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Aliona Kostornaya the latest Russian figure skating star to miss nationals

Alena Kostornaia

MOSCOW, RUSSIA - NOVEMBER 20: Alena Kostornaia of Russia performs during Ladies Short Program at the 2020 Rostelecom Cup, the fifth event of the 2020/21 ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating in Moscow, Russia on November 20, 2020. (Photo by Sefa Karacan/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Aliona Kostornaya, the world’s top figure skater last season, has reportedly joined the 2018 Olympic gold and silver medalists in missing this week’s Russian Championships.

Kostornaya did not recover well enough from her coronavirus bout in time for nationals, according to Russian media reports quoting her coach, four-time Olympic medalist Yevgeny Plushenko, and the Russian skating federation president.

It was announced on Dec. 4 that she tested positive.

The withdrawal puts in doubt Kostornaya’s potential place on a three-woman Russian team for March’s world championships. Under its normal selection procedures, the top two finishers at nationals get world spots, assuming they are age eligible.

The third spot usually goes to the third-best finisher, though there is discretion to choose a skater who did not compete at nationals.

Alina Zagitova and Yevgenia Medvedeva, the PyeongChang Olympic gold and silver medalists, previously announced they would not compete at nationals. The short program is Friday and the free skate Saturday.

Zagitova has been on an indefinite break from competition since last December.

Medvedeva, who also contracted the coronavirus, was hospitalized and sidelined most of November and early December with an illness.

Kostornaya, Zagitova or Medvedeva won the season’s biggest international competition each of the previous five years.

Last season, Kostornaya swept all three of her Grand Prix starts, including the Grand Prix Final, and won the European title in her first senior international campaign. She was the favorite for the world championships before the event was canceled due to the pandemic.

The top skaters still entered at nationals include defending champion Anna Shcherbakova, 2015 World champion Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva and the last two world junior champions, Aleksandra Trusova and Kamila Valiyeva. Valiyeva is not old enough for the senior 2021 World Championships.

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