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Alina Zagitova, Yevgenia Medvedeva defeated by 14-year-olds at Russian Nationals

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A pair of 14-year-olds defeated the Olympic gold and silver medalists at the Russian Figure Skating Championships, arguably the deepest competition in figure skating.

Anna Shcherbakova and Alexandra Trusova, who are too young for senior international events, went one-two in Saransk on Saturday after Olympic champion Alina Zagitova had a disastrous, 12th-place free skate that included two falls.

Zagitova dropped from first after the short program to fifth, two spots ahead of two-time world champion Yevgenia Medvedeva, who rebounded from a 14th-place short program.

Medvedeva was unsurprisingly left off the three-woman team for January’s European Championships, the first time she will miss the event in four season as a senior skater.

Shcherbakova and Trusova each landed a quadruple Lutz, a jump none of the world’s top senior women are doing.

Zagitova still made the Euros team and is likely for March’s world championships, given Shcherbakova, Trusova and bronze medalist Alena Kostornaya are all juniors and thus ineligible.

Stanislava Konstantinova and Sofia Samodurova, who finished fourth and sixth, round out the Euros team. Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 World champion who missed nationals due to pneumonia, and Medvedeva are the alternates.

The world team, also three women, will be named some time after the European Championships.

Medvedeva, who went undefeated from 2015 to 2017, hasn’t won in more than a year. She placed second, third or fourth at her last five international events since suffering a broken bone in her foot in fall 2017. She fell in all four of her competitions this season under new coach Brian Orser, who stresses patience as his latest star pupil makes technical changes.

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Russia prevents WADA from finding doping data in Moscow lab

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MOSCOW (AP) — World Anti-Doping Agency inspectors are leaving Moscow empty-handed after Russian authorities prevented them from accessing key doping data that the country’s authorities had agreed to hand over.

WADA reinstated the suspended Russian Anti-Doping Agency in September on the condition Russian authorities hand over lab data, which could help confirm a number of violations uncovered during an investigation that revealed a state-sponsored doping program designed to win medals at the Sochi Olympics and other major event.

But Friday, WADA said its delegation “was unable to complete its mission” because Russia unexpectedly demanded its equipment be “certified under Russian law.” WADA says the demand wasn’t raised at earlier talks. The deadline to turn over the data is Dec. 31.

WADA says team leader Toni Pascual will now prepare a report on the failed mission. The WADA compliance review committee that recommended RUSADA’s reinstatement will meet Jan. 14-15, where it could recommend the ban on RUSADA be re-imposed. WADA kept open the option of returning to the lab before year’s end if Russia resolves the issue.

Russian Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov told local media the WADA team would return, but there was no word on the date and no mention of the issue raised by WADA.

WADA leaders portrayed Russia’s willingness to turn over the data as a key reason for agreeing to reinstate RUSADA despite its failure to comply with key requirements on the “roadmap” WADA had set out.

“We’ve tried to come to terms with the Russians on how this was to be done, and this is the first time since discussing it that they’ve actually said ‘yes,’” WADA director general Olivier Niggli in September, in an impassioned defense of the decision. “We hope they’ll fulfill that promise.”

It was a widely criticized decision, and the reaction to Friday’s news was predictable.

“Surprise, surprise — anyone shocked by this?” said Travis Tygart, the CEO of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency. “Let’s hope WADA leadership has finally learned the lesson and immediately declares them non-compliant. Anything else is simply another shiv in the back of clean athletes.”

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Yevgenia Medvedeva’s struggles continue at Russian Nationals

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Yevgenia Medvedeva rough season hit another stumbling block Friday. She placed 14th in the short program at the Russian Championships.

The Olympic silver medalist and two-time world champion botched her opening combination and then fell on a double Axel (video here). She scored 62.24 points, 18.38 behind Olympic champion Alina Zagitova in the deepest national competition in the world.

The second-, third- and fifth-place finishers in the short are all 14- and 15-year-olds that aren’t eligible for senior international events this season. This is key, as Medvedeva is vying for one of three Russian spots at January’s European Championships and March’s world championships.

Zagitova and 2015 World champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, who is out with pneumonia, would seem obvious candidates for two spots at Euros. Medvedeva’s primary competition for a spot are Stanislava Konstantinova, who was fourth in the short, and Sofia Samodurova, who was sixth.

Samodurova had the best fall Grand Prix season of the trio, placing fifth at the Grand Prix Final in her first senior international campaign.

Russia has in the past named its world championships team after the European Championships, making the latter another selection event.

Medvedeva went undefeated for two years from 2015 to 2017 but hasn’t won in more than a year, placing second, third or fourth at her last five events since suffering a broken bone in her foot in fall 2017. She has fallen in all four of her competitions this season.

Training partner Zagitova edged Medvedeva for gold in PyeongChang by 1.31 points, after which Medvedeva moved from Moscow to Toronto to train under Brian Orser.

Orser, who has stressed patience as Medvedeva processes technique changes for the second act of her career, encouraged Medvedeva after Friday’s skate. They conversed in the kiss and cry as fans would not stop applauding her during the wait for her scores.

“Stand up and wave,” Orser urged her. She obliged, smiling, The scores came up. She nodded and repeated her placement, “14th.”

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