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Aliona Kostornaya, star Russian figure skater, to miss national championships

ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Internationaux de France

GRENOBLE, FRANCE - NOVEMBER 19: Alena Kostornaia of Russia competes in the Women’s Short Program during the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating - Internationaux de France at Polesud Ice Skating Rink on November 19, 2021 in Grenoble, France. (Photo by Joosep Martinson - International Skating Union/International Skating Union via Getty Images)

International Skating Union via

Aliona Kostornaya, the world’s top figure skater before the pandemic hit, will miss next week’s Russian Figure Skating Championships, denting her hopes of making the three-woman team for the Beijing Winter Games.

Kostornaya is out due to an injury that the Russian Figure Skating Federation did not disclose in a two-sentence press release. Later, Russian TV reported she has a fractured hand.

In the past, Russia’s federation has still considered skaters who do not compete at nationals for teams for major championships.

Kostornaya, 18, placed second and third in two Grand Prix Series starts this autumn. She was one of five Russian women to qualify for the Grand Prix Final, which takes the top six skaters overall from the fall Grand Prix Series.

The Grand Prix Final was canceled due to pandemic-related travel restrictions in host Japan.

In the 2019-20 season, Kostornaya swept the two biggest international events -- the Grand Prix Final and European Championships -- before the pandemic canceled the world championships.

Kostornaya was part of what NBC Sports analyst Johnny Weir coined “the Troika” of Russian women to make their senior international debuts in 2019-20. Kostornaya, Aleksandra Trusova and Anna Shcherbakova were the world’s top three skaters when the pandemic hit.

In the last 18 months, Kostornaya left coach Eteri Tutberdize for Yevgeny Plushenko, then returned to Tutberidze. She missed competitions in autumn 2020, including nationals, after testing positive for the coronavirus, and was not named to Russia’s team for the March 2021 World Championships.

This season, she was part of the mix of top Russians, headed by 15-year-old phenom Kamila Valiyeva. Shcherbakova, Trusova and Yelizaveta Tuktamysheva are the top contenders going into nationals next week.

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