Russia announces team for world championships
Third ladies spot goes to Leonova; Kovtun lone men's entry
|A top-10 finish at worlds by Maxim Kovtun will secure a second men's spot for Russia at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. (Getty Images)|
According to a statement on the federation's website, the following athletes were selected by the executive committee without discussion: Tatiana Volosozhar and Maxim Trankov (pairs), Adelina Sotnikova (ladies), Elizaveta Tuktamisheva (ladies), Ekaterina Bobrova and Dmitri Soloviev (ice dancing), Elena Ilinykh and Nikita Kataslapov (ice dancing) and Ekaterina Riazanova and Ilia Tkachenko (ice dancing).
The inclusion of Alena Leonova as the third ladies entry raised no objections. Leonova, the defending world silver medalist, has struggled this season, placing sixth and seventh at her two Grand Prix assignments and finishing seventh at the Russian Figure Skating Championships. Her "confident performance" at the recent Cup of Russia (not to be confused with the Rostelecom Cup), combined with her international experience, convinced the committee she was the best choice to send to worlds. Previously, she had been passed over for a spot at the 2013 European Championships in favor of Nikol Gosviana, who took sixth at the event.
With only one available men's entry -- a result of Sergei Voronov and Artur Gachinski finishing 16th and 17th, respectively, at the 2012 World Championships -- the executive committee decided on Junior Grand Prix Final champion Maxim Kovtun. Kovtun, the committee felt, offered the best chance to secure his country two spots at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, which requires him to finish in the top 10 in London. The committee referred to Kovtun as a "rapidly progressing sportsman" and cited the uneven performances of late by Voronov, Gachinski and Konstantin Menshov. It did say that Voronov and Menshov would be among the candidates to represent Russia at the 2013 World Team Trophy.
The final two pairs spots went to Vera Bazarova and Yuri Larionov, and Yuko Kavaguti and Alexander Smirnov. Boot problems and a hand injury suffered by Larionov prevented the team from competing at the national championships and the European championships, respectively, but the committee determined they are fit to take part in worlds. Kavaguti and Smirnov have had less-than-desirable results this season, placing sixth at the Grand Prix Final and fifth at Europeans, but the committee concluded the team has "all the features [for] a decent performance at the world championships."