Zagitova, Medvedeva to captain teams in new Russian team competition

Olympic medallists to lead teams in Moscow next month, but will not compete on the ice themselves.

By ZK Goh

Olympic medallists Alina Zagitova and Evgenia Medvedeva are to serve as captains against each other in a new domestic Russian team figure skating competition next month.

The two PyeongChang 2018 teammates, who won individual gold and silver respectively for the Olympic Athletes from Russia, will lead teams drawn from the best skaters in the country in the Channel One Cup from 5-7 February in Moscow.

Russia's figure skating federation organised the competition following the cancellation of the European Championships, originally set for Zagreb this month.

Competition will follow the ISU judging system, while Russian sports website Championat reports that a separate jumping competition will also take place. There is a prize fund of 10 million Russian rubles (U.S. $136,000) on offer.

Figurehead captains

The competition will see three men, three women, two pairs and three ice dance couples compete in both short and free programs for each team, with the total team score determining the winner.

While the composition of each team will be drawn in a ceremony on TV before the competition, neither Zagitova nor Medvedeva will skate. Both will only serve as figureheads for their teams, guiding their teammates.

"Figure skating is an individual sport," Medvedeva said in quotes translated by RT. "That's why this kind of format, where the team result is more important than your personal achievement, is very interesting.

"To be more exact, this is a competition where your own victory will contribute to team success."

Fans are expected to be in attendance at Moscow's Megasport Sport Palace, which also holds the annual Russian Rostelecom Cup Grand Prix event.

There will also be an Audience Award voted on by Russian television viewers.

Star names

Names taking part include athletes who placed highly at this season's Russian Championships as well as last year's European Championships, and previous world champions.

The men are headlined by Russian national champion Mikhail Kolyada and European champion Dmitri Aliev. Alexander Samarin, world junior champion and Youth Olympic silver medallist Andrei Mozalev, Makar Ignatov, and Mark Kondratiuk round out the six men.

Rostelecom Cup winner Elizaveta Tuktamysheva, the 2015 European and world champion, is just one name in a star-studded ladies' field which includes the "3A" of Alena Kostornaia, Alexandra Trusova, and Anna Shcherbakova. World junior champion Kamila Valieva - recently praised by Medvedeva in an exclusive interview with the Olympic Channel - and Daria Usacheva complete the field.

Evgenia Tarasova / Vladimir Morozov, Aleksandra Boikova / Dmitrii Kozlovskii, Anastasia Mishina / Aleksandr Galliamov, and Daria Pavliuchenko / Denis Khodykin are the four pairs who will be in action.

The big names missing from the ice dance are Viktoria Sinitsina / Nikita Katsalapov, who remain sidelined through injury and ill-health. Instead, the top six from December's Russian championships, led by Alexandra Stepanova / Ivan Bukin, will compete.

This competition will mark a return for both Aliev and Kostornaia following positive Covid-19 diagnoses, which forced them to miss the nationals.

After the Channel One Cup, both Zagitova and Medvedeva are expected to take part in Eteri Tutberidze's exhibition show Champions on Ice in Kazan on 2 April.

Shcherbakova, Valieva, Kazakhstan's Elizabet Tursynbaeva, and Georgia's Morisi Kvitelashvili will all also perform in Kazan in a show postponed from last March.