Alina Zagitova extends break, will not return before 2021

The Olympic figure skating champion has not skated competitively since December 2019, and will now not return before next year.

Alina Zagitova

Olympic figure skating champion Alina Zagitova will not return to the sport before 2021, the Russian Figure Skating Federation (RFSF) has confirmed.

The news, first reported by Russian news agency TASS earlier this week, means the 18-year-old will have spent more than a year out of competitive skating by the time she returns – if she does.

Zagitova will definitely miss the Russian national championships in December, the federation said. That event acts as an internal qualifier for the European Championships, scheduled to be held in Zagreb, Croatia, in January. It is also a selection event for Russia’s World Championships team. Zagitova could be given a wildcard selection for that event, which is set to take place in Stockholm, Sweden, in March - but this would be highly unlikely. .

Instead, the teenager is currently focussed on hosting Russian skating reality show Ice Age alongside fellow Olympic champion Alexei Yagudin.

"Indefinite break"

Zagitova has not competed since finishing sixth at December's Grand Prix Final in Turin, missing the Russian and European Championships that followed, as she decided to take a break from competition.

In June, she returned to training with mentor Eteri Tutberidze, but withdrew from last month’s Russian national test skates despite having been named on the start list.

"I am very interested at the moment to try myself in a new role," she said then, referring to her hosting duties on Ice Age.

That meant sitting out of the domestic Cup of Russia series, itself a qualifying event for the national championships.

The latest extension of Zagitova’s break will renew doubts about whether the skater will ever make a competitive comeback.

In the past 36 years, only two reigning Olympic champions have competed in the subsequent Games: Katarina Witt of East Germany, who successfully defended her Olympic title from Sarajevo 1984 at Calgary 1988; and South Korea’s Yuna Kim, who followed Vancouver 2010 gold with a silver medal at Sochi 2014.

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