim, and now the decision will be made on January 23,” Russian figure skating vice president Aleksander Lakernik told R-Sport. “He skated a complete free program that was difficult enough. There were some minor hitches, but nothing serious. There are no ideal performances. The overall impression is good.”

Plushenko won Olympic silver in 2002, gold in 2006 and silver in 2010. He’s trying to become the second skater to win four Olympic singles medals, joining Swede Gillis Grafstrom, who won gold in 1920, 1924 and 1928 and silver in 1932.

Plushenko could also win a medal in the new team event, where Russia may enter as a gold-medal favorite. Plushenko has backed off comments he would compete in the team event and then attempt to cede his singles spot to another skater.

Russian men’s ski jump coach against women ski jumping

Alex Ovechkin says Yevgeny Plushenko should be flag bearer

Alex Ovechkin
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If Alex Ovechkin got to pick Russia’s flag bearer at the Opening Ceremony, it would not be a hockey player.

Ovechkin would tap three-time Olympic medalist figure skater Yevgeny Plushenko, he told Sovetsky Sport in an interview published Sunday.

“If Plushenko goes, then him,” Ovechkin told the newspaper. “That man is a living legend. But if [Plushenko] doesn’t go, there’s only one candidate: Ilya Kovalchuk.”

Ovechkin is up on his Russian Olympic news, knowing Plushenko has not yet been named to the Olympic Team. The official announcement on Russia’s lone men’s singles figure skating entry is expected after Plushenko skates in front of Russian officials this week.

At the 2010 Olympics, Ovechkin sent a message to Plushenko through the skater’s agent before he performed in the short program.

”It said the whole team is holding hands for you and watching you,” it read, according to The New York Times.

Plushenko, the 2006 Closing Ceremony flag bearer, won the short program and finished second to Evan Lysacek after the free skate in 2010.

Kovalchuk would also be a strong choice, as Vladislav Tretiak would attest. The former NHL All-Star, now in the KHL, is one of two Russians on their fourth Olympic hockey team. The other is team captain Pavel Datsyuk.

Ovechkin also said his fiancee, Russian tennis player Maria Kirilenko, and his mom and dad would attend the Olympics, and that he will try to watch figure skating if time permits.

Kirilenko hasn’t played this season due to a knee injury.

Russian men’s ski jump coach against women ski jumping