Skating chiefs further isolate Russia

Six sports where Russian bans make it easier for rivals

Russia has been stripped of its right to host a figure skating Grand Prix in the 2022-23 season, the International Skating Union (ISU) has confirmed, while further steps could be taken to sanction Russia and Belarus in the international arena.

The ISU confirmed on Monday that the traditional Russian stage of its Grand Prix series would not take place next season. 

The event, known as the Rostelecom Cup, took place in Sochi last year but has also been held in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Last year’s event saw Russia’s Kamila Valieva set world record points tallies for her programs.

“Until further notice no International Competitions shall be held in Russia and Belarus. Consequently, the Rostelecom Cup 2022 in Figure Skating will not be included in the ISU Grand Prix of Figure Skating series of the season 2022/23,” read an ISU statement.

The announcement had been expected after recent reports in the Russian media that the decision was imminent.

Russian and Belarusian skaters and officials have been banned from all ISU events since March 1 after the onset of Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine.

The ISU added that Russian and Belarusian representatives could yet be barred from attending the organization’s official Congress planned for Thailand in June.

“The ISU Council acknowledged the feedback from over 20 ISU Members who urged the ISU Council to also decide that the ISU Members of Russia and Belarus will not be permitted to attend the 2022 ISU Congress or other official meetings and seminars etc., and that candidates from Russia and Belarus will not be permitted to stand for election at the 2022 ISU Congress for any position,” said the ISU statement.  

The organization added that it would not make an immediate decision on the issue but may hold a vote ahead of the congress, depending on the situation in Ukraine.

Russian figure skating icons reacted with dismay to the ISU’s stance.

“Of course, this is an expected decision,” said former ice dance world champion Alexander Zhulin, who is now a renowned coach.

“To be honest, I don’t know what to do next and how to organize alternative tournaments. I will go to work and train. We will prepare somewhere. Everything is bad.”

Iconic coach Tatiana Tarasova said Russia should press ahead with organizing its own tournaments while a ban on its skaters remains in force.

After Russian stars such as Olympic champion Anna Shcherbakova and fellow teenage sensation Valieva were barred from the World Championships in France last month, they appeared at an event in the city of Saransk in their homeland.

The absence of Russians at the World Championships was strongly criticized in Russia, with the likes of Tarasova claiming the women’s event had been set back 20 years without the level of Russian talent which typically dominates major competitions.

The ISU’s sanctions against Russia and Belarus cover figure skating, ice dance, speed skating, short track speed skating and synchronized skating.  

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