Orser reveals skaters' season plans as Medvedeva dismisses split rumours

Canadian figure skating coach Brian Orser has spoken about Grand Prix assignments for Hanyu Yuzuru and Evgenia Medvedeva.

By ZK Goh

Top figure skating coach Brian Orser hopes his star skaters at the Toronto Cricket Skating and Curling Club will be able to return to Canada to participate in this year's Skate Canada ISU Grand Prix, if it goes ahead.

The ISU, the sport's international governing body, said earlier this week that it intends to hold its senior Grand Prix series this year, albeit as regionalised events.

However, Orser's pupils are currently spread out all over the world, with only American skater Jason Brown and China's Zhu Yi currently in Toronto among the Cricket Club's international roster. Hanyu Yuzuru, Evgenia Medvedeva, Cha Jun-hwan, and Ekaterina Kurakova are all in their native countries – Japan, Russia, South Korea, and Poland respectively.

"As soon as the skaters can come back, it will be full steam ahead," Orser told NBC Sports. "To where, we don't know."

Different regional events

Orser and fellow coach Tracy Wilson said they would recommend all their skaters participate in Skate Canada, currently scheduled for 30 October–1 November.

However, that may not be possible. Aside from international travel and quarantine restrictions, the ISU is reportedly limiting each skater to just one Grand Prix event this season instead of the usual two.

"The situation is different for each one. The Japanese federation may need Yuzu to do the Grand Prix in Japan, and at this point he would face quarantine entering Canada and returning to Japan," Wilson said to NBC Sports.

Brown, for example, faced difficulties returning to Toronto from the United States, and if he was to compete at Skate America – scheduled for the weekend before Skate Canada – might have further issues crossing the border.

While the skaters are abroad, Orser is running video coaching sessions with them. Most of them, at least – Hanyu is the only one who hasn't been in touch with Orser about skating.

However, the coach said he "wasn't expecting anything" – "that's normal when he is back in Japan."

Medvedeva happy with Toronto

Although she is currently in Moscow, Medvedeva is currently training three times a week with Orser via video. According to local media, she is also working with legendary Russian coach Tatiana Tarasova at the moment as a temporary measure.

"She looks way ahead of where she was at this point last year," Orser said.

The pair are entering their third season together, and some rumours surfaced recently that the PyeongChang 2018 silver medallist would look to split from the Toronto Cricket Club in favour of training with Olympic champion Evgeni Pluschenko.

Two of Medvedeva's compatriots, Alexandra Trusova and Alena Kostornaia, have moved to train under Pluschenko after years of being coached by Eteri Tutberidze. Tutberidze was Medvedeva's previous coach before she joined Orser.

The 20-year-old was asked in an Instagram comment whether there was any truth to the rumours, to which she gave a definitive response.

"Stop this (nonsense)," she wrote back. "I have found my people and my place in life, I don't need to change anything.

"And mind your own business, to everyone who hints at sensational news."