Tatiana Volosozhar

Mao Asada

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

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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

Figure skaters recall odd gifts from fans

Yevgeny Plushenko, Sochi Olympic champions return to Russian figure skating team

Evgeni Plushenko
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Yevgeny Plushenko, a four-time Olympic medalist who hasn’t competed since the Sochi Winter Games, and all of his 2014 gold-medal teammates are on the Russia national figure skating roster for next season.

Plushenko, 32, said in April he was returning to competition with an eye on making his fifth Olympic team in 2018. He will train in Turkey starting next week, according to R-Sport.

If Plushenko hopes to make the 2016 World Championships in Boston, he must beat out at least one of Maksim Kovtun and Sergey Voronov, who were second and third at last season’s European Championships but fell to seventh and 13th at Worlds.

Olympic women’s singles champion Adelina Sotnikova, who missed the last Grand Prix season due to injury, is also on the Russian team. As is Sochi team event gold medalist Yulia Lipnitskaya, who plummeted to ninth at last season’s Russian Championships. Russia can send three women to the 2016 Worlds, with reigning gold and bronze medalists Elizaveta Tuktamysheva and Yelena Radionova heavy favorites to take two of those berths.

Olympic pairs champions Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov are also on the team after sitting out the 2014-15 season.

The Grand Prix season starts at Skate America in Milwaukee on Oct. 23. Entries are to be announced.

Figure skaters recall odd gifts from fans

Six months since Sochi: international figure skaters

Tatyana Volosozhar, Maksim Trankov
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Since coming home from Sochi, Olympic figure skaters have kept pretty busy. Take a look at what the international stars have been up to.

Women

Adelina Sotnikova said she “grew up” since winning a controversial gold at home, becoming the first Russian Olympic women’s figure skating champion. She’s entered in two Grand Prix season events this fall. (notable Grand Prix assignments here)

The Korea Skating Union’s complaints about judging bias – filed on behalf of silver medalist Yuna Kimwere rejected by the International Skating Union.

Kim, remembered also for her Vancouver gold, retired. She recently attended a coaching workshop, and South Korean media reported she also applied to graduate school.

Italian bronze medalist Carolina Kostner will sit out the upcoming season but hasn’t retired.

Yulia Lipnitskaya, who helped Russia to gold in the Sochi team event, received a letter from director Steven Spielberg that read, “I am writing to tell you how moved I was by your gold medal performance as the little girl in red and accompanied by John Williams’ music from my film Schindler’s List… You are the best discovery of the Sochi Olympics and we will be watching you in PyeongChang in 2018.”

Mao Asada bounced back from her sixth-place showing in Sochi to win the World Championship in Saitama, Japan, in March. She will sit out the upcoming season, but like Kostner, hasn’t retired yet.

Six months since Sochi: U.S. figure skaters

Men

Japan’s first men’s gold medalist, Yuzuru Hanyu, also captured World Championship gold at home. He’s slated to compete this season.

Two-time Sochi silver medalist Patrick Chan of Canada skipped the World Championships and will sit out the Grand Prix season, but he’s on the Canadian National Team.

Denis Ten, Kazakhstan’s bronze medalist, is entered in two Grand Prix events, including Skate America.

Yevgeny Plushenko, who infamously withdrew moments before he was scheduled to perform in the Sochi singles competition, has since retired, unretired, had back surgery and said he hasn’t ruled out competing at the 2018 Olympics.

Pairs

Tatyana Volosozhar and Maksim Trankov will compete this season after winning double gold in Sochi.

Rival German pair and bronze medalists Aliona Savchenko and Robin Szolkowy split with Szolkowy’s retirement. Savchenko partnered with France’s Bruno Massot, but the pair is still deciding which country they will represent internationally.

Ice Dance

Sochi silver medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir are, like Chan, on the Canadian National Team yet not entered in Grand Prix season events. It’s unknown if or when they will perform again.

Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Katsalapov, who won ice dance bronze and team gold, split in April. Ilinykh since partnered with Ruslan Zhiganshin, and Katsalapov will skate with Zhiganshin’s former partner, Viktoria Sinitsina.

Yuna Kim: ‘The classification I received was what I deserved’